Grains of Paradise is a spice routinely used in many styles of cooking to deliver a bit of “pop” to a dish. So why are we seeing it in fat burning supplements lately? Put simply: because it works – and there’s now legitimate weight loss studies performed on actual humans to verify those claims.
Also known as Aframomum Melegueta, Grains of Paradise has also been used in traditional medicines for a variety of reasons, which is what helped make its way into modern dietary supplements – especially those suited towards weight loss. However, there are several varying standardizations of the extract, so how do you know which one will actually provide any benefit?
We’ve done the homework for you and got a full blown analysis of this emerging ingredient below.
Grains of Paradise is a spice similar to ginger, and is an effective stimulant-free fat burning ingredient.
- The data: Extracts high in 6-gingerol and 6-paradol have been shown to decrease visceral fat in the lower abdomen while increasing whole body energy expenditure versus placebo. (Skip to the How it Works section)
- How it works: It works by promoting the transformation of white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue. Activation of this “brown fat” yields the greater energy expenditure amongst other benefits. (Skip to Grains of Paradise Benefits section)
- Dosage: The successful human studies used 30mg/day and 40mg/day. Beginners are recommended to try between 30mg/day and 80mg/day total grains of paradise extract. Advanced users may use 120mg/day. (Skip to the Dosage section
- Best ingredient to look for: Paradoxine® and LeanAM are the most trusted raw ingredients to look for, since they contains high amounts of the active components shown above, and Paradoxine has been used in human studies. We also have 3rd-party lab tests to verify their purity. (Skip to Best Aframomum Melegueta Extract section)
- Best fat burners using it:
- With caffeine: Myokem Pyroxamine – 40mg Paradoxine alongside 100mg caffeine (go directly to best deal)
- Stimulant-free: Myokem Thyrovate – 40mg Paradoxine per capsule (go directly to best deal)
- Higher-energy option: Prime Nutrition Backdraft XP – 50mg Paradoxine per three capsules alongside 250mg caffeine (go directly to best deal)
(See the best Grains of Paradise supplements section)
What is Grains of Paradise?
Grains of Paradise is a spice native to West Africa with a similar makeup as ginger. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family of plants and goes by a variety of names including Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains, fom wisa, and others. In Africa, it’s traditionally been used for digestive health, body recomposition, as an antioxidant, and even potentially for anti-diabetic purposes!
Grains of Paradise contain reddish-brown seeds that have a spicy, peppery taste. When eating it, one can definitely feel a ‘heating’ sensation – which often spells serious potential for those of us in the diet world.
Within the seeds of Grains of Paradise, researchers have isolated a few compounds that are known not only for their potent odor and flavor, but fat-fighting properties as well:
There may be others, but these constituents have been connected to promising research on weight loss – especially 6-paradol and 6-gingerol (which is also found in ginger). They are pungent and they are powerful – and this is where the real magic locked inside of Grains of Paradise.
To understand their mechanisms, however, we must get into some technical details.
How does it work?
The human body has two types of adipose tissue:
- White adipose tissue (WAT), and
- Brown adipose tissue (BAT)
The white fat: made for energy storage
White adipocytes are large diameter cells with a roundish shape, primarily consisting of one massive lipid (fat) droplet and a thin rim which contains the cytoplasm and the nucleus. White adipocytes are your storage cells for energy, they store excess calories for when food intake is low.
The brown fat: made for thermogenesis
Brown adipocytes, on the other hand, are typically smaller diameter cells than white adipocytes and are made up of several small lipid droplets. Brown adipocytes are responsible for “non-shivering thermogenesis,” meaning BAT maintains body temperature homeostasis during cold exposure.
Turning our WAT fat into BAT
A Grains of Paradise extract including 12.5% 6-paradol was found to promote WAT transformation into BAT. If it seems too good to be true, Paradise extract has human clinical trials showing its effectiveness (more on that below!)
