Ayurveda for Weight Loss : Diet and Lifestyle Considerations

Obesity (Sthaulya)

Can be defined as the increased volume of adipose tissue in the thighs, abdomen and chest, where the body vitality decreases and might result in deteriorated health.

Obesity is an increasing problem all over the world as the lifestyle changes and fast food chains gain popularity. It increases the risk of many diseases such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Gastrointestinal tumors.

In Ayurveda, Atisthaulya (Obesity) is described as excessive accumulation of Meda (fat/adipose tissue) and Mamsa (flesh/muscle tissue). It is considered as one of Santarpanottha Vikaras (disease due to consumption of excessive calories). Medodushti (disorders of fat metabolism) may be one of the risk factors for Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD).

What causes Obesity?

The key cause is found in incorrect lifestyle and diet choices or habits.  When the body’s calorie intake exceeds the number of calories burned, it leads to the storage of excess calories in the form of body fat.

Common specific causes of obesity include:

  • Increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, carbohydrates
  • Overeating and Irregular food habits
  • Lack of Physical activities. When the body’s calorie intake exceeds the number of calories burned, it leads to the storage of excess calories in the form of body fat
  • Genetics, Endocrine disorders, Medical Reasons or Psychiatric illness
  • Day-time sleeping

What are the symptoms of Obesity? 

The person is called as over-obese who, due to excessive increase of fat and muscles, has pendulous buttocks, abdomen and chest and suffers from deficient metabolism and energy. Because of laxity, softness and heaviness of fat there is hampering in movement. Because of intensified agni (digestion) and abundance of Vata in the belly there is excessive hunger and thirst. Vata, due to passage having been obstructed with fat, moves about abundantly in belly and thus stimulates digestion and absorbs food. Hence the person digests food quickly and desires excessively the intake of food.

Common specific symptoms of obesity include:

  • Breathlessness even on little exertion / physical activity
  • Lack of interest in doing work
  • Over sweating with foul body odor
  • Excessive hunger and thirst
  • Feeling of tiredness and debility
  • Excessive sleep
  • Premature aging and decrease in longevity

How is Obesity diagnosed?

Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his / her height in meters (kg/m2 ).

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal
25.0-29.9 Overweight
30.0 and higher Obesity

Body mass index is a rough calculation of a person’s weight in relation to their height.

Other more accurate measures of body fat and body fat distribution include skinfold thickness, waist-to-hip comparisons, and screening tests such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Your doctor may also order certain tests to help diagnose obesity as well as obesity-related health risks. These may include blood tests to examine cholesterol and glucose levels, liver function tests, diabetes screen, thyroid tests, and heart tests, such as an electrocardiogram.

A measurement of the fat around your waist is also a good predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases.

What are complications of Obesity?

Obesity leads to much more than simple weight gain. Having a high ratio of body fat to muscle puts strain on your bones as well as your internal organs.

Obesity has been linked to a number of health complications:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease and Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain Cancers (Gastrointestinal, Endometrial and Colon)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Arthritis
  • Infertility

How is Obesity treated in Ayurveda?

Line of treatment

(Under strict supervision of Registered Ayurvedic Physician)

Shamana (Palliative) treatment:

  • Langhan (Fasting),
  • Ama pachan (oral use of digestives to augment the fat metabolism),
  • Ruksha Udwartan (Dry medicated powder massage),
  • Heavy and non-nourishing diet/items like Honey, salad etc are advised.
  • Physical exercises, mental work is also recommended.

Samshodhana Chikitsa (Purificatory procedures):

  • Panchakarma
  • Vaman (Therapeutic emesis),
  • Virechan (Therapeutic purgation),
  • Lekhan vasti (Medicated enema) are advised for the management of Sthaulya.
  • Single drugs: Guduchi, Vidanga, Musta, Sunthi, Amla, Vaca, Daruharidra, Guggulu, etc.
  • Compound Formulations: Trikatu, Navak Guggulu, Triphala Guggulu, Vidangadi Churna, Takrarishta, Navayasa lauha, Arogya Vardhini Vati etc.

What are diet and lifestyle guidelines to control Obesity?

Obese patients should be given food that will reduce Kapha and the excess fatty tissue while at the same time having an anti-Vata property.  This means that all the food substances should be dry and light to digest, without too much oil or fat.


  • Avoid fatty food, fried food, cheese, pastries and bakery biscuits, high-fat milk or yogurt, egg-yolks, coconut oil.
  • Minimize the consumption of sweets, cold foods and drinks.
  • Minimize the consumption of salt.
  • Avoid high carbohydrate vegetables like – potato, rice etc.

Recommended Diet

  • Take more proteins to stay longer without food.
  • Steamed/ boiled and baked vegetables rather than fried.
  • Take frequent small meals to avoid food cravings.
  • Drink skimmed milk instead of whole milk.
  • Take Foods rich in soluble fiber such as Kidney beans, Lentils, Oatmeal, Barley, Quinoa, Whole Wheat, Apple, Orange, Pear.
  • Nuts such as Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Prunes.
  • Add Garlic and Ginger to your meals. Excess may cause acidity.
  • Include vegetables such as Onion, Capsicum, Carrot, Fenugreek (Methi), Spinach, Salad, Broccoli and lettuce.
  • Food spices- Coriander seeds, Turmeric, Black pepper, Cumin, Fennel, Cinnamon (Dalchini) are good.
  • Use warm water for drinking.
  • Include lemon in diet and drinks.

Lifestyle Advice

  • Eat your meals at the same time every day, and plan to eat your main meal at lunchtime, when your digestion is strong. Take light food during night, and plan to eat early dinner. Don’t overfill your stomach in one time.
  • Regular Exercise/ Walk and Yoga. This helps not only in regulating cholesterol and weight but also increases body immunity to fight diseases.
  • The important thing is to exert to only fifty percent of your capacity, and to gradually increase your endurance by exercising every day.
  • Avoid sedentary habits.
  • Avoid excessive sleep.
  • Avoid watching TV while having food.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Smoking.
  • Meditation helps in combating these problems and makes it easier to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.




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