Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on March 18, 2023
Seemingly forever, turmeric has been a primary spice used in natural medicine to heal a wide variety of ailments. Extracted from the ground-up roots of the Curcuma longa plant is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin.
In recent decades, science has confirmed the positive chatter surrounding many of turmeric’s health benefits. With such great results across a broad spectrum of conditions, curcumin is now used experimentally in several different areas. But, is turmeric good for weight loss, fat burning, and metabolism?
Turmeric for Weight Loss
Studies have confirmed the powerful benefits of turmeric for treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Curcumin’s antioxidant activity has even been shown beneficial in skin care, cancer prevention, and fibromyalgia pain.
In more recent studies, researchers have revealed the potential for curcumin in managing weight in obese individuals or those with metabolic disorders. The discovery may be great news if you’re looking to trim belly fat and burn a few extra calories.
To understand how turmeric benefits weight loss, first, we need to discuss metabolism in a bit more detail.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is a complex biochemical process involving the conversion of what we eat and drink into energy for the body. Calories combine with oxygen to help release energy as our body requires it for operation.
Even when we’re resting, the body still requires energy to carry out all of its biological functions. These items include blood circulation, breathing, as well as growth and cell repair. The amount of energy needed to complete these functions is called the basal metabolic rate. Think of this as your base metabolism.
Multiple factors have an impact on basal metabolism, including:
- Body Size and Composition: Larger individuals, especially those with a higher percentage of lean muscle mass, burn more calories at rest.
- Your Sex: Men often have more muscle and a smaller percentage of body fat than women of the same weight and age range. Thus, men have the advantage of burning more calories at rest.
- Your Age: As we age, fat accounts for a higher percentage of overall body weight as our muscle recovery slows, and lean mass begins to deteriorate. Therefore, natural aging slows down calorie burning.
Besides your basal metabolic rate, the other factors that go into calorie-burning are your daily physical activity and thermogenesis (the body’s ability to digest, absorb, and transport nutrients). Physical activity is the big one, and here’s why. There are two ways to lose weight:
- Generate an energy deficit by consuming fewer calories throughout the day.
- Boost the number of calories you burn by increasing physical activity.
Preferably, a weight loss regimen would do both of these things for best results. Individuals with metabolic disorders may have inefficiencies in this process, which can lead to tremendous difficulties in maintaining a healthy weight.
There are many health risks linked with being overweight that you need to keep in mind. Obesity can lead to several complications, including depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, the progression of metabolic disorders, and problems with liver health. For longevity, it’s vital to get your weight under control.
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
There is no proverbial “magic bullet” for losing weight. While some dietary supplements are worth their salt, they should only be companions on your weight loss journey—not the roadmap. Is turmeric one of those helpful supplements for targeting belly fat?
Curcumin offers substantial benefits for inflammation as well as enhanced antioxidant activity. Studies have also demonstrated a positive effect on managing obesity-related metabolic disorders like diabetes. For this reason, researchers believe that curcumin may have an impact on weight management as well.
In this post, we will discuss the research surrounding curcumin’s potential to enhance fat burning and weight loss.
Does Turmeric Help With Weight Loss?
The first study we’ll look at assessed the efficacy of curcumin in a group of 44 overweight individuals with metabolic syndrome. This trial was randomized and controlled.
For context, metabolic syndrome is a group of co-occurring conditions such as high blood sugar, insulin resistance, hypertension, high cholesterol, and excess fat around the waist. Together, these conditions can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
In the study, before using turmeric, the subjects took part in a 30-day diet and intervention lifestyle that yielded weight loss activity less than 2%. Afterward, each participant was treated with either curcumin and phosphatidylserine (PS) combined, or phosphatidylserine by itself for an additional 30 days.
PS by itself did not show any statistically significant outcomes for fat loss or calorie burning. However, curcumin administration showed excellent benefits. Here were the results:
- Enhanced weight loss from 1.88% to 4.91%
- Increased percentage of body fat reduction from 0.70% to 8.43%
- Improved waistline reduction from 2.36% to 4.14%
- Better hip circumference reduction from 0.74% to 2.51%
- Higher reduction of BMI (body mass index) from 2.10% to 6.43%
These findings suggest that a bioavailable (easily absorbed) form of curcumin, either with phosphatidylserine or black pepper extract, may help weight loss in overweight individuals.
