Afromamum melegueta – Metabolic Igniter?
It’s been a while since my last supplement spotlight, but with the recent flurry of fat burners centered around activating brown fat or converting white fat to brown fat, I figured it’s time for another installment. This relatively new approach has its upsides and downsides, so we’ll break those down, as well as looking at one particular ingredient in the brown fat burning market: Afromamum melegueta.
So what is brown fat and how do brown-fat-based burners work?
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) and white adipose tissue (WAT) are two different entities.
WAT is the fat you’re used to hearing about…it’s unsightly and comes with a host of associated health issues. WAT can further be classified as subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and visceral adipose tissue (VAT). SAT is the fat that lies just below the skin. It covers your abs and reduces vascularity, but it is otherwise relatively benign from a health standpoint. VAT, on the other hand, is the fat located below your abs, surrounding your organs. This fat tends to create a distended belly kind of look, and it is associated with cardiometabolic disease and increased mortality.
BAT is completely different from WAT. The tissue itself doesn’t resemble fat at all. Rather, it’s metabolically active and actually contributes to fat burning itself. In infants, it is the primary form of thermogenesis for keeping the body warm. As we age, we lose brown fat (hence dropping our metabolic rate), but evidence shows that much of the population still retains a good bit. By activating brown fat, we could theoretically increase metabolic rate and, thus, fat burning. Brown fat operates via a protein called thermogenin that uncouples oxidative phosphorylation. You don’t need to know what that means, but what you should know is that this form of calorie burning preferentially utilizes fatty acids and even glucose over amino acids…thus, stimulating BAT should be a relatively protein-sparing form of fat loss.
So BAT-based fat burners come in two flavors:
1. Activating pre-existing BAT – Studies show that most of the population has some amount of BAT in their body (termed “BAT positive” individuals). By activating this BAT, we can increase fat burning.
2. Browning of WAT – Efforts are now being made to convert WAT to BAT. As no human studies regarding this mechanism are currently available for products on the market, we will forego this mechanism in this article (but will do an article if human studies arise).
Afromamum melegueta – Human-proven BAT activator
To date, afromamum melegueta is the only DSHEA compliant BAT activator proven to have a clinically significant effect on bodyfat levels. This is very encouraging, because decades of prior research have failed to find a compound that actually worked in humans. There are now 2 human studies demonstrating the efficacy of this extract. Both studies are published in a respectable journal, and both are conducted using expensive and sound methodology including PET scans, randomization, and placebo control.
The first human study noted that without changing the respiratory quotient, 40mg of the extract managed to increase caloric expenditure by about 100 calories a day . This effect is increased as the LBM of the subject increases, so in athletes with more muscle mass, this effect should be more pronounced. The lack of change in respiratory quotient is significant because it indicates that there won’t be negative effects associated with other uncouplers, such as lethargy, rapid breathing, or decreased exercise performance. Of note, this effect is observed only in BAT-positive individuals, meaning that some individuals may be resistant to this mechanism, but the majority should be responsive.
Now 100 calories doesn’t seem like much, but it appears that there’s more going on than meets the eye. The caloric expenditure did increase, yes, but it appears there is a redistribution of total daily caloric expenditure such that more calories are drawn from fat reserves relative to LBM. This is shown in the second human trial, wherein an even lower dose (30mg extract) caused 6.5 cubic centimeters of fat loss in treated subjects, whereas placebo gained 2 cubic centimeters of fat, so the net fat loss relative to placebo was 8.5 cubic centimeters of fat in 4 weeks . Most of this fat was visceral fat (the kind of fat we want to lose), and the leaner the individual, the MORE potent the fat loss effect. Finally, like the prior trial, energy expenditure increased by about 100 calories a day, but the total fat loss reflected much more than this calorie increase.
8.5 cubic centimeters of fat loss in a month is certainly a significant amount, all without any reported side effects, and all achieved at a low dose of 30mg afromamum extract daily. As a novel approach to fat loss, these human findings certainly solidify afromamum melegueta’s role in a supplemental fat loss regimen.
The all-new PES Shift has a full 40mg of the studied extract (in addition to several other human-proven fat loss agents).
I’m going to try to get more of these rolling, so stay tuned…until next time, happy summer fat burning.
1. Sugita, Jun, Takeshi Yoneshiro, Takuya Hatano, Sayuri Aita, Takeshi Ikemoto, Hideyo Uchiwa, Toshihiko Iwanaga, Toshimitsu Kameya, Yuko Kawai, and Masayuki Saito. "Grains of Paradise (Aframomum Melegueta) Extract Activates Brown Adipose Tissue and Increases Whole-body Energy Expenditure in Men." Br J Nutr British Journal of Nutrition 110.04 (2013): 733-38. Web.
2. Sugita, Jun, Takeshi Yoneshiro, Yuuki Sugishima, Takeshi Ikemoto, Hideyo Uchiwa, Isao Suzuki, and Masayuki Saito. "Daily Ingestion of Grains of Paradise (Aframomum Melegueta) Extract Increases Whole-Body Energy Expenditure and Decreases Visceral Fat in Humans." J Nutr Sci Vitaminol JNSV Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 60.1 (2014): 22-27. Web.