As you read this title, you are probably thinking:
What in the world is Peruvian Maca?
Why would anyone decide to go on a Peruvian Maca diet?
We first heard about Maca when we arrived in Peru and were staying with a local family through Airbnb. One morning over breakfast, Doris, our host casually mentioned Maca as a beverage that many Peruvians usually drink in the morning.
As we are on a quest to discover and understand the local specialties, our ears immediately perked up. She pulled out of the cupboard a brownish powder and introduced us to this Peruvian superfood.
What is Peruvian Maca
Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a root vegetable in Peru for over 2600 years. Growing at about 10,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest altitude crop in the world. Maca is a relative of the radish and its root is used to make the medicine.
Peruvian Maca is said to have played a central part of the Incan diet. As the Incans were building Machu Picchu, they relied on Maca for moving the heavy blocks to construct Machu Picchu. The legendary strength of the Inca warriors has also been attributed to eating copious amounts of maca before going into battle.
The Amazing Benefits of Peruvian Maca
As we tried to understand what makes Maca special, we run up against some conflicting information. There is what the local Peruvians told us and what you find online.
We quickly discovered that there were 3 types of Maca. A Black Maca for men. A Yellow Maca for women and a Red Maca which is more expensive and difficult to find.
Local Peruvian women told us they experienced many benefits with Maca. Some of the ones that were frequently mentioned were: feeling more energetic, clearer skin, stopping hair loss, helping with hormonal imbalance (menstrual irregularities and menopause), strengthening the immune system and fighting osteoporosis.
An internet search on maca (web doctor) goes on to say that Maca is used for: “tired blood” (anemia); chronic fatigue syndrome, and enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory, and fertility.
Women use maca for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, and symptoms of menopause. Maca is also used for weak bones (osteoporosis), depression, stomach cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction, to arouse sexual desire, and to boost the immune system.
Our First Experience With Peruvian Maca
Intrigued by Maca, we sought it out at the Mercado San Pedro in Cusco. We visited a stall at the market and to chance to try this superfood.
As we talked to the lady, we learned that Peruvian Maca is available in either pill or powder formats. She told us that some people like to add Maca powder to their morning coffee or tea, but she prefers it natural, with just hot water. We decided to take her recommendation and try it “pure” and not masked”
How Maca Works
Maca root is an adaptogen and according to Wikipedia, this means that it promotes homeostasis and stabilization of the body.
For example, if one person is high in a specific hormone (such as oestrogen), Maca will assist that person’s body to lower the amount of oestrogen in their blood. However, if another person is low in the same hormone, it will assist that person’s body to increase the amount of it in their blood.
Maca is said to stimulate the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which regulate the other glands in the body, and can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian, and testicular glands.
A 30-Day Peruvian Maca Diet
After hearing and reading about the benefits of Maca, I was captivated. After liking the taste, I decided to experiment and put myself on a Peruvian Maca diet. The diet was simple and consisted of of drinking Maca everyday for 30 days to see how my body responded.
To get ready for this diet, I bought 1 kilo of Maca (Yellow Maca, which is for women) at the Surquillo farmers market in Lima.The plan I came up with was to drink Maca everyday between 3pm – 6pm.
Even though Peruvians drink Maca in the morning, I could not give up my morning coffee. Given that Maca is said to be energizing, I thought drinking it in the late afternoon when I sometimes need “a pick me up” would be a great way to test the benefits. I did not change my diet or eating habits and I continued to exercise on a regular basis.
Notable Improvements From the Peruvian Maca
I started the Peruvian Maca diet on January 5th, 2016 and drank Maca every single day. In the 30 day period, I learned to really enjoy the taste of Maca. I started to look forward to drinking it and found it a nice alternative to drinking water or eating a snack.
The major changes I experienced were:
- Increased energy: Just after 2 or 3 days of drinking Maca, I felt much more energetic and peppy. The afternoon fatigue I would sometimes get, practically disappeared. The boost in energy was more than just physical. I felt mentally alert and focused as well. I noticed this after about 5 – 7 days
- Less menstrual pain: Even though I don’t have a horrible period in terms of pain or any issues, I felt much more even. I noticed that I didn’t have any mood swings, no cramping, no anxiety. While on my period, I felt and performed as if I was not on my menstrual cycle.
- Clearer skin: About 15 days or so into the experiment, I surprised myself when looking at the mirror when washing my face. My skin felt smoother clearer and with no break outs or spots. I was pleasantly surprised to see the difference especially because I never changed my facial or grooming habits.
- Stronger hair and nails: It took me almost the full 30 days on the experiment to realize that I had to clip my finger and toe nails a couple times. Before the Maca diet, I would cut my nails every 4-6 weeks. While taking Maca, that frequency increased and my nails were harder and stronger. Like my nails, my hair was also stronger and had less breakage.
With one kilo of Peruvian Maca, there is still plenty left over. I have continued to drink Maca daily and reap the benefits of improved overall health. I’m happy to have discovered this Inca superfood. I have not experienced any notable downsides and like the idea of incorporating a natural supplement into my diet.
