Ashwagandha: The Stress-Busting Fat Burner?

Ashwagandha: The Stress-Busting Fat Burner?


How would you like a supplement which can reduce stress, boost fat loss, increase testosterone levels AND give you better sleep?

You got it!

The supplement I’m talking about is ashwagandha.

(Or as my 12 year old pronounces it, “ask ya granda!”)

If you’re a gym enthusiast – and I assume you are because you’re here – then the list of benefits above has no doubt pricked up your ears so let’s break down how ashwagandha works and see what science says about it.

ashwagandha training benefits

The Training Benefits Of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herb which has been popular in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, where it is mainly used for its anti-anxiety effects.

Turns out those Indian herb doctors were on to something, because in recent years we’ve had a spate of academic research confirming that ashwagandha is quite the stress buster. In fact, every study performed so far (bar one) has shown significant improvements in this area, with production of the stress hormone cortisol typically reduced by 14.5% – 27.9%. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

(Oh, and the one trial which didn’t match up featured participants who did not suffer with anxiety issues to begin with.) (9)

And hey, it gets even better…

It seems that ashwaghanda can also be beneficial for fat loss. A 2016 study from India discovered that participants supplementing with 300mg ashwagandha per day lost an average of 10% more weight than participants taking a placebo. The researchers noted that, while the actual fat burning properties of ashwagandha are minimal, these results likely occured thanks to its uncanny ability to improve overall mood and maintain healthier eating habits. (10)

Another thing which could have contributed to those impressive findings is that you can expect better sleep. A 2021 study published in the PLoS ONE Journal showed that supplementing with ashwagandha enhances both overall quality of sleep and total sleep time – which in turn can have a knock-on effect on mood, in-gym performance and of course muscle recovery/growth. (11)

Finally, you’ll occasionally see ashwagandha touted for its testosterone boosting effects. I consider this to be the least interesting benefit it offers, because while we do have some research demonstrating that it can lead to slight improvements in test levels, that doesn’t mean you’ll build more muscle. Most gymgoers are still blissfully unaware of that fact, which is why test booster supplements are still a big thing, but as we know, they are nowhere near as effective as they claim to be! (12)

ashwagandha Russ Howe PTI

Ashwagandha – Russ’ Final Verdict

This is an interesting supplement.

While it does not possess any muscle building or fat loss properties of its own, it’s very easy to see how it can have a positive impact on both of those things thanks to its proven ability to fight stress, improve your mood, and help you get better sleep.

(Heck, the world is moving faster than ever before, and I reckon 90% of the people you meet every day will say they lead a stressful life and rarely get a good night’s sleep!)

However, I do not want you to get carried away with the fairies here. This is not a “miracle pill”. What I’m saying here is that there’s no point supplementing with ashwagandha if your overall lifestyle, nutrition and hobbies look like a dumpster fire. Eating takeaway food all the time, drinking alcohol, staying up late and starting each day flying by the seat of your pants is a recipe for disaster. There’s a lot to be said for the basic act of looking after your body.

That said, if you are already doing your best to look after yourself and want to see if you can improve things even more, then I highly recommend bringing ashwagandha into your supplement regime.

Use a dose of 600mg-1000mg per day for maximum results. (13)

You can get that either directly via a good ashwagandha supplement (recommended) or as part of a test booster blend.


References:

  1. Chandrasekhar K., et al. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med (2012).
  2. Abedon B., et al. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. (2008).
  3. Salve J., et al. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus (2019).
  4. Lopresti A. L., et al. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore) (2019).
  5. Pratte M. A., et al. An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). J Altern Complement Med (2014).
  6. Fuladi S., et al. Assessment of the Efficacy of Withania somnifera Root Extract in Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Double-blind Placebo- Controlled Trial. Curr Rev Clin Exp Pharmacol (2021).
  7. Gopukumar K., et al. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2021).
  8. Choudhary M. I., et al. Cholinesterase inhibiting withanolides from Withania somnifera. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) (2004).
  9. Chengappa K. N. R., et al. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry (2013).
  10. Choudhary D., et al. Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med (2017).
  11. Cheah K. L., et al. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLos ONE (2021).
  12. Ahmad,M. K., et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril (2010).
  13. Bonilla D. A., et al. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol (2021).

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