The excessive accumulation of fats in the body impairs health and lead to a condition known as ‘Obesity.'
Overweight and obese, often misunderstood as being same, are two different terms which can be defined by Body Mass Index (BMI).
Body Mass Index is a weight to height ratio measuring system defined regarding kilograms per meter squared (kg/m2).
A person with Body Mass Index between 18 to 25 kg/m2 is considered as normal, greater than or equal to 25 as overweight, while greater than or equal to 30 as obese.
According to a survey done by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, 39% of the world population was found to be overweight while 13% of them were obese.
High intake of processed foods, lack of physical exercise, change in lifestyle, etc. are some of the factors that lead to obesity.
Obesity shouldn’t be underestimated; it can lead to a risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, etc.
What is Maca?
Maca, a perennial plant that can resist adverse climatic conditions such as frost and strong winds grows extensively in the Andes Mountains of Peru at very high elevations.
No other edible food crop grows at such high elevations of 14,500 ft.
The root of the plant is used as a vegetable similar to radish by Peruvians.
It serves as a rich source of nutrients. Chemicals such as alkaloids, terpenes and sterols present in the root servers to treat various diseases.
Pharmacological benefits of the root are harnessed in the treatment of hormone-related diseases, sterility problems and for improving overall health. It is also being used as a natural remedy for obesity.
Obesity or overweight is the major cause of medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
To prevent the risk of these deadly diseases it is essential to losing weight.
Weight can be lost by regular practice of workouts, regulating diet or by using diet pills. Use of diet pills often results in adverse side effects and is hence, not the preferred way for weight loss by many. Regular practice of exercise and controlling the diet help to lose weight safely.
But, few people with lowered stamina fail to continue practising workouts for a longer period to see a desirable change in the body weight. For such people, maca is an excellent weight loss remedy.
How does maca work for weight loss?
The direct effect of maca on weight loss hasn’t been found yet, but there are numerous ways in which it’s indirectly beneficial in triggering weight loss and related effects. Maca helps in controling blood sugar levels in the body, boosts energy to do physical activity, regulates hormones and helps fight stress and anxiety.
Let’s examine these benefits in detail below.
1. Maca controls the blood-glucose levels in the body
High consumption of sweet food among obese people leads to the risk of diabetes, which is caused due to the imbalance of blood-glucose levels in the body.
A study conducted on animal model revealed that the consumption of maca had been found to be beneficial in maintaining the blood-glucose levels.
The results indicated a significant reduction in the levels of glucose in the blood and improved glucose tolerance.
The activity of glutathione peroxidase was also found to be increased in the blood thus providing an antioxidant effect and protecting cells from oxidation damage.
As glucose tolerance levels of the body are improved, it helps in preventing unwanted fat accumulation in the body, thereby preventing obesity and risk of diabetes.
What does this mean?
Maca helps to trigger weight loss by enhancing glucose metabolism and thus reduces fat accumulation in the body. Thus it prevents obesity and risk of developing diabetes.
2. Maca provides energy for physical activity
Physical exertion causes fatigue easily among people suffering from obesity. This prevents them from doing much of physical activity, hence leading to further weight gain.
According to a study conducted in humans, it has been found that consumption of maca helps to provide energy.
In the study, cyclists were asked to consume maca or placebo (control) for 2 weeks and later their physical activity was examined in comparison to the baseline (that is the body activity before maca consumption).
It was found that maca consumption significantly improved the cycling performance of the cyclists as compared to the baseline.
However, it was found to be less in comparison to the placebo consumed performance.
Thus consumption of maca helps to provide energy to do physical activity and hence can help obese people to do exercise for longer duration without experiencing much fatigue.
What does this mean?
Maca consumption provides energy to do physical activities without experiencing fatigue. Thus it helps in triggering exercise induced weight loss in obesity.
3. Maca consumption regulates hormones to assist in weight loss
According to a study conducted on postmenopausal women, it was found that maca helps to reduce body weight.
The attribute goes to the regulation of certain hormones in the body.
Hormones Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is found to significantly decrease upon maca consumption.
This hormone is responsible for the weight gain, and hence its reduction triggers weight loss.
Thus it is found to be beneficial in triggering weight loss. Other hormones like progesterone, E2 and FSH are also reduced and help in maintaining weight.
Apart from this, it also helps to regulate blood pressure to help one stay fit.
What does this mean?
The regulation of hormones by consumption of maca has a direct effect in triggering weight loss in humans.
4. Maca reduces anxiety and stress
Anxiety and stress have been found to be associated with weight gain. Maca is found to be beneficial in dealing with it.
According to a study conducted on postmenopausal women, it was found that maca consumption led to significant decrease in many psychological symptoms.
This stress and anxiety related psychological symptoms can be avoided through consumption of maca.
This, in turn, will help to maintain the weight and let one remain fit.
What does this mean?
Stress and anxiety related weight gain can be avoided by consumption of maca due to its capacity to reduce psychological symptoms.
Now let’s see the dosage and precautions to be taken while consuming maca.
Using maca for weight loss
Maca root can be taken raw. But, it is hard to find the fresh root in supermarkets.
Hence, the best alternative is the use of maca supplements that are available in the form of capsules, powder and tincture.
Maca powder can be used in smoothies, salads, juices, porridge and can also be added to the baking mix. The unique nutty flavour of the root adds flavour for the foods.
It is very important to follow strict dosage limits to prevent side effects.
If you are using maca for the first time then start with a small dose of 500mg/kg and gradually increase depending on the body’s response and the requirement.
However, limit the dosage to 2000-3000mg per day/kg. If you are using any medications or other herbal supplements consult your physician to know about any possible drug interactions.
Stop taking maca or reduce the dose if side effects such as increased intestinal gas or other gastrointestinal disturbances are observed. Pregnant and lactating women should stay away from maca.
High dosage of maca should be avoided as according to a study it can lead to high blood pressure and induce craving in people.
Pregnant and lactating women must avoid taking maca to avoid side effects.
Also, people under medications or suffering from any disease must consult a health practitioner before its consumption.
Maca is on the verge of becoming a superfood due to its amazing benefits on the human body.
Apart from helping to boost fertility, enhancing bone density, maintaining blood-glucose levels, it has been found to trigger weight loss.
Maca consumption can hence be beneficial for obese people trying to lose weight.
The presence of various minerals, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates in maca helps in providing various nutritional benefits to the body.
There hasn’t been much of study conducted on its effects so far and is still under study by researchers.
Thus it should be taken in prescribed amounts to enjoy the benefits. Rather, it can be used as an add-on therapy in the diet to trigger weight loss!