Capsicum: Is This Right for You?

Chili powder and pepper

Looking for a way to boost the burn in your workout? Adding something hot and spicy to your diet, like capsicum extract, before your workout may optimize your calorie burn.

Capsicum comes from red hot peppers; it’s what gives them its spicy taste. Small levels of capsicum can be found in paprika as well, which is used to flavor less spicy foods like ketchup, cheese and salads.

Capsicum is also available in a capsule form, so you can enjoy capsicum’s benefits if you don’t like spicy foods.

How Does It Work?
Capsicum stimulates metabolism by activating a chain of events in the body that help to melt fat and break it down in the body. It activates the sympathetic nervous system that is associated with thermogenesis, which speeds the body’s oxidation of fat. With exercise, studies have shown that capsicum increases fat oxidation by 42%! Fat oxidation is the process by which the body melts excess fat and converts it into energy. Capsicum has also been shown in some trials to also decrease appetite, improve circulation and have some antioxidant effects.

Is It Safe?
Because cayenne pepper and red hot peppers have been used in dishes for centuries, this extract is mostly safe for the general population. However, those who have bleeding disorders or who are taking blood thinners should speak to a doctor about taking this supplement, as it may increase the risk of bleeding. Also, the spiciness of the extract may be a particular problem if you have a history of gastrointestinal disorders, ulcers and esophageal reflux.

Always consult your health-care provider before starting any diet or exercise program.

If I Decide to Take Capsicum, What Should I Do?
Studies show that you should take 200 mg of the extract at least 1 hour before exercising. Be careful not to overdo it because it has been known to cause indigestion. After taking the extract, focus on exercises that build lean muscle, which further burns fat, even while resting.

You can find the extract at most health food stories and some grocery stores. There are many different brands of capsicum, so make sure the packaging lists cayenne pepper or some sort of red pepper at the very top among the ingredients.

You can also just use regular cayenne pepper in your dishes at home. Use it to spice up your eggs or stir-fry.

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