Why turn WAT into BAT?
So, we know that Grains of Paradise has the ability to “brown” WAT, but why would we want to do this?
Well, activation of BAT results in greater energy expenditure as well as a negative energy balance, which ultimately leads to better weight loss. Furthermore, BAT can utilize blood glucose and lipids. This results in better glucose metabolism and lipid levels independent of weight loss.
Yet, we’re not just dealing with hypotheticals here. This is one of those ingredients to actually back its theory up with actual weight loss effects:
What are the Grains of Paradise Benefits?
Non-stimulant fat loss ingredients that actually work are a true rarity in the supplement industry. But it seems that this is exactly what we have with a quality grains of paradise extract:
Increased Energy Expenditure
A recent four week trial on Grains of Paradise extract aimed to investigate the extract’s effects on whole body energy expenditure when exposed to cold therapy. Researchers enlisted 19 healthy men, ages 20–32, and had the group consume a total of 40mg / day GoP extract.
Following an overnight fast, the subjects were placed in an air-conditioned room at 19°C (66.2°F) with light clothing (typically a T-shirt with underwear). In addition, they proceeded to have their feet placed on an ice block wrapped in cloth intermittently (usually for 4 minutes after every 5 minutes off – definitely not the most enjoyable experiment!).
At the conclusion of the 2 hours, subjects underwent an FDG-PET/CT examination, which entails high-resolution imaging of the body to evaluate BAT activation. Additionally, subjects had their whole body energy expenditure tested via indirect calorimetry following a 6-12 hour fasting period.
Researchers found that the group consuming the GoP extract had a significantly greater increase in energy expenditure, due to increased BAT activity, than the group not receiving the GoP extract.
Dosage used: 40mg / day of grains of paradise / Aframomum Melegueta was used.
Stimulant-Free Fat Loss in females
The second human trial investigated daily ingestion of Paradise extract on whole body energy expenditure (EE), as well as body fat. EE and body fat were measured before and after daily for a period of four weeks. This time around, 19 non-obese females, aged 20-22, were recruited for the blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover design.
Each subject was given either one 10mg capsule of GoP extract or placebo 30 minutes prior to the three main daily meals. At the conclusion of the four week study, body fat and energy expenditure were again recorded. Researchers found that the GoP group experienced decreased visceral fat in the lower abdomen while the placebo group saw slightly increased visceral fat in the same area.
Bear in mind, this was all without any additional exercise or diet modifications made, simply supplementing with 30mg GoP extract per day reduced visceral fat!
Dosage used: 30mg / day split into three 10mg doses.
While not as enthralling as the human studies, animal studies on Paradise extract have brought to light several other fringe benefits that may translate over to humans; however they have yet to be confirmed. Paradise extract in animal models have seen marked improvements in a number of critical cardiovascular markers including:
- better lipid profile,
- lowered blood pressure, and
- attenuate hepatotoxicity (chemical-driven liver damage).[6,7]
What the above chart shows is that if you have a high-cholesterol rat, and give it “alligator pepper” extract (ie. grains of paradise!), it will attenuate the high cholesterol levels – and if a strong enough dose is taken, it can even outcompete statin drugs in said rats!
This isn’t to say it’s going to work in humans, and those are very high doses, but it is to show that there is extremely promising health data coming out from preliminary Aframomum Melegueta extract studies.
Additional studies are underway and are expected in late 2016 / early 2017. We’ll keep this section up to date when they are published.
Who is Aframomum Melegueta / GP for?
Grains of Paradise is great for anyone looking for fat loss or “body recomposition” effects!
Practically any healthy man or woman looking to enhance their fat loss journey without the use of additional stimulants could see benefit from adding a high quality Grains of Paradise — we trust Paradoxine, discussed below — to their daily supplement intake.
