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Does Maca Root Powder Cause Weight Gain?

Maca root is a natural aphrodisiac with a history that goes back to the early days of human civilization. For centuries, people have been using Maca root to help boost libido, increase energy, and promote fertility.

Many people want to know about the various potential health benefits of maca root and in the modern fitness world - most people want to know if maca root can help with gaining weight?

Maca root powder's primary benefit is not its effect on weight, however, many bodybuilders and dieters are currently using maca root with the belief that it will affect their weight.

So - does maca root actually make you gain weight? Or lose weight? Or is it all just a myth? What are the other health benefits it offers? This article will cover everything you need to know about maca root, so you can decide if it would benefit your daily routine.

maca root

    What Is Maca Root?

    Maca (Lepidium meyenii, or Peruvian ginseng) is a plant that grows high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.

    Over thousands of years, farmers in the Andes developed techniques for cultivating the maca plant and using its root as a food source.

    Maca root comes in many colours and varieties. The darker maca root tends to be bitter, while the lighter varieties are sweeter. This is because the chemical composition of the varieties of Maca root differs.

    For instance, the black variety of maca root has the densest concentration of natural pigments. It is the rarest type of maca root, and some people say it has potent physiological effects.

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    What Does Maca Root Do? Potential Health Benefits

    The farmers who grew maca root noticed that it affected the sex drive and energy levels of their animals and people well. The locals in Peru have a centuries-old tradition of using maca root to breed animals more effectively and to give themselves energy.

    Possibly Improving Endurance and Stamina

    2022 article in the Journal of Food Biochemistry showed that rats who received maca root were able to swim for longer periods. They also showed reduced levels of lactic acid buildup after exercise.

    Potentially Reducing Depression

    Another study using swimming in rats, a 2021 study in Pharmacognosy, showed that rats learned a water maze better and displayed fewer avoidant behaviours when the researchers gave them maca root.

    Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines that come from plants. The researchers attribute the effect to the “antidepressant-like” qualities of maca root.

    Considering the above study from 2022, it is possible that the rats were less depressed not because maca root directly relieved depression. They were less depressed because their increased stamina made the water maze easier.

    It should be noted here that animal studies are only ever indicative of effects in humans and mustn’t be taken as a direct analogy.

    May Help To Increase Sperm Concentration

    2019 study in the journal Andrologia showed that maca root increased sperm density but did not affect sperm motility or overall sperm volume. The study participants were men with low sperm motility or low sperm counts.

    Possible Relief from the Symptoms of Menopause

    An in-depth review of the effects of maca root on multiple conditions, including bone loss and relief of menopausal symptoms, points to many positive results.

    However, the article notes that the studies relied on data from self-report questionnaires and is generally critical of the lack of evidence surrounding many claims.

    Increased Estrogen Levels in Women

    The authors of the above review article found the evidence for the hormonal changes due to maca root to be inconsistent from one study to the next.

    The researchers used rats as test subjects and removed their ovaries to simulate menopause. Studies with animal models are not always accurate because animal reproductive systems do not always respond to hormones or supplements as humans do.

    does maca root make you gain weight?

    Does Maca Root Make You Gain Weight?

    Let’s return to the main question: does maca root make you gain weight?

    The answer to the question depends on whether you are asking about a direct link between the maca root’s activity and certain metabolic changes. These changes involve burning off more calories or changing your appetite by changing neurotransmitters or hormone levels.

    Evidence is inconsistent as far as a direct link between maca root and a biological cause of weight gain. However, some of maca root’s better-known effects could lead to weight gain.

    For instance, a man with higher testosterone levels and overall energy levels will be more likely to exercise. More workouts can lead to more muscle growth and add to the overall weight. Women who naturally raise their estrogen levels with Maca root might find it easier to adopt a more active lifestyle.

    The likelihood of maca root causing weight gain will also depend on personal and medical history. For example, any effects of maca root are likely to occur amid other changes to your mood, energy level, and hormonal balance.

    Other medications and supplements you take might also affect the potency and efficacy of maca root and its perceived ability to affect body weight and composition.

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    Do Any Scientific Studies Address the Question of Whether Maca Root Powder Causes Weight Gain?

    Scientific studies often do not specifically state if maca root has a direct relationship to weight gain. Weight gain, if present, is thought by most scientists to occur indirectly due to the positive effects mentioned above.

    If you feel better about yourself and are more active, you will be in a better position to build muscle mass and stick to a diet of nutritious foods. The true power of maca root reveals itself not when you set foot on the scale but when you step off it and live your life.

    Making Sense of What We Know About Maca Root

    Consumers of food and nutritional supplements should appreciate that no source of information presents a complete and accurate indication of how maca root will affect them.

    Consider each of the following:

    1.) Historical claims about Peruvians over the past several thousand years come from people in pre-industrial societies. They lived in mountain communities and typically carried out a great deal of physical labour. Their experiences might not be comparable to modern Americans, Australians and westerners in general who live in lower altitudes and consume products from outside Peru.

    2.) Scientists often use animal models such as rats when their studies involve bloodwork or invasive procedures. Many people are quick to draw conclusions from this, however, it is not necessarily close to how a substance works in the human body.

    3.) Studies with humans might rely on self-report survey data or on people who seek treatment for medical conditions. Participants might not be truthful or accurate on surveys. Participants who are in the study because they sought treatment might not represent the entire population.

