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Chili powder for greater gains?

Emerging research suggests capsaicin, a compound found in chili, might improve fat loss, muscle growth and strength development. A new study by Silva et al. from Brazil put this to the test with 12 mg daily capsiate supplementation in untrained men performing a 6-week strength training program. Capsiate is essentially a synthetic form of capsaicin that’s not spicy anymore, so you can safely take higher doses.

The capsiate-fueled group gained 1.3 kg fat-free mass in 6 weeks, compared to a paltry 0.3 kg in the placebo group. They also gained substantially more strength on the bench press, though not on the leg press. The first thing that stands out to me here is that the capsiate group didn’t have spectacular gains. The placebo group just had terrible gains for untrained lifters training 4x per week.

The capsiate supplement did not affect fat mass, body water levels, measures of inflammation or acute training performance. The authors suggest capsiate promotes muscle growth quite directly via the TRPV1 receptor, which functions much like a heat sensor in the body. This could improve calcium release into our muscles and promote muscle protein synthesis.

Capsiate may be the next hot thing, but I have a really hard time warming up to this idea. I’ve seen too many hot supplements get burned to get all hot and bothered for now” – Menno Henselmans

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