Two studies were conducted to investigate the effects of red pepper (capsaicin) on feeding behaviour and energy intake. In the first study, the effects of dietary red pepper added to high-fat (HF) and high-carbohydrate (HC) meals on subsequent energy and macronutrient intakes were examined in thirteen Japanese female subjects. After the ingestion of a standardized dinner on the previous evening, the subjects ate an experimental breakfast (1883 kJ) of one of the following four types: (1) HF; (2) HF and red pepper (10 g); (3) HC; (4) HC and red pepper. Ad libitum energy and macronutrient intakes were measured at lunch-time. The HC breakfast significantly reduced the desire to eat and hunger after breakfast. The addition of red pepper to the HC breakfast also significantly decreased the desire to eat and hunger before lunch. Differences in diet composition at breakfast time did not affect energy and macronutrient intakes at lunch-time. However, the addition of red pepper to the breakfast significantly decreased protein and fat intakes at lunch-time. In Study 2, the effects of a red-pepper appetizer on subsequent energy and macronutrient intakes were examined in ten Caucasian male subjects. After ingesting a standardized breakfast, the subjects took an experimental appetizer (644 kJ) at lunch-time of one of the following two types: (1) mixed diet and appetizer; (2) mixed diet and red-pepper (6 g) appetizer. The addition of red pepper to the appetizer significantly reduced the cumulative ad libitum energy and carbohydrate intakes during the rest of the lunch and in the snack served several hours later. Moreover, the power spectral analysis of heart rate revealed that this effect of red pepper was associated with an increase in the ratio sympathetic: parasympathetic nervous system activity. These results indicate that the ingestion of red pepper decreases appetite and subsequent protein and fat intakes in Japanese females and energy intake in Caucasian males. Moreover, this effect might be related to an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity in Caucasian males.
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