You wouldn’t think of leaving out ginger if you were making pumpkin pie or whipping up your favorite Asian stir-fry. But when making your weekly menu plan for weight loss this spicy root probably doesn’t even cross your mind.
While ginger is most often thought of as a tasty spice in Chinese cooking, this powerhouse of a root can also help in shedding extra weight. From controlling your hunger cravings to helping manage your blood sugar, this is one herb you do not want to leave out of your weight loss plan. Read on to find out how ginger can help you with your weight loss goals.
What is Ginger
Ginger, botanically known as Zingiber officinale, is a plant that was originally grown in Southeast Asia. Ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern cultures have been growing, harvesting, cooking and eating the root of this powerhouse of a plant for thousands of years. It is a medium sized plant, slightly resembling bamboo, with yellowish green leaves. However, when we think of ginger, most are simply familiar with the root.
This underground rhizome has a light brown skin and when cut into reveals a pale yellowish flesh. It has a distinct spicy taste and can be used as a seasoning to dishes, made into tea, or cooked and eaten itself. Not only is it valued for its tasty contribution to the dinner table, but historically it is highly regarded for its medicinal properties as well.
Ginger has many medicinal properties. This little herb has long been known to aid in digestive function, is praised for calming a nauseous stomach, and studies have shown that it works as well as Dramamine with fewer side effects.
Studies have also shown that it decreases inflammation of the gut and works as a diuretic, flushing out unwanted toxins. In addition, ginger also helps regulate blood sugar.
How Ginger Effects Weight Loss
Our gut health is a major factor in the puzzle of losing weight. If our digestive system is struggling, then even a comprehensive exercise plan will not give us the results we want. Focusing on how to improve our metabolism, flush out our system of unwanted toxins and manage our blood sugar will help in the quest to get into smaller sized jeans. Let’s look at how ginger can aid in improving our digestive health.
- Increases Digestive Function. As noted above, ginger helps “wake up” a sluggish digestive system. Not only does it calm a nauseous stomach, but it also increases motility, allowing your system to excrete waste in a timely fashion. A study done showed that ginger combined with artichoke significantly promoted gastric emptying. Ginger also decreases inflammation. In doing so, it fights against bloating and constipation.
- Works as a diuretic. Ginger helps flush your body of retained fluid. Holding onto unneeded fluid not only tips the scale against you, but can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated as well. Not a great combo when you need to get in your morning workout!
- Stimulates Metabolism. Metabolism is a fancy word for the chemical process that occurs when your body converts food to energy. Ginger has been shown to stimulate metabolism and increase body temperature, giving your body a boost in calorie burning activity.
- Increases Satiety. As you lose weight, not only is it important to burn more calories but also to consume less overall, thus creating a calorie deficit. Adding ginger to your diet has been shown to decrease appetite, allowing you to feel fuller longer. A study done in 2012 states those who consumed ginger tea reported feeling full up to six hours after a meal.
- Helps Manage Blood Sugar. Managing your blood sugar is key to lose weight and keep it off. If our body operates with a lot of glucose on board (carbs, sugar) than it will try to get rid of it by storing it as fat. The opposite, low blood sugar, is not what you want either. When you walk around with low blood sugar, not only do you feel unmotivated and sluggish, but your body panics and starts burning your lean muscle and not stored fat.
The key is to balance your blood sugar so your body doesn’t store more fat or burn muscle but allows you to burn your stored energy, aka, your muffin top. Ginger has been shown to help regulate blood sugar. A 2015 study showed that taking a ginger supplement could decrease fasting glucose up to 20%. Maintaining a level blood sugar level also allows you to have the energy you need to get that workout in.
Tips and Tricks for Buying Ginger
We now know ginger can be a great addition to your arsenal in losing weight. Incorporating it into your weekly meal plan will boost your chances of shedding those extra pounds.
You can find fresh ginger at your local grocery store in the produce section. It is also located in a powder form in the baking goods aisle. A local Asian market is also a great place to find a fresh supply of ginger. While the powder form can still add benefit to your diet, it is best to use the fresh root form to get the greatest nutritional punch.
When going to buy ginger, look for firm, non-bruised roots. A more mature root will have a darker and thicker skin, whereas a younger root will have a thinner skin. The younger roots are usually found in Asian markets.
A popular way to easily incorporate ginger into your daily regime is to make ginger tea. We all know we need to drink more water. Adding ginger not only increases its nutritional value but also makes it a tasty beverage to sip on throughout the day. Add some lemon juice to kick it up a notch.
- A simple way to prepare the tea is to wash, peel and slice an ounce or two of fresh ginger.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and add the ginger, boiling for 6-10 minutes.
- Strain the tea into a mug and combine with the juice of half a lemon.
- Add a teaspoon or two of honey to add a touch of sweetness.
Drinking two to three cups of this tea a day will not only help kick your digestive system in gear, but will also aid in helping you feel full throughout the day.
An alternative to tea is to simply make ginger water. Boil the ginger as before but after you strain it put it in a glass full of ice. Sip throughout the day.
Cooking with Ginger
Another way to get in this nutritious herb is to use it in your cooking. An obvious dish is your typical Asian stir-fry or Indian curry. But have you tried adding ginger to soup? It adds a nice spicy flavor to an Indian type stew or try adding it with your next sweet potato soup.
Here are a few to add to next week’s menu:
Do you enjoy fish? Cooking ginger will give it a milder taste but will do a lot to spice up your next helping of tilapia or salmon. Add it when you bake, roast or grill your next seafood dish for a delicious yet nutritional punch.
Check out these fishy recipes to get your creative juices flowing:
Pass the Ginger, Please!
Losing weight is a quest that involves a myriad of moving parts. Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep are a few of the aspects of this process that we usually focus on, as well we should.
However, in your planning, don’t forget to include this little herb in your arsenal of tools to help shed those extra pounds. From giving your metabolism a boost to helping regulate your blood sugar, ginger is an invaluable addition to your weight loss team.
How about you? Have you found ginger to be a help in your quest to lose weight? What is your favorite way of including ginger in your diet? Please share with us in the comments!