Can Maca Root Cause Weight Gain?
Maca root is a nutritionally dense food native to the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia. It has been cultivated for 1000s of years and consumed regularly as a staple food source for both people and livestock. Legend has it that maca was discovered by farmers who noticed that their stock animals became more fertile when grazing on the roots and the greens of the roots. Over the past 40 years, maca root products have gained in popularity outside of the Andes. Maca root is currently considered to be one of the top functional foods worldwide.
Maca works to balance hormones and because our hormones are related to various aspects of our overall health, it can have broad ranging benefits. Over the years, we’ve seen people report everything from increased energy to the end of menopause symptoms, to natural muscle building gains, to boosted fertility and more. All of these gains are related to a healthy endocrine system.
Can maca root cause weight gain?
This is one question we’ve been receiving more and more over the past few years. Interestingly, people asking fall into two categories. One are the people who hope that it won’t make them gain weight. And two are the people who are hoping that it will. We’ll try to answer the question for both of these types of people here.
To answer the question for someone who is worried about gaining weight by taking maca is easy. Simply put, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that maca root consumption directly causes weight gain. Maca is low in calories and fat. 3 teaspoons (9 g) of maca contains just 35 calories and 1 g of fat. So, in and of itself, maca root products do not promote weight gain. Maca root does not contain enough fat and calories to do so. If you maintain a healthy diet with the proper number of calories for maintaining your weight and if get good exercise while taking maca, you don’t need to worry about putting on weight as a result of adding it to your diet. It’s also interesting to note that some recent studies have suggested that maca root may have potential benefits for weight management, such as reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
To answer this question for people who do want to gain weight with maca is a bit more complicated. Maca is anabolic (muscle building) and indeed does help build muscle. It also balances hormones and may increase appetite. In this way it can support weight gain and weight maintenance. Muscle is heavier than fat, so as you move your body more, muscle can replace fat thus causing you to weigh more, even with the same body mass. In addition, we know that maintaining and gaining weight is directly related to calorie intake. If taking maca stimulates your appetite and you are eating more calories than your body uses on a daily basis the result will be that you gain some weight.
What the research says about maca and weight gain
- One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2010 found that taking maca extract caused mice that were fed a high-fat diet to lose weight. The researchers suggested that this may be due to maca's ability to reduce inflammation in the body and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2016 found that maca supplementation did not lead to any significant changes in body weight or body composition in healthy, physically active men. The study participants took maca for 8 weeks, and the researchers concluded that it does not have a significant impact on weight.
- A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that maca root improved body composition, increased muscle mass, and decreased body fat in postmenopausal women.
- A more recent study from 2020 found that maca extract actually inhibited weight loss in mice over the period of several months.
As you can see, the research is ongoing and certainly far from definitive. Further studies are needed to confirm any of these results, especially when it comes to human health.
What users say about maca and weight gain or loss
We have many maca reviews submitted on our site from customers sharing how taking maca has affected their overall weight. 80% of them are like this one in sharing joy over how maca has helped reduce weight:
"I have used red maca root for over 3 years. I began with the powder form and would take it as a shot with a heaping tablespoon in 3 oz. of water. I credit red maca for helping me with my fitness regime that allowed me to lose 35 lbs. in 4 months (literally!). I have begun backpacking recently and so needed a different "delivery system" so I began using the capsules recently when I backpacked in WY. These are perfect and convenient while "on the road" I will continue to use them, regularly." - Diana Waterman
The other 20% sound like these:
"I usually have trouble maintaining weight, but I have been able to gain weight after I added this awesome item to my diet." - Brian Tweedy
"This product has really increased my libido, balanced my hormone. I now have a 28-day cycle, it was 25 or 26 before, which might not seem much different, but a big deal for me. My energy level has also increased and I'm maintaining weight now. I used to fluctuate up and down. I'm on the thinner size and always want to be at least 135lbs and maintain it, instead of 125 at one-point then 130 at another. My weight was so unpredictable. I am 140lbs and maintaining that. My butt is now firm. I feel so much sexier. I'm happy with this product. I see a lot of good changes." - Dionne
In the end we hope we have answered a few of questions here, although somewhat vaguely.
“Can maca help you lose weight?” Yes, it can. Maca root can have the effect of helping you feel full and thereby reducing your overall calorie intake. In addition, maca’s unique amino acids, macamides and macenes are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant and may help improve metabolism. Finally, one benefit of maca is to boost energy and make you feel better, both of which may make you more active and burn more calories.
“Can maca make me gain weight?” In and of itself, maca doesn’t have enough calories or fats to make you gain weight. However, as we’ve seen from some of the research and testimonials above, it does seem to have that effect for some people. This is likely due to an individual response to the hormone balancing properties of maca that people experience differently.
In conclusion, it’s important to note that maca root is generally considered safe for most people to take and that there is more evidence to suggest that it helps people lose weight rather than gain weight. However, it's important to keep in mind that maca root is not a magic solution for weight loss. Any changes you notice to your weight or body composition will likely come from a combination of healthy diet, regular exercise and a balanced lifestyle.
Finally, if you have any doubts about taking maca, please consult a competent and knowledgeable healthcare professional first.
And if you’d like to get going with one of our maca products, please visit our “maca finder” page which will give you our top recommendations for the best type of maca powder, capsules, extract or chips for you and your purposes. Or, you can always call our excellent customer service for personalized recommendations.
Let us know if you have any questions. We’re always happy to help.
Enjoy the day!