One of the most common health hazards of modern time is excessive fat deposition in the body. A very large portion of the human population is affected by it all over the world.
Being overweight is the condition of energy imbalance in the body. This imbalance is reflected as storage of fat.
Obesity is a large-scale social and medical problem all over the world and refers to having too much body fat.
Apart from eating too much, obesity can be caused by excess alcohol consumption, menopause, hypothyroidism, not exercising etc. The first step to fighting obesity or being overweight is to start a weight loss program.
This includes following a strict diet, exercise and in some cases even surgery.
There are so many ways to manage weight. Several herbs and spices can also help in weight loss/management. Turmeric is one such spice.
Research has indicated that turmeric can help in your weight loss efforts. In this article, we will discuss it in detail.
If you already know about Turmeric, please jump to the relevant section using the Table of Contents below, else please read on.
Table of Contents
- What is turmeric?
- 8 Awesome Benefits of Turmeric in Weight loss
- 1. Turmeric prevents fat accumulation and hastens fat loss
- 2. Turmeric can accelerate diet-induced weight loss
- 3. Turmeric promotes browning of white adipose tissue
- 4. Turmeric has thermogenic action
- 5. Turmeric suppresses inflammation associated with obesity
- 6. Turmeric has anti-diabetic action
- 7. Turmeric prevents metabolic syndrome
- 8. Turmeric reduces depression
- The Dosage of Turmeric for Weight loss
- Research Studies
What is turmeric?
Turmeric scientifically known as Curcuma longa is one of the most relished spice. It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae, to which many spices belong.
The rhizome of turmeric is used in the dried or fresh form in cooking, cosmetics, and traditional medicines.
It has numerous bioactive compounds that endow several medicinal benefits to this spice. The most active and versatile of these compounds is the curcuminoids, especially curcumin.
The other compounds that are present in turmeric are volatile oils, Vitamins (B&C), Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, α-linolenic acid, proteins, carbohydrate, fibres etc.
8 Awesome Benefits of Turmeric in Weight loss
Turmeric can assist in weight loss in several ways. Turmeric prevents fat accumulation and promotes browning of white adipose tissue. It has has a thermogenic action which helps in fat burn. Turmeric is also known to accelerate diet-induced weight loss. Apart from this turmeric can help with other conditions commonly associated with excessive weight – diabetes, heart issues, depression etc.
You can read the benefits and their reasons, or just watch the video below to get their gist –
1. Turmeric prevents fat accumulation and hastens fat loss
Accumulation of fat in the adipose tissues or other tissues such as those of stomach and liver is characteristic of excessive weight and obesity.
The white adipose tissue in the body is the major fat accumulation site.
In order to reduce this fat accumulation the angiogenesis in white adipose tissue needs to be targeted.
Turmeric can be useful in this. The turmeric constituent, curcumin can prevent fat accumulation in the adipose tissues.
In a study, it has been shown to modulate the metabolic activities in the white adipose tissues that prevent angiogenesis. This, in turn, results in decreased fat accumulation.
Curcumin has also been found to decrease the size of adipose tissues, i.e. lower fat accumulation in over-weight patients. The body measurements of these patients showed a significant reduction of fat.
Moreover, it has been observed that turmeric along with sulphur can prevent fat deposition and improve the lipid profile of blood and liver in over-weight individuals.
What does it mean?
It means turmeric can prevent the fat accumulation in the adipose tissues and other organs. This can be useful in avoiding further weight gain in over-weight or obese people. Thus, this can be very helpful in managing weight.
2. Turmeric can accelerate diet-induced weight loss
Diet is a very important component of weight management. The calories that we consume through our diet require to check in order to prevent weight gain.
The reduction of high-fat diet intake and consumption of food that help in weight loss is useful.
There are several dietary products such as spices like turmeric which assist in the diet induced weight loss.
The carbohydrate fraction of turmeric is not absorbed by the body which is helpful in fat reduction and prevention of weight gain. Also, the dietary fibres of turmeric help in this.
Other studies have also shown the efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in accelerating the weight loss induced by dietary changes.
In a study, overweight individuals were put under weight loss treatment through diet and lifestyle interventions. Some of them did not show significant weight loss and were then treated with curcumin.
These individuals after the curcumin treatment showed an enhanced weight loss. There was a significant increase in fat reduction and BMI was also found to decline considerably.
What does it mean?
It means turmeric use can assist and accelerate the weight reduction induced by diet. The dietary fibres and non absorbable carbohydrates of turmeric assist in this.
3. Turmeric promotes browning of white adipose tissue
Brown adipose tissue in humans has a significant function in heat production. This heat production comes at a cost of combustion of glucose and lipids.
