Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cortisol levels & weight gain - maca

Could This Be The Cause Of A Sudden Weight Gain?
Last week I was catching up with a friend who I haven’t seen or heard from in a while and she told me something alarming. She said “Vani – I haven’t changed my diet, or my exercise routine, but I’ve gained 15 pounds in the last 2 months! I gained it all because of stress!” She’s currently working on a big project and was worried about her sudden weight gain. When she went to the doctor, the doctor checked her cortisol levels. She found out, “they were through the roof!”

Did you know cortisol levels can increase from elevated stress and cause sudden weight gain? Fat accumulates near the stomach because the cells in the stomach are more sensitive to cortisol, and very effective at storing energy. I don’t know about you – but knowing that fact alone makes me want to drop everything and check into the spa.

Hearing her story was a huge wake up call to myself, I’m a workaholic and if I don’t watch it, the balance in my life can totally take a free fall. Her story also got me motivated to share a superfood ingredient that can help your body handle stress better and reduce cortisol levels (and help you in the nooky department too, which I know also reduces stress!).
maca plant

Benefits of Maca Superfood

Superfoods are nutrient dense foods that pack a powerful punch when it comes to antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. Basically SUPERFOOD = SUPERMAN!…or WOMEN! Eating superfoods has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease and prolong life.
Way up high in the Peruvian Andes grows the prized superfood called Maca. It’s the highest altitude crop on earth. With a growing altitude of 13,000 feet, this plant is not for your home garden (unless your garden happens to be on the top of the Andes).

Over its 3,000 year cultivation maca has earned itself a pretty long list of benefits, some of which include… get ready…

* Increased energy
* Reduced stress
* Improved sexual function (improved libido)
* Improved physical and emotional well being
* Improved mental clarity
* Improved hair growth
* Improved thyroid health
* Ability to balance hormones
* Ability to protect skin against ultraviolet radiation
* Ability to treat PMS
* Improved skin tone
* Ability to raise sperm count
* Helps prevent osteoporosis
* Ability to treat depression
In an extensive study of the maca plant, Dr. Gustavo F Gonzales found that maca can enhance the ability for an individual to “adapt” to a stressful environment by “improving homeostasis” in the body. This can positively effect energy, endurance and oxygen in the blood (which makes maca a great cure for altitude sickness…it’s no coincidence that it is grown in high altitudes). Maca can also affect the happy chemicals in your body that control libido, balance the endocrine system, adrenals, hormones, thyroid, and one’s mood! That is a lot for just one scoop of powder a day.

Throughout its history, the consumption of maca has been used by Peruvian natives for having strong effects on fertility and energy in both humans and animals. It is said that during the Incan empire, warriors were give maca to give them strength and stamina in battle but were then denied maca when they returned home in order to protect the women from their strong sexual desires. Whoa. This stuff is like nature’s viagra. Check out this article where my friend Dr. Mercola lists maca as one of the top natural supplemental ways to enhance sexual function.

Maca Nutrition

Dried maca contains 59% carbohydrates, 8.5% fiber, and slightly more than 10.2% protein. The protein in maca contains seven essential amino acids. Maca is also rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and iron. Add to that the vitamins B1, B2, and C and you can easily understand what makes this a superfood! Some researchers even argue that Maca’s ability to treat a disorder like depression comes simply from the fact that the food is so nutritionally dense and that people become happier because they are getting the nutrients they need!
So, the good news is ever since the reemergence of maca in the 1980 access to this powerfully medicinal food is becoming easier and easier. And now, thanks to the beautiful world wide web you can have maca show up at your door, which is way easier than hiking up the Andes, let me tell you!

How To Use The Maca Powder
Maca is a member of the cruciferous family which includes brocolli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and radishes. Maca is grown for its root which resembles that of a radish. Maca root can grow in a variety of different colors and can be consumed in several different ways, of which the most popular is dried and ground into a powder, maca powder.
Maca powder is definitely the easiest way to add maca to your diet. I love throwing 1 tbsp in morning smoothies for extra energy, in homemade hot chocolate (recipe below) and in desserts like brownies or anything with chocolate! It goes really really well with chocolate – yum! Did I say chocolate?
When I was in Peru recently, Maca caramels were everywhere, I’d love to try to make those at home one day. You can also check out more recipes and the subtle differences between red, black and cream maca from my affiliate The Maca Team here.

Food Babe’s Maca Hot Chocolate

Prep time 5 mins
Cook time 5 mins
Total time 10 mins
Serves: 2


  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth
  2. Place ingredients in a small sauce pan and slowly warm to temperature desired


***Please use all organic ingredients if possible***
I make my hot cocoa very similarily, making one serving with one tbs of raw cacao, 1 tsp of maca, almond milk and stivia powder.