What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae which is incredibly good for you. It mostly grows in freshwater environments, including ponds, lakes, and rivers. It is rich in chlorophyll, and just like plants, Spirulina seeks energy from the sun. The potential health benefits of Spirulina are outstanding! Not only that, it is loaded with nutrients which can have powerful effects on both your body and brain.
It is largely made up of essential amino acids. So for a vegetarian’s delight, they are a great option if you are looking for a plant based food that is high in iron and protein. Thanks to Spirulina’s health benefits and all of its natural goodness, spirulina has gained commercial popularity and is most often sold in powder form and as a tablet or dietary supplement.
- 6 times more protein than eggs
- 7 times more calcium than milk
- 50 times more iron than spinach
- 10 times more potassium than most fruits and vegetables
How does it work?
Spirulina is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and essential vitamins, and it offers health benefits to practically every organ and bodily function. Spirulina is famous for its wholesome vitamins and as a weight loss aid. Apart from being rich in vitamins and essential pigments, this green seaweed has very high protein content. These rich proteins help to satisfy hunger even better than carbohydrates and fat. Because Spirulina is composed of simple cells, it is easily dissolvable in water, meaning that its protein can be easily and quickly digested. This is why Spirulina supplements are taken with water, for maximum efficiency. For best results, it is recommended that you consume Spirulina on empty stomach about 15-30 minutes before your meal.
Unlike other tonics which give only a temporary boost and then eventually make you feel weak, the energising effect of Spirulina is consistent.
Health benefits of Spirulina
You might think Spirulina is the new miracle food on the market but it has been around since the 1950’s. These microalgae have been consumed for decades now due to their high nutritional value and health benefits. Spirulina is one of those “perfect” superfoods found in nature which promotes sound health by presenting the body with a number of different benefits. Just 1-2 teaspoons of Spirulina offers 16 grams of easily digestible protein, making it one of the most ideal supplements for vegetarians.
- Rich source of protein - Spirulina is 60% protein, and as with other protein-packed foods, this means it can help curb hunger and boost energy. It also means that consuming Spirulina after a tough workout (or as a pre-workout snack) will help aid in muscle recovery. Among high-level athletes who are burning a ton of calories a day, Spirulina is often one of the nutritional supplements of choice.
- Rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) - GLA is an essential fatty acid which helps to balance hormones, dissolve fat deposits, reduce bad cholesterol and even promote good heart health.
- Plant-based source of iron - Spirulina is rich in iron, making it a great addition to the diets of vegans and vegetarians who may not be getting enough from traditional meat sources. Keep in mind that iron (especially plant-based iron) is best absorbed by the body when consumed with Vitamin C (for example, think of adding a little spirulina to a citrus smoothie).
- A great detoxifier: - The high level of chlorophyll which is one of nature's most powerful detoxifying agents helps Spirulina to remove toxins from your body. Spirulina helps clean mercury, heavy metals and other toxins out of the body. It’s been shown to help increase the rate of cellular regeneration, and even helps slow the growth of bad bacteria while promoting the growth of the good bacteria needed for efficient digestion.
- Maintains eye health - Spirulina contains a substance called xanthophyll which helps in keeping your eyes healthy. It helps to cut down on cataracts and the macular degeneration which comes with age.
- Manages cholesterol - Adding spirulina to your diet can help to increase your good cholesterol whilst reducing the bad cholesterol at the same time. This means Spirulina can help with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries caused by high cholesterol levels) and aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Improves immune functions - Spirulina can improve your immune system by promoting cell regeneration. It, therefore, helps to quickly heal wounds and recover from illnesses. There is also research which show that Spirulina may be helpful for those with allergies and allergic reactions.
- Packed with other nutrients - In addition to protein, GLA and iron, spirulina is also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, Vitamins D and K, beta-carotenes (10x the amount found in carrots!), enzymes, chlorophyll, and a slew of antioxidants. Being high in calcium with over 26 times the calcium in milk, Spirulina is excellent for children, elderly and for women during pregnancy. Not to forget that it also contains Omega 3-, 6 and 9s with especially high Omega-3s.
Is Spirulina useful for weight loss?
The golden rule of weight loss is that you need to eat less and exercise more. Now, you must be thinking- where does Spirulina come in picture? Spirulina tablets are extremely beneficial for weight loss. They can help to suppress the appetite, reduce cravings for comfort food, increase your energy levels and regulate the body’s metabolism rate. This means that Spirulina can help you to both eat less and exercise more.