This novel action of the brown tissue is gaining popularity as a therapeutic potential against obesity.
It has been observed that white adipose tissue can undergo browning and become an energy liberating tissue instead of a storing one.
There is a role of norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) in the function of the brown adipose tissue.
The turmeric constituent, curcumin is found to be a promoter of browning of the white adipose tissue. It elevates the levels of norepinephrine which induces the browning process.
This action of curcumin, in turn, can prevent obesity by promoting the burning of accumulated fat in the body.
What does it mean?
It means consumption of turmeric can promote burning of fat by inducing browning of fat storing white adipose tissues. This can be very effective in preventing excessive weight gain.
4. Turmeric has thermogenic action
Thermogenesis is a metabolic process that involves burning calories in the body for energy expenditure. This process promotes weight loss.
Increasing thermogenesis in the body through diet is seen as a practical and feasible approach towards weight management.
Many dietary products such as green tea and spices are known to promote weight loss through thermogenesis.
Ginger, another spice of Zingiberaceae family is known for its thermogenic action. Its components gingerols and shogaols have been identified as potent thermogenic substances.
6-gingerol has been found to regulate metabolic rates in the animal model.
Turmeric has a presence of these components therefore, it has the potential of being a thermogenic substance.
What does it mean?
It means intake of turmeric in diet can promote weight loss by its thermogenic action. An increased metabolic rate in the body burns the calories and stored form of energy and thus promotes weight loss.
5. Turmeric suppresses inflammation associated with obesity
Inflammation is greatly associated with obesity or excessive fat deposition in the body. In cases of obesity, the accumulation of pro-inflammatory substances (IL-6, TNF-α etc.) has been found.
Adipose tissue produces substances called adipokines, some of these such as IL-6 and TNF-α have inflammatory action.
In the case of obesity or excess fat deposition, the inflammatory action of these adipokines leads to the production of oxidative stress.
This inflammatory response further leads to other diseases like metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, etc.
Turmeric being an anti-inflammatory substance can be very effective in targeting the inflammatory action of adipokines.
Curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action is known to target the obesity-associated inflammation.
It down-regulates the activity of adipokines and up-regulates adiponectin (regulates glucose and fatty acids levels) and thus decreases the oxidative stress caused by inflammatory adipokines.
In a post hoc analysis of the randomized clinical trial, the effect of curcumin in serum cytokines concentration is studied. The subjects with metabolic syndrome were assigned a dose of 1 g/day for eight weeks.
The result suggested that curcumin intake significantly decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients.
International Journal of Molecular Medicine published a study involving obese mice.
The study investigated the effect of curcumin on obesity of the mice and its liver health.
Curcumin fed obese mice showed significant weight loss and reduced triglyceride levels. It also reduced the risk of fatty liver disease through its anti-inflammatory properties.
What does it mean?
It means use of turmeric can reduce the inflammation and associated oxidative stress and thus be useful in preventing the disorders related to the obesity.
6. Turmeric has anti-diabetic action
The risk of diabetes is one of the most common among overweight or obese individuals. Therefore, the prevention of this disease becomes very important.
Turmeric comes in handy here as well. It is known for its efficacy in the treatment and prevention of diabetes.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of the curcuminoids, especially curcumin have a great anti-diabetic effect. These substances lower blood sugar levels.
Curcumin has also been found to be significantly active against diabetes associated with obesity.
In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial published in the Iranian Journal of Nutrition Science and Food Technology, involving 80 hyperlipidemic patients with type 2 diabetes were categorized into two groups.
In a randomized, double-blinded clinical trial carried out for six months, diabetes patients were administered curcumin.
The effect of curcumin in atherosclerosis is the main objective, and the results showed a reduced level of pulse wave velocity, visceral fat, and total body fat.
What does it mean?
It means turmeric consumption can reduce the risk of diabetes among the obese individuals. The anti-diabetic effect of turmeric can be useful in the treatment of diabetes among obesity patients.
7. Turmeric prevents metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is another prevalent risk factor associated with obesity. Fat accumulation around the abdomen causes metabolic changes that cause metabolic syndrome, i.e. the risk factors that lead to coronary heart problems.
The reduction in weight can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Turmeric is an efficacious agent against metabolic syndrome as well. It lowers the cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar levels, and collectively acts against the condition.
In a double-blind, randomized trial published in ‘Complementary Therapies in Medicine‘, the clinical efficacy of turmeric and black seed in managing metabolic syndrome is analyzed in 250 males.