Ideally, this ingredient is best suited for:
- General dieters who appreciate extra heat (due to thermogenesis)
- Physique athletes in the lead-up to stepping on stage
- Individuals attempting to lose fat without losing muscle
- Injured athletes who are taking some time off from training but don’t want unsightly weight gain
- Situationally — ie. during times of cold weather (anyone who gets cold easily should consider trying this as a remedy!)
What’s the best Grains of Paradise ingredient?
This definitely isn’t the easiest ingredient to extract. You can’t just throw some grains of paradise seeds into a capsule and call it a day — you need specialized equipment to standardize for the right components that led to the weight loss and brown fat activating effects mentioned above.
So for those of you interested in getting a product including Grains of Paradise, or even potential brands looking to manufacture a new fat burning supplement, we highly recommend looking into Paradoxine® by Bestcom BioTech.
Paradoxine: 15% Aframols® & 12.5% 6-paradol from Aframomum Melegueta
Bestcom’s Paradoxine® is standardized to 15% Aframols® & 12.5% 6-paradol – exactly what we’re looking for based upon the successful human-based studies out in the wild. Aframols® are a proprietary matrix of pungent aromatic ketones we described above created by Bestcom.
Further, the reason we’re recommending Paradoxine is because Bestcom Biotech is the one company that’s putting actual human-based research out there with placebo controls – this is not cheap and it’s important to support the brands that are making legitimate progress for dieters. You can see the charts from these studies pictured in the above sections where the results are discussed.
And finally, Bestcom Biotech is the only company we contacted that not only thoroughly HPLC tests their supplements, but they’re willing to share those lab tests, as shown below. On top of that, they have 3rd-party ChromaDex certifications and are produced in an NSF-certified, GMP-approved factory.
You can read more about Paradoxine® at www.paradoxine.com.
Avoid Knock-Off / Low-Quality Paradise extracts: HPLC Test Results:
Bestcom Biotech was gracious enough to provide these charts. First, see the Paradoxine® chart:
With the research they’ve provided, as well as the standardizations they’re using that model the successful studies, we see no reason why anyone should use anything else. Like we’ve said, you can’t just take some seeds and put it into a capsule – you need to get the 15% Aframols® & 12.5% 6-paradol and that’s what Bestcom has done with Paradoxine.
What about LeanAM?
On Paradoxine.com, you might also notice Bestcom Biotech also talking about LeanAM™, another Aframomum Melegueta extract they make. They are both standardized to 15% Aframols® & 12.5% 6-paradol, yet LeanAM has fewer HPLC peaks when tested, meaning that there may be fewer active components (four in LeanAM vs. six in Paradoxine), but the actives they do have are stronger per gram.
Whereas Paradoxine is extracted with an ethanol process, Lean AM is a new SFE-CO2-based extract. It is the most pure and high-quality form and is without solvent residue, yielding a more natural aromatic smell, closer to the original seed.
At the time of writing, there are no supplements on the market using LeanAM. We’ll update the grains of paradise supplements section of this page when the upcoming fat burners with LeanAM are out in stores and we can try them. This may also present an opportunity for supplement brands to be the first to test it.
Dosage: What’s the recommended dosage / timing / cycling?
Before we get into the best fat burners with Paradoxine, it’s best to know what kind of dosage to look for.
In the two human trials, the study that showed increased energy expenditure used a dose of 40mg / day, while the study that showed increased fat loss consumed 30mg daily. Based on this, we suggest using a supplement that contains at minimum 30mg of Paradoxine. This ensures you get the highest quality extract at the clinically efficacious dose.
As for cycling, Paradoxine® should be perfectly safe to continue supplementation for longer periods of time. You may want to monitor progress on longer cycles in case your body begins to build up a tolerance to the ingredient, however we aren’t sure whether that is likely to occur or not.
What are the best Grains of Paradise fat burner supplements?
Now that we know the preferred doses, what are the best Grains of Paradise based fat burning supplements?
