More than 30% of adults in Europe and 50% in the US reported undesired weight changes as a result of the pandemic, reports Dr David Daguet, Scientific Director, Vidya Europe. Lack of exercise, stress, eating habits and alcohol consumption were significant contributors to an unhealthy lifestyle during the numerous lockdowns
Many people found it difficult to play sports regularly or maintain an active lifestyle during and after periods of lockdown, resulting in weight gain, loss of muscle mass and, sometimes, both.
Keeping physically fit has become very popular and, like other sporting activities, it plays a key role in a healthy lifestyle. Physical activities help with weight management, muscle health and body strength, all of which play a vital role in overall health.
As we are now increasingly able to get more active again, and because we have fitness goals to achieve, an ingredient that increases energy expenditure and reduces both weight and body fat could be of great interest.
AfperFIT is a supercritical carbon dioxide extract of grain-of-paradise (Aframomum melegueta) that’s standardised at 2% 6-paradol. It significantly increases energy expenditure by activating brown adipose tissue and promotes the conversion of white adipose tissue to brown.
Grain-of-paradise is an African spice that’s traditionally used to flavour foods. In folk medicine, it’s used as a digestive aid, an aphrodisiac, an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic.
There are three different types of body fat that must be considered. White adipocytes are the well-known cells that store fat and make up the subcutaneous and visceral white adipose tissue (WAT).
Another well-known type of adipose tissue that has an important role in energy homeostasis is brown adipose tissue (BAT). This specialises in heat generation and defence responses against cold and obesity.
BAT thermogenesis is mediated by specific activators, such as uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), a brown fat-specific protein.
A new type of adipocyte is now emerging: BRITE for “brown-in-white.” This new type of adipose tissue is considered to be a result of WAT transforming into BRITE by a “browning” mechanism.
In addition to exposure to cold, which is the main physiological stimulus of browning, it seems that physical activities and exercise could induce the browning of WAT into BRITE through the secretion of a specific hormone.
It was thought for some time that BAT was only present in foetuses and babies, subsequently disappearing during the first year of life. But, recent work has shown that BAT is metabolically active in adults.
If fully activated, this BAT could represent 40% of our basic metabolism and its quantity could be inversely proportional to our BMI.1
Considering the importance of thermogenesis in weight management and fitness, the dual presence of BAT and BRITE represents an interesting target for products that increase energy expenditure.
The transformation of WAT into BRITE must therefore be thought of as a complementary target. To summarise, AfperFIT works by increasing the quantity and activity of BAT and BRITE and by promoting thermogenesis/energy expenditure.
The ability of AfperFIT to increase thermogenic activity by upregulating BAT has been assessed using three significant markers: UCP1, PGC-1α and PPAR-γ.
UCP1 is a protein found in BAT that is used to generate heat. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ with coactivator 1α (PGC1α) regulates thermogenesis by directly inducing the expression of UCP1. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ) is involved in the thermogenic capacity of BAT.
A high fat diet trial showed that PGC-1α, PPAR-γ and UCP1 levels were significantly increased at low (AF20) and high (AF40) doses of AfperFIT (Figure 1).
Increases in these three specific markers is a significant indicator of AfperFIT-induced BAT thermogenesis.
Figure 1: Marker levels of thermogenic activity as a result of a high fat diet (# = p<0.05, ## = p<0.01 vs control group; ** = p<0.01, *** = p<0.001 vs high fat diet [HFD])
The stimulation of BRITE formation as a result of the browning of WAT was assessed in the same trial by measuring the respective weights of WAT and BAT, and by recording the activity of the three specific BAT activity markers: UCP1, PGC-1α and PPAR-γ.
The trial demonstrated that BAT weight increased while WAT weight decreased. It has also been confirmed that the size of the adipocytes in WAT was significantly reduced, indicating a reduction of fat storage in WAT. The browning of WAT into BRITE was also confirmed by an increase of BRITE-specific BAT marker activities.
Figure 2: Marker levels of WAT and BAT weight as a result of a high fat diet (# = p<0.05, ## = p<0.01 vs control group; ** = p<0.01, *** = p<0.001 vs high fat diet [HFD])
The impact of AfperFIT on BAT activity and the browning of WAT has been studied on 60 overweight adults (BMI 25–30) in a 12-week trial. The subjects consumed either 250 mg of AfperFIT, twice a day, or a placebo.
The AfperFIT group showed a significant increase in energy expenditure (EE) of 230 Kcal/day whereas the placebo group experienced a less-significant rise of 50 kcal/day (230 kcal/day is equivalent to 30 minutes of stair climbing for a normal woman, 30 minutes of running for a normal man or 45 minutes of brisk walking).
The thermogenic boost effect of AfperFIT represents a physiological energy expenditure that’s comparable with real physical activity.
Importantly, because the AfperFIT-induced EE is like a real sporting or physical activity, it means that the same workout results can be achieved in less time or better results can be achieved in the same time. It offers new workout management options for sportspeople or those targeting a better body for a healthier lifestyle.
Because AfperFIT significantly increases EE, its impact on body composition was perceived to be positive. AfperFIT consumption improved overall body composition by decreasing weight and reducing fat mass with no negative effect on muscle mass.
For bodybuilders who want to develop more muscle, for example, it’s important to note that AfperFIT significantly reduces deep or visceral fat.
Furthermore, with the twin aims of improving body composition and weight reduction in mind, AfperFIT was also assessed in terms of quality of life.
The impact of AfperFIT on a so-called healthy lifestyle was evaluated using a standardised quality of life questionnaire that showed that the AfperFIT group presented improved mental perception with no any alteration of physical capacities. These results indicated how the shape changes that the subjects (in the AfperFIT group) experienced were positive and could be interpreted as an improved perception of self-image.
It was concluded that AfperFIT is a safe and efficient nutritional ingredient that reduces weight and body fat by increasing thermogenesis/energy expenditure via its activity on brown adipose tissue.
AfperFIT fully complies with Vidya’s internal quality charter, which ensures full traceability from seed to finished ingredient. From the manual harvest of the seeds (sanctioned by a certificate of origin) to the final packaging, everything is controlled in accordance and in conformity with the strictest international rules.
AfperFIT’s effects on BAT stimulation, WAT browning and EE are of great interest in fitness, sports, and healthy lifestyle applications as a way to help reduce weight, decrease body fat and improve the shape of those who want to develop more lean muscle or those who want to obtain a more curvaceous silhouette.
Because of its mechanism of action, SUNCA, a weight management ingredient from Vidya Herbs, could be complementary to AfperFIT and further enhance its weight reducing/shape improving effects.
Essentially, AfperFIT increases energy expenditure by consuming stored fats, whereas SUNCA reduces fat accumulation. SUNCA has been clinically proven to promote weight loss and waist circumference reduction.