Turmeric and black seed were administered and the parameters such as, waist circumference, body-fat-percent, hip circumference, and lipid profile were checked.
At eight weeks, turmeric and black seed intake showed improvement in all the parameters. Turmeric reduced cholesterol and black seeds reduced lipid levels.
What does it mean?
Metabolic disorders cause obesity, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant property of curcumin seems to help in resolving the problems.
8. Turmeric reduces depression
Depression is another complication associated with obesity and overweight that has a detrimental effect on the patients.
Many studies have confirmed the relationship between obesity and depression both ways, i.e. obesity can lead to depression and vice-versa.
The metabolic disturbance caused in the body by obesity is linked to the depressive behavior in the patients. These disturbances include inflammatory signals, insulin resistance, and hormonal disorders.
In an animal study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, depressive-like behaviors in mice were treated with the administration of curcumin.
In a double-blind cross-over trial, obese subjects received curcumin (1 g/day), and severity of anxiety and depression were assessed using Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scales, respectively.
The result concluded that curcumin has an anti-anxiety effect in individuals with obesity.
In a randomized clinical trial, 60 patients with major depressive disorder were treated with curcumin (1000 mg). At the end of 6 weeks, the study showed that curcumin could be used for treating depression.
What does it mean?
It means consumption of turmeric can be helpful in the reducing the depression related to obesity and overweight. The anti-depressant like activity of turmeric can also be useful in preventing the risk of obesity caused by depression.
The Dosage of Turmeric for Weight loss
There is no particular prescribed dose of turmeric defined for obesity. Based on the studies and reader’s reports we have summarized various ways of taking turmeric which could benefit in this condition.
Various studies have investigated the beneficial role of turmeric in obesity.
The dosage depends on the formulation of the turmeric supplement and severity of the health condition. Here is the recommended dose:
Fresh Turmeric roots
Turmeric roots are a great addition to diet but it is difficult to expect a therapeutic effect from the limited amounts of roots we consume.
Recommended intake: 1-3g or ½ inch long piece of root sliced or chopped. You can also juice it and take it with a pinch of black pepper. This can be a part of your fresh juices or taken individually. You can also make Golden Paste from fresh roots.
Further, Read – Is fresh turmeric better then powder?
However, if you take turmeric powder straight with black pepper then it would be 1-2 g of turmeric powder with a pinch of black pepper.
In terms of teaspoon that would be 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper powder twice a day.
Start with small dose and increase gradually. Avoid taking it on an empty stomach. You can also prepare DIY Turmeric Capsules.
Maximum dose: 1 tsp of turmeric powder with ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper thrice a day
Golden Paste combines heat, black pepper, and healthy fats to increase the absorption of turmeric.
It is highly recommended to take this paste after/with meals and to avoid taking it close to other medications. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux? Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?) Here is the recipe.
You can also make Golden Paste from fresh roots.
Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose by ¼ teaspoon every week. Continue till reaching a dose of 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day.
This is the ideal dose of Golden Paste where you should experience some benefits. However, the ideal dose differs with every individual; some may need less some may need more.
Thinking of other ways to take Golden Paste read 10 ways to take Golden Paste
Maximum dosage: 1 tablespoon 2-3 times a day only advised if you are comfortable taking it and not experiencing gastric side effects.
Turmeric tinctures are considered to be very beneficial as they pack tremendous potency in a small dose; but there is not much evidence about its efficacy in obesity and weight loss.
Take 10-30 drops 2-3 times a day depending on the condition. It can be added to teas, juices or smoothies.
Maximum dosage: 20-30 drops 3 times a day
This is a good option for tea lovers and who want to skip the taste of turmeric paste. Here is the recipe for Turmeric Tea.
Recommended intake: 1-2 cups a day
This is just perfect when it comes to combating pain naturally. You can find the recipe for Turmeric Milk here.
Recommended intake: 1-2 cups a day
The recommended dosage for supplements is 300-400mg 2-3 times a day for standardized 95% curcumin extract.
However the dose would differ based on the formulation, hence it is best to consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements.
Avoid taking supplements on an empty stomach and close to the time of taking medicines. Consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements.
Dietary use of turmeric is regarded as very safe. Many cuisines use turmeric regularly as a spice and no adverse effects have been recorded due to its culinary use.
Acid reflux may be caused by the consumption of turmeric in an empty stomach. Turmeric’s use on an empty stomach must be avoided, as it can result in acidity. (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux?)
Curcumin in turmeric interferes in drug metabolism activity. Though dietary turmeric should not pose any risks, if taking large doses of Golden Paste or curcumin supplements then avoid taking it at the same time as taking any medication. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap.
