6 Reasons Turmeric Is Good For Weight Loss

turmeric for weightloss

Those who keep up with weight loss fads may know that turmeric is a common ingredient in weight loss products and that turmeric tea is a favorite with weight watchers. This golden spice from the East has anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent and manage a number of conditions like diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, thanks to curcumin.1 But is turmeric truly good for weight loss? Let’s find out.

The primary reason for weight gain is consumption of more calories than are burnt off. The excess calories are stored in the body as fat, whether as visceral fat around vital organs or as subcutaneous fat under the skin. Weight gain may be due to physical inactivity or due to other health conditions like hypothyroidism, stress, depression, chronic inflammation, and PCOS.2 Besides fighting obesity directly through multiple mechanisms, turmeric can also fight against all these risk factors.


1. Regulates Fat Metabolism

When consumed with other anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, turmeric helps with weight loss since curcumin regulates lipid metabolism, which plays a central role in the development of obesity.3 4

In animal studies, at very high doses, curcumin has been found to reduce fat accumulation in the body, especially the visceral fat or the fat around the vital organs in the body. However, at this dose, it also increased oxidative stress in the liver.5


Curcumin prevents the differentiation of preadipocytes into adipocytes. Simply put, it prevents the formation of mature fat cells, in the early stages in the cell cycle, by modulating certain cell signals.

In mature fat cells, on the other hand, curcumin inhibits the secretion of inflammatory chemicals called adipokines and increases the expression of adiponectin, an anti-inflammatory chemical. It also raises the antioxidant defense in cells and activates an enzyme called AMPK that enhances fat burning.6 Curcumin also inhibits angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels that are necessary for the growth of fat tissues.7


Another novel way in which curcumin enhances fat burning is by transforming white fat into brown fat by elevating the levels of neurotransmitter norepinephrine.8 White fat is the type that is stored under your skin, sometimes even around your vital organs, and leads to obesity, while brown fat helps in burning fat and glucose into energy. So the more brown fat, the lower your chances of gaining weight.9 10 11 12

2. Fights Chronic Inflammation

Curcumin is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a good weight loss remedy. Inflammation and obesity feed off each other. Chronic inflammation in the body, whether due to a long-standing infection, injury, poor immunity, or a faulty diet, can mess with your hormones and lead to metabolic disorders including obesity. Obesity, on the other hand can also trigger chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. The visceral fat cells become inflamed as they create more free radicals (reactive oxygen species) and this in turn leads to the release of more inflammatory mediators.


Turmeric can strike the problem at its root by enhancing the levels of antioxidants that fight free radicals. Curcumin inhibits inflammatory pathways in the body as well. It also prevents and repairs damages caused by obesity to other organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys.13 14

3. May Prevent Weight Gain Due To Hypothyroidism

Turmeric is often recommended in the diet for hypothyroidism as an anti-inflammatory food and may help in weight loss. Hypothyroidism is a chronic lack of thyroid hormones which regulate metabolism in your body. This condition slows down the metabolism and reduces the rate of fat burning, making you gain weight rapidly. A study has found that when hypothyroid rats were given turmeric extract, vitamin C, or vitamin E, their thyroid weight and total cholesterol levels dropped and circulating thyroid hormones increased. While the study did not directly measure loss of body weight, the results indicate a better-functioning thyroid gland and an improved metabolism, which has the potential to trigger weight loss.15


4. Fights Metabolic Syndrome

In most cases, an obese person also has metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by high amounts of visceral fat, triglycerides, increased blood pressure and plasma glucose, insulin resistance, and reduced HDL cholesterol.16 Often, patients of metabolic syndrome do not lose weight despite diet control or exercising. In one study on such obese individuals with metabolic syndrome, curcumin increased weight loss and reduced body fat, waist and hip circumference, and BMI more effectively than just dietary and lifestyle interventions.17 This could again be attributed to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory property and its ability to regulate a diverse range of functions in the body.

Obesity is a common side effect of insulin resistance, a condition where cells become unresponsive to insulin, eventually leading to excess insulin in the blood. High levels of insulin enhance fat storage. This is why type 2 diabetics and prediabetics often have weight issues. Turmeric is good for diabetics and prediabetics and can help them in weight loss by reducing insulin resistance and enhancing glucose uptake.


Turmeric can also lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure, all of which are comorbidities of obesity.18 19

5. Can Lower Stress, A Cause Of Weight Gain

You may also pack in the pounds when under chronic stress or suffering from anxiety and depression due to high amounts of cortisol in the body. Cortisol enhances weight gain in a number of ways, including chronic inflammation. In animal studies, curcumin has been found to lower cortisol levels and increase the secretion of mood-lifting hormones like serotonin and dopamine which fight the ill effects of cortisol.20 21 With a more relaxed mind, you would also not give in to stress eating.


6. Can Help With PCOS-Related Weight Gain

PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder that can make women gain weight rapidly. Not just that, weight loss becomes difficult when one has PCOS. But anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric can help fight the inflammation associated with the condition and lead to significant weight loss. In an animal study, curcumin reduced inflammatory markers, abdominal fat, and body weight in a dose-dependent manner in rats with PCOS.22 23 While similar tests have not been conducted on human participants, go ahead and have more anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, and berries.

Have turmeric daily to get a host of other health benefits. You may add it to your meals as a spice or use it to make turmeric tea or milk, keeping the consumption limited to 3 g a day. That said, turmeric alone cannot help you lose weight. Consume it combined with other anti-inflammatory foods, measured calorie intake, and exercise to lose weight in a healthful and sustained manner. While curcumin supplements are widely available, do not consume them without a doctor’s go-ahead.