Whenever the words losing weight come up, the first thing you probably think of is the gym. Sure, working out has its benefits. But let’s be honest, it is sometimes a big hassle! That said, some of us just aren’t too very big on the idea of constantly working out. Here’s the good news, some say you can lose just as much weight by using the ashwagandha herb. This ayurvedic supplement is famed for its numerous health benefits. One of them may be helping you when it comes to shedding those extra pounds. Read about ashwagandha benefits for weight loss below!
Ashwagandha Uses And Benefits
Ashwagandha May Decrease Your Blood Sugar Levels
This is probably one of the best benefits of ashwagandha for weight loss. It can potentially reduce erratic blood sugar spikes in your bloodstream. By extension, it improves your body’s level of glucose metabolism. You see, whenever there are high blood sugar levels in your body, the production of insulin in large amounts is triggered.
In a move to store the circulating nutrients, insulin then instructs your fat cells to store the excess glucose. These cells then become larger, resulting in weight gain. Chronic high insulin levels can eventually lead to metabolic conditions like obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Ashwagandha Is Rich In Antioxidants
Ashwagandha has several natural antioxidants that may improve your overall health while boosting fat-burning mechanisms in your body. Additionally, it exhibits natural antimicrobial effects that may improve your immune system, helping you follow your exercise and dietary plans.
You see, when your immune system is compromised, your body activates its survival mechanisms. When in this state, fat burning just isn’t the priority for it. Also, being sick means missed gym and workout sessions that could interfere with your progress.
Ashwagandha Can Help Increase Your Muscle Mass And Strength
Muscle mass is crucial when it comes to losing weight the right way. That is probably why most fitness instructors will insist on building muscle mass as part of a weight loss program. You see, the larger your muscles, the more energy you’ll require, hence, burning up more calories.
The muscle-building effect of ashwagandha is something that has been studied for quite some time now. One such study concludes that “ashwagandha supplementation is linked with a significant increase in muscle mass and strength”. It also indicates that it may be particularly useful if used in combination with resistance training workouts (7).
In the study, 57 young men with little experience in resistance training and aged between 18-50 years were used. One group was given 300 milligrams of the ashwagandha root extract twice daily during the study period. The other group, however, was given starch placebos (7).
After 8 weeks of resistance training, measurements were taken and compared with the original measurements. The group given ashwagandha exhibited a significant increase in muscle mass in their legs, arms, and chest. Also, their body fat percentage and exercise-induced muscle damage were far lower (7).
This study then implies that apart from gaining muscle mass when using ashwagandha, you may also lose more fat and become stronger. You may also recover from the strain of working out much faster (7).
Ashwagandha Reduces The Levels Of Cortisol Hormone
Cortisol is a stress hormone that has been widely linked with weight gain by several scientists. In extreme cases, chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and obesity. Ashwagandha may naturally reduce cortisol hormone levels in your body (4).
As a result, stress eating tendencies and food cravings will be lowered, thus helping you manage your weight. A study was conducted on 52 chronically stressed adults to prove this. All participants were aged between 18-60 years and were already being treated for weight and stress problems (4).
One group was given 300 milligrams of the ashwagandha root extract in capsule form, twice daily for 8 weeks. However, the other group was given a placebo capsule with an inert filler over the same period. These placebos were stored in an envelope containing ashwagandha root extract, so they smelled the same (4).
At the end of the study, the group taking ashwagandha exhibited a significant decline in mean scores on the Perceived Stress Scale. This group also showed improvements in (4):
- Wellbeing and happiness
- Reactive eating
- Serum cortisol levels
All these positive effects may be attributed to the adaptogenic qualities of the ashwagandha root extract. This implies that the herb can directly help you manage your stress. You’ll therefore be able to say no to unhealthy food cravings that may be stress-induced. This will ultimately help you manage your weight.
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Ashwagandha Can Boost Your Energy Levels
Several properties of the ashwagandha herb make it an ideal energy booster. For starters, it’s rich in iron which enhances blood circulation. Also, it affects hormones released by the adrenal gland while reducing cortisol levels. Both of these are crucial for a healthy nervous system.
This 2010 study sought to compare the effects of a placebo, ashwagandha extract, and Arjun tree bark extract on physical performance. Of the 40 participants involved, 10 participants were placed in the control group and given placebos. 10 were given ashwagandha, 10 with Arjun tree extract, and 10, a combination of both. Equal doses of 500-milligrams were used in each group (5).