The appetite suppressing effect of Spirulina
Spirulina contains a lot of Amino Acids, Leucine, Tyrosine and Phenylalanine which help increase fat oxidation. A high protein diet helps satiate your body. Spirulina is also composed of highly soluble cells, meaning that it breaks down quickly and is absorbed by the body with extra efficiency. It is this combination of high protein content and dissolvable simple cells which makes Spirulina a great potential appetite suppressant. In this regard, the weight loss benefits of spirulina tablets can be huge.
Taking Spirulina regularly is ideal for helping to build muscle or for low-carb diets due to its high-protein content. When you eat low-nutrient food, the brain triggers your appetite to try and get what it needs. Spirulina can assist in raising the nutrient concentration in your body and therefore reducing cravings and hunger. Again, another example of how Spirulina aids weight loss whilst still helping to suppress the appetite.
How to add Spirulina to your diet?
Spirulina usually comes in both powdered and tablet form. Tablets and capsules filled with Spirulina powder are a convenient alternative to fresh greens when you’re traveling whereas the powder form can be great for recipes and smoothies. The best ways to consume it are by:
- Adding a little to smoothies, acai bowls, juices and other drinks
- Mixing it into no-bake snack bites and chewy granola bars
- Stirring it into salad dressings, sauces and dips (guacamole, hummus, pesto, etc.)
The recommended daily intake of Spirulina is 1-5 grams. If you add too much to your smoothies, you’ll be able to taste it (it’s a little bitter), so it is recommended you add 1/4-1/2 tsp per drink.
Top 5 Quick Ways to Get More Spirulina in Your Diet
- Take a Spirulina supplement
- Put it in a smoothie
- Make it a meal
- Add it to homemade snacks
- Spirulina and Avocado Salad Dressing
Here are three great recipes for you to try which incorporate Spirulina and help you to live a healthier and happier lifestyle:
1. Green Smoothie
This recipe is easy and simple to make and is full of vitamins and minerals. It can also be a great way to start your day and keep you going until lunch-time! This Spirulina detox diet smoothie could change your life!
- 200ml milk (can be any kind of milk you like)
- A handful of fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 banana
- 2 teaspoon of Spirulina powder
- Honey or stevia to sweeten (optional)
To make this smoothie, simply add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for around 40 seconds or until smooth.
2. Spirulina Pesto
This recipe is perfect to use with pasta or as a sauce or dip. It is a delicious recipe for a Spirulina diet which not only tastes good but can help you feel great too.
- 200g lightly toasted pine nuts
- 100g nutritional yeast
- 3 handfuls fresh basil
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- Ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Spirulina powder
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Blend the garlic and basil in a food processor.
- Add pine nuts and olive oil and blend.
- Stir in the lemon juice, yeast and Spirulina powder.
- Season with salt and pepper.
3. Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
If you don’t want to just sprinkle some Spirulina powder over your salad, you can add it into a simple yet delicious salad dressing.
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- 1/2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. spirulina powder
To make this vinaigrette dressing, simply mix all of the ingredients together and add to your favourite salad. Feel free to change the quantities of each ingredient for a larger or smaller salad.
By trying some of these simple recipes or using them to create your own, you can easily add Spirulina into your diet. The recommended daily intake of spirulina is 3g, however it is recommended to take a reduced does for the first time to allow your body to get used to it.
When incorporating Spirulina into your daily diet, be sure not to overdo it. Stick to the correct dosage which is 1-2 teaspoons per day. Particularly, like anything which comes from the sea, be certain to only purchase blue-green algae that are free from contamination. Go for the organic option to ensure you have the best quality.
How to take spirulina for weight loss?
There are two ways to take Spirulina –capsule form or powder. There is no best way to take it, this is a personal choice and depends on your preference. Some people like Spirulina tablets or capsules. Others like to mix the powder with drinks or foods and take it that way. When taking the tablets, you will need to take 4 – 8 per day depending on your needs. With the powder, you will need to start with around half a teaspoon per day and work up to 2 tablespoons per day. Experiment with both types and you will find which one is the most suitable and palatable for you individually.
When used in combination with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, spirulina can be beneficial in helping to propel you towards your weight loss goals. The benefits of spirulina tablets for weight loss, boosting metabolism and elevated energy levels can be achieved through exercise and creating a spirulina weight loss plan to help you stay on track!