You may have seen maca pop up in a local coffee shop or made available as an add-on at a smoothie bar. This trendy superfood isn’t new – it’s a centuries-old plant harvested by the ancient Inca culture. Different cultures have passed down the maca herb over the years due to its rumored ability to increase sex drive and fertility. Maca is not usually directly linked with weight loss, but its healing capabilities can help promote a decrease in weight, some studies have found out.
What is Maca?
Maca is a perennial plant, also known as Peruvian ginseng. It’s an edible plant native to South America, grown extensively in the high Andes mountains of Peru. No other edible food crop grows at high elevations of 14,500 ft. but maca. The root of the plant is used as a vegetable similar to radish by the Peruvians. While the maca root is found in nature, maca is found in powder form stores, which allows for quick and easy consumption.
In ancient cultures, maca was used for its fertility and aphrodisiac properties. The Spanish who conquered the Inca tribes in the 1500s stated in a book that maca helped their livestock reproduce when they suffered from the stress in the highlands. But in these recent times, maca is popular for its adaptogenic effects, as the plant is reported to help level energy under stress.
Maca is a rich source of nutrients, with chemicals such as terpenes, alkaloids, and sterols present in the root that can help treat various diseases. Some people claim it’s a superfood, but it’s generally touted for its potential fertility benefits, ability to improve athletic performance and endurance, acts as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety, help menopausal women manage symptoms, treat of hormone-related diseases, and more.
It is also currently used as a natural remedy for obesity, which is the major cause of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. To prevent these risks, losing extra weight is essential. For some people, maca is an excellent weight loss remedy.
Dietician and nutrition experts say there is not enough research on maca for weight loss and maintenance, but there’s limited research in rats that found they did not gain weight after taking maca supplements. Many believe that the naturally stimulating effects of maca will give people more energy, thus encouraging exercise and movement, leading to weight loss. The adaptogenic herb helps increase strength in the body and stimulate metabolism, so you can burn more calories and achieve weight loss over time.
The weight loss benefit of maca is also viewed in the blood sugar angle. A study has found that maca consumption has been beneficial in maintaining blood glucose levels in the body. It was also shown to improve glucose tolerance, which can help in preventing the accumulation of unwanted fat in the body – thus preventing obesity and the risk of diabetes.
Also, the hormone regulating the ability of maca allows it to help reduce body weight. According to a study involving postmenopausal women, maca regulates certain hormones in the body responsible for weight gain, hence, triggers its reduction in weight loss.
Since maca can reduce anxiety and stress, it can also benefit weight loss efforts. Why? Stress and anxiety have been found to be associated with weight gain, and maca is found to be beneficial in dealing with it. Maca consumption was found to cause a significant decrease in many psychological symptoms.
Maca and Weight Gain
How can one thing lead to weight gain and weight loss? While maca is reported by some to cause weight loss, how maca supplements interact with the body can also cause weight gain. Maca helps muscles burn calories more efficiently, so you can get more from your workout routines. This leads to added muscle mass and an increase in weight. Remember, muscle is heavier than fat, so a little weight gain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing.
The second way maca causes weight gain is in its way of balancing the body’s natural hormones. Maca is a cruciferous vegetable that works with the thyroid gland to produce certain hormones in the body. Once the hormones are balanced, the body uses this system to regulate energy levels, deliver nutrients, and process foods. This action makes the body use more energy, so you may find your appetite increase. And when you increase your food intake, you may gain more weight. This effect will depend on several factors, but adding maca powder to your meals can be a way to add a few pounds.
While research shows that maca can cause weight loss, there are not many maca reviews for weight loss or weight gain. It’s also partly because most people who use maca are not using it for weight-related effects. People who aim to lose weight or gain weight are probably taking other supplements with more evidence of effectiveness. And the effect – whether you’ll lose weight or gain weight all boils down to how you will react on it with your exercise and diet. For some, as the body increases metabolism, they get curvier and lose weight in the long run because they focus on their exercise. For others, the increase in metabolism makes them hungrier, causing them to consume more calories than before, contributing to weight gain.
Most users reported that maca helped reduce anxiety and depression, boost energy, increase sexual libido for women, and increase sexual endurance for men. It increased energy levels, stabilized moods and helped hot flashes in women with menopause, and increased strength and decreased arthritic pain in older men.