Bleeding disorder patients should not consume turmeric. Although the dietary use of turmeric is safe in bleeding disorders turmeric supplement should not be used.
Turmeric supplements have constituents in concentrated amounts which may result in problems as turmeric has a blood thinning activity. (Read Is Turmeric a blood thinning agent?)
Limit turmeric consumption in case of risk of gout and kidney stones. Turmeric in large quantities can raise the risk of developing kidney stones (in sensitive individuals). (Read Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stones?)
Discontinue taking turmeric supplements if you are scheduled for surgery.
It is suitable to stop using turmeric supplements around 2 weeks prior to surgery. Being a blood thinner, turmeric can interfere with the process of blood clotting after surgery.
Avoid using turmeric supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Study 1: Curcumin Formulation Aids in Weight Management
This study was conducted to analyze the effect of curcumin on obese people already undergoing lifestyle changes.
The focus was primarily on glucose intolerant and insulin resistant overweight people.
The study included 44 obese individuals having a BMI of 25-29.9. These patients didn’t have prior exposure to anti-inflammatory drugs or had a history of suffering from diabetes, liver, renal or cardiac diseases.
They were tested at an interval of 30 and 60 days.
The 30-day interval was to check the effect of lifestyle changes like diet & exercise. The next interval (30 days after this one and 60 days after the start of the trial) was to test the effect of curcumin on the participants.
After the 1st interval (30days) there was < 2% weight loss amongst the participants.
For the next interval (60 days after initiation), 22 of them were treated with curcumin (2 times per day for a month) and the other 22 with a supplement containing phosphatidylserine that served as a placebo (dummy pill).
The goal was to make anthropometric measurements like waistline, hip measurements, body mass etc.
What were the results of the study?
In the first interval (30 days), there was 1.88% weight loss, 2.10% BMI reduction and 0.70% of fat reduction, 2cm decrease in hip & waistline observed in both groups. Thus this interval proved, lifestyle changes didn’t bear drastic changes.
The curcumin-treated group showed a marked change in their anthropometric calculations.
In contrast, the 2nd interval (60 days) showed 4.91% weight loss, 6.43% decrease in BMI & 8% fat reduction, 4 cm decrease in waistline amongst the curcumin.
No significant changes were observed in the phosphatidylserine group.
Researchers demonstrated that in the curcumin group the chance to lose weight was about 1 kg every 10 days (this was based on 60-day observation).
Considering the first 30 days, weight loss was around 500g every 10 days due to diet and lifestyle changes and for the next 30 days, it was around 1.3 kg every 10 days when curcumin treatment was given in addition to diet and lifestyle intervention.
Overall the study highlighted the anti-obesity effect of curcumin on obese people undergoing dietary restrictions and following exercise routines.
How does this occur?
Curcumin plays a crucial role in reducing obesity and health-related problems of obesity.
Curcumin exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect in adipose (fat storing) tissues.
It reduces the expression of pro-inflammatory chemicals like TNFα, MCP1 which further blocks the expression of different biochemical pathways like NF-ᴋB activation.
It increases adiponectin (anti-inflammatory hormone) level in adipose tissues. All this helps to reduce adipocytes (fat cells) cell, divisions.
Brown fat belongs to the “good fat” category, unlike the conventional the term “fat” we generally use. This brown fat doesn’t store energy instead they transform to thermal or heat energy.
Curcumin converts white adipocytes to brown adipocytes by altering the genetic expression of cells (epigenetic modification).
It enables proper functioning of the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas (β cells); thus maintaining the normal level of insulin in the body and preventing diabetes& hyperglycemia associated with obesity.
It lowers the level of tri-glycerides and LDL cholesterol. This restricts cortisol formation from cholesterol by the adrenal glands; hence preventing cortisols deposition in adipose tissues which could lead to inflammation and enhanced fat deposition.
Curcumin regulates the expression of 11-βHSD1 by inhibiting it. 11-betahydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11-βHSD1) is the enzyme which converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. Cortisol is a plays a potent role in visceral fat (harmful fat) accumulation in the liver & kidney.
What does this mean?
This implies a daily intake of curcumin/turmeric hastens the process of weight loss in people. A change in lifestyle does require time and is a gradual process.
While regular intake of curcumin along with lifestyle changes brings a drastic change in a short span of time.
A comprehensive weight-loss program should include curcumin in the diet. It bears visible anthropometric results in a limited time.
Read the full study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26592847
Study 2: Curcumin Enhances Muscle Recovery Post Workout
This study was carried out to determine the effects of curcumin on inflammation, muscle damage, and delayed onset muscle soreness.
