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Genistein, capsaicin and EGCG inhibit fat cells via AMPK

Soya contains genistein, an isoflavone that inhibits the growth of fat cells and in high concentrations even kills them off. Good stuff for a slimming supplement that for once doesn't work by raising the adrenalin level – with all the associated health risks. Korean nutritionists at Kyung Hee University discovered that capsaicin, the stimulatory substance in chilli peppers, and the green tea flavonoid EGCG work in the same way as genistein. They activate AMPK – just like the doping substance Aicar does…

The Koreans placed young, immature fat cells from mice in test tubes, and mixed them with hormones that stimulate fat cells. The researchers added genistein to some of the test tubes, and noticed that within two days the fat cells had become fully mature [first figure below]. But the higher the concentration of the genistein in the test tubes, the lower the rate of growth.

The Koreans also noticed that adult fat cells committed suicide more often, the more they were exposed to higher concentrations of genistein [second figure below].

The third graph, above, shows how genistein works. The isoflavone activates the enzyme AMPK. The higher the concentration of genistein, the more phosphorus groups are attached to the AMPK molecule and the enzyme acetyl-CoA-carboxylase [ACC]. ACC is switched on by AMPK.

And what genistein is capable of doing, capsaicin and EGCG can do too, the researchers discovered. These compounds also activate AMPK and ACC.

The Koreans also gave Aicar to the fat cells, and observed that this compound works in exactly the same way as the three plant substances they studied. So once you know what Aicar does in the animal studies, it will ring a bell with you. Genistein, EGCG and capsaicin are not just interesting ingredients for slimming supplements. You can also use them in performance-enhancing supplements for endurance athletes – if you want, in combination with mitochondrial nutrients.

The figure below shows the interaction between Aicar, AMPK and ACC when fat is burned in the mitochondria. For your information and enjoyment.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Dec 16;338(2):694-9.

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