Want the perfect workout program?Take Quiz
Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
May 31, 2023
An unassuming spice has emerged as a contender in a world of ongoing weight loss pills and potions. Say hello to turmeric.
The vibrant, golden spice adds a pop of color to your dishes and is associated with various health benefits. But is turmeric a weight loss game-changer, or is it just another spice in the rack?
In this article, we'll delve into the facts and explore the potential of turmeric for weight loss. The goal is to separate hype from hyperbole and uncover whether turmeric could benefit your weight loss journey.
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Table of Contents:
Turmeric, known for its vibrant yellow color, comes from the Curcuma longa plant. As part of the ginger family, it is widely used in Asian cuisine.
In terms of health, turmeric is popular in traditional Indian medicine. Despite how that sounds, its benefits are not rooted in Old Wives Tales. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is responsible for its distinctive color and most health benefits. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even weight-loss properties.
Turmeric is a versatile spice but is also a widely used supplement. The one downside is curcumin absorption is poor on its own. To combat this, turmeric and curcumin supplements often contain black pepper since the compound piperine in black pepper can enhance absorption.
Turmeric is commonly used in cooking, especially in Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. It adds a distinctive flavor and vibrant yellow color to dishes like curries, soups, stews, rice, and vegetables.
Moreover, its health benefits span various domains, including alleviating arthritis, promoting heart and brain health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. And it's so effective in helping with joint pain that it's even made our list of 7 Best Joint Supplements.
Last but not least, many people use turmeric for weight loss. Curcumin's influence on weight loss stems from its ability to suppress fat tissue growth, reduce inflammation, and improve glucose metabolism.
As mentioned, using turmeric for weight loss is a good idea. Of course, it's not a magic cure. But research supports using turmeric and curcumin for its potential benefits in weight management.
A 2019 meta-analysis looked at 21 studies comprised of over 1600 individuals. After running the numbers, the researchers found curcumin intake significantly reduced body mass index and body weight1.
In addition, the researchers noted it significantly increased adiponectin levels, a hormone that helps regulate metabolism. Adiponectin could be one proposed mechanism for how curcumin helps weight loss. Another study found just thirty days of curcumin supplementation in overweight individuals enhanced body fat reduction, reduced their waistline, and lowered their BMI2.
Not only does research support turmeric for weight loss, but real users have seen some great benefits as well.
"I've been taking daily for ~5 years for inflammation; for me, I do get cognitive benefits, but I think those are just related to the decreased inflammation. I get similar benefits mentally from turmeric as I do from taking celecoxib (selective COX-2 inhibitor), my thinking is sharper, my memory is better, I have more energy, and I'm in less pain. Turmeric also quickly cleared up my stubborn hormonal acne, which was a nice unexpected bonus." (source)
Weight loss and fat loss are two independent concepts frequently used interchangeably.
Weight loss is a reduction in overall body weight caused by factors such as fat mass, muscle mass, and water weight. People who lose weight lose a combination of these components, and diet and exercise habits determine the ratio.
On the other hand, fat loss is only a reduction of body fat, a common goal of people attempting to modify their body composition. Body fat reduction can enhance health markers like insulin sensitivity, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and improve looks.
That said, here are some ways in which turmeric, specifically curcumin, may help with weight loss:
It's crucial to remember that turmeric supplements for weight loss aren't a miracle cure. Instead, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and lifestyle changes are the most effective ways to lose weight.
Regarding a healthy diet, you need to be in a calorie deficit for weight loss. This means eating fewer calories than it takes to maintain your weight. If you're unsure where to start, we've got a great 4-week weight loss meal plan to follow.
In addition to dieting, lift weights a few days a week to ensure the weight you lose is primarily fat and not muscle. Find a workout split you enjoy and will stick to. Once you have the healthy diet and exercise part of the equation down, adding a turmeric or curcumin supplement can be the final step in losing weight.
Anyone interested in improving their weight loss results would benefit from supplementing with turmeric or curcumin. However, individuals looking to reduce inflammation or improve insulin sensitivity may benefit most.
Avoid turmeric supplements if you are on blood-thinning medication or have an iron deficiency or other bleeding disorders.
Before using curcumin, diabetics and anyone with immunological deficiencies should consult with their doctor. Additionally, curcumin is not well-researched in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it's best to talk with your doctor.
We have mentioned a few of these throughout the article, but here are some potential health benefits associated with consuming turmeric here:
Turmeric, specifically its active compound curcumin, is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. It may help reduce chronic inflammation and alleviate symptoms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Research shows using curcumin can suppress inflammation enough to limit the use of NSAIDs6.
In addition, multiple real-life users have noticed turmerics' anti-inflammatory effects. "I take turmeric supplements. Started a few years ago when I was marathon training. It helped a lot with joint aches so I've kept it up." (source)
"I don’t have any facts or studies, just personal testimony. I’ve been a taking tumeric/black pepper supplement for about six months to help with inflammation. It has helped me a great deal- I have noticed the knots and pain in my shoulders/upper back have significantly decreased." (source)
Curcumin in turmeric is known for its antioxidant properties7. Antioxidants help to protect the body from damage produced by dangerous molecules known as free radicals, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
Research suggests curcumin may have antidepressant and antianxiety properties8,9. It is believed to modulate certain neurotransmitters and inflammatory pathways associated with these conditions. However, more research is required to determine its effectiveness and optimal dosage.