This study took place on 17 men and determined the effect of oral curcumin supplements on DOMS following heavy eccentric workout regimes that the men are not accustomed to.
Out of the 17 men, some got oral supplements of curcumin (2.5 grams twice daily) starting two days before till three days after the workout, while the others got placebos in the same manner.
The workout was eccentric single-leg press exercises (including gluteal stretch, squats, and squat jump).
The following measurements were made:
1. Limb pain (measured using a 1-10 cm visual analog scale)
2. Muscle swelling (measured by creatine kinase activity, which is an inflammatory marker)
3. Serum markers of muscle damage and inflammation (Serum markers are substances that get activated or release during injury to the body. Specific serum markers get released for specific injuries. An increase in serum marker levels in the blood indicate injury of some kind.)
4. Single-leg jump height
The measurements were made at the following time intervals:
– 0 hours post workout
– 24 hours post workout
– 48 hours post workout
These measurements were taken to understand the effects of curcumin on muscles post workout. The measurements were then compared to conclude whether curcumin had any effect on delayed onset muscle soreness.
What were the results?
As per the results, there was no pain decrease in pain immediately after work out. This showed that the curcumin hadn’t had any effect on chronic pain.
At around 24 hours post work out, there was a moderate decrease in pain (calculated by the VAS scale). And finally, 48 hours after the workout, there was a significant amount of decrease in pain.
There was a decrease in the creatine kinase (an enzyme that is indicative of muscle damage) activity in the 24 to 48 hour post-workout period, showing a decrease in the swelling post workout.
As per the results, immediately after the exercise, there was an increase in the interleukin-6 concentration. Around 24 hours after the workout, a decrease in the interleukin-6 concentration was evident.
Finally, 48 hours after the workout, there was a slight increase in the interleukin-6 concentrations (an inflammatory agent produced in the body), reaching the baseline.
The overall performance of participants improved in the time span of 24-48 hours post workout. There was an average increase of 15% in the height during a single leg jump.
How did this occur?
Curcumin is a plant chemical that is found mainly in turmeric. Turmeric is a yellow, Indian spice that is a plant from the ginger family. Curcumin has a wide range of medicinal uses as it has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, pain killing and a wide range of other properties.
As mentioned before, after a strenuous workout, muscle injury leads to inflammation which leads to pain. When muscle damage takes place, a neutrophil (a type of white blood cell) respiratory burst occurs in the body.
This leads to the generation of oxygen radicals.
These oxygen radicals are highly important for clearing away the tissue debris that has been leftover by post-exercise muscle damage, but they can initiate further damage, leading to the acute inflammatory response.
Since curcumin acts as an anti-oxidant, it can remove the oxygen free radicals and prevent the further formation of these radicals, thereby decreasing the inflammatory response, leading to less pain.
Inflammatory genes can cause a release of various inflammatory molecules which then lead to inflammation, followed by pain. Curcumin blocks a molecule called NF-kB.
This molecule has the potential to enter the nuclei of cells and activate inflammatory genes, causing the production of cytokines (cytokines are substances that are secreted by cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells in the body.).
Because curcumin can block this molecule, inflammation is prevented, causing a decrease in pain too.
Curcumin is known to inhibit mediators like cyclooxygenase (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX) and inducible nitric oxide (iNOS)
These substances are known to act as inflammatory mediators, and through their blockage, pain, and inflammation can be relieved.
Studies suggest that the COX-2 blocking property of curcumin allows it to have similar results to its counterpart in allopathy, NSAIDS, but with lesser side effects.
Curcumin can further act on muscles to increase their mobility, increase the rate of muscle regeneration, and eventually decrease the muscle recovery time post workout.
What does this mean?
Delayed onset muscle soreness is the pain that is present in muscles 24-48 hours post-workout due to damage that occurs to the muscles during exercise.
Curcumin, which is an important compound present in turmeric, is highly effective in decreasing the pain present in DOMS. Curcumin is beneficial due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric Milk can be a healthy option for recovering from DOMS.
Read the full paper here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25795285[/su_expand]
Turmeric’s potential for weight loss is immense. It has a diverse range of action that helps in weight reduction as well as the prevention of fat accumulation.
Turmeric prevents fat accumulation by its anti-inflammatory activity and its ability to turn white adipose tissue into brown. It also increases the rate of metabolism in the body.
Turmeric is also helpful in combating and preventing the complications that arise due to obesity.
Moreover, depression caused by obesity or obesity triggered by depression can be avoided by the use of turmeric.
It can be inferred that turmeric is a reasonable and feasible option for weight loss.