Ayurveda for Weight Loss
The Ayurvedic method for weight loss has stood the test of thousands of years, so it is unlikely to disappear the way that modern fad diets fade. The ancient Indian medical model succeeds because it approaches weight loss from an individualized perspective, taking into consideration the patient’s constitution. The aim is to bring the body into balance, eliminate toxins, and enhance proper digestion and metabolism for maximum absorption of nutrients.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Weight Loss
Ayurvedic treatment is based on exercise and a diet suited to the individual’s body type, the use of hot, penetrating herbs, and meditation. According to Ayurvedic medicine, to lose weight and maintain healthy digestion all food should be fresh, freshly prepared and light; water should be warm, and herbs should be pungent and bitter.
Ayurvedic physicians view obesity as an imbalance in the vata, pitta or kapha doshas, or body types. Vata types tend to be moody and thin, and benefit the most from warm, moist, oily, heavy, cooked foods emphasizing the sweet, sour and salty taste. Pitta types are intense and do best with cool or warm, dry food, moderately heavy textures and sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Kapha types tend to be large and steady and benefit from light, warm and dry foods, raw, fresh vegetables and fruits, and foods with a spicy, bitter or astringent taste. Each dosha requires a different type of diet to keep digestion clean and efficient. Most people are a combination of a predominant and a secondary dosha. Both doshas are influential and need to be kept in balance for optimal health.
Basic Ayurvedic Tips for Weight Loss
- Drink hot water frequently throughout the day.
- Make lunch the largest meal of the day.
- Add fresh ginger, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and fenugreek to aid digestion.
- Eat a light evening meal with easy-to-digest foods.
- Avoid eating leftovers. They are low in life-force and harder to digest.
- Exercise daily to improve digestion, metabolism and elimination.
- Practice meditation and yoga daily to keep the mind and body balanced and to reduce food cravings.
- Go to bed by 10:00 p.m.
Ayurvedic Formulas for Weight Loss
Probably the most common Ayurvedic weight-loss formula is Triphala Guggulu. Triphala is a combination of three fruits with purifying and antioxidant qualities. Guggulu helps balance the metabolism and improves digestion. It is made from the gum of a tree related to the myrrh family. Other herbs that improve metabolism include Carthamus tinctoris, Careya arborea, and shilajatu. Turmeric, barberry, trikatu (a combination of black pepper, ginger and Indian long pepper) and catechu help rid the body of toxins.
Ayurvedic Weight Loss Diet for Vata Doshas
Vata types usually stay thin, but imbalances can result in weight gain. The best course of action for this type is to eat three warm, moist, cooked meals at the same time every day. Prepare foods by steaming, sautéing and boiling, adding coconut oil or butter. This will enhance the body’s ability to digest and assimilate nutrients. Use mild spices, such as ginger, cumin, basil, tarragon, thyme, oregano and fennel. These guidelines will assist the Vata type to release extra weight.
- Ideal breakfast foods are sweet hot cereals or warm, sweet fruits such as berries, apples and pears. Add fresh bananas, apricots, grapes, figs and dates.
- Lunch should be about half brown rice, couscous, or whole wheat; 30 percent well-cooked vegetables, such as asparagus, beets, carrots, green beans, leeks, onions, sweet potatoes or zucchini; and 20 percent light proteins, such as seafood, chicken or turkey.
- A late afternoon snack might include hot herbal teas, or nuts with yogurt.
- At dinnertime, try whole-grain bread and butter with a hearty vegetable soup, or a cup of warm milk and fresh, light cheese.
Avoid the following:
- coffee and black tea
- iced drinks and ice cream
- sugar and chocolate
- raw vegetables
- astringent fruit
- dry cereal, rice cakes, popcorn and crackers
- aged cheese
- red meat and cold cuts
- alfalfa sprouts
- peppers, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes and beans
- flaxseed oil
- packaged, frozen or canned food
Ayurveda Vata weight loss nutritional supplements include:
- ashwagandha (to reduce stress)
- arjuna (to reduce emotional stress)
- bee pollen & royal jelly
- spirulina and blue-green algae
- amino acids
- vitamins A, B, B12, C, D and E
- minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc
For exercise, Vata types need gentle exercise, such as yoga, tai chi or dance aerobics.