First, we must state that there are no straight 100% Paradoxine based capsules or powders to try on their own so that we could try to replicate the studies.
However, we do have three phenomenally well-formulated fat burners available, depending on your stimulant tolerance:
This is actually one of our best-rated fat burners, and most users love it because of the pleasant cognitive focus-based effects it has. But if you’re here, you’ll know know that a single capsule provides a solid 40mg of Paradoxine next to just 100mg caffeine.
This means that users can get up to 80mg grains of paradise extract in a standard dose – some users have even taken three capsules throughout the day, bringing it to a whopping 120mg. Note, however, that Paradoxine’s website mentions 40-100mg as the preferred daily dosage, so anything higher is for advanced users who know their tolerance.
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Thyrovate is a stimulant-free fat burner from the same company as above, Myokem. Despite the name, it does not seem to operate on the thyroid, so don’t let that scare you.
Like Pyroxamine, Thyrovate contains 40mg Paradoxine per capsule – but each serving size is two capsules, so you’re easily going to go above and beyond the grains of paradise studies cited in this post because you can get up to four capsules per day (160mg Paradoxine!) Again, those doses are higher than Bestcom Biotech’s recommendations for Paradoxine, so stick to two capsules (80mg worth) until you’ve really assessed your tolerance.
There are also several very unique fat burning compounds in Thyrovate, but being stimulant-free / caffeine-free, you can take it with your coffee, a pre workout supplement, or later in the evening!
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In terms of caffeine, Backdraft XP is far more aggressive than the above two options.
You get 250mg caffeine with a full three-capsule serving, and that provides 50mg Paradoxine. This is a greater dose than the studies referenced, but a lower grains of paradise dose than the Myokem options above.
This product may truly live up to its name, though, since it also contains 20mg of 35,000 SHU Capsicum (cayenne pepper extract) – so just like grains of paradise, it will heat you up even more!
If you want to get more caffeine in from your fat burner, this may be the option for you – but the Paradoxine is admittedly lower than what you could be getting elsewhere.
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Other Paradoxine-based Supplements
If you want even more options, you can research the following:
What are the potential side effects?
A 28-day toxicology study in rats showed that extremely high doses of Grains of Paradise extract (rich in gingerols) found evidence of liver enlargement and elevation in alkaline phosphatase. But don’t fret yet – it’s important to note that the doses found were using a whopping 450mg/kg of body weight and 1500mg/kg of body weight in the mice!! That translates to 72.58mg/kg body weight for humans, which means that an average 175lb male (about 80kg) would need to take 5.7 grams of the extract in order to replicate those studies.
The supplements we’re dealing with are nowhere near these doses — not even by a factor of 50 – so we are relatively unconcerned with this data. In fact, capsaicin (red pepper extract, often used as a fat burner) has been shown to be deadly at far lower doses than these — so it can be argued that grains of paradise is a safer alternative!
Further, as shown at the benefits section of this post, lower doses are beneficial in rats. This means it may be one of those ingredients that’s great in low doses, but too much of a good thing isn’t always wonderful.
However, if you already have liver toxicity concerns, this could be a consideration when consuming high doses of GoP extract. Furthermore, two other animal studies, showed that Paradise extract actually attenuates hepatoxicity.[6,7] So, we’ve got conflicting results here from separate trials, which kind of muddies the waters on any true side effects of Grains of Paradise. That being said…
As always, get your doctor’s written consent before starting any new diet or supplementation program. The statements on this page are not approved by the FDA.
More realistically, grains of paradise will almost definitely cause a thermogenic heating sensation, and some may consider this to be a “side effect”. However, that’s the whole point of using the supplement!
Do make sure that you swallow the capsule completely and with plenty of water. Grains of paradise can cause minor heartburn issues if the capsule begins to break down in the upper digestive system.