    4.) Online consumer reviews might be misleading as well. A recent study of Amazon reviews of popular testosterone boosters used a computer algorithm to weed out suspicious reviews, such as reviews by unverified purchasers, suspicious reviewers, and incentivized reviewers. The algorithm flagged nearly two-thirds of the reviews as suspect.

    So, can we ever reach a definitive conclusion on the classic questions like “Will maca root improve your life?” or “Does Maca root make you gain weight?” Perhaps there is no single answer. We can’t expect a Peruvian farmer from a thousand years ago to respond to their diet in the same way as a stockbroker from Sydney.

    Instead of looking for a one-size-fits-all solution for diet, why not seek the unique solution that works well for you? Try a small amount of maca root for a little while and see how it affects you. If it does not have the effect you're looking for, explore other products until you find the right combination of foods and supplements.

    And as always - you should consult your doctor or GP before beginning any new supplement or alternative medicine.

    maca root powder

    Side Effects of Maca Root

    One of the benefits of maca powder is that it is a nutritious food, not just a chemical compound. Like other edible taproots, if you can source it whole - you can fry or bake it as a source of carbohydrates and fibre.

    Maca root is not a drug. As long as you prepare maca root powder properly, it has no known serious side effects and is considered generally safe and well tolerated by most people.

    That being said, there are always exceptions with some users reporting some nausea and stomach upset when taking it for the first time. Another potential issue with maca root is that it contains chemicals called goitrogens, which can interfere with the thyroid (albeit, this is very rare).

    As with any food, maca root might not be right for everyone. If you have an endocrine system disorder, for example, it might not be a good idea to take maca root. At least, you shouldn’t take it until your doctor confirms it will not have any undesirable effects on your hormone levels.

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    FAQ About Maca Root Powder:

    Is Maca Root Powder a Superfood?

    Maca root powder is one of the superfoods that naturally contain a strong concentration of healthy compounds. Along with fish like salmon, fruits like blueberries, and vegetables like broccoli, maca root provides abundant nutrients and helps your body deal with stress.

    How Much Maca Root Should I Take?

    The advice for this varies. If you’re eating the root, then use it as you would any other root vegetable. If you’re taking it as a powder in smoothies or food - most manufacturers will recommend between 1 and 2 teaspoons per day.

    Can I Use Maca Root Powder in Cooking?

    Yes! One way you can gain weight with maca root powder is to use it to enhance the foods you enjoy. Maca root powder adds a delicious, nutty flavour to many snacks such as yogurt, cereal, granola, and energy bars.

    Which Colour of Maca Root Is Best For Weight Gain?

    All colours of maca root have a limited impact on gaining weight. Black, red and yellow maca does showcase some differences in nutrient profile and compound concentrations, however, none have a significant effect when it comes to gaining weight.

    What Else Should I Do If I Want to Gain Weight?

    If weight gain is your goal, other products will help you add body mass more efficiently. An exercise program to build muscle is also vital. Complex carbohydrates like grains are a good energy source, whilst fish is rich in protein and healthy fats.

    If you need a dietary supplement to help you gain weight, turn to good protein powders, calorie-dense foods and energy bars. These foods provide the additional energy and macronutrients you need to gain weight.

    Does Maca Root Cause Weight Loss?

    No, maca root doesn’t cause weight loss. It doesn’t appear to have any significant effects on weight management in either direction.

    What Are Maca Root Pills For Weight Gain?

    If they are advertised as ‘maca root pills for weight gain’ - then they are probably a scam. Maca root has a number of great potential health benefits, however, as we’ve discussed gaining or losing weight isn’t one of them.

    Before we wrap up - the video below gives some great extra insights into what some recent science is showing in terms of maca benefits and uses -highly recommend a watch!

    Final Thoughts

    Shoppers looking for nutritional and health supplements can now choose from a wealth of extracts, roots, plant leaves, and other natural remedies. Each one has its benefits, risks, and side effects. Many people find it overwhelming to sift through the claims and scientific details.

    Maca root offers various potential benefits. We can trace its usage back thousands of years to Peruvian farmers who used it to enhance libido and energy. Fast forward to today, many people continue to credit the unique plant for promoting fertility and sex drive.

    No research suggests a direct link between maca root and weight gain at this stage beyond the small number of calories it contains. While we still need more clinical human research to determine its effects on the body, many use it to promote fertility and promote happier moods.

    Although maca root does not offer much help in weight gain, some studies suggest that it can potentially aid in other physical areas. For instance, some researchers indicated that maca root could potentially boost endurance and relieve menopausal symptoms.

    Women sometimes take maca root to naturally increase estrogen levels during menopause to relieve their symptoms. However, they are likely already dealing with the changes in mood and weight that accompany menopause. Therefore, they might be reluctant to take a supplement that will make them gain weight - so in this case, it’s a good thing that it has no effect on weight!

    Again - we still need much more research to discover the full extent of maca roots’ effects. However, we have enough evidence to suggest that it is likely to do more for your mood than weight gain goals.

    So, to clear it up - does maca root make you gain weight? The short answer is no.

    If you want to gain weight, maca root will only have a minimal effect at best. Instead, opt for other supplements with calorie-rich ingredients proven to aid in weight and muscle gain such as vegan protein powders, WPI or WPC.

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    Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

    Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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