Professor tests weight-loss supplement
A new weight-loss supplement burns the same amount of calories as a 20-minute walk, according to a recent study done by OU.
Joel Cramer, assistant professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department, said General Nutrition Centers gave OU an external grant to test the weight-loss benefits of the nutritional supplement called the tri-pepper blend.
The supplement contains black pepper extract and niacin, also known as vitamin B3, Cramer said. The supplement also contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to two cups of coffee, and a concentrated form of capsaicin — the ingredient that makes red peppers hot.
“There’s not a lot of scientific data available on black pepper extract and niacin, ... but the general thought is they might boost metabolism,” Cramer said. “There are a great number of studies on caffeine and capsaicin, separately, that have shown increases in resting energy expenditure.”
To test the effectiveness of the weight-loss supplement, a clinical trial was performed on an equal number of men and women between the ages of 18 and 25, Cramer said. The 28 subjects were tested twice over a two-month period — once with a placebo and once with the active ingredient.
To lower the subject’s rate of energy expenditure, the participants were asked to lie down for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, Cramer recorded the subject’s blood pressure and heart rate, sampled the subject’s respiratory gases and analyzed them for carbon dioxide and oxygen, he said.
“Knowing the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen will allow us to calculate how many calories they are expending,” Cramer said. “People who utilize more oxygen and have more muscle mass burn more calories than people who have less muscle mass and use less oxygen.”
When he finished collecting data, Cramer administered the capsule to the subjects who were then asked to lie down for another hour, he said.
“This is the first study I’m aware of that combined caffeine and capsaicin in a capsule and administered it to human subjects to see if there was an increase in resting energy expenditure,” Cramer said.
The subjects were then asked to walk on a treadmill at a rate of 3 mph for one hour. Afterward, the subjects were asked to lie down for an additional hour. Each participant took four hours from start to finish, Cramer said.
After taking the supplement, the individuals showed a 4 to 8 percent increase in resting energy expenditure.
Although it may not seem like much, a 4 to 8 percent increase in resting energy expenditure equates to 200 kilocalories extra caloric expenditure per day, which is roughly equivalent to a 20-minute walk, Cramer said.
Ashley Walter, graduate student in the Health and Exercise Science Department, helped perform the study and said the tri-pepper blend may affect the way many people exercise.
“It may mean that people don’t have to work so hard to lose weight,” Walter said.
Matthew Hanson, chemical engineering sophomore, said he would take the tri-pepper blend; however, it would not affect his workout regimen.
“I enjoy running,” Hanson said, “I would probably take the supplement, but I wouldn’t stop running. I get too much out of it.”
Although the tri-pepper blend may seem like an easy way to lose weight without exercising, Cramer said it is a nutritional supplement that should be taken while on a diet or during some form of exercise program.
“It’s easy to slip into that mentality of thinking ‘well I can just go ahead and eat whatever I want and not exercise and take this pill and lose weight,’” Cramer said. “It’s just not that simple, it’s not that easy. There’s no magic pill, this is not a magic pill to cure obesity or anything like that.”
However, Cramer does offer some simple advice for losing weight.
“If you can walk an hour a day, three or four days a week, and take this pill or take some form of capsaicin or caffeine and maintain a fairly healthy diet — extreme caloric expenditure — then you should lose weight,” he said.
According to a university press release, OU has developed relationships within the nutritional supplement industry because of the department’s ability to provide research support needed for new product development.
Since Cramer arrived at OU in 2005 with a model of funding for industry grants, departmental funds have increased to nearly $3 million.
The outcome has been an increase in the number of nutritional studies, which can provide vital information to the industry, stated the release.