They were then made to perform some exercises for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the results indicated that ashwagandha helped in addressing general weakness. Additionally, it also improved speed, lower limb, and neuro-muscular coordination (5).
Increased energy levels will help you power through your workout routines for weight loss. So ultimately, ashwagandha may help you manage your weight by boosting your energy.
Ashwagandha May Help With Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition that interferes with the secretion of thyroid hormones in your body. These hormones directly affect your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). See, when you have low thyroid hormone levels, your BMR is likely to be low. This is an indicator of weight gain.
Some studies indicate that supplementing ashwagandha to people with subclinical hypothyroidism can improve the hormone levels in their bodies. In one 8-week long study, 50 people were given 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract daily. They exhibited significant improvements in their thyroid levels compared to those who took a placebo (6).
The ashwagandha group specifically had elevated triiodothyronine levels (T3) at 41.5% and thyroxine (T4) at 19.6%. Additionally, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels also declined by 17.5%. This, however, can be attributed to its cortisol-lowering properties. In some cases, it even helped control and solve weight gain problems (6).
Ashwagandha Can Improve Your Sleep Quality
Heightened stress levels have been linked with insomnia or an improper sleep cycle. Sleep is important when it comes to weight management. When you sleep, a lot of muscle growth, healing, and repair occurs. Additionally, the better your quality of sleep is, the more calories you’ll burn when sleeping.
This study sought to determine the effects of ashwagandha on 64 chronically stressed people experiencing anxiety. One group was supplemented with the herb, while the other was given a placebo. The first group experienced a 69% decrease in anxiety and insomnia, while the second only decreased by 11% (1).
These results, therefore, indicate that ashwagandha can help reduce your anxiety and cortisol levels (1). You’ll, in turn, get more quality sleep that may ultimately result in weight loss. So does ashwagandha make you sleep better? Indirectly, yes, it does by reducing your stress and anxiety levels.
How To Use Ashwagandha For Weight Loss?
Now you know just how good ashwagandha can be for your health. The only question left is, how do you use it? Well, worry not!
Ashwagandha can be taken in many different forms, and next, we look at each.
First off is its raw form. The plant herb has a distinct smell and taste, making it hard to take raw. So most people prefer adding it to milk, ghee, or water to improve its taste. Also, including other ingredients can increase its overall nutritional value. However, it is also available as tablets, liquids, powders, and capsules. Here’s how you can use it in each form:
How To Use Ashwagandha Leaves?
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Pick a bunch of ashwagandha leaves from the plant.
- Use water to clean the leaves. Make sure you remove all the dirt.
- Next, arrange the leaves on a tray and put them out in the sun to dry. This should take between 3-4 days.
- Once the leaves are completely dry, grind them to form a finely powdered mixture.
- For your weight loss needs, have a half tablespoon of the powdered ashwagandha leaves with a cup of warm water or milk. Try to take this mixture twice daily for maximum impact.
- Adding honey to the powdered ashwagandha leaves can improve their taste. Adding cardamom powder, however, will increase your metabolism and digestion, ultimately boosting your weight loss regimen.
How To Use Ashwagandha Powder (Churna)?
Ashwagandha powder can be taken with either water, milk, or ghee.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to use it with water:
- Add one tablespoon to a glass of hot water and let it sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the beneficial nutrients of the herb are released into the water.
- Stir the mixture and take 1-2 times a day for the best results.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to use it with milk:
- Add cinnamon and cardamom to a glass of milk in a saucepan.
- Boil this mixture and add a pinch of nutmeg powder and one tablespoon of ashwagandha powder. Let it continue boiling for a few minutes.
- Cardamom and cinnamon can be used to enhance its taste while improving metabolism and digestion.
- Take this recipe twice daily after your meals to help with your weight loss regimen.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to use it with pure ghee:
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of ashwagandha powder and ½ cup of water in a saucepan.
- Using a medium flame, heat the mixture until it reduces to about a quarter of its size.
- Let the mixture cool at room temperature, then use a cotton cloth to filter it.
- Pour the filtered water into a pan, then add pure and organic ghee to it.
- Next, use a medium flame to heat this mixture until all the water evaporates.
- Eat your meals with the resultant ghee containing ashwagandha powder and store any extras for future use.
How To Take Ashwagandha Tablets?
Ashwagandha can be found in the markets also in tablet or capsule form. While this is also an option, it is generally recommended that you use it in powder or use its leaves.
Here’s how you use ashwagandha tablets:
- Swallow 1-2 ashwagandha tablets with water.
