Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herb sometimes used as a natural weight-loss aid. Taking ginger supplements or sipping ginger tea is purported to suppress the appetite, as well as speed up the burning of fat. Some alternative medicine proponents suggest that ginger may also help promote weight loss by stimulating the digestive system.
Why Is Ginger Sometimes Used for Weight Loss?
contains a number of compounds thought to influence health. These compounds include gingerols, a class of substances shown to reduce inflammation. Some preliminary research indicates that gingerols may offer anti-obesity effects.
The Science Behind Ginger and Weight Loss
Although there’s currently a lack of clinical trials testing ginger’s effectiveness as a weight-loss aid, some preliminary research suggests that the herb may help promote weight loss.
For a pilot study published in the journal Metabolism in 2012, for instance, 10 overweight men were given two grams of ginger powder dissolved in hot water to drink with their breakfast. Results revealed that ginger helped enhance thermogenesis (a biological process involved in burning calories) and reduce feelings of hunger.
Additionally, a number of animal-based studies have demonstrated that ginger may help protect against obesity. These include a rat-based study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2014, which tested the effects of gingerol on obese rats fed a high-fat diet. After about a month of treatment with gingerol, the rats showed a significant decrease in body weight and in blood sugar levels.
In an earlier study (published in the Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan in 2005), researchers observed that mice placed on a ginger-enriched high-fat diet for eight weeks had less buildup of fat tissue compared to mice placed on a ginger-free high-fat diet. The study’s authors note that ginger may help fight fat buildup by slowing up the absorption of fat in the intestines.
Ginger may produce mild side effects like heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Among women, ginger consumption may also increase menstrual bleeding.
Furthermore, there’s some concern that use of ginger has the potential to be harmful to people have a bleeding disorder or take certain medications or supplements that increase the risk of bleeding, such as warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin, NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen), garlic, vitamin E, and ginkgo biloba.
Keep in mind that supplements haven’t been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions (such as heart disease) or who are taking medications (such as blood-sugar-lowering medications for diabetes control) has not been established. You can get tips on using dietary supplements safely here, but if you’re considering the use of ginger supplements, talk with your primary care provider first.
Alternatives to Ginger for Weight Loss
The class of compounds thought to play a key role in ginger’s potentially weight-loss-promoting effects, gingerols are thought to be similar to capsaicin. Sourced from cayenne peppers, capsaicin has been found to curb appetite and increase thermogenesis in preliminary studies.
For more help in taming your appetite—and, in turn, lowering your intake of calories and achieving weight loss—consider boosting your intake of green tea. Rich in antioxidants that may enhance your overall health and protect against certain illnesses, green tea is high in theanine (a compound found to suppress appetite in preliminary studies).
What’s more, practicing mindful eating may go a long way in improving appetite control.
While little is known about how ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects may be helpful for weight loss, there’s some evidence that chronic inflammation is closely associated with weight gain. Other anti-inflammatory remedies that may help with weight loss include omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed.
Last Updated: 25, 2015. By Cathy Wong
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