Ayurvedic Weight Loss Diet for Pitta Doshas
Pitta people generally have strong digestive systems and can handle heavier foods. To balance this dosha, however, Pitta types should only eat small amounts of hot or acidic foods and spices. Pitta types get off-balance through emotional overeating due to stress. This leads to excess stomach acid, with great hunger and cravings for sweet, heavy, cooling foods. Instead, consume cool, warm, dry food with somewhat heavy textures and sweet, bitter or astringent tastes. Daikon radish can assist with weight loss—grate it and add it raw over other cooked vegetables. Use moderate amounts of healthy fats for cooking. Drink plenty of pure, room-temperature water during the day. Avoid eating when stressed or angry.
- For breakfast, eat cinnamon toast or cold cereal with slightly warm milk or apple tea. A cinnamon fruit stew of apples, pears, prunes or figs will soothe.
- For lunch, have 20 percent cooked basmati rice, whole barley, quinoa or oats; 30 percent protein, such as beans, chicken, turkey or shrimp, and 50 percent steamed or sautéed vegetables with a little coconut oil and cooling spices, such as cumin, coriander, fennel and turmeric.
- For a late snack, eat apples, cherries, mangoes, melons, plums or dark grapes.
- A light dinner needs to be completed by 7:00 p.m. Include steamed asparagus, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms or peppers with skimmed cottage or ricotta cheese and a light desert of baked fruit or rice milk.
Avoid the following:
- fried & steaming hot foods
- salty, fatty, or sour foods
- condiments and hot spices like mustard, cayenne, chilies, ginger, black pepper and cloves
- hot and cold drinks
- yeast bread
- aged, fermented cheese
- red meat
- brown rice and corn
- carrots, beets, spinach, eggplant, onion, potatoes and garlic
- all nuts except almonds
- all processed and fast foods
For supplements, select:
- mint and green tea
- licorice root
- garcinia cambogia
Pitta types do best with competitive sports as well as vigorous hikes out in green areas with blue skies.
Ayurvedic Weight Loss Diet for Kapha Doshas
People with the Kapha dosha tend to have a slow metabolism due to a sluggish digestive system. It is best to eat the heaviest foods at noon. The appetite can be stimulated with some bitter-tasting foods. Use dry cooking methods, such as baking, grilling and roasting with a minimum amount of healthy cooking oil. Drink hot, stimulating drinks and eat dry, lightly cooked foods that taste bitter, astringent and pungent. Ginger is the spice of choice, as it aids digestion. Chilies, cumin, fenugreek, sesame and turmeric are other excellent choices.
- Breakfast might simply be a cup of hot ginger tea, spiced cider or water with lemon juice and honey. Other options include a fruit stew or corn/buckwheat muffin.
- Lunch, the heaviest meal, should include 50 percent fresh vegetables, 30 percent cooked whole grains or rye crackers, and 20 percent protein, including boiled eggs, chicken, turkey, shrimp or beans. Quinoa is a heating-type food with plenty of zinc.
- For a snack, eat dried fruit with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Dinner should consist of a warm vegetable soup spiced with black pepper, cumin, fresh ginger or turmeric and rye crackers.
Avoid the following:
- frozen or cold foods and drinks
- fatty, salty, deep-fried foods
- fatty red meat, cold cuts
- soy products
- bananas, dates, grapes, melons, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes
- chocolate, sugary pastries
- sour foods
- coffee, black tea, yerba matte
For supplements, turn to heat-producing plants, including:
- bitter orange
- Siberian ginseng
- gumar (gymnema sylvestre)
Kapha types need vigorous exercise, such as running, dancing, hiking and swimming.
Simple Ayurvedic Steps to Loose Weight
Weight loss tips for Pitta dosha types
Ayurvedic Remedies for Obesity
Morningstar, Amadea, and U. Desai. The Ayurvedic Cookbook. Lotus Press. 1990.