No, Adaptogens Aren’t For Weight Loss

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But they may help your stress

Adaptogens might be a bit like your quirky cousin you rarely hear about at family gatherings. The ones who are rumored to have some incredible talents, such as dancing on hot coals and taming wild unicorns. In the case of adaptogens, the rumors revolve around weight loss miracles and stress-busting feats.

Let’s get one thing clear right from the start, Adaptogens will not make you shed pounds like any Hollywood superstar or transform your life into a peaceful zen garden. However, they do have their unique skills. They might help you when it comes to handling daily life stress.

And guys, stress is related to weight gain. That is for sure!

Known for their ability to help the body adapt to stress, these natural substances have been embraced by everyone from athletes to busy professionals.

Adaptogens have been misconceived as weight loss supplements. This misconception only misrepresents their true benefits.

In this article, we will explore the science and facts behind adaptogens making it sound and clear that they’re not a quick fix for weight loss.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens belong to a special class of botanicals that have been used in traditional medicine for a long time. They act as natural superheroes that make your body stronger against stress. Some well-known examples of adaptogens include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Holy Basil.

Do you know what makes adaptogens really cool?

Well, they help your body handle all sorts of stress and allow it to adapt to a broad spectrum of challenges, be it physical, mental, or biological. Oh, wait! So that is actually where they got their name from!

Adaptogens can target specific stressors in your body. According to a research study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals, adaptogens can exert an antifatigue effect that improves your mental health and relieves stress.

To qualify as an adaptogen, a plant must have these three qualities;

1) It must be non-toxic (of course in normal doses)

2) It should help your body cope with stress (that is actually what adaptogens do)

3) It should allow your body to return to balance ( like a cool DJ dropping a smooth beat)

Adaptogens are your body’s GPS. They reroute you to the path of balance when you’ve taken a tour through a town of chaos.

What do these Adaptogens do to your Body?

Now that you know Adaptogens have some pretty good moves when it comes to handling stress, it’s time to know how they work their magic in your bodies.

When stress enters your life, your body goes into a full-on alarm mode. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline come into play, making you feel jittery and on edge. But our cool, collected agents, adaptogens, step in to restore the order.

So, the mission of adaptogens is to bring your body back to a state of balance (homeostasis). Adaptogens work by increasing or decreasing chemical reactions within your body.

For example, when you’re stressed, you’ve elevated levels of cortisol. In this case, an adaptogen will respond by reducing the cortisol levels. On the other hand, when you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, the levels of cortisol are lower, and the goal of adaptogen will be increasing the levels of cortisol in the body.

The Real Benefits of Adaptogens

When it comes to adaptogens, their real superpower lies in their ability to harmonize the body’s stress response. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s delve into the myriad benefits these botanical powerhouses offer:

Stress Management

Adaptogens act as a biological response modifier, helping to normalize cortisol levels and balance adrenal function. This results in a more stable mood and increased resilience against stressors, whether they’re emotional, physical, or environmental.

A study in the journal Chinese Medicine suggests that adaptogens and ginseng-like herbs can enhance the resistance of the human body against a wide range of stress conditions.

Improved Mental Clarity and Focus

By modulating neurotransmitter activity, adaptogens can enhance cognitive function. They help sharpen focus, improve memory, and elevate mood, making them a go-to for anyone looking to optimize mental performance.

A study conducted on the neuron cells revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, antidepressant, and CNS-stimulating activity.

This is why adaptogens are popular as supplements designed to support memory, focus, and productivity.

Enhanced Physical Performance and Recovery

If you’re an athlete or someone who takes their training seriously, adaptogens should be on your radar. These botanicals can optimize energy metabolism at the cellular level, which translates to improved stamina and reduced fatigue during high-intensity activities.

They achieve this by enhancing the efficiency of the energy-producing components of cells, known as mitochondria, and by improving the uptake of oxygen and nutrients into muscle cells.

Anti-inflammatory and pain relief

The benefits of adaptogens don’t stop when your workout ends. They also play a role in accelerating post-workout recovery. They help to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Moreover, they can help balance hormones that are often disrupted by intense physical activity, such as cortisol, thereby aiding in quicker recovery and reduced muscle catabolism.

Immune System Support

Adaptogens have immunomodulatory properties, meaning they can both stimulate and suppress immune function as needed. This adaptability makes them invaluable for maintaining a robust immune system year-round.

Their true power lies in their ability to help the body adapt and thrive in various conditions, not in shedding pounds.

