Turmeric is much more than a spice that gives color and flavor to curries. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient, offering many health benefits.
The idea isn’t just hype either. Turmeric contains many healthy compounds and has been scientifically studied.
Turmeric and weight loss have even been linked. This makes turmeric much more interesting still. It means your turmeric recipes may help weight loss to a degree.
But why? And how?
In this article, I’ll show you what makes turmeric important for weight loss – and how you can get the most out of it for your general health and wellbeing.
Why Turmeric Helps You Lose Weight
Your weight is also about energy balance.
The equation is complicated (as Precision Nutrition explains). But, every approach that increases energy used or decreases energy intake can help you lose weight.
Turmeric is one such approach.
Like many other herbs and spices, turmeric contains many plant-based nutrients. This includes antioxidants, volatile oils and compounds that directly impact health. The most powerful of these is curcumin, which has been studied extensively.
A recent review of 11 randomized studies using adults with conditions ranging from obestity to pre-diabetes discovered some interesting findings.
What the researchers discovered was the curcumin had a significant effect in the studies that featured overweight subjects that were taking 1,000 mg of curcumin for at least eight weeks.
Study participants lost on average 2.5 pounds of body weight based on various studies that ranged from 3 to 12 weeks in duration.
The takeaway here seems to be that the dose, and amount of curcumin are very important in regards to the outcomes. Also, of note is, the greatest effect was found for those participants that were defined as being overweight.
It appears the compounds in turmeric, especially curcumin, seems to promote weight loss in multiple ways, including these mechanisms:
Decreases Blood Sugar Levels
This is related to weight loss in two ways.
First, good diabetes management can improve health overall. This makes it easier to get enough exercise and to eat well. Indirectly, this helps with weight loss.
Second, high blood sugar levels promote fat storage. So, you need to lower them to lose weight. Turmeric works well in this area, as does cinnamon.
Reduces Fat Accumulation
The buildup of fat is a key issue and can be why people quickly put on weight. This happens by new blood vessels being created in white adipose tissue. If this development can be lowered, fat accumulation will also decrease.
Research shows exactly this effect for turmeric.
Can ‘Brown’ White Adipose Tissue
In the human body, brown adipose tissue helps to produce heat, which increases energy used (5). More energy use is always good for weight loss.
The mechanism is unusual and needs more research. Yet, scientists think it’s relevant for human weight loss (8).
May Promote Thermogenesis
Another way to increase energy use is thermogenesis. This is where the body uses calories to create energy – and it is critical for fat loss.
The thermogenic impact of turmeric isn’t as strong and hasn’t been researched as often. Still, the potential does exist, especially as ginger has a thermogenic effect and the two spices are closely related (10,11).
Can Decrease Inflammation
That association means that inflammation can increase disease risk or make some diseases worse.
This makes it critical to reduce inflammation levels. Turmeric is one way of doing this.
Decreasing inflammation can then make weight loss easier. So, what are you waiting for?
Lowers Depressive Symptoms
Depression and weight are closely related. Often, depression will promote weight gain and weight gain can promote depression. This creates a vicious cycle that’s hard to break (21).
But, if you can decrease depressive symptoms, weight loss often becomes easier as well.
How to Take Advantage of Turmeric
Turmeric is a versatile spice and there are many ways to get benefits from it.
Turmeric in Food and Drinks
You can easily increase your intake by adding it to cooking or into hot drinks.
Curries are one common example, especially in the colder months. Many people turn to options like turmeric golden milk as well, which is surprisingly easy to make.
It’s one of my favorite ways to have turmeric.
Turmeric powder is easy to find in any store. But, if you want a larger quantity, I recommend the brand below. This one is also organic and non-GMO, making it better for you overall.
Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements
With any supplement, you should look for high-quality brands – ideally ones that have passed independent testing. With these, you get what you pay for.
In fact, roughly one-third of turmeric/curcumin products fail tests. This means they don’t offer what the labels claim (25).
What brands can you trust?
There are multiple good options, so I’m just going to highlight two. Both of these have passed independent testing and are high-quality overall.
These are curcumin supplements, rather than turmeric itself. This creates a much higher curcumin concentration and greater potential for benefits.
Plus, the products are formulated to increase absorption.
How Much Should You Take?
Research into turmeric is ongoing – and the best dose hasn’t been determined.
Some authors recommend around 1-2 teaspoons multiple times per day if you’re using the powder (such as one teaspoon, three times a day) (26).
If you choose a supplement instead, follow the recommendations on the label.
You should also start slow and give your body time to adjust.
Turmeric is entirely natural. And, it’s safe for dietary consumption.
In fact, turmeric has a good safety profile. The site Turmeric for Health highlights this in more detail and references many studies.
Even so, you should take care – especially with higher doses.
Possible side effects include:
Turmeric is also a mild blood thinner. Avoid turmeric supplements if you’re on any blood thinners or if you have a clotting or bleeding disorder.
In these cases, you could still have turmeric in your diet and get some benefits
But, talk to your doctor first.
And, as always, pay attention to your body. If you experience significant side effects, discontinue the turmeric and talk to your doctor.
Finally, don’t supplement turmeric at the same time as medications. The doses should be at least a few hours apart and you should check for possible interactions first.
Turmeric is an effective way to promote weight loss. But, it isn’t a complete solution.
Instead, it’s just one part of a larger equation. You still need to have a healthy diet overall.
To achieve this, you need a lifestyle approach that is good for your body and is achievable. The goal is to find something that you can sustain in the long-term and enjoy. For some, the answer is keto, while others might turn to intermittent fasting or the Mediterranean diet.
Want to Lose Weight and Keep it Off?
Weight loss is a huge industry, with no shortage of bold claims. But, long-term weight loss doesn’t come from a crash diet or a popular fad. Instead, it is connected to sustainable habits and healthy foods.
Check out my most recommended products and guides to see where you can get started.