Can Yoga Help With Weight Loss?
Weight loss ultimately boils down to burning more calories than you consume (i.e. a calorie deficit), and the most effective way to accomplish this is through a combination of diet, exercise and proper supplementation.
Regarding exercise and weight loss, the default option for most people is cardio -- usually in the form of jogging. But, the truth is that any sort of physical activity, even a brisk 10-minute walk around the neighborhood or office building can boost metabolism and energy expenditure, aiding your weight loss goals.
One form of physical activity that’s often overlooked for its pro-weight loss benefits is yoga. It’s usually thought of as a meditative/stress-relief practice, which it can be. Yoga can also be a powerful tool in your weight loss toolbelt, and here are FIVE reasons why yoga helps weight loss.
#1 Build Strength & Stamina
Yoga is typically thought of as sitting around and chanting “OMMMMM.” And while breath work and meditation are part of yoga…it’s not all that yoga has to offer.
In fact, many styles of yoga incorporate resistance training in the form of bodyweight exercises, including planks, push ups, and static lunges. This makes yoga a fantastic total body workout that can be done anywhere.
Plus, as you gain strength and build lean muscle, you’ll also boost your metabolism, even when you’re at rest!
#2 Less Stress
Yoga is renowned for its calming effects, and it’s also been proven in research to help individuals reduce stress and feel more relaxed.
Being stressed causes a flood of cortisol, which is perfectly normal (and even beneficial at times!), especially during workouts or when you’re actually encountered with a threat.
However, chronic stress leads to chronic elevations in cortisol, which has a whole laundry list of unwanted side effects, including:
- Poor mood
- Poor sleep
- Reduced motivation to exercise
- Decreased athletic performance (which decreases energy expenditure during the day)
- Increased hunger
- Decreased satiety
- Greater risk for impulsive eating (i.e. binging on junk food).
- Increased belly fat storage
Incorporating calming practices into daily life can help keep stress levels in check, making sure you stay on target with your nutrition plan and exercise regimen.
And, if you’re looking for added stress-relief support, you should check out 1UP RELAX, which was specifically formulated to help individuals deal with the constant barrage of stressors during the day.
#3 Social Support
Having a support network is essential for success, be it in the classroom, in the office, or a transformation challenge.
While online fitness classes, message boards, and support groups are helpful, nothing can replace in-person interaction. Humans are social creatures; we’re meant to interact, disagree, compromise, and engage with one another (and not just through social media arguments).
Joining a group yoga class is a great way to interact with and get support from individuals also interested in their health and fitness.
#4 Better Sleep
Sleep is absolutely essential to healthy living, not to mention your fitness and physique goals. Constant sleep deprivation is a massive stressor to the body. Even a single night of poor sleep has been shown to negatively impact hunger and satiety hormones as well as decision making.
Moreover, research has found that individuals who regularly have poor sleep lose less body fat than individuals with normal sleeping patterns.
Performing some light yoga can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, allowing you to drift off to sleep easier. One particularly beneficial form of yoga is called yoga nidra, which is a form of guided relaxation. An 8-week study in healthcare workers found that those who practiced yoga nidra had greater mindfulness, helping them to be more present and in the moment, which ultimately helps encourage deeper sleep.
#5 Smarter Food Choices
As you become more at peace, physically active, and seeing results from your diet and exercise plan, you’ll naturally start to be more cognizant of the choices you make each day. Nowhere is this more apparent than how you feel after the food you eat.
The healthier a lifestyle you lead, the more perceptive you’ll be to how certain foods (as well as quantities of those foods) make you feel -- energized, lethargic, upbeat, ambivalent, etc.
Yoga’s benefits on stress-relief and mindfulness can heighten your self-awareness, helping you to make smarter food choices when you’re at the grocery store, dining out, or hanging with friends watching the big game.
Yoga is a thousands year old practice that’s commonly thought of for its calming effects, but it can also help build strength, stamina, and confidence all the while helping you lose weight. If you’ve resisted trying yoga because it seems a bit too “out there,” then now is the time to give it a shot and see exactly how it can help you get the results you want!
- Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Saper RB, Ciraulo DA, Brown RP. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):571-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.01.021. Epub 2012 Feb 24. PMID: 22365651.
- Xuewen Wang, Joshua R Sparks, Kimberly P Bowyer, Shawn D Youngstedt, Influence of sleep restriction on weight loss outcomes associated with caloric restriction, Sleep, Volume 41, Issue 5, May 2018, zsy027, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy027
- Livingston, E. & Collette-Merrill, K. (2018). Effectiveness of Integrative Restoration (iRest) Yoga Nidra on Mindfulness, Sleep, and Pain in Health Care Workers. Holistic Nursing Practice, 32 (3), 160-166. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000266.