- Take this twice daily, after your meals.
This is just a general guideline. That said, have you been wondering when is the best time to take ashwagandha? Or maybe you want to know how much ashwagandha is safe. Simple – you should always follow your doctor’s recommendation in terms of dosage and time of use.
So can you take too much ashwagandha to a point where it’s harmful? Yes, and that’s why we’re insisting you should first consult your doctor.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
While there are several ashwagandha benefits for weight loss, there are a few side effects you should watch out for. You see, ashwagandha is generally considered safe when you use it in the right dosage. The long-term effects of using the herb are not yet clear, but there are still no fatal side effects.
Based on this research review, some possible side effects of ashwagandha include (2):
- Blurry vision
- Elevated testosterone levels
- Heightened stomach acid
- Heavy sensation in the head
It is also recommended that breastfeeding or pregnant women should avoid taking ashwagandha. That’s because there is some evidence that suggests it can cause miscarriages. However, there still isn’t enough information showing its effects on breastfeeding mothers. So to err on the safe side, it’s recommended you avoid it when breastfeeding (3).
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Who Shouldn’t Use Ashwagandha Without Professional Advice?
Also, people with the following health conditions shouldn’t use ashwagandha without advice from a medical professional:
People With Low Or High Blood Pressure
So how do ashwagandha and blood pressure relate to each other? For starters, ashwagandha is capable of lowering blood pressure, according to some animal studies. This could cause potential problems for people with high or low blood pressure (8).
Those with high blood pressure can experience an interaction between the herb and their prescribed medication. Then it could further reduce the blood pressure of people with low blood pressure resulting in a dangerous situation (3).
People Who Are Just From Surgery
Data based on animal trials indicate that ashwagandha has a sedating effect that slows down the central nervous system. Using it in combination with post-op medications will only increase this nervous system slowdown (9). Also, since it slows down the nervous system, you should avoid taking it at least 2 weeks before surgery.
People With Thyroid Disorders
These conditions can be very frustrating for people dealing with them. So, just how serious are the ashwagandha thyroid side effects? Well, it can potentially increase the levels of thyroid hormone in your body. However, adding ashwagandha may lead to an undesirable spike in thyroid hormone levels if you’re on medication (6).
Similarly, the herb will only make the conditions worse for people with hyperthyroidism. If these levels rise above a certain point, it may lead to thyrotoxicosis, a serious medical condition (6).
People With Autoimmune Conditions
Many people use ashwagandha to enhance the immune system. This is understandable since studies show it can increase your immune activity. However, this is not always beneficial for everybody.
People with autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis should avoid it. That’s because the ayurvedic herb might only worsen the autoimmune symptoms (2).
People With Stomach Ulcers
Ashwagandha can potentially irritate your gastrointestinal tract. You should therefore avoid using it if you have stomach ulcers (3).
People With Type 1 Diabetes
Some animal studies show that ashwagandha lowers blood sugar levels. While this may look like a good thing for people with diabetes, it’s not always the case. However, diabetic people are usually on blood sugar lowering medication. So the addition of ashwagandha could cause extremely low drops that can be dangerous (8).
That being said, it is important to know that ashwagandha is considered to be generally safe if used the right way. So when it comes to the question, “how much ashwagandha should I take?”, just practice moderation. Like everything else in fitness, if you take it in excess, it may prove counterproductive. And always talk to your doctor before using it, especially if you have any underlying conditions or are on any medications.
To lose weight effectively and safely, you need to balance your dietary plans and workout program. However, sometimes some supplements could aid you by reducing stress and lessening its toll on your body. Ashwagandha is one such supplement.
Can BetterMe Help?
This ancient herb is an easy and efficient way to speed things up in your weight loss journey. Research has shown that it’s safe and effective for most healthy people, so you’ve got nothing to worry about — unless you’re struggling to shed those pounds even after taking it. Then, BetterMe can help. We’ll be your trusted guide and help you with personalized workouts, simple meal plans, and personal coaching. Download the app today!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults (2012, pubmed.gov)
- Ashwagandha (2019, nih.gov)
- Ashwagandha (2020, medlineplus.gov)
- Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract (2016, nih.gov)
- Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults (2010, pubmed.gov)
- Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial (2017, pubmed.gov)
- Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial (2015, biomedcentral.com)
- Protective effects of Withania somnifera root on inflammatory markers and insulin resistance in fructose-fed rats (2015, pubmed.gov)
- Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review (2000, pubmed.gov)