Improve sleep cycle

When you’re stressed out, your cortisol levels get affected along with your normal sleep cycle. This can lead to insomnia and many other sleep disorders. Adaptogens help manage cortisol levels and help your nervous system to relax.

According to research in the journal Medicine, the adaptogenic properties of Ashwagandha are very effective in reducing and promoting healthy and peaceful sleeping patterns.

The Misconception: Adaptogens for Weight Loss

It could be easier for the lines between fact and fiction to blur. (Remember when they told you that red wine would help you live forever?)

They say adaptogens can make you lose weight effortlessly. But let’s be real, if weight loss were that easy, we’d all be running marathons with a green smoothie in hand and calling it a day.

While it’s true that adaptogens can help manage stress—and stress management is a component of a healthy lifestyle—they are not a direct pathway to shedding pounds.

But yes, we cannot deny the direct Stress-Weight Connection.

It’s worth noting that chronic stress can lead to weight gain, primarily through mechanisms like emotional eating and cortisol-induced fat storage.

Scientists studied the effects of chronic stress on obesity and found that stress tends to alter the pattern of food consumption and promotes craving for comfort foods.

Adaptogens can help manage these stress-related factors, but they do not directly influence metabolic rate or fat oxidation.

The Marketing Hype

Now, let’s talk about the marketing buzz around adaptogens. You’ve probably seen them being claimed as the key to effortless weight loss. Well, adaptogens are indeed stress busters, but the connection between sipping adaptogenic tea and losing pounds needs a reality check.

Unfortunately, you’ll find numerous products marketing adaptogens as weight-loss miracles, but this is a gross misrepresentation of their true capabilities. Adaptogens can only indirectly assist weight loss by reducing stress levels.

So, it is important to remember that adaptogens themselves are not a shortcut to shedding extra pounds. You can take them as trusty sidekicks in your journey to a healthier life but do not expect them to miraculously make those flabs disappear.

The Science Speaks

Multiple studies have explored the benefits of adaptogens, but none conclusively prove they are effective weight loss agents. Their primary function is to help the body adapt to stress, not to serve as a fat-burning catalyst.

By understanding the true benefits and limitations of adaptogens, you can make more informed choices about incorporating them into your wellness routine—without the unrealistic expectation of weight loss.

The Science Behind Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, the science is both straightforward and complex. At its core, weight loss is a matter of energy balance: calories in versus calories out.

Weight is affected by many factors ranging from hormonal fluctuations to gut health and even sleep quality and your lifestyle has a significant influence on your weight.

Research conducted on weight loss and maintenance strategies suggests that even your genes play a crucial role in defining your body weight.

Let’s move ahead and briefly explore some factors that may affect your weight:

Metabolic Rate

Your metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns at rest, plays a significant role in weight loss. Factors like age, muscle mass, and activity level all contribute to your metabolic rate.

Hormonal Balance

Hormones like insulin, leptin, and ghrelin regulate appetite and fat storage. An imbalance in these hormones can thwart your weight loss efforts, making it essential to address hormonal health for sustainable weight loss.

Lifestyle Factors

Sleep, stress management, and physical activity are all crucial components of a successful weight loss strategy. Poor sleep can disrupt hormonal balance, while chronic stress can lead to emotional eating—both of which can impede weight loss.

Nutrient Timing and Quality

It’s not just about the calories; it’s also about when and what you eat. Consuming nutrient-dense foods and timing your meals can optimize metabolic function and promote fat loss.

While adaptogens can contribute to a healthier lifestyle by aiding stress management and potentially improving sleep quality, they are not a substitute for a well-rounded weight loss strategy that includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.

Adaptogens’ Indirect Effects on Weight

While adaptogens are not weight-loss supplements, they may have some indirect effects on weight management. It’s essential to understand these subtleties to make the most out of your wellness journey.

Stress and Emotional Eating

Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating, a behavior that adaptogens can help mitigate by regulating stress hormones like cortisol.

Do you know that chronic stress places a greater demand on your body for oxygen, nutrients, and nutrients? People who experience stress may crave comforting foods especially highly processed snacks or sweets that are high in fats and calories but almost nil in nutrients.

By helping you manage stress, adaptogens may indirectly reduce the likelihood of stress-induced weight gain.

Sleep Quality

Poor sleep is a known contributor to weight gain, primarily through its effects on hormones that regulate appetite. Some adaptogens, like ashwagandha, have been shown to improve sleep quality, which could, in turn, support weight management.

