Losing Weight with Maca Root
There are a variety of options for those who are looking into dropping a few pounds. Of course, aside from exercise, there are nutritional supplements that assist people in losing weight to reach the goals they have for their bodies.
This article tackles about maca root and its benefits on health and weight loss.
Maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng, maka, mace, maca-maca, maino, ayak chicira, ayuk willku, pepperweed and lepidium meyenii, is found in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina.
It grows in the mountains at high altitudes of 7,000 to 11,000 feet, making it the highest altitude growing plant in the world. Maca grows all year round, requiring 7-9 months before it produces the roots that are harvested.
While it is commonly known as Peruvian ginseng, it does not actually belong to the same family as ginseng. It is closely related to vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and, turnips. It has a low-growing, mat-like stem system. Its scalloped leaves lie close to the ground and is known to produce self-fertile off-white flowers, common to the mustard family that it belongs to.
The root grows about three to six centimeters in width and is 4.7 centimeters in length, its appearance similar to that of a pear.
Based on the color of the root, there are three different types of maca.
Types of maca
Maca looks similar to a large radish and has a tangy, sweet taste with an aroma that resembles butterscotch. Its three main cultivars are red, yellow and black, each having its own health benefits with slightly different tastes.
While they all have similar health benefits composed of identical nutritional profiles packed with vitamins and fiber, the different varieties are used to target different health issues.
- Red Maca
Known as the rarest of all varieties, it is sometimes called pink or purple maca. This variety contains the highest amount of amino acids, the building blocks of protein in the body. It is known to be very helpful in handling stress and depression and targets a reduction in prostate size, risk of getting tumors and increases bone density.
- Yellow Maca
This is most widely grown and is most favored in Peru for its sweetness and size. Maca yellow is known for its instant effect on the body as it creates a long-lasting libido. Apart from that, it enhances fertility and mood in both men and women who consume it regularly.
In women experiencing menopause, it helps in combating symptoms such as hot flashes and helps in balancing hormonal levels in the body.
- Black Maca
This is harvested from the root of dark-colored maca, usually both sweet and bitter in taste, similar to that of roasted soybeans. It is the best in producing energy and stamina-promoting properties.
Similar to the red and yellow maca varieties, it helps in boosting fertility and enhancing sex drive.
Maca roots are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins C and B6, copper, iron, potassium and, manganese. It is low in fat and is a good source of carbohydrates, fatty acids and, amino acids. It is 78% carbohydrate and is high in calcium and iron.
Although it does not contain hormones, it provides nutrients that help nourish the endocrine system, enabling the glands to produce the right amount of hormones that the body needs.
People usually incorporate maca root in their daily diet in the form of capsules or powder that can be mixed in smoothies, shakes and, oatmeal.
Over the last 3000 years, maca root has been cultivated as a vegetable crop and is normally used to make medicine or even be consumed as food that can be added into soups, oatmeal and drink known as maca chica.
For medicine, people take it by mouth for health concerns such as:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Energy enhancement
- Athletic performance
- Female hormonal imbalance
- Menstrual problems
- Symptoms of menopause
- Improvement of fertility
- Sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants
- Weak bones
- Stomach cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- Immune system boost
Consuming maca has multiple benefits and aids in improving overall health. Some include:
- Maca root contains compounds that support endocrine system functions, which are helpful in hormonal regulation. Taking it twice daily for 12 weeks helps in improving sexual dysfunction in women who are taking antidepressants and improves sexual desire in healthy men.
- Taking it daily for 4 months helps increase semen and sperm count in men.
- Taking it for 6 weeks allows the mood to improve in postmenopausal women. As it contains a flavonoid compound, it helps manage light to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety and, low energy.
- Maca root helps the body in producing natural antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione which helps fight free radicals that are responsible for serious health issues such as cancer.
- Athletes who use maca root supplements are able to boost their energy and stamina. It is commonly used by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who are aiming to improve their strength and performance.
- Native Peruvians traditionally use maca root to help with cognitive function. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from age-related brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- The high amounts of glucosinolates in maca root helps in reducing the enlargement of the prostate gland that causes pain in urination, common among ageing men.
