Rhodiola Rosea is a herb that’s included in many fat burners for its supposed weight loss properties. But, the question is: is it truly beneficial or just overhyped?
To come up with a definitive verdict, I analyzed and examined all the available scientific literature I could find on the ingredient. Specifically, about how it can help with weight loss. Here’s what I found.
What is Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea, also known as “Arctic Root”, is a yellow flowered herb that commonly grows in the high altitude regions of Europe and Asia. The herb has a long history of medicinal use in Russia, parts of Scandinavia and Europe.
Recently, there have been claims of rhodiola rosea helping with weight loss, with a few fat burners claiming it lowers fatigue, stress, perceived exertion and fat metabolism. All of which can either directly or indirectly help with weight loss.
Rhodiola Rosea and Weight Loss — Is there a connection?
After a lot of digging, I could only find one remotely relevant study conducted in 2013. In the study, a mixture of Citrus Aurantium and Rhodiola Rosea were fed to a group of rats. The study concluded that the mixture caused a 30% decrease in their visceral fat weight and 10.5% increase in suppressing cravings.
However, this is not solid evidence for two primary reasons. One being that this study was conducted on rats and not humans. The second — and arguably the more important one — being that Rhodiola Rosea didn’t have any effect on the subjects’ weight until C Aurantium was added.
Decreases Perceived Exertion
After my initial research on fat metabolism, I came across another study that showed how Rhodiola Rosea makes you workout more by making you think that you’ve exerted less. Let me explain.
The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is an actual scientific term used to measure how hard your body feels like it's working. To surpass your exercise limits, this rating needs to be kept as low as possible.
According to a 2014 study, Rhodiola Rosea significantly lowers your body’s RPE after a 30 minute exercise bout. Thus, tricking your body into exerting more than it is used to, even though you’ve been putting in work for 30 minutes already. This, in turn, allows you to burn more calories.
Improves Muscle Power and Strength
One of the goals of any individual looking to lose weight is to convert their excess fat into muscle mass to improve their overall muscle growth and strength. A feat that can be achieved by stimulating the protein synthesis process.
Rhodiola Rosea may have a part to play in that process as well, as demonstrated in this 2020 study. The study concludes that resistance training when supplemented with Rhodiola has a greater impact on stimulating protein synthesis than resistance training alone. The only problem is, this study was conducted on rats and not humans.
To see whether it has the same effect on humans — we’ll need some human centric studies before I can recommend it as an effective weight loss ingredient.
Evidence Against the Weight Loss Efforts of Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea’s impact in helping with weight loss is quite debatable, considering the limited amount of studies that have been conducted on the herb.
The two studies I did find on lipid metabolism and protein synthesis are ambiguous at best. Primarily because they didn’t involve human subjects.
Moreover, a 2022 meta analysis of the herb summed up the efficacy of the herb in promoting protein synthesis even further. It analyzed the results of 10 individual trials conducted to test the herb. Finally concluding that Rhodiola Rosea’s effect on muscle growth and muscle strength wasn’t as clear as it should be.
On the other hand, rhodiola does have a well documented impact on decreasing your body’s rating of perceived exertion.
The herb also offers a whole host of benefits to your mental health including reduction in stress, fatigue and improving cognition.
Potential Side Effects
From what I could find, any side effects of Rhodiola Rosea when administered in the 100-600mg range are extremely mild. These side effects include dizziness and either dry mouth or excessive saliva production.
The herb has also been safely used in studies lasting from 6-12 weeks without any adverse side effects appearing in subjects.
Other Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
As I mentioned above, Rhodiola Rosea is primarily known for the impact it has on improving your mental health. Here’s a key benefit the herb provides to your mental well being.
One of Rhodiola Rosea’s most well documented benefits is its proficiency in reducing stress and fatigue.
In fact, its stress and fatigue reducing ability was on full display in a 2017 clinical trial. In the trial, 100 subjects with chronic fatigue symptoms were administered a 400 mg dosage of the herb daily for 8 weeks.
The study concluded that each of the subjects experienced an improvement in their fatigue symptoms within just one week of consuming the herb. Some studies also show how the herb promotes mental well being by curbing depression.
All the scientific evidence I’ve seen shows how there's little to no effect of Rhodiola Rosea on weight loss in humans. Instead, I did find how Rhodiola Rosea has a positive impact on symptoms of stress, fatigue and depression in humans.
As such, I would like to see some human centric studies conducted before I label Rhodiola Rosea as a bonafide weight loss ingredient.