Ashwagandha For Weight Loss
In principle, losing weight seems simple. You just need to eat less, do more exercise and the weight will fall off. Unfortunately, everybody who has ever struggled with weight loss knows that this is far from the truth.
Why is that so? Well, your metabolism is a complex process. The way your body convert food into fat or energy and extract various nutrients can be affected by many things. Among these factors are your age, sex (females tend to have more difficulties losing weight), and your hormone levels.
That is why losing weight often demands other things than just cutting down on your calorie intake.
Let's take a look at how an herb – ashwagandha – can help you on your way to permanent fat loss.
What is Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a healing herb that is commonly used in the Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda. Nowadays, ashwagandha is also a popular supplement in the West. Most supplements are available in the form of capsules that contain fine powder from ashwagandha roots.
Ashwagandha has many health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant and contributes to a strong immune system. That is why it has been traditionally used in tonics for enhancing vitality and general health. It also boosts libido and has a positive effect on fertility (for both men as well as women).
You can learn more about how ashwagandha affects your health in our article on Health Benefits of Ashwagandha.
How Ashwagandha Contributes to Fat Loss
Among its many benefits, ashwagandha has been shown to support weight loss. It does that in 2 ways:
- It effectively lowers elevated cortisol levels
- It regulates blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity
Let's explain the relation between ashwagandha, weight loss, cortisol and blood sugar in more details.
Ashwagandha Helps You Lose Weight by Lowering Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a hormone, which is secreted by your adrenal glands in response to stress. It performs vital functions in our body. The problem arises when you are faced with severe or prolonged stress and your cortisol levels are consistently elevated. Then, cortisol can lead to a host of health problems – ranging from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
The reason for this is that cortisol is involved in the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates into energy. When you are dealing with elevated cortisol levels, your body starts to store more fat. Cortisol even affects where you are putting on weight. Studies have shown that people with increased cortisol levels tend to develop more abdominal fat than hip fat. This kind of fat is much more harmful to health as it promotes the development of chronic disease, related to metabolic syndrome.
Ashwagandha Aids Weight Loss by Contributing to Better Blood Sugar Control
Cortisol also triggers the release of insulin, which is a hormone that enables your body to use blood sugar for energy or store it as fat. If you often experience insulin surges, in time your cells don't respond as well to insulin as they used to. This is often referred to as insulin resistance and may even lead to type 2 diabetes.
As well as lowering cortisol levels, ashwagandha helps weight loss by decreasing fasting blood sugar levels. It also improves insulin sensitivity. Both these effects together contribute to better blood sugar control and easier weight management.
What do the Studies Say
The results of the studies related to ashwagandha and weight loss are promising. It has been shown that:
- Ashwagandha effectively lowers serum levels of cortisol (up to 26%)
- Treatment with ashwagandha significantly improves insulin sensitivity index
- It lowers blood sugar (glucose) levels with potency comparable to anti-diabetic drugs
- As an added benefit, ashwagandha also decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides
These studies indicate that ashwagandha is an effective weight loss aid, especially for people who are already suffering some effects of the metabolic syndrome.
It is also a welcome supplement for all those that are gaining weight due to severe or ongoing stress.
How to Take Ashwagandha For Weight Loss
Ashwagandha is available in most countries as a dietary supplement and is generally considered as safe. It has been studied for safety in doses up to 2 grams per day.
Typically, ashwagandha supplements contain about 400 to 500 mgs of dried and powdered ashwagandha roots.
Read our article on How to choose an ashwagandha supplement to learn about the things that you need to pay attention to when choosing your own supplement. Here, you will also find an overview of most popular quality ashwagandha supplements, so you’ll be able to decide which one might work best for you.
Ashwagandha usually doesn’t cause adverse side effects. In some cases, though, it causes mild gastrointestinal discomfort. That is why it is best if you take your supplement with meals.
If you are pregnant, you shouldn’t take ashwagandha – it has been shown that it can trigger a miscarriage.
Learn more about side effects, precautions and interactions of ashwagandha with other supplements and medications in our article: How to take ashwagandha.
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- Cortisol Switcharoo (Part 1): How Cortisol Makes You Fat and Angry, Plus 7 Practices to Rock Your Stress. http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/cortisol-switcharoo/
- How Cortisol Makes You Fat. http://www.maryvancenc.com/how-cortisol-makes-you-fat/
- What is Insulin? http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin
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- A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. Indian journal of psychological medicine. 2012 Jul. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
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