Introduction: what is it?
Capsiplex is a dietary supplement aimed at altering the calorie balance by reducing hunger and increasing the metabolism of fat in the body. It aims to do this using the active ingredient: capsaicin, an extract from red chili peppers. There are many supplements on the market that contain this ingredient and it will be necessary for capsiplex to make strong, substantiated claims if it is to be considered special or different from these other supplements.
Does it work?
There are definitely some reasons to believe that capsaicin compounds are useful for the body. Firstly, studies suggest that it has two positive effects: firstly, it may improve the body’s fat oxidation processes and, secondly, it is definitely associated with reduced food consumption in general – independently of the spicy sensation it produces. The oxidation of fat is increased in response to the consumption of capsicum-based supplements, but it is important to note that this only occurs during exercise and there is no research to suggest that it will have these effects on individuals that do not exercise . Those who want to remain sedentary and lose weight by taking Capsiplex alone will be sorely disappointed.
Diet and dosage
The reduction of food intake associated with capsaicin supplements is also beneficial to a diet among those who cannot reliably avoid over-eating. The compound has been shown to reliably reduce the amount of food that people eat, even when the spicy sensation has subsided . This means that they are likely to consume less calories and develop a much better caloric surplus. It is important to note that these effects are only noted when individuals consume the “maximum tolerable dose” of chili pepper soups and supplements. They noted that “the maximum tolerable dose is necessary to have a suppressive effect of red pepper on fat intake” . When we look at the numbers, Capisplex offers 80mg of the capsaicin extract, whereas the studies used 750mg – clearly, the capsules are not going to have the effects that the study did using less than 11% of the dose!
We also want to point out that this does not do much to speak of the need for the product when it is equally possible to reduce the number of calories consumed in the diet simply by eating low-calorie foods. If we say that Capsiplex can reduce daily consumption, then we need to look at why this is a good thing: eating a portion of high-fiber, low-calorie foods such as lettuce and celery will also reduce our caloric intake whilst providing positive nutrients and not fostering supplement dependency.
Metabolism, insulin and nutrients
The company claims that the supplements will increase the daily metabolic expenditure. This claim is true, but it requires some qualifications: the increases in metabolic rate occur for only 30 minutes after ingesting the supplement, after which there is no positive effect . They provide the figure of 287 calories but this does not appear to be supported anywhere in the scientific literature: to suggest that the positive effects of a chili oil supplement are equivalent to “40 minutes of cycling” is both unsubstantiated and plainly dishonest. The website claims that clinical studies exist about this but they point to only two studies [4, 5] – both of which deny the possibility of capsicum having any meaningful effect on energy expenditure!
The only real mechanism for the effective improvement of the basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories that we burn when we are not doing anything) is the content of caffeine in the supplement. Caffeine anhydrous is a common ingredient in supplements and is associated with the regular effects of caffeine: heightened awareness, reduced fatigue and so forth. However, it also improves the basal metabolic rate in a way that is scientifically-proven (unlike other active ingredients in capsiplex) . The obvious criticism for this is that many other supplements and foods contain caffeine. Whilst it may not be as well-branded and marketed, a cup of black coffee can have comparable effects to Capsiplex in this regard, and one of these is far cheaper!
One interesting effect associated with the way that Capsiplex – and capsaicin in general – works is that there is a reported increase in the insulin production of the body in response to consuming it . This effect is not discussed on the Capsiplex website and it may be an important one to note for those who are concerned about their blood glucose and the rate of carbohydrate absorption. The consumption of red peppers actively increases the metabolism of carbohydrates and reduces the rate of fat metabolism in the bloodstream. This has some unusual implications for the effectiveness of the product, primarily the reduction in blood sugar after consumption. For some, this can be a positive effect and for others it can be negative: as ever, it is essential to consult your medical professional before consuming this product, especially if you have a tendency towards conditions such as Diabetes or Epilepsy.
