Ginger Root for Weight Loss
As well as being a common household spice and a popular ingredient in baking, there are many suggestions that ginger root may also aid with weight loss by boosting energy and improving digestion.
Many of us know ginger root as a ground spice found in our cupboards which is used in baking, as a seasoning or in tea. However, there are many claims that ginger also aids in weight loss, specifically by boosting energy, regulating blood sugar and improving digestion with its alleged gastrointestinal benefits.
This article will explore any potential benefits of ginger root in terms of weight loss, using clinical studies to examine its history as a weight loss agent, and discuss any side effects associated with it. We’ll also be discussing how to use ginger for weight loss, and where you can buy it.
What is ginger root?
Ginger is a plant native to Asia, where it’s found in countries such as China, Japan and India, although it’s also popularly grown across the world in continents including South America and Africa.
The ginger plant generally has yellow-green flowers and leafy stems and the root is often used in medicine and in food as a spice. There are believed to be medicinal properties associated with ginger root, as well as it being used as an ingredient in food and drink and as a fragrant in cosmetics.
It’s believed that ginger is primarily used to treat stomach conditions, such as morning sickness, motion sickness, colic, stomach ache, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, nausea and appetite loss.
In addition, people use ginger to treat pain-related conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, respiratory tract infections, coughs, migraines, bronchitis, diabetes, chest pain, back pain, anorexia, cholera, bleeding, baldness, malaria, inflamed testicles, toothache and poisonous snake bites.
Ginger is also used to increase sweating due to its alleged diuretic properties, and to increase the production of breast milk. Some apply ginger oil to the skin to relieve pain and treat insect bites, while others pour the fresh juice from ginger to treat burns.
How might ginger root aid in weight loss?
Ginger is said to aid in weight loss in various ways; it’s believed that ginger acts as a stimulant to boost energy levels in the body, which can allegedly increase the rate of fat burning and make you feel more alert and active.
This is because ginger is believed to have thermogenic properties; this suggests that it can raise your internal body heat, which is said to convert stored fat cells into energy, potentially burning fat quickly and naturally, as well as boosting the body’s metabolism and making you more energetic.
In addition, evidence suggests that ginger may act as a natural appetite suppressant, and it’s said to do this psychologically as opposed to physically filling you up. It’s believed that ginger secretes stimulants into the body which then send signals to your brain, allegedly making you think you’re fuller than you are. This is said to encourage you to eat less, and may make you less likely to snack, especially on unhealthy food, subsequently encouraging weight loss.
Furthermore, ginger is said to have benefits on our digestive system, and this is because it’s believed to stabilise levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and lipids. This is why many people drink ginger as a tea, as hot water is said to amplify these effects. It’s believed that ginger is especially effective at regulating blood sugar in people with type-2 diabetes.
It’s also believed that ginger can regulate levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is essential for regulating energy levels, but only in appropriate doses. It’s said that stress can cause cortisol levels to go up, potentially causing weight gain. Therefore, if ginger reduces the amount of cortisol in the body, it can potentially prevent fat gain.
Clinical studies on ginger root
The following study used a sample of 10 healthy but slightly overweight men with an average BMI of 27.2 to determine ginger’s effectiveness in terms of suppressing the appetite. The study lasted 2 days: on the first day, participants drank ginger tea made with 2g of dried ginger powder with their breakfast, while the next day they just had the breakfast without the ginger tea.
Volunteers had blood samples taken for 3 hours after the breakfast, and their ‘resting state energy expenditure’ was measured 6 hours. Furthermore, their ‘feelings of hunger’ before and after breakfast were recorded over the 2 days.
The results showed that although the ginger didn’t affect the total resting energy expenditure, glucose, insulin or lipids, appetite did seem to be lower after participants drank the ginger tea.
A second study examined the anti-obesity effect that ginger may have on rats that were fed a high-fat diet for a total of 30 days. During this time, the rats were divided into groups and given either 25, 50 or 75 mg/kg of gingerol each day, which was administered orally. One group was the control group and were given 10 mg/kg of ‘lorcaserin’ each day.
Measurements such as body weight, blood glucose, lipid profile and insulin resistance were monitored and results found that the rats that only consumed a high-fat diet saw an increase in all of these, while the rats who were fed a high-fat diet as well as taking gingerol saw a significant decrease in all the measurements mentioned.
They also found that the higher the dose, the more pronounced the results were, indicating that regular consumption of ginger may aid in weight loss and the regulation of blood sugar, although more human evidence is needed.
This study looked at the combination of ginger and resistance training and the effects that they may have on body composition over of 10 weeks. Here, they used a sample of 32 obese Iranian men who were divided evenly into 4 groups so that each group consisted of 8 men.
