How Goji Berries Help You Lose Weight
If you're like millions of other people who have difficulty losing weight, you probably engage in two common behaviors: You can't control your appetite -- especially your cravings for sugary, starchy foods -- and you don't have enough energy to exercise regularly. Nutrient-rich goji berries directly target these two weight-losing obstacles.
The Vicious Cycle of Cravings
High-calorie sugary and starchy foods tend to have little nutritional value. Instead, they trigger a hormonal reaction that leads to uncontrollable cravings. The process works like this:
- You eat a sugary, starchy food and your body quickly converts it to blood sugar.
- Your levels of blood sugar spike upward.
- In response, your pancreas produces a high level of insulin.
- Your blood sugar levels crash.
- The roller-coaster effect causes cravings for more sugary, starchy foods.
- The cycle repeats.
The speed at which a food converts to blood sugar (glucose) is measured on a numerical scale known as the glycemic index (GI). The lower the GI of a food, the more slowly it converts to blood sugar and the less likely it is to stimulate uncontrollable urges to eat empty calories.
The Low Glycemic Index of Goji Berries
On the glycemic index, a value of 100 is assigned to pure glucose. Foods rated at 70 or higher are considered high-GI, while foods rated below 55 are considered low GI and are more likely to satisfy rather than increase the appetite. Here's how the GI of goji berries compare with some other fruits:
- Goji berry - 29
- Apple - 38
- Orange - 42
- Banana - 25
- Cantaloupe - 65
- Raisins - 64
- Watermelon - 72
More Ways of Controlling Appetite
Goji berries have additional characteristics that help control blood sugar and appetite. They contain 21 percent fiber by weight. High fiber foods are filling and moderate blood sugar levels. The berries are also a good source of chromium, a mineral that aids in blood sugar control. Chromium may also help to preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss. Muscle burns more calories than fat, promoting a more efficient metabolism, which makes it easier to prevent weight gain.
Burning Food for Energy
Goji berries are rich in several nutrients that help to convert food into energy rather than storing it as fat:
- B1 (thiamin): The vitamin is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy and for healthy thyroid function. A sluggish thyroid gland promotes weight gain.
- Calcium: In addition to supporting healthy bones, adequate calcium has been linked to lower levels of body fat.
- Other minerals: A balanced combination of essential minerals is necessary for efficient protein metabolism. In addition to calcium and chromium, goji berries contain copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.
Promoting Lean Muscle
A lean body burns food as fuel rather than storing calories as fat. When we are young, abundant levels of human growth hormone help to keep our bodies lean. As we age, declining growth hormone supplies are a key factor that contributes to less muscle mass and greater fat storage.
Two amino acids and potassium in goji berries help our bodies to produce more growth hormone.
- L-arginine: Research has shown that this amino acid stimulates significantly higher levels of growth hormone in the blood than a placebo.
- L-glutamine: In addition to promoting growth hormone production, the amino acid enhances the production of lean muscle tissue.
- Potassium: The mineral is essential for normal function of the pituitary gland, which produces growth hormone.
Counteracting Fat Storage
Stress plays a pivotal role in fat storage. Because goji berries can help to alleviate stress, they can prevent a series of effects that lead to weight gain. When we are under stress, our adrenal glands produce too much of the "fight or flight" hormone, cortisol. Excess levels of cortisol prompt weight gain by:
- Telling our bodies to hang on to stored fat
- Increasing cravings for sugary, high-fat foods
- Directing food calories to be stored as fat, rather than being burned for energy
- Stopping the secretion of growth hormone
- Exhausting the adrenal glands, causing fatigue and encouraging overeating in an effort to replenish energy
As an adaptogen, goji berries can reduce the impact of stressful circumstances in our daily lives, thereby lowering unhealthy levels of cortisol and enabling us to burn body fat.
Supporting Regular Exercise
Successful and permanent weight loss requires regular physical activity. A few years ago, a study of 4,000 people in the National Weight Loss Registry found that they had lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for more than 5 years. Nine out of ten successful losers spent between an hour and 90 minutes daily doing moderate-to-intense exercise. Goji berries help to provide energy for sufficient daily physical activity to lose weight and keep it off.
Improving Physical Performance
As an adaptogen, goji berries enhance the ability to exercise in several ways:
- Improving utilization of oxygen
- Delaying the onset of fatigue during exercise
- Increasing endurance
- Increasing stamina
- Strengthening the heart
- Reducing stress that results from physical exertion
- Improving circulation
Goji berries strengthen the glands that are responsible for generating energy, muscle growth and repair -- the adrenals, thymus, thyroid and pituitary. In addition, as an adaptogen, goji berries stimulate the regeneration of muscles.
Polysaccharides help to reduce muscle soreness. The polysaccharides aid in the removal of lactic acid that accumulates in muscles during exertion. Goji berries also help eliminate toxins that are produced during exercise by supporting the liver and protecting it from damage resulting from the extreme demands of intense exercise.