The side effects of fat burners are actually more often induced by the stimulants inside, and users who do not properly assess their stimulant tolerances. As such, if you’re taking a stimulant-based fat burner, start with low doses. Thankfully, products like Myokem Pyroxamine only have 100mg caffeine per capsule, which is quite low compared to the caffeine intakes many of us get in (a tiny 8oz cup of coffee has about 100mg caffeine).
Further research needs to be conducted to see if other plants whose extracts are high in gingerols pose the same liver toxicity implications when dosed in high amounts.
Conclusion: These grains may stop those weight gains
It’s extremely rare that we encounter a non-stimulant herbal-based ingredient that actually lives up to the hype surrounding it – with real human-based research! Yet, that’s what we appear to have in Grains of Paradise — enhanced fat loss, increased energy expenditure, and better health.
As always, we’re looking forward to more research, and we’ll update this post as it is published. But now that we’ve done the research, we’re not not surprised that some of our favorite fat burners – one of them that’s been on top of our list for two years (Pyroxamine) – is powered in part by this potent extract. Some companies are simply years ahead of the curve, and those are the companies we love to follow.
To ensure that you’re getting the highest quality Paradise extract you can find, it only makes sense to use the only one backed by human research trials: Paradoxine. You’ll look leaner, feel more energetic, and live an all around healthier life!
- Read more about Paradoxine at Paradoxine.com
- Recommended fat burners using Aframomum Melegueta:
- See the full-text references below
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- Rosenwald M, Wolfrum C; “The origin and definition of brite versus white and classical brown adipocytes”; Adipocyte; 2014;3(1):4-9; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917931/
- Sugita, J., Yoneshiro, T., et al; “Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and increases whole-body energy expenditure in men”; British Journal of Nutrition; (2013) 110(4), pp. 733–738; https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/grains-of-paradise-aframomum-melegueta-extract-activates-brown-adipose-tissue-and-increases-whole-body-energy-expenditure-in-men/517F8F0D73864C919E42D502537BA01D/core-reader
- Sugita J, Yoneshiro T, et al; “Daily ingestion of grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract increases whole-body energy expenditure and decreases visceral fat in humans”; Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology; 2014, 60(1): 22-27; https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jnsv/60/1/60_22/_pdf
- Momoe Iwami, Fatma A. Mahmoud, et al; “Extract of grains of paradise and its active principle 6-paradol trigger thermogenesis of brown adipose tissue in rats”; Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical; 161 (2011); 63–67; https://www.docdroid.net/Iog80CU/momoe-iwami-paradise-study.pdf.html
- Ilic N, Schmidt BM, Poulev A, Raskin I; “Toxicological evaluation of Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) [Roscoe] K. Schum”; Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2010;127(2); https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3815460/
- Adefegha, Stephen A. et al; “Alligator pepper/Grain of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) modulates Angiotensin-I converting enzyme activity, lipid profile and oxidative imbalances in a rat model of hypercholesterolemia”; Pathophysiology; Volume 23, Issue 3, 191 – 202; http://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680(16)30026-8/fulltext
- Semwal R, Semwal D, Combrinck S, Viljoen A; “Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger”; Phytochemistry; https://www.docdroid.net/TZ53eaP/gingerols-and-shogaols-important-nutraceutical-principles-from-ginger.pdf.html
- Kim SH, Plutzky J; “Brown Fat and Browning for the Treatment of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders”; Diabetes & Metabolism Journal. 2016;40(1):12-21; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768046/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Food and Drug Administration; “Guidance for Industry: Estimating the Maximum Safe Starting Dose in Initial Clinical Trials for Therapeutics in Adult Healthy Volunteers”; July 2005; http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm078932.pdf
- Wikipedia contributors; “List of Good Eats episodes.”; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; July 21 2016; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Good_Eats_episodes#cite_note-33
- Saito, A; “Acute oral toxicity of capsaicin in mice and rats.”; The Journal of Toxicological Sciences; 1996 Aug; 21(3):195-200; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8887888