Weight Loss & Maca

Dried maca roots can be stored for up to seven years.
Dried maca roots can be stored for up to seven years. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Thomas Quine)

Maca is a staple food in Peru, enjoyed in many countries around the world. Maca is a root used in soups as well as in flour for pastries and desserts. It's sweet and smells a little like butterscotch, filled with vitamins and minerals for numerous health benefits. Maca can help your sex life too. But while there are claims that it aids in weight loss efforts, there aren't scientific findings to back that up.


Maca (Lepidium peruvianum) is a small root vegetable, a member of the radish family used by the Inca more than 2,000 years ago. Inca warriors used maca for strength. Maca is grown in the Andes mountains of Peru at elevations up to 14,500 feet and is traded today as medicine throughout the villages of Peru. People all over the world eat maca root for energy as well as to help heal from disease, depression and even addictions.

Maca is also eaten as an aphrodisiac, said to have "libido and energy enhancing properties", according to the Dec. 27, 2007, New York Times video presentation, "A Medicine Hunter in Peru".


Maca is a good source of protein, carbohydrates and important nutrients such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and iodine. The main vitamins maca contains are B1, B2, B-12, C and E.

Maca contains the essential nutrients necessary to boost thyroid function and stimulate weight loss, although there are no studies to collaborate this.

Expert Insight

People who eat or take maca supplements report having a noticeable increase in energy. Although maca has been claimed to stimulate the metabolism to lose fat and to balance the thyroid, there isn't any data at this time to support weight loss. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, "little is known about the absorption, metabolism or excretion of maca."


Maca improves your body's glucose tolerance (blood sugar levels) so it's possible maca may help you lose weight because of decreased hunger cravings. Because you won't have spikes in blood sugar, maca may also help you have better emotional stability to make better food choices.


The people of Peru eat maca root up to three times a day, about a pound of maca total. In the U.S., the standard dosage for maca supplements is 5 to 20g daily. Buy maca supplements in the form of powder, capsules or tablets at your natural health food store or online.

Tips and Warnings

Be aware that taking large amounts of maca can cause gas. Avoid maca if you are pregnant or breastfeeding since there isn't data yet to show its safety.

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