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Turmeric For Weight Loss: Does It Actually Help?

With obesity rates climbing, many of us are looking for new ways to shed stubborn fat and get in shape.

turmeric powder in a glass jar and ground turmeric in a wooden spoon

Some believe that turmeric can be used to promote weight loss, but is there any truth to this, and should you invest in the supplements for yourself?

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice that’s derived from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant. Turmeric spice is a common household name, and you’ll find it on almost every kitchen rack in every home.

A versatile spice with a vibrant hue, turmeric is used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines to add flavor and color to dishes. However, turmeric also has an impressive range of purported health benefits.

As interest in alternative natural medicines continues to soar, turmeric has become a popular supplement throughout the world, and it can be purchased in capsule form and as a tincture.

Although you may know turmeric for being the spice that gives your curry its infamous yellow color, this medicinal herb may also help reduce inflammation, aid in better sleep, and even encourage weight loss.

Most of the reported benefits of turmeric are provided by its most active ingredient, curcumin, which we’ll explore in more detail later on.

So, is turmeric good for weight loss? Before we discuss the science behind turmeric's effects on our weight, we need to understand metabolism.

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Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism is a term used to describe the chemical reactions in our cells that convert food into energy. This biochemical process gives us energy, and the calories react with oxygen to give our bodies the energy required to function healthily.

Even when we’re not running a marathon or hiking a mountain, our bodies need energy. Even when we’re resting, the body still requires energy to perform its most basic and essential biological functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, and cell repair

The amount of energy required to perform these functions is called our metabolic rate, or base metabolism.

A number of things can affect our base metabolism, including:

  • Age: When we age, muscle recovery slows, and the amount of lean mass deteriorates. This means that the aging process slows down how many calories we burn.
  • Body Weight and Composition: People with larger body weights or a greater amount of lean muscle mess will burn more calories when resting.
  • Your Sex: Men tend to burn more calories when resting because they have more muscle and less body fat than women of the same age and weight ranges.

Other factors contribute to how many calories we burn in a day, including thermogenesis (how we absorb, transport, and digest our nutrients) and physical activity.

Physical activity is the main way we burn calories, and it’s the best way to get our weight under control and reduce the health risks associated with excess weight or obesity.

Does Turmeric Help with Weight Loss?

turmeric root and a clay pot full of turmeric powder

Now we understand metabolism, it’s time to explore that all-important question - does turmeric help you lose weight?

Before we answer this question, let’s get one thing straight - there’s no ‘magic remedy’ for losing weight. Although dietary supplements can help, other factors like physical activity and a healthier diet are required.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, does have some impact on our metabolism. For example, one study found that curcumin had a positive impact on managing metabolic disorders caused by obesity, such as diabetes.

More research has now been performed to explore the relationship between curcumin, turmeric, and weight loss. One study sought to examine the impact curcumin had on the health of forty-four overweight participants with metabolic syndrome.

When curcumin was combined with a bioavailable product, such as black pepper extract or phosphatidylserine, it did generate weight loss. The participants saw:

  • An increase in weight loss from 1.88% to 4.91%
  • A noticeable waistline reduction from 2.36% to 4.14%
  • Increased body fat loss from 0.70% to 8.43%
  • A more significant reduction in hip circumference from 0.74% to 2.51%
  • Reduced BMI, from 2.10% to 6.43%

However, it should be noted that the participants were subjected to a one-month intervention and diet change before being treated with curcumin. However, before curcumin treatment, weight loss activity was less than 2%.

This isn’t the only study that’s seen curcumin aid weight loss. Further studies have also found that curcumin may reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases. Curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties are thought to be responsible.

What’s more, curcumin has also been shown to interact with the fat in our bodies (also called white adipose tissue) to reduce chronic inflammation.

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This is because turmeric is able to induce adiponectin expression, which helps our bodies eliminate fatty acids and regular glucose.

Curcumin, in particular, has been shown to reduce insulin resistance, which is a key factor in obesity. These responses indicate that turmeric may reduce weight gain and obesity and avoid its negative health impacts.

Curcumin may also significantly reduce cholesterol in the body and encourage enhanced lipid metabolism in our adipocyte cells. These are the cells that specialize in storing fat in our bodies.

Although the results of this particular study aren’t definitive, they do suggest that curcumin and turmeric supplements may prevent obesity.

How To Use Turmeric For Weight Loss

Turmeric is a versatile supplement that can be used in various ways to support your weight loss journey. Whether you want to use it as a spice in your food, in capsule form, in a smoothie, or in your tea, there are plenty of ways to take turmeric and make it a part of your weight loss effort.

However, suppose you want to take a strong enough dose to see the effects. In that case, you’ll be better off taking a turmeric and curcumin supplement with a bioavailable product, such as black pepper extract, to increase absorption.

While enjoying this spice in a curry is an appealing way to reap the benefits, you may only ingest 3.14% of curcumin in your portion.

Studies demonstrating links between curcumin and weight loss use a much higher percentage of curcumin. These levels are usually only seen in capsules with absorption enhancers.

Although there is no official guideline for the dosage recommended for weight loss, we’d advise following the dosage used in most quality supplements. This is usually between 150-250mg a day, which is in the range used in the research.

This means there's a higher chance that curcumin will promote weight loss faster, and if you stay within this range, you can be sure that your dosage is safe for daily consumption.

Before attempting to use turmeric as a weight-loss supplement, it is crucial to speak with your physician as increased dosages could cause adverse effects.

Additionally, those taking blood thinning medication might be advised to avoid turmeric in large doses as certain interactions may arise.

Best Time to Take Turmeric for Weight Loss

Consuming turmeric early in the day is beneficial for weight management. Combining turmeric with a meal increases its efficacy, as its digestion-enhancing and energy-boosting properties can be better utilized to have an impact on weight.

To get the most out of the effect of turmeric, pair it with a healthy fat source like warm milk or sprinkle it onto your favorite food – this aids absorption since curcumin, the active ingredient, is fat-soluble.

Furthermore, adding black pepper to the mix helps the body break down the turmeric for even greater curcumin absorption.

If you wish to take supplements, look for those fortified with piperine, a compound found in black pepper that assists in making curcumin more bioavailable, allowing the body to maximize the turmeric benefits for weight loss.

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The Bottom Line

Turmeric is more than just a kitchen staple. While the links between turmeric and weight loss are still up for debate, research suggests there’s a strong possibility that its most active ingredient, curcumin, can promote weight loss.

So, if you want to try a new supplement to trim down your waistline, why not see what a curcumin or turmeric supplement can do for you?

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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