Ginger supplementation may aid in weight loss.
I review a lot of research on weight loss. I enjoy looking at the studies, how they are designed, the interpretation of the results, and how I might be able to incorporate them into my daily routine. As I was reviewing for another article on nausea, I found a couple of studies on ginger for weight loss. I know that ginger is often in teas and smoothies, but I never thought about it for weight loss. Prior evidence suggests that ginger consumption may have anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, glucose-sensitizing, and stimulatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract. We know it helps with nausea, but would that encourage eating. So, does ginger actually help for weight loss?
The study is from 2012 and was published in the journal Metabolism. It is a decently designed study that has only one glaring weakness, and that is a small sample size of ten male subjects. The title of the study is “Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study.” This study was designed to assess the effects of a hot ginger beverage on energy expenditure, feelings of appetite, and satiety. It also looked at the metabolic risk factors in overweight men. Ten males with an average age of 39.1 and an average body mass index of 27.2 were enrolled in this randomized crossover study. In the study, metabolism was assessed by measuring energy expenditure using indirect calorimetry before and for 6 hours after a meal with and without a gram ginger drink. Also, subjective feelings of satiety were assessed hourly using visual analog scales, and blood samples were taken fasted and for three h after breakfast consumption. There was a significant increase in the thermic effect of food by ginger when compared to the control and subject has a lower hunger.
Problems: The low N or number of subjects need to be addressed with further research. I would also wonder if the hot beverage might be the cause increases satiety or thermogenesis. I wonder if you repeated the study with hot ginger vs. hot water if you might get the same effects. Well, this is what follow-up studies are for.
The bottom line: This study is a good study design that shows promise. The results indicate enhanced calorie burning and reduced feelings of hunger with ginger consumption. It suggests a potential role of ginger in weight management. Additional research is needed to confirm the results and address the low enrollment concerns. Would I take it as a supplement? No, but I will be adding it to my smoothies.