Ayurveda for weight loss is a holistic, safe and non-restrictive approach to losing excess weight.
Ayurveda, an alternative system of medicine originating from ancient India, is well known for its powerful herbal remedies.
From metabolism-boosting Ayurvedic herbs such as ginger, licorice, and lemongrass to recipes tailored to your unique Dosha, following an Ayurvedic diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and shed any extra pounds.
However, Ayurveda to lose weight is not all about food.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s just as important to consider how your daily routine might be holding you back and negatively impacting your health, and what you can do to change it.
In this article, we’ll cover the following 7 topics:
- #1 Dosha eating
- #2 Eating for the Kapha Dosha: 6 tips
- #3 4 Weight loss Ayurveda remedies
- #4 Ayruvedic tea for weight loss
- #5 Optimal times to eat
- #6 Optimal times to sleep
- #7 Yoga for weight loss
#1 Eating for your Dosha
Ayurvedic practitioners teach that humans are comprised of and influenced by three fundamental forces known as Doshas. These are Kapha, Vata and Pitta.
These Doshas make up our life energies, metabolic patterns and body types, as well as provide us with a unique blueprint to health and fulfilment.
It’s important to understand which Ayurvedic body type you are – for instance, oily foods are very good for a Vata person but simultaneously bad for a Kapha person.Although more research is needed to provide conclusive evidence, a study conducted in 2014 involving 22 participants found that Dosha eating, when combined with yoga, resulted in significant weight loss.
- Combines: fire and water
- Associated qualities: hot, light, penetrating, and sharp
- Body type: typically medium physical build, may have red hair, muscular, excellent digestion, shining skin
- Balanced by: cooling, energising and refreshing foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Think cucumbers, melons, coconut, coriander, and mint
- Combines: air and space
- Associated qualities: cold, dry, and light
- Body type: typically slim, lightweight, tall or short, dark or olive undertones, dry skin and thin hair
- Balanced by: warming, moisturizing, oily, creamy, and fatty foods. Think root vegetables, protein, avocados and nuts
- Combines earth and water
- Associated qualities: coldness, heaviness, steadiness, softness, stamina and stability
- Body type: strong and heavy physical appearance, soft skin, strong teeth, round features, thick hair
- Balanced by: dry, warming, flavor-filled foods. Think leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, spices, and beans
#2 Eating for the Kapha Dosha: 6 Tips
Although it’s possible to be overweight and be Pitta or Vata dominant, it is usually Kapha dominant people who possess a naturally slow metabolism and struggle to slim down quicker, hence why knowledge of Ayurveda to lose weight can be a helpful tool.
If you identify with the Kapha body type, follow these 6 tips to reduce an overactive Kapha Dosha:
1. Consume more warming foods
2. Consume more dry or roasted foods
3. Consume more cooked vegetables
4. Consume more bitter and astringent spices
5. Avoid oils
6. Avoid excessively sweet, salty or sour foods
Check out the Ideal Kapha Diet for a complete list of which foods are encouraged and which are to be avoided.
#3 4 Weight loss Ayurveda Remedies
The herbal remedies below have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to encourage weight loss and fat reduction. Many are also now being studied in clinical trials.
Extracts of Pterocarpus marsupium from the Vijayasar tree are suggested to improve metabolic disorders.
Although human research is necessary, a study conducted on rats in 2018 linked the extract to significant fat reduction.
Triphala is a concoction of three superfruits found in India: amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki.
The herbal preparation has long been used as a natural laxative to help digestive issues such as constipation and studies involving both humans and rats have linked triphala to significant fat reduction.
Boasting anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-epileptic, and anti-nociceptive properties, Kalonji (also known as nigella seeds) has been used in scientific studies for a wide range of purposes.
Kalonji has been linked to improving metabolic syndrome – a cluster of metabolic conditions that include obesity and insulin resistance.
Some studies have shown that consuming the seeds in combination with a healthy diet resulted in statistically significant weight loss.
Consisting of dried resin from the Mukul myrrh tree, guggul is a weight loss staple in Ayurveda.
However, the scientific research surrounding it is still a work in progress. Whilst a 2008 trial found that guggul encouraged fat cells to break down, a 2017 study found that guggul had no effect on the hormones associated with fat breakdown.
