The Indian herb ashwagandha may provide many weight loss benefits to support your diet and exercise program. According to "Life Extension Magazine," scientists theorize that many of ashwagandha's health-boosting properties comes from the antioxidant steroidal alkaloids and lactones, principally the withanolides. Ashwagandha may fight stress and aid weight loss by acting as a natural adaptogen in the body, fighting disease and decreasing levels of stress hormones.
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Consult with a health-care practitioner before using ashwagandha to treat any medical condition.
Adaptogens fight the physiological effects of stress in the body. Dieting and intense or frequent workouts can place a lot of stress on the body, leading to plateaus in progress or even injury. Training and/or dieting for too long without down-shifting for recovery can cause symptoms of over-training, such as muscle loss, decreased energy, weakened immune function and decreased metabolic rate, according to "Xtreme Lean" authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
Cortisol not only acts as a stress hormone in the body, it can also make you fat, according to "The Cortisol Connection" by Shawn Talbott. Worse, chronically high levels of cortisol promote diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Ashwagadandha can naturally lower cortisol levels up to 26 percent, reports the Life Extension Magazine article "Stress Reduction, Neural Protection, and a Lot More from an Ancient Herb" by Dale Kiefer.
The natural antioxidants in ashwagandha may improve overall health and promote better fat burning. Ashwaganda displays natural antimicrobial effects and may improve immune function to keep you healthy and able to follow your diet and exercise plan. When immune function gets compromised by pathogens, the body enters a survival mode, where fat burning simply does not rank highly on your list of priorities. Moreover, missed trips to the gym and waning motivation do nothing to support your weight loss goals.
Adaptogens like ashwagandha seem to naturally boost energy levels by supporting the central nervous system. In fact, the central nervous system may act as a limiting factor in intense training like weight lifting, say Lawson and Holman. Buffering the physiological stress can improve performance. In the article "Simplifying Weight Loss" by Kelli Miller Stacy, Dr. Mark Hyman recommends ashwagandha as a supplemental strategy for boosting energy and weight loss through stress reduction.
Decreased Blood Sugar
According to Kiefer, ashwagandha also potentially decreases fasting blood sugar levels, which means that it may also help to improve glucose metabolism. High levels of blood sugar prompt the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin to store the circulating nutrients. Insulin then drives glucose into fat cells for storage. Over time chronically high levels of insulin can lead to obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, according to "The Fat Burning Bible" by Mackie Shilstone.
- Life Extension Magazine; Stress Reduction, Neural Protection, and a Lot More from an Ancient Herb; Dale Kiefer; June 2006
- "Xtreme Lean;" Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman; 2005
- "The Cortisol Connection;" Shawn Talbott; 2002
- Life Extension Magazine; Simplifying Weight Loss; Kelli Miller Stacy; May 2006
- "The Fat Burning Bible;" Mackie Shilstone; 2005