Ayurveda is not a trend or a fad diet. It doesn’t promise quick, drastic weight loss or shredded abs. Rather, Ayurveda is a philosophy of medicine, providing guidelines for healthy living and balance. Following the principles of Ayurveda restores vibrant health and lifestyle balance. In turn, ascribing to the tenets of Ayurvedic medicine often results in weight loss by reversing the bad habits that produced weight gain in the first place. Thus, Ayurveda for weight loss is merely a distillation of Ayurvedic medicine as a whole. Focusing on these three Ayurvedic habits are particularly essential for stabilizing at a healthy weight.
Perform The Right Kind of Exercise
Exercise is an integral component of any effective weight loss regimen. Ayurveda for weight loss is no exception. Regular exercise boosts energy levels, increases resting metabolism and calories burned via activity, and supports healthy digestion. By boosting the number of calories that you burn, exercise encourages your body to tap into its fat stores for fuel.
Performed properly, exercise may also help reduce stress levels and prevent depression. Thus, exercise not only encourages weight loss by increasing metabolism; it also helps to tame the fatigue, sadness, and stress that often lead us to reach for unhealthy sugars and fats that our bodies don’t need.
The key to exercising for weight loss in the Ayurvedic tradition is performing exercise that is suitable for your dosha. For example: vata types should avoid vigorous exercise and instead opt for yoga, walking, or easy cardiovascular activity. Because vatas have highly sensitive nervous systems, they are susceptible to cortisol spikes after rigorous exercise. These spikes, in turn, promote fat storage. Weight loss for vata, then, requires cortisol-taming physical activity.
Kapha, on the other hand, tends to have a sluggish metabolism. But kaphas are actually quite strong and resilient, and they rarely suffer from cortisol spikes after vigorous exercise. On the contrary, vigorous cardio is actually quite beneficial for kapha. Kapha is therefore likely to achieve lasting weight loss by performing vigorous exercise on a regular basis.
Regardless of your dosha and your preferred form of exercise, it is best to exercise between the hours of and 6 and 10 a.m. for 45-60 minutes. The elements of water and earth are strongest during these hours, and can cause sluggishness. Exercising at this time of day combats fatigue, providing you with the energy and concentration necessary for an active, productive day.
Eat the Right Foods at the Right Times
Ayurveda for weight loss encourages us to eat in accordance with our dosha. Once we are eating in such a way that promotes doshic balance, our bodies naturally stabilize at a healthy weight.
Ayurveda does not valorize or condemn any specific food group. It therefore diverges quite markedly from today’s most popular diets, like Paleo and Keto, which swear off whole food and macronutrient groups. However, Ayurveda for weight loss does recommend eating only wholesome, organic, in-season foods.
It also recommends that we incorporate all six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent—into every meal. The standard American diet is abundant in sweet, sour, and salty tastes, the anabolic tastes, but sparse in bitter, pungent, and astringent. This imbalance can lead to weight gain, cravings, and insulin resistance. Incorporating all six tastes, in contrast, will leave you satisfied, nourished, and lean.
Ayurveda also offers a few general guidelines that will support overall health and, by extension, healthy weight loss. In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is best to eat your largest meal at lunchtime, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s because agni, the digestive fire, is strongest during these hours. If we eat our largest meal when digestion is strongest, we will be better able to break down and assimilate nutrients.
Ayurveda for weight loss recommends eating lighter breakfasts and dinners, when agni is weak. Eating large meals when agni is weak results in slow digestion and bloating. It can also lead to the buildup of ama, or toxic, undigested food, in the digestive tract and bodily tissues. Over time, the slow buildup of ama can lead to weight gain, exhaustion, and poor digestion. Eating large meals when agni is strong instead promotes weight loss and positive energy.
Ayurveda was on to the health benefits of stress reduction long before we in the West even knew what cortisol was. When our bodies produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in excess, our cells are instructed to store fat, especially around the waistline. And stress assumes many forms, from poor diet and lack of sleep to excessive activity and emotional stress. Sleeping and practicing stress reduction are thus integral facets of Ayurveda for weight loss.
Practices like yoga, pranayama, and meditation align the mind and body and nourish body and spirit with life force. These types of exercises are excellent for counteracting mental and emotional stress and easing physical tension. They are also simultaneously soothing and stimulating, and may be a great, stress-busting alternative to a cup of coffee or vigorous HIIT workout in the morning.
A good night’s sleep is imperative for combatting the physiological effects of stress. Lack of sleep, like stress, elevates cortisol levels. Studies demonstrate that sleep deprivation leads to an average increase of 300 calories in daily caloric intake. And that would result in a 30-pound increase in body weight over the course of a year!
Ayurveda for weight loss suggests rising and setting with the sun, or waking around 6 a.m. and falling asleep around 10 p.m. Doing so restores the body’s natural circadian rhythm, improving the quality and quantity of sleep. To help yourself adjust to a healthier sleeping pattern, avoid using electronics or stimulants before bed.