Although maca root has a myriad of benefits and is generally considered safe, it is also important to watch out for its possible side effects.
It contains more than 50µg of iodine, causing terrible side effects of the thyroid disease.
- Its high amount of glucosinolates may help in preventing the enlargement of the prostate gland, but it may also cause goiter, a swollen thyroid gland with a decreased activity if it is not taken in the right amount.
- After taking a maca root supplement, it is possible that the individual may experience jitters and trouble in sleeping.
Individuals with certain health conditions and are taking medication must always consult a medical professional before consuming maca root.
Some precautions to watch out for include:
- Those with thyroid problems, uterine, ovarian or breast cancer, uterine fibroid or endometriosis must avoid taking maca root supplements. Given the compounds it contains, it may worsen some symptoms of these conditions.
- Those who are pregnant and breastfeeding are advised to take caution as there is no information that indicates that it is safe for those in this state.
As it has been passed down from different cultures, the herb is known to help in several health concerns, as earlier stated. Because of its positive impact on health, its healing capabilities may help in promoting weight loss.
Although there is no direct link between Maca and weight loss, it helps in controlling blood sugar levels in the body, boosts energy to do physical activities and regulates hormones to fight stress and anxiety.
- Controls blood-glucose levels – When people consume a high amount of sweet food, it normally leads to obesity and a high risk of diabetes. This is usually caused by an imbalance of blood glucose levels in the body.
Studies have shown that the consumption of maca is beneficial in maintaining these levels as it improves glucose tolerance and provides antioxidants that help in protecting cells from oxidation damage. Having these improvements helps in preventing the accumulation of unwanted fat in the body which is linked to obesity and diabetes.
- Energy – Fatigue is common among people suffering from obesity, hindering them from doing insufficient physical activity, which eventually leads to weight gain.
Since maca provides energy, it improves physical performance, allowing an individual to be more active, leading a healthier lifestyle without experiencing fatigue.
- Hormone regulation – Given that hormones affect body weight, studies show that maca helps in triggering weight loss. It targets in reducing hormones such as progesterone, E2 and, FSH to help maintain weight.
- Reduction of anxiety and stress – Stress and anxiety lead to weight gain. Studies show that maca consumption leads to a significant decrease in a variety of psychological symptoms.
Such symptoms can be avoided by taking maca, allowing an individual to maintain weight and remain fit.
Proper consumption and dosage
It is recommended to take maca raw, but it is not always available and accessible. The best alternative would be to find maca supplements which are available in the form of capsules, powder and, tincture.
It is also important to follow a strict dosage in order to avoid possible side effects. It must go without saying that of course, one must first consult a medical professional before following through.
For those who are using maca for the first time, it is recommended to start with a small dose of 500 mg/kg and to gradually increase this as the body slowly adjusts to it. Limit the dosage to 2000-3000mg per day.
Although maca root has no direct connection to weight loss, its capability to improve an individual’s overall health leads to it.
Paired with the right kind of maca, proper dosage and a healthy lifestyle, there is no doubt that it is an effective means for weight loss.
BONUS: Maca recipes to enjoy
Incorporating maca into your daily diet is fairly easy, especially when it can be done in an exciting and flavorful way.
Since the most common way to consume maca is in the form of powder, there are many ways in which it can be taken apart from traditional capsules and extracts. Below are simple, healthy and delicious recipes in which maca can be enjoyed:
- 2 and ½ cups nut milk (coconut or almond)
- 4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
- 3 teaspoons of maca powder (red)
- 2 pitted dates
- Pinch of salt
- Cinnamon to taste (optional)
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until it is smooth. For an iced smoothie, just add ice into the blender and serve in a tall glass. For a hot drink, just place all ingredients in a small saucepan and warm until the desired temperature is achieved.
- 1 peeled banana
- ½ cup of almond milk
- ¾ cup of spelt or buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 and ½ tablespoon of maca powder
Instructions: Place the banana, vanilla, and milk in a high-speed blender and blend until it turns into a smooth liquid. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and maca. Combine the banana milk with the dry ingredients until they are well-mixed together.
Scoop batter into a griddle over low heat, creating pancake shapes. After one minute, flip and turn to the other side and cook for another minute.
This is best served with a sliced banana and maple syrup.