Imagine if there was a supplement which could improve sleep, ramp up your fat loss results, and even lower stress.
Imagine no more, because the supplement in question is ashwagandha, or as my 12 year old calls it: “Ask Ya Granda!”
In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about this little green monster, and show you how to use it for maximum results. Let’s get stuck in!
The Training Benefits Of Ashwagandha
In recent years we’ve had a spate of academic research confirming that ashwagandha is quite the stress buster. This makes sense, too, because this herb has been popular in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its anti-anxiety effects.
Heck, every study performed so far (except one) has shown significant improvements in this area, with production of the stress hormone cortisol typically reduced by 14.5% – 27.9%. The trial which didn’t show any improvements was conducted with participants who did not suffer from anxiety issues. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Alongside these benefits, it seems ashwaghanda can also be improve fat loss.
A 2016 study from researchers in India discovered that participants supplementing with 300mg ashwagandha per day lost an average of 10% more weight than participants taking a placebo. This was not down to a fat burning mechanism triggered by ashwagandha but rather, as the researchers put it, the herb’s ability to improve mood and maintain healthier eating habits. (10)
And then there’s the sleep thing.
A 2021 study published in the PLoS ONE Journal showed that using ashwagandha can enhance both your total sleep time and the overall quality of sleep, which will also have positive knock-on effects on your mood, your in-gym performance, and muscle recovery/growth. (11)
Finally, sometimes ashwagandha is touted as a tersosterone booster.
Of all the positive effects it can have, I consider this to be the smallest. You see, we do have some research demonstrating that it can lead to a very small increase in test levels, but that doesn’t mean you’ll build more muscle. This simply allows supplement manufacturers to make bold claims on the packaging. As a general rule, any supplement which claims to be a test booster doesn’t work. (12)
Ashwagandha: Russ’ Rating
This is an interesting herb.
While it does not possess any direct muscle building or fat loss properties, we can see how it impacts both of those things via an indirect route; less stress, improved mood, and better sleep.
Of course, it’s important to maintain perspective here, too.
This is not a miracle pill; if your lifestyle, diet, and sleeping habits are a dumpster fire, you can not paper over the cracks by popping an ashwagandha pill in the morning. However, if you are already trying your best to live a healthy life, and want to see if you can improve things even more, then I recommend using ashwagandha.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- Choudhary M. I., et al. Cholinesterase inhibiting withanolides from Withania somnifera. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) (2004).
- 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).
- 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).
- Cheah K. L., et al. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLos ONE (2021).
- 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).
- Bonilla D. A., et al. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol (2021).
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Russ has been a personal trainer in the UK since 2002, and provided both training advice and full programs on this website since 2011.
His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, and the content on this website led to him being voted one of the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost.
Russ’ days are spent coaching men and women in the legendary Powerhouse Gym, and creating new content for the 109,246 followers of his popular free weekly e-mail, which you can join below!