There’s no question that chronic and constant stress may lead towards weight gain, increased consumption of unhealthy foods, and invariably, problems losing the excess weight that comes with it.
On the other hand, there are plenty of supplements that claim to be effective in helping a person lose weight naturally. Countless supplements can be found everywhere, each one claiming to do wonders for your metabolism.
How does ashwagandha stack up? Let’s find out.
Ashwagandha is often referred to as an adaptogenic substance. This class of herbs purports to help the body manage stress–and in doing so, promote weight loss in individuals who are saddled with high amounts of stress.
But before we examine how ashwagandha might support weight loss, it’s essential to gain a better understanding of what it actually is and how it interacts with cortisol–or what is known as the hormone primarily associated with stress.
Ashwagandha has long been one of the most studied adaptogenic herbs for its extended use in traditional medicinal systems as a stress-busting tonic.
Cortisol is known as the hormone that runs high during high physical and emotional distress. It’s also known as the hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response in humans.
These spikes in cortisol during rare situations in the short term are essential to help keep your body fully aware and energetic during times of high stress.
However, when cortisol levels are constantly high, they can take a toll on the body. High cortisol levels may direct the body to store more fat instead of burning it, mess with established sleep patterns, weaken immunity, and diminish energy levels. Over time, high stress levels increase the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, to name a few.
Ashwagandha has been proven to help reduce cortisol and stress. Individuals supplemented with ashwagandha in a small study experienced a marked reduction in perceived stress levels after over two months on the supplement. It was also found that supplementing with ashwagandha (300 mg) reduced blood cortisol levels by nearly 30%.
So, there’s no question that ashwagandha does benefit reducing stress levels for individuals who take it. But how does weight loss figure in that equation?
Ashwagandha and weight loss
The link between ashwagandha and its effect on weight loss is a newly developing field of research. Based on the one major study that has examined the connection between both (conducted in 2017), individuals who were supplemented with 300 mg doses of ashwagandha twice daily experienced some degree of weight loss in just a short period–without making any dietary changes.
Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic activity is believed to help support a caloric deficit diet and potentially help individuals experiencing plateaus in weight loss break through their rut.
Furthermore, its positive effects in promoting an improved sleep cycle and, therefore, better sleep quality allow individuals to significantly reduce anxiety and stress levels. Sleeping better helps promote weight loss by normalizing hormonal levels, which are all factors that increase the likelihood of weight gain.
Ashwagandha also helps increase energy due to its iron content, which boosts blood flow throughout the body. And the more energy you have during workouts, the longer you can go. The longer you can go, the more calories you burn.
Ashwagandha might also have anti-cancer properties due to its withaferin content. This bioactive substance may promote cell death in tumors and treat several cancers. This, apart from its potential to reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
How to take ashwagandha
Studies on dosages ranging from 250-600 mg for stress reduction, weight loss, and sleep enhancement. Ashwagandha is available in capsule, powdered, or tea form. It might also be included in male performance enhancement or testosterone booster supplements.
Consult your primary health provider if you are experiencing what you think might be weight gain or weight loss issues related to stress. If you don’t experience chronic stress, ashwagandha might not be for you.
Moreover, ashwagandha may cause some gastrointestinal discomfort when taken on an empty stomach. Therefore it is often recommended to take ashwagandha supplements after meals.
Regardless of ashwagandha’s reputation as a traditional herb safe for consumption, always consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any supplement into your routine.
Additional health benefits of ashwagandha
While ashwagandha possesses much potential to remedy stress and excess weight, its health benefits might go beyond just that.
Ashwagandha has shown promise in increasing testosterone levels in a couple of studies conducted in 2013 and 2019. Ashwagandha supplementation paired with weight training has also shown benefits in promoting muscle gain, recovery, and strength and preventing muscle loss due to high stress levels. Furthermore, ashwagandha improves recovery by helping promote a better, more restful night’s sleep. Lastly, ashwagandha is packed with antioxidants, which help fight off stress leading to inflammation.
Should you take ashwagandha for weight loss?
Given its various potential benefits, ashwagandha may be successfully incorporated as part of a weight maintenance routine for individuals that experience or are prone to high stress levels.
But to drill down on weight loss, ashwagandha may be used simultaneously with lifestyle changes that contribute to overall health, such as proper diet and exercise for individuals seeking to keep the extra pounds off.
Nevertheless, if you have any concerns about how taking ashwagandha may affect you, consult your primary healthcare provider. They will best help you determine any underlying medical causes and prescribe an actionable treatment plan.