Hormonal Balance

Adaptogens can help balance hormones that are often disrupted by stress, poor sleep, or an unhealthy diet. Hormonal balance is crucial for optimal metabolic function and can indirectly influence weight.

Exercise Performance and Recovery

As previously discussed, adaptogens can enhance physical performance and speed up recovery.

Many studies revealed that adaptogens such as Ashwagandha are effective in enhancing athletic performance by increasing the amount of oxygen the body uses during intense workouts.

Better performance and quicker recovery can lead to more effective workouts, which can indirectly contribute to weight loss.

Adaptogens Risks and Considerations

While adaptogens offer a range of benefits, it’s imperative to approach their use with caution and awareness. Here are some key points to consider:

Possible Side Effects of Adaptogens

Though generally considered safe, adaptogens can have side effects, including gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and allergic reactions. The severity and likelihood of these side effects can vary depending on the individual and the specific adaptogen used.

Interactions with Other Medications or Supplements

Adaptogens can interact with medications or other supplements you may be taking. For example, ashwagandha may potentiate the effects of sedatives, and ginseng can interact with blood thinners.

Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice, rather than just trusting a stranger like me on the internet.

Magical Adaptogens and Where to Find Them

Let’s delve into some of the most prominent adaptogens and explore their unique properties.


Known for its stress-reducing properties, ashwagandha is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to lower cortisol levels, improve sleep quality, and even enhance physical performance.

Ashwagandha has been found to have a positive effect on bodily functions through the regulation of metabolism. it helps you relax by calming how your brain responds to stress.

The evergreen shrub is found in different parts of India, Africa, and the Middle East.

For more, check out this article on the best ashwagandha supplements.

Lion’s Mane

This mushroom-based adaptogen is renowned for its cognitive benefits. Lion’s Mane has been shown to improve focus, boost memory, and even support nerve regeneration.

The Lion’s mane mushroom is also known as yamabushitake. This mushroom is native to Asia and is found in Korea, China, and Japan.

For more, check out this article on the best lion’s mane supplements.

Rhodiola Rosea

This adaptogen is known for its ability to combat fatigue and improve mental performance. It’s particularly useful for those dealing with high-stress environments or demanding physical activities.

This adaptogen grows in colder regions of the world, such as the Arctic regions, the mountains of Central Asia, and some mountainous parts of North America and Europe.

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is revered for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s often used to manage stress and improve mood.

The plant is native to India but it is also found in Australia, West Africa, and the Middle East.


Ginseng is one of the most well-known adaptogens, often used for boosting energy and improving overall well-being.

Ginseng is mostly found in cooler climates, northern China, Canada, the United States, and the Korean Peninsula.

For more, check out this article on the best ginseng supplements.

Where to find these adaptogens in supplemental form?

You may easily get these adaptogens in supplement form from online retailers, pharmacies, health food stores, and some specialty tea shops.


Time to conclude the topic! So, guys, adaptogens may not be the miraculous weight loss solution that they are usually marketed as. But they sure pack a punch when it comes to managing stress and improving your overall health.

Natural superheroes such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Holy Basil are great for handling daily life’s stress including emotional and physical fatigue.

Adaptogens do affect weight loss, but indirectly. By curbing stress-related factors such as sleep disturbances and emotional eating, these herbs can help you shed those extra pounds.



Do Adaptogens Affect You Immediately?


No supplement, whether synthetic or natural show its effects immediately. The same is the case with adaptogens. You will most likely get the full effect and potential benefits once you take them religiously for around 3-4 weeks.

Do Adaptogens Work At The Cellular Level?

Yes, adaptogens have the ability to enhance cellular function and health. They can help your cells eliminate toxic by-products of various metabolic processes, ultimately contributing to many benefits including weight loss.

Are All Stress-Relieving Herbs Classified As Adaptogens?

No, not all of them. To be considered an adaptogen, the herb should be non-toxic and should have a broad range of benefits. It should also be able to help balance the body’s processes.

Are There Any Potential Side Effects Of Using Adaptogen Supplementation?

Supplementing with adaptogen might be associated with mild side effects such as headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and sometimes anxiety. These side effects are usually resolved with discontinuation of the herb.

About the Author

David William Rosales is a writer and strength coach. He's the head trainer and editor at Roman Fitness Systems. In addition to helping run RFS, he's also the head editor for, the official website of the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey. You can also check out his Instagram, he's pretty easy on the eyes.

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