Ashwagandha, an ingredient that is no stranger to supplement formulas, has been thoroughly investigated over the years for its various properties and effects, one of them being weight loss. Now we've seen a few weight loss aids that feature ashwagandha and have quite a lot of good reviews behind them, but how much of the weight loss effects are due to ashwagandha, and can the solo ashwagandha supplements actually help us torch that excess fat?
Let's look at that in more detail below.
Ashwagandha, Breaking Down the Fat
When it comes to tearing apart the effects and properties of natural ingredients like ashwagandha, I find it best to start with a quick overview so we can get a solid footing to understand its effects. Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is an ancient medicinal herb native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It contains several compounds, like withanolides which positively affect processes in the human body.
Withanolides have been proven to produce effects that help us combat stress, anxiety, and even testosterone deficiency. I dove into its effect on testosterone levels just recently and found evidence that not only confirms its effectiveness in this respect but also points to its influence on a few other body processes, one of them being fat loss.
So, how does it cause us to shed those excess pounds? Well, it all settles on ashwagandha's ability to control stress responses. High cortisol (stress hormone) levels have been shown to cause weight gain, trigger the redistribution of fat tissue to your midsection and increase your appetite for foods high in fat or carbohydrates.
That said, it's only natural that the opposite—reduction of cortisol can do the opposite, benefiting weight loss.
The 8-week study involved 2 groups one which took a daily supplementation of 600mg ashwagandha and another which took a placebo.
The ashwagandha group measured in with significantly lower stress and cortisol levels. This was combined with reduced food cravings and body weight (average weight loss of 5.1 pounds) and increased happiness, showing that consistent supplementation can benefit weight loss.
A Deeper Look into Ashwagandha for Weight Loss
We've looked at one way ashwagandha could help you beat the bulge, but that's not the only way. After expanding my search, I found that there are quite a few benefits and effects of ashwagandha that link up to weight loss. Below I touch on each of these effects and look at the scientific evidence behind them.
May Increase Muscle Mass
A while back, I wrote an article about ashwagandha and muscle building which gives you a detailed look at how the herb can help with muscle development. Increasing muscle mass supports better body composition, favoring muscle over fat, leading to a redistribution of body weight. More muscle mass also supports metabolisms by increasing the amount of energy we use during rest, resulting in higher calorie burns—weight loss.
Improves Sleep Quality
The effect a good night's rest has on our lives goes beyond a fresh look on our faces and fewer eyebags—sleep has many health benefits, like weight loss and maintenance.
A meta-analysis that looked at the combined data of 18 studies that involved over 600,000 adults found that people who get less sleep are 55% more likely to gain weight and even develop obesity, which means that a goods night's rest can do wonders for getting rid of the bulge and ashwagandha can help with this.
A 10-week study involving adults taking a 600mg dose of ashwagandha once daily resulted in decreased sleep latency (the time it takes us to fall asleep) and improved sleep quality-efficiency (the amount of time spent asleep). The group also experienced a boost in their total sleep time by 50 minutes per night.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
If blood sugar levels are high, it forces the body to produce more insulin (a hormone that manages blood sugar levels). When insulin levels are at a constant high because of unregulated sugar levels, it affects the body's ability to burn fat for energy, increasing fat storage—weight gain. So, managing blood sugar levels will reduce insulin production, benefit weight loss, and eliminate fat mass.
In a meta-analysis of 24 studies that each ran for an average of 3 months, ashwagandha supplementation significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels. Similar results were found in another study that involved ashwagandha supplementation in adults with type 2 diabetes. Here again, we saw significant reductions in blood sugar levels, and this was just after 30 days, which is truly astounding.
Researchers even described the decline as similar to prescription blood-sugar-lowering medication. This shows how effective the herb is and confirms that it can help you lose weight by managing blood sugar levels. The regulation of blood sugar levels can also curb appetites and cravings, which reduce the number of calories we eat and stops us from reaching for unhealthy food and snacks, supporting weight loss.
Increases Testosterone Levels in Men
Circling back to testosterone, remember I mentioned earlier that ashwagandha can boost testosterone levels? That boost can affect our waistlines as well, literally. Low testosterone is often the culprit behind sudden unexplained weight gain in men, especially in the midsection. Since ashwagandha is a natural testosterone-boosting gem, it can help stop weight gain, and the enhanced testosterone levels can contribute to fat loss. Think of it like a domino effect.
One trial, which evaluated the effect of ashwagandha on men, found that a 300mg supplementation twice daily for 8 weeks produced great results. The men saw an increase in muscle mass and testosterone levels with a reduction in body fat, a perfect trio with long-term health benefits.
The findings and results from the studies above prove that ashwagandha can help with weight loss in multiple ways while also improving other aspects of health. It's also good to know that ashwagandha did not cause any serious side effects in any of these trials, making it a safe and effective choice.
After diving into the research and looking at the results from several trials, it's safe to say that ashwagandha does it again. The ingredient is one of the most reliable natural options out there, and it has the evidence to back all of its claims, including those about weight loss. Incorporating the herb into your fitness journey could accelerate your progress, helping you reach your weight loss goals more quickly and comfortably. You can do this by simply getting an ashwagandha supplement or opting for a fat burner with the ingredient in its formula. If you're wondering about what dosing to look for with these supplements or what amount of ashwagandha is safe and effective, you can look at a piece I did recently about ashwagandha dosing to ensure you get the ideal amounts in.