Where to Find Peruvian Maca
If you are interested in trying Maca for yourself, you can find it on Amazon and also see how other consumers rate the different brands. You can also read more about Maca’s illustrious history and benefits here at Ancient Peruvian Superfood or The History Behind The Ancient Powerful Maca. I prefer to drink Maca plain and in hot water, though it is good in smoothies, salads, drinks, cooked foods, and juices.
What do you think about taking natural supplements you discover on your travels? Have you ever tried Maca? Share your comments below.
Disclosure: Please keep in mind this information is based on my personal experience. It should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and well being.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest
75 Comments on “A Powerful 30 Day Maca Diet – The Superfood of the Incas”
I would like more information on the best way to consume maca root, some people say that it needs to be cooked, others are drinking it in smoothies. There is no clear info about this. Also, if it is roasted, then why would it need to be cooked? Thank you
Thanks, Mariah for your questions. The maca powder I’ve tried is simply added to a hot drink or to hot water. It does not need to be cooked or roasted. Depending on what kind you buy, simply follow the recommended instructions for use. Hope this helps. Cheers
Incredible how this wonderful food has been gaining visibility in the world. I think there are still a lot of people who will know the wonderful benefits of this root. I love your content. Health and peace!
Thank you so much Danilo, appreciate your feedback on our content. Yes, Maca is wonderful and filled with so many health benefits. Let’s hope more people find out about this superfood. Cheers.
I am 62, about 125 lbs, pretty healthy, but feel tired a lot. I and would like to increase the oxygen level in my blood. I m wondering how much of this I should try and for how long. Any suggestions are appreciated!
Thanks Teodoro for your questions. From my personal experience, I felt much more energized when drinking Maca throughout the 30 day diet period. I would drink 1 tablespoon of Maca, 1 teaspoon of sugar and mix it in hot water. I noticed the difference within the first 3-5 days. You may want to try it for about a week and note any changes you experience. Because I am not a doctor, I can only share my personal experience. You may want to check with your doctor about increasing oxygen levels in your blood. Please let us know if you do try it out. Cheers!
I will try this 🙂 YAY!
Oh, excellent. Please do let us know how it works for you. Cheers!
It is very special. Never heard of Maca before.
Thanks Anita. Indeed, had never heard of Maca either until we saw it all the place in Peru. Love what travel opens us to 🙂
This is such a great post! I’m certainly intrigued. I’ll have to see if I can find some at my local health food store. Thanks so much for sharing your journey!!
Thanks Hera. Do indeed check it out and if you can’t find it at your local health food store, there is always Amazon. Keep us posted on how it goes for you. Cheers!
Wow, who knew? Nice article.
I never cease to be amazed at what doors travel will open. Thanks for showing just one more.
Thank you so much Scott. Travel does indeed open us to so much. Appreciate your comments!!
Oh wow that’s awesome that you were able to talk to the local Peruvians about this. Excellent info and I would never try this without some encouragement 🙂
Thanks for your comments. I have to admit that the curiosity got me very interested and local Peruvians confirmed. Glad I did it 🙂
I’ve never tried maca before, but it sure sounds worthwhile? Have you heard of any ways maca can have a negative effect? (Other than on the bank account perhaps!)
Hi Jessica, in my research I didn’t see anything about negative effects on the body. I did see one article that recommended starting with a small amount and then increasing it as your body adapted. In terms of the pocket book. It’s not bad either. I bought 1 kilo of Maca for about 20 Peruvian soles which is equivalent to USD $5.67. Not bad either way!!
I’ve never heard of Maca but it looks like it certainly works! And if it’s good enough for the Peruvians, it’s good enough for me. Now… to book that flight to Peru!
Thanks Kristy for your comments. If you can’t get to Peru…there is always Amazon 🙂 Let us know if you do try it out. Cheers!
Huh, I’m genuinely interested. I know that eating radishes regularly really has been beneficial for me. Maca being a super version, I’d be extremely interested. Is this what the guides ingest prior to taking tourist to Machu Pichu? 😉
That’s interesting Rob that radishes are working out for you. Indeed Maca and radishes do come from the same family. The Maca for men is considered a male viagra, so you may reap additional benefits as well 🙂 Not sure what the guides ingest – it could be coca leaves for the altitude or Maca for the energy. The best is to ask! Thanks for your comments!
Fascinating. I have never heard of this. In the end, eating natural just makes everything better.
You are right Renee, eating natural is the way to go! Thanks for your comments!