Additional studies seem to corroborate these findings suggesting that curcumin may reduce the prevalence of obesity-related diseases. Since chronic low-grade metabolic inflammation and weight gain are linked, it’s thought that anti-inflammatory supplements can help weight management.
Curcumin has shown the potential to interact directly with white adipose tissue (fat), suppressing chronic inflammation. Turmeric induces adiponectin expression, which helps regulate glucose levels and break down fatty acids. These mechanisms of action demonstrate an ability to reduce obesity and curtail its adverse effects.
One animal study tested curcumin supplementation on a group of 47 obese mice. There were five different groups in which we saw marginally reduced high-fat diets, curcumin and piperine treatment, some combination of the two, or neither.
The study’s results showed that the obese mice who underwent a minor calorie restriction while using curcumin and piperine together lost more body fat than the other four groups. Therefore, turmeric may have a metabolism-boosting effect in overweight subjects.
Another very similar study examined how curcumin impacts weight loss in a group of overweight mice on high-fat diets. Like the previous trial, the results showed that turmeric successfully suppressed angiogenesis and adipogenesis, the processes responsible for the growth of adipose tissue.
Curcumin also significantly lowered cholesterol and enhanced lipid metabolism in adipocytes (cells that specialize in fat storage). Again, this result hints at the possibility that turmeric supplements may help prevent obesity and diminish some of the adverse side effects linked to weight gain.
It’s worth noting that the best curcumin supplements contain piperine (black pepper extract) in the form of BioPerine to enhance the absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream. Studies show that piperine, on its own, possesses lipid-lowering and fat-reducing effects, with a demonstrated potential to inhibit adipogenesis.
Thyroid disorders that cause rapid weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, can also benefit from turmeric supplementation. By reducing oxidative stress, curcumin has shown that it can stabilize the thyroid environment and reduce symptoms of thyroid disease.
How to Take Turmeric for Weight Loss
There are many different ways to use turmeric for weight loss. Among the recommendations you’ve likely seen are using more of the spice on your food, drinking turmeric milk, or adding turmeric powder into a smoothie.
The truth is, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll receive a medicinal amount of curcumin when using these approaches. That’s because the amount of curcumin in turmeric powder is roughly 3.14% on average.
That means if you consume 100 mg of turmeric powder, you’re only getting about 3.14 mg of curcumin. That’s almost nothing, and certainly wouldn’t be effective for losing weight (or anything else for that matter).
It’s always recommended to use an encapsulated turmeric supplement regularly for best results. A good product will contain BioPerine (black pepper extract), which increases turmeric absorption 20-fold, and AstraGin, which improves absorption by an additional 92%.
How much turmeric should you take for weight loss? Studies that have tested curcumin exclusively as it pertains to weight loss and metabolism are few and far between. Thus, finding an exact dosage is difficult and may vary slightly based on an individual’s ability to absorb curcumin properly.
In past articles, we’ve seen that curcumin is safe and tolerable up to 8,000 mg per day, for short periods, without any treatment-related toxicity. However, that is considered an extremely high dosage and not financially reasonable for the average user. Other studies have used as little as 200 mg of curcumin per day with success.
Most good supplements contain a turmeric dosage between 150 to 250 mg of curcumin per serving. This dosing range should be a good starting point for your weight loss regimen and is demonstrated to be safe for daily consumption.
Potential Side Effects
What are the negative effects of turmeric? Turmeric supplements are very safe, well-tolerated, and their adverse reactions are few and far between. However, be mindful of the following potential curcumin side effects:
- If you’re pregnant or nursing, turmeric supplements may not be safe.
- Curcumin has anticoagulant properties. If you’re taking blood thinners, or if it’s just before or after surgery, we recommend that you avoid turmeric.
- Curcumin also impacts blood sugar levels. Diabetics should consult a medical professional before taking turmeric.
Final Thoughts on Turmeric Benefits for Weight Loss
Is turmeric good for weight loss? The answer appears to be, yes. Keep in mind, most of the studies involved subjects with pre-existing metabolic disorders. Curcumin does show potential for helping those individuals improve insulin sensitivity, regulate lipid metabolism, lower inflammation, and reduce adipose tissue.
With that said, we need more studies to confirm if turmeric for weight loss can help otherwise healthy individuals trim belly fat and increase their metabolism. At the very least, curcumin seems like an excellent preventative measure against the complications that may arise from metabolic disorders.
If you’re considering using a curcumin C3 complex, always consult with a certified medical professional to see if it’s right for your situation.
- Our Picks: Best Turmeric Supplements