#4 Ayurvedic tea for weight loss
Ayurvedic teas can safely encourage weight loss by boosting your metabolism – and no, we’re not talking about laxative ‘skinny teas’!
Herbs such as basil, star anise, lemongrass, ginger, cloves and liquorice are linked to weight loss.
We suggest: A herbal preparation of ginger, cloves, and liquorice
How to: Add 2cm of ginger, a small piece of liquorice, and 3 cloves to a cup of boiling water. Leave for 5-10 minutes before straining, depending on how strong you like it.
#5 Eat at the right time
Believe it or not, the time at which you eat during the day has a big impact on your health.
By following the rhythms of the Ayurvedic clock, which combines your natural body clock with the rhythms of nature, we can align the times at which we eat with our hormones and Dosha energy cycles.
For optimal digestion, Ayurveda suggests that we eat our largest meal of the day between 10am and 2pm.
Why? At midday, our digestive fire (also known as our agni) is at its strongest. This is in alignment with the sun, whose heat and height also peak during this period.
This window of time is governed by the Pitta Dosha, which wields a hot and fiery energy that influences the processes of metabolism and digestion. So, fill your plate with a hearty array of vegetables, grains, and legumes.
After your nourishing lunch, dinner should be a much smaller affair. The window of 6pm and 10pm is governed by the heavy, dense, and sluggish Kapha Dosha and your digestive fire is working at sub-optimal levels.
This means that your body is less able to digest food properly and burn the calories consumed.
Growing volumes of scientific research are linking the tendency to eat lots later in the day with obesity.
One long-term study involving 1245 participants and a 6 year follow up concluded that ‘consuming more of the daily energy intake at dinner is associated with an increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and NAFLD.’
So, not only will eating your largest meal at midday improve your digestion, but it may also prevent excessive weight gain later down the line.
#6 Sleep at the right time
Not only does the Ayurvedic clock allow us to understand the best times to eat, but it also reveals the optimal time for sleeping. Spoiler alert – it’s bad news for the night owls among us!
In order to ensure maximum health benefits, the best time to sleep is 10pm to 5:45am.
If you stay awake past 10pm, you miss the heavy, sleep-conducive Kapha period and instead enter the active Pitta cycle.
The hot and fiery energy of Pitta often leads to restlessness, stress, and anxious thoughts, which can significantly reduce the length and disturb the quality of your sleep.
It’s very important to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night in order to maintain your mental and physical health.
Sleep deprivation not only undermines our ability to function properly the next day but can also have serious long term consequences, including depression, anxiety, weakened immunity, hormone unbalance, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
Scores of scientific research have linked poor sleep to weight gain, suggesting a causal relationship based on sleep deprivation’s negative impact on decisions concerning diet and exercise.
If you often find yourself in the self-destructive hole of revenge bedtime procrastination – for instance, scrolling on social media until the early hours of the morning – check out 4 simple tips for beating the habit.
#7 Yoga for weight loss
Losing weight essentially boils down to creating a caloric deficit for yourself, which means that you need to expend more calories than you consume.
If your sole goal is to lose weight fast, then yoga isn’t the most effective form of exercise.
According to Harvard Health, someone weighing 185 pounds will burn approximately 168 calories during 30 minutes of Hatha yoga.
In comparison, someone weighing 185 pounds will burn approximately 420 calories whilst running for 30 minutes at a 10 min/mile pace.
However, that’s not to say that you can’t lose weight with yoga.
Although yoga is not the most vigorous forms of physical activity, people often lose weight with yoga due to an enhanced mind-body connection and a more mindful approach to the day.
In fact, studies show that yoga therapy combined with a weight loss program results in greater weight loss than just the latter.
Of course, yoga will still raise your heart rate and burn calories. Some styles of yoga are more intensive than others, so if you’re practicing yoga with weight loss in mind, choose a Vinyasa flow or steamy Bikram class over Hatha or restorative yoga.
If you don’t have time for a class and want to practice from the comfort of your own home, try these high-intensity poses:
1. Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
2. Boat Pose (Navasana)
3. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
4. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara)
5. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
6. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
7. Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana)
Check out our article on yoga for weight loss for more information.
Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type
Knowing your dosha can provide a window into your inner world.
Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of all three, you'll receive tailored information on your unique dosha composition at the end of the quiz.
Answer each question instinctively, try not to overthink!