Overall, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support Capsiplex’s claims, and a distinct amount that says that the effects of capsaicin are very mild indeed. What we can say, positively, is that the consumption of red peppers in general will have some positive effect in a diet. The carotenoids in red peppers are great sources of carotenoids: compounds rich in vitamin A that bolster immune function and maintain white blood cell health.
The practical stuff: Value and alternatives
The first thing that we need to note, when we look at the limited effects of Capsiplex, is the cost of achieving those results. A mildly-effective fat-oxidation supplement might be worth trying if it costs $5, but if its $50 then we might consider it a bit differently. Capsiplex is closer to the latter: at an RRP of $40-50 per month, we’d struggle to justify the costs. The problem with products such as this is that they require continued use in order to see continued results: this means that the costs would extend on for as long as you were aiming to lose weight. This could well run into the $100s, an excessive price for a product that has very few noticeable effects.
Our main concern, however, is that the best alternative to this product is the actual consumption of chilis. The cost of a single chili pepper goes as low as $1 and the whole food has profound health benefits that the extract will not. From the original nutrient matrix (the collection of all of the active ingredients, rather than just the capsaicin), chili peppers are also incredibly high in Vitamin C and can improve a variety of health markers beyond the effects of the supplements. When we consider that the dosage of a capsiplex tablet is only 80mg, it is hard to make an argument for the supplement over the whole food. The only reasonable objection is the taste, but the “capsicum” pepper family contains 25 variations and they are all versatile ingredients.
As we always discuss, supplements should provide some value to a diet or replace some area of a diet. Practically-speaking, there are no real benefits to the Capsiplex capsules in a well-structured diet. Dieting for weight loss shouldn’t require any more reductions in calories and including Capsiplex in an already-balanced diet would have minimal positive effects. As well as this, it does not seem to even be the best marketable source of cayenne pepper extracts: the clinical evidence simply refers to the use of capsaicin and does not specify a reason to choose Capsiplex.
Overall, Capsiplex leaves a lot to be desired. There are some, very small, effects on the way that the body oxidates fat, but the supplement also reduces the relative metabolism of fat in the bloodstream so we can’t make definitive statements about the effects as they relate to weight loss. What we can say is that it may help reduce blood sugar levels in the short-term and may reduce the amount of food consumed throughout the day. However, so do many other foods (especially those high in fiber) and there is no real reason to favor the effects of Capsiplex over these other foods and/or actual red chili peppers.
As the product is generally safe, we would say that those who really wish to try it should do so, but at a price point of around $50 USD per month, it seems to us to be a waste of money. Capsiplex struggles to differentiate itself from other supplements using cayenne pepper, from other sources of Capsaicin and from other health foods in general. As such, we would struggle to give the product more than 2/5.
 Shin and Moritani (2007): ‘Alterations of autonomic nervous activity and energy metabolism by capsaicin ingestion during aerobic exercise in healthy men’. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 52(2), pp.124-132
 Yoshioka et al (2004): ‘Maximum tolerable dose of red pepper decreases fat intake independently of spicy sensation in the mouth’. The British journal of nutrition, 91(6), pp.991-995
 Yoshioka et al (1995): ‘Effects of red-pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men’.
 Yoshioka et al (1999): ‘Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake’. The British journal of nutrition, 82(2), pp.115-123
 Yoshida et al (1994): ‘relationship between basal metabolic rate, thermogenic response to caffeine, and body weight loss following combined low calorie and exercise treatment in obese women’. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders, 18(5), pp.345-350
 Chaiyasit et al (2009): ‘Pharmacokinetic and the effect of capsaicin in capsicum frutescens on decreasing plasma glucose level’. Journal of the medical association of Thailand, 92(1), pp.108-113
Amanda is a gym instructor and a diet and nutrition fanatic that has reviewed 100s of supplements for the benefit of consumers. She struggled with obesity 7 years ago and after losing more than 30lbs, dedicates most of her time in helping others achieve similar results and transform their lives.