The first group were given a placebo, and the second group received a placebo with resistance training, while the third group consumed 1g of ginger each day for the 10 weeks, and the fourth group were given the daily 1g of ginger as well as participating in the resistance training. The resistance training took place 3 times per week for 10 weeks, and each training session included 8 individual exercises.
Body composition was measured both at baseline and after the 10 weeks, and results showed a significant reduction in body fat/mass, waist circumference, total cholesterol and insulin resistance in both the resistance training groups, with no significant change in the just ginger and placebo groups, indicating that the results were caused primarily by the exercise.
Lastly, a sample of type-2 diabetics were used in this study which focused on the effects that ginger may have specifically on blood sugar levels. A total of 41 participants volunteered, and they were divided into 2 groups: the first group consisted of 22 subjects who consumed 2g of ginger each day for a total of 12 weeks. The remaining 19 participants formed the second group, and they received 2g of lactose each day, and this acted as a placebo.
Appropriate measurements on the blood and blood sugar were taken before and after the study to show any changes, and results found that compared to baseline and the placebo group, those who consumed the ginger powder supplements saw a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, amongst other blood-related measurements that looked for fat in the blood.
These results indicate that regular consumption of ginger, whether it’s in supplement form or not, may have a positive impact on blood sugar. This may contribute towards your general health as well as potential weight loss, and these results may be especially beneficial for diabetics, especially if they’re struggling to lose weight or regulate their blood sugar levels.
Side effects associated with ginger root
As ginger is a common ingredient used in food and drink, the risk of experiencing any adverse side effects are said to be fairly low, at least according to WebMD, who claim that ginger is likely to be safe when consumed orally in appropriate doses.
They do, however, warn that some women experience heavier menstrual bleeding when using ginger, and some people have reported mild side effects including heartburn, diarrhoea and stomach discomfort.
When applied to the skin, WebMD suggest that ginger is ‘possibly safe’, at least for short-term use, although some people may find that it irritates their skin, and should therefore stop using the product containing the ginger.
The following study explores the safety of ginger consumption in rats, specifically measuring any changes on blood glucose, blood coagulation, blood pressure and heart rate. They found that the administration of ginger caused no changes in these factors, concluding that it should be pharmacologically safe, at least in rats.
In addition, this article assesses the overall performance of ginger, using evidence from past studies over time. Here, they found evidence to suggest that in animals, ingesting doses of 0.5g-1g of ginger powder for a period of 3 months to 2.5 years produced no adverse effects.
They said that other animal studies found that animals could ingest ginger in doses of 2.5g per kg of body weight without experiencing any mortalities, although when the doses were raised to 3-3.5g per kg of body weight, mortalities raised by 10-30%.
Another study used a sample of pregnant rats who consumed ginger in doses of 100, 333 and 1000 mg/kg each day by pregnant rats for 10 days, and this appeared to cause no adverse side effects. Another animal study used both male and female rats who consumed 500, 1000 and 2000 mg/kg of ginger for 35 days, and this also caused no severe side effects.
However, all of these studies focus on animal samples, and so these results may not be reflective of the effect ginger may have on humans. As ginger is regularly consumed by humans, it’s perhaps less likely to cause any serious side effects, although more human evidence is clearly needed.
How to use ginger root
Ginger root is generally sold in its natural form, and can be peeled, chopped, minced or grated depending on what you’re using it for. You can also buy ground ginger which comes in powder form, but this is generally used in baking recipes, and it’s said that using fresh ginger root produces the most effective results for weight loss.
Some people make ginger tea, as this is believed to provide the body with its weight loss properties, and it’s said to improve the digestive system. To make ginger tea, you simply peel and grate ginger root into a mug – using as much or as little as you like – before adding boiling water and brewing for 10-15 and then straining it to remove any solid bits of ginger.
Many also add lemon and honey to sweeten the beverage and potentially improve the flavour. In addition, the combination of ginger, lemon and honey is said to amplify the alleged health and weight loss effects associated.
Where to buy ginger root
Fresh ginger root can be bought at any supermarket or grocery store for a fairly low price. The ingredient is generally sold loose and priced by weight, so that you can choose to buy however much or little as you wish, depending on your needs. A single knob of ginger root typically costs between £1-£2, depending on its size and the supermarket retailer.
You can also buy ginger in other forms, such as ground ginger which can be found in most supermarkets, and ginger capsules and ginger oil which are commonly found in health supplement stores such as Holland and Barrett.
In conclusion, there’s evidence to suggest that consumption of ginger root may aid in weight loss, as well as having other health benefits, without the risk of causing adverse side effects. Ginger root can be used in various ways such as ginger tea, and can be easily bought in almost any supermarket or grocery store.
However, while there’s lots of evidence regarding the safety of ginger on samples of animals, there’s limited evidence on its safety for regular human consumption. However, as it’s used in food and drink, it’s said to be unlikely to cause any adverse effects when used appropriately.
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