Ayurveda for weight loss: 3 tips to help you lose weight naturally
The Ayurvedic approach to weight loss is more gradual and reflective. It does not look for short-term gains.
People often take drastic steps to lose weight. Being in a state of semi-starvation is quite common these days, with people only allowing themselves to eat during certain windows of time or cutting off certain "harmful" foods from their diet altogether.
It may work for some people for some time, but because weight is such a complex issue, most extreme diets will disappoint you in the long run and make your immune system weaker too. This can become a vicious cycle with people losing hope and developing an unhealthy relationship with their bodies.
The Ayurvedic approach to weight loss is more gradual and reflective. It does not look for short-term gains. Instead, it encourages holistic participation in understanding the body to get the best out of it. Ayurveda operates on the belief of dosha, which means life force. Every human being has a particular type of dosha, and certain types are more prone to weight gain.
People with kapha dosha are more likely to be overweight, according to Ayurveda. The characteristics associated with kapha dosha are heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, soft (if your metabolism has any of these features, you may have the kapha dosha). It is well-known that Ayurveda advocates balance: as an excess of kapha causes weight gain, steps to oppose the kapha dosha are advised for weight loss.
Here's what you can take away from the Ayurvedic system, to advance your weight loss journey:
1. Eat well and on time
Food groups that are known to be light, warm, dry, astringent and bitter are recommended for those who have this dosha and want to lose weight. Based on this, here are some diet tips you must keep in mind:
- Fruits: Go for fruits that are slightly astringent and not as sweet, like quince and jamuns. Dry fruits are also a good idea, but eat them in moderation as they can be high in fat. Avoid processed fruit juices as their sugar content is high.
- Sugar: Avoid fruits that are heavy due to water content and overly sweet like green grapes, bananas and oranges. Fruits that are good in terms of taste and lightness are apples, mangoes, various berries, lemons and lime, and pomegranate to name a few.
- Vegetables: Vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition. Go for ones that are seasonal and well cooked. Again, those that are bitter, astringent, rough are especially good for you. Okra (bhindi), lettuce, spinach, eggplants and sprouts are just some examples. Some veggies, like avocados and cucumbers, are too watery and dense so should be taken in moderation.
- Meats: Leaner meats are better suited to those trying to lose weight. These include chicken, fish, and turkey to name a few. Red meat, especially fatty cuts, should be avoided.
- Spices: Given India’s rich history of experimenting with spices, it is little wonder that Ayurveda advocates preparing food with generous amounts of them. Spices are great because they add flavour without being too heavy, and are usually bitter which stimulates the digestion. Salt is the one seasoning agent that Ayurveda recommends your limit.
- Dairy products: Again, it is a good idea to have milk that is flavoured with spices. In general, dairy products should be avoided as they are heavy and high in fat. Skimmed milk is better than having whole fat milk. Try switching to goat milk and use ghee while preparing your dishes.
2. Get adequate rest and exercise
There is also an emphasis on sleep and exercise in Ayurveda. Maintaining sleep-wake timings is as important as regular to moderate levels of exercise at fixed times of the day.
That said, you should try to get at least three days of exercise a week. Everyone’s schedules are different and it's not always possible to sneak in a workout during the day, but as little as 15-20 minutes of exercise that raises your heart rate will be beneficial in the long run.
Ayurveda says that 6-10 - am or pm - is the best time to exercise, so fix your exercise regimen within these time brackets and make sure that you exercise at the same time every day.
3. Fix a daily routine
According to Ayurveda, the body goes through varying states and forms of energy during the day. These are natural and honing them so they work to your advantage is key.
To this end, it is best to get to bed latest by 10 or 10.30 pm. The body is in the kapha phase between 6 pm and 10 pm, so you naturally feel tired and ready for sleep. Resist, and you will enter into a higher state of wakefulness, which makes it harder to fall asleep.
You need seven to nine hours of sleep (people’s requirements vary), but it is a good idea to wake up by six in the morning. Fixing times for meals is equally important. Aim for breakfast at 8 am, lunch at noon and dinner at 6 pm. Given the daily grind, it may not be possible to eat dinner that early, but the idea is to eat as early as possible so the body can adequately digest the food before you go to bed.
The Ayurvedic approach to weight loss isn’t meant for a short duration. This holistic process takes time, but the changes are more lasting and meaningful since you will engage more deeply with your weight loss journey and transformation.
For more information, read our article on Ayurveda: Principles, Medicines, and Benefits.
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