Medically reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
4 min read
Maca, which is also known by its latin name, lepidium meyenii, is a radish-like plant that’s been used in Peru for thousands of years as a food and medicine. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, and is therefore related to more commonly known veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Maca is what we call an “adaptogen” – a substance believed to boost the body’s resistance to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors – and it’s been used traditionally as a source of energy, stamina, and endurance.
It’s common to think about weight management from time to time. The key is to find a weight that’s healthy for us and consistent with our holistic well-being.
So, how can maca be part of achieving a healthy weight? Maca has a wide range of health benefits, but no studies have demonstrated that maca supports weight management in a straightforward way. However, studies do show that maca can support energy levels, physical performance, hormone production, and a healthy metabolism – all of which can have the added benefit of supporting your efforts at weight management.
The evidence suggests that maca has a range of health benefits, though more research is needed. As of now, there are studies to suggest maca’s effectiveness for boosting energy levels, physical performance, sexual desire, hormone production, and metabolism. (More on all this below.) Maca also has a bunch of wonderful nutritional benefits, packing high levels of iron and iodine, as well as calcium, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Maca is perhaps best known for its anti-fatigue benefits
There is good evidence to suggest that maca can boost energy levels. One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at the effects of maca consumption on overall quality of life. The study included 175 participants who were given either 3 grams of maca in supplement form or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. More than 80% of the subjects in the maca group reported increased mood and energy. They also experienced positive changes in sexual desire. Higher energy levels and increased sexual desire can both have a postive impact on weight management.
In Peru, there’s a long tradition of using maca for performance and endurance. Now it appears that scientific studies are backing this up. A placebo-controlled pilot investigation into the effects of maca supplementation on endurance performance in male cyclists found that 2 grams of maca daily for 14 days improved 40 km cycling times. The same study found that maca supplementation boosted sexual desire in the cyclists.
Maca has also been shown to support the building of muscle mass.
Helping our bodies produce hormones and keeping those hormones in balance is essential to our overall health. In this regard, maca supplements seem promising. One randomized, double-blind study found that two months of maca supplementation in perimenopausal women boosted the serum levels of the following hormones: FSH, E2, PG, and ACTH. The study also suggested that maca could have hormone-balancing potential, though more studies are needed to confirm this.
Another study found that maca supplementation had positive effects on menopausal symptoms, suggesting that maca can have an impact on hormone balances. Still, more research is needed.
Furthermore, a study of nine healthy men found that after 16 weeks, maca supplementation boosted sperm concentration by 35%, total sperm count by 84%, and motile sperm count by 109%, suggesting maca’s effect on hormones as well as sexual desire.
While more research is needed, animal studies have shown that maca supplementation can have a positive effect on metabolism. A study that administered maca to rats for two weeks showed that maca has antioxidant-like properties, since the rats’ levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase all improved. Studies show that having a healthy metabolism can be vital for healthy weight management. A maca supplement, when paired with good sleep, proper nutrition, and healthy habits, can be part of a weight management strategy.
Maca has been used for thousands of years, and there is mounting evidence that it can support your health in a range of ways. While maca doesn’t appear to have a direct effect on weight management, it can promote overall health in ways that support weight management. What’s important to remember about weight management is that it’s an individual journey, and your weight goals should be consistent with what’s right for you, holistically.
Care/of’s maca is a single-ingredient powder sourced from high in the Peruvian Andes; we offer packs of 3 grams of organic gelatinized maca. Consult with a doctor about whether a maca supplement should be part of your healthy lifestyle.