Evidence shows that curcumin helps reduce total cholesterol levels, particularly LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides10. It may also raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. These effects are linked to curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent insulin resistance, potentially benefiting individuals with type 2 diabetes11.
Turmeric and curcumin may also benefit skin health, the immune system, wound healing, and digestion.
While turmeric is generally safe for consumption and has been used for centuries, it can have some side effects. Most of the drawbacks of turmeric occur when consumed in large amounts.
Here are some considerations:
The appropriate dosage of turmeric can vary depending on factors such as individual tolerance, the form of turmeric used (powder, supplements, extracts), and the concentration of curcumin in the product.
That said, research exploring curcumin's weight loss benefits has used doses ranging from 500 milligrams to 2 grams per day. For best absorption, split it into two or three servings.
Pro Tip: We like including turmeric in our chickpea pancakes, which you can find on our list of Best High Protein Vegan Breakfasts.
There is no conclusive research on the best time to take turmeric for weight loss. However, most people consume it with food. Keep in mind—by itself, curcumin is poorly absorbed. Therefore, if you use curcumin supplements, ensure it includes black pepper extract.
It depends on the individual precisely how long it takes turmeric to work. Many folks assume turmeric isn't working when the truth is that it just takes time and consistency.
Unfortunately, turmeric does not provide a quick remedy, so you must take it daily for several weeks to see improvements. Expect to see results in 4-8 weeks when taken daily. However, some research shows improvements in as little as 30 days.
Here are some common forms of turmeric:
For convenience, I recommend supplementing with turmeric in pill or capsule form. Then, all you have to do is remember to take it daily with meals.
My all-time favorite turmeric product is Sports Research Turmeric Curcumin C3 Complex. It contains extra virgin organic coconut oil and black pepper to improve absorption and bioavailability. Plus, the product contains 95% curcuminoids, providing you with an ultra-high concentration in each soft gel.
Another great option is Nature Wise Curcumin Turmeric, which is one of the best-selling turmeric supplements on Amazon. Nature Wise Curcumin Turmeric has over 36,000 reviews and packs 750mg of Organic Curcumin into each capsule. It also contains ginger and Bioperine, a patented black pepper extract, for better absorption and bio-availability.
For more great options, check out our article on the 9 Best Curcumin Supplements.
Turmeric and curcumin are not the only supplements that can help you lose weight. If your main goal is weight loss, another great option to look into is fat burner supplements.
Look for fat burners with a formula shown to help with weight loss. Some fat-burning ingredients with research support are the stimulants caffeine, yohimbine, and synephrine. All three ingredients help boost your metabolism and provide energy to crush your workouts.
If stimulants aren't your thing, there are non-stimulant-based ingredients as well. Those include green tea extract, capsaicin, and forskolin, all which can be found in our list of best non-stimulant fat burners.
Now into some frequently asked questions about turmeric for weight loss.
Turmeric aids weight loss, mainly by addressing chronic inflammation. It can also indirectly help you perform better during your workouts by reducing pain, leading to better weight loss.
There is no specific recommended turmeric powder dosage for weight loss. It is best to follow general guidelines of consuming 500 mg to 2g of curcumin daily, but individual responses may vary.
There is no specific time to drink turmeric water for weight loss. You can have it anytime that is convenient for you. Consume it throughout the day, alongside meals, or as a standalone beverage.
Turmeric can help you lose fat all over your body, not just the belly. It's important to mention that the body can't selectively lose fat from specific areas. Instead, fat loss occurs more systemically and uniformly throughout the body. The rate and order in which fat loss occurs are determined by genetics. However, if you store most of your body fat in the belly area, weight loss will result in a more noticeable change in your stomach than in other body parts.
While turmeric and ginger have potential benefits for weight management, including anti-inflammatory properties and possible thermogenic effects, they are unlikely to burn belly fat on their own directly. A comprehensive approach involving a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits is vital to weight loss.
Turmeric is known for its many potential benefits, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Additionally, it has been studied for its possible effects on various conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, digestive issues, and skin health.
Turmeric might be your secret weapon on the path to a fitter you! With its extraordinary health benefits for fighting inflammation and its role in weight loss, the golden spice has emerged as a beacon of hope.
While the scientific evidence continues to unfold, early studies suggest that curcumin may aid weight loss while addressing numerous other health concerns.
So why not embrace the power of a turmeric supplement as you embark on your fitness journey? With every capsule, you take a step closer to a healthier lifestyle.
Looking for a great supplement to help your weight loss journey? Check out our article covering the 9 Best Curcumin Supplements. Or, for another great fat-burning supplement, head to our articles on the Best Fat Burners For Men and the Best Fat Burners For Women.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
September 23, 2023
September 21, 2023
At SFS we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases, killer workouts, actionable fitness content and more. As our motto goes - "You don't have to get ready if you stay #alwaysready!"