No one is immune to worry about weight. Most of us think we should be leaner. A few of you have the opposite issue and are working to gain weight and build strength. Regardless of what your goal is, Ayurveda offers tips for weight gain and tips for weight loss both!
2000 years ago people were more likely to be over-active and under-nourished than us moderns. But as Classical Ayurveda (what was written down) primarily addressed the courtly and warrior classes there is also knowledge about how to avoid excess weight.
The rich have always suffered from over-indulgence in food, psychological rather than physical stresses, and laxity in daily routine!
In general, Ayurveda doesn’t care what your weight is if everything is working properly.
Many classical Ayurveda practitioners never look at a scale or weight chart but instead pay attention to more systemic indicators like the tone of muscle and fat tissue, the distribution of weight, and how much you sweat.
Belly fat, for instance, is bad while hip, breast and but fat is good. In general ‘saggy’ or pendulous tissue, regardless of weight, is a bad sign.
Seeing the bones in your chest or sunken cheeks are signs that you should work to build tissues and strength. The perfect weight is going to be different for everyone.
Therefore, your weight loss or weight gain strategies need to be adjusted accordingly. But I bet you know which side of the spectrum you are on!
1. Sleep in the afternoon, especially after eating.
Napping increases bulk (i.e. Kapha) and generally over-sleeping increases weight.
2. Drink liquids after you eat.
Liquids dilute your digestive fire (Agni) and slow down the digestion process.
3. Eat heavier, sweeter, starchier, more nourishing foods.
This is the diet of a person who does a lot of physical activity and is trying to build tissues and especially muscles.
Foods to prioritize:
Note: many of these food requirements are also aphrodisiac as a healthy weight is required to be fertile and sexual.
4. Drink Beer.
Actually, the texts say drink sura or varuni. Both are sweet beverages said to be like beer (perhaps bubbly) made of rice, herbs, and dates or jaggery. Unlike sharp, heating and light drinks like vodka or whiskey which increase digestion and assimilation, sweet drinks are said to increase fat (and maybe even muscle) weight.
5. Don’t exercise so actively — or even move around very much.
If you are a thin, fidgety person and you want to build weight channel your kinetic energy into strength building exercises like weight lifting, Iyengar-type Yoga or other Vata calming activity.
1. Make honey your main sweetener.
Get rid of all other sweeteners (especially artificial!) and use a dab of honey when you need a bit of sweet. Honey is light and a bit astringent so very good for countering overweight conditions. Just remember never to heat your honey—it becomes a poison over 125 degrees or so.
2. Stop consuming anything cold.
This especially applies to iced beverages but also any other cold food.
3. Drink hot water instead.
Ginger and turmeric tea will be especially helpful. But don’t drink too much liquid: pay attention to your thirst and don’t overdo it.
Most overweight people are carrying a lot of water weight and swelling due to being incapable of digesting all the liquid they consume to dampen their hunger. This works wonders for weight loss.
4. Have more sex.
I know a Vaidya who insists on patients having frequent sex when working on weight loss!
This may seem like putting the cart before the horse (i.e. “I’ll have more sex after I lose weight”) but sex is the best exercise for losing weight so get started today!
5. Don’t snack.
Sit down at a table and eat as much healthy, delicious food as you need to feel satisfied, then have a pinch of fennel seeds. Try an unsweetened mukvas from an Indian store or make mukvas yourself at home.
Don’t put another thing into your mouth until the next meal 3-6 hours later. It is important not to eat any less than 3 hours before bed too.
6. Wake up earlier.
Take advantage of the active Vata time of the early morning and get up at 6 am or earlier. Exercise during Kapha time (6am-10am) before you eat breakfast to balance out the heavy fleshy qualities of Kapha.
7. Don’t eat breakfast.
When you get hungry have a light snack of tea and toast with ghee. Make lunch time your largest meal of the day and use the agni or digestive fire of midday to help metabolize your meal quickly and efficiently.
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