Very informative article. I have never heard of maca but how great that you discovered it and put it in to your diet. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thanks Christine. When all the Peruvian women started talking about all the benefits, it was difficult to resist! I’m glad I did try it and so happy with how it makes me feel 🙂
This made me curious! I have seen Maca on my travels through Latin America frequently and I always wondered if I should try it… now, I will do so and see if I can get it here in Honduras too! Thanks for sharing 🙂
That’s awesome Jey. The good thing about Maca is that it is a root plant, so that feels safe. Give it a try and please do report back on it works for you. Cheers 🙂
First of all, you look so beautiful!!! Inside and out. I just came across your blog and loved this post. So informative and well written. I am writing this down now and will buy it once I am back home from my round the world trip. Sounds great. Back home I used to drink chlorophyll which cleaned my body everyday. I love the principle of having more energy. Doesn’t everyone has the same problem in the afternoon? Thanks for sharing this piece of information with us.
Thank you so much Melanie for your feedback. So happy that you enjoyed reading about my experience. An energy booster in the afternoon is indeed needed. Good to learn about chlorophyll. Will have to check that out soon. Cheers 🙂
I sell maca powder and did not know there were different colours for men and women. Thanks for such an informative post 🙂
That’s incredible Tandy that you sell Maca powder. Are you using it personally? How is it working for you? Glad you enjoyed reading the post!
That’s a real superfood! It’s incredible the indigenous people knowledge about food and herbs. From the Andes I only tried chia. It also boost your energy.
You are so right Robson, there are so many natural solutions around us and many lie with indigenous peoples. Never tried Chia, so good to know that it is also an energy booster. If you make it back to Peru, give Maca a try 🙂
You look so happy and healthy with your Maca! I remember reading your earlier review where you were not quite so convinced by the taste and texture. It sounds fabulous. Maybe I should try some on the path to being beautiful!
You are too kind Serina, and thank you for your comments. I got used to the taste of Maca and found that the sugar helps a lot. If you can get some, do give it a shot. It worked wonders for me 🙂 Cheers!
Count me in. I’ve been curious about Maca so found this really interesting. I can’t wait to go out and buy some and do my own 30-day test, even if I’m not drinking it in Peru. (I don’t even care what it tastes like.)
The good news Carol is that the taste is not bad at all. It’s like a hot cereal and then you add the amount of sugar you need. Try it out and please do let us know what you think or how your body responds. Cheers!
Definitely never heard about Maca before. Very intriguing! I’ll try to get some to see what effects it has on me 🙂
Thanks Hugo…do give it a try…apparently the local Peruvians say that the black Maca (for men) is like a male viagra!! Check it out 🙂
Woah, how cool! I had no idea that Maca was such a powerhouse of health benefits. I’m really inspired to try this diet for myself and see what wonders this superfood can do for me. Thanks for all of these useful tips. Love hearing about unique foods like this. 🙂
Thanks Casey. So much fun to try this superfood and feel all the positive effects. Glad you enjoyed reading about the experience. Cheers!
How interesting that there are different colours for men and women and high five to you for actually trying it out and finding it really does work! Might just have to get myself on the Maca 😀
Thanks Alice. When I heard all the women talk so positively about it…I had to give it a try!! Let us know if you end up trying it. Cheers!
Superfoods are always best. I wouldn’t mind tryingbit too.
Agree Rosemarie…always better to go the natural and healthy route 🙂
This sounds super interesting and I’m kind of intrigued to try it out myself (who doesn’t want to have less pain, more energy, and better skin?!) Never heard of Maca before, though. Thank’s for sharing your experiences!
Thanks Kathrin…we discovered it as well for the first time in Peru, so not surprised you’ve not heard about it before. Read up on it and let us know if you end up trying it. Cheers!
This is definitely interesting. I know you said you liked the taste but what does it taste like. I would like to try this, you said Amazon sells it but I wonder if you can get it from you local Herbologist / All Natural store? Great post.
Thanks Christopher…in terms of the taste, it is like hot oatmeal. I added sugar and was able to control how sweet I like it. Indeed you can try your local health/natural store. The only advice is to get the one from Peru. Do let us know if you find it and try it. Cheers!
Amazing discovery! I will search for it or even better I’ll plan a trip to Peru!
It’s true Sabrina…it is indeed an amazing discovery worth seeking out 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience! I’d never heard of Maca or its health benefits. What could you compare the taste to, if anything? Is it sweet, sour, bitter? I’ll have to look into it more and give it a try.
In terms of the taste Jackie…it really doesn’t have a specific taste. It reminds of me hot oatmeal. It’s a little thick and you can add more or less sugar depending on your preference. It worked wonders for me…let us know if you try it 🙂
I’ve never heard of that before! This is my year for critically reviewing my diet, so this is perfect timing. I will have to look into it!
Glad the timing worked out Nadia. Do check into Maca and let us know if you decided to try it. Cheers!
A really informative post. i have heard of maca but did not know much about it. Tempting to try a month like you. As an insomniac I would be weary to try it in the afternoon should I have troubles at night. Did it make you go to bed later?
Thanks Evelyne and good to know you had heard of Maca before. It’s worth trying particularly because it is natural. Good question about sleep…I did notice that when I took it later in the evening closer to 6pm I was up at night longer, than when I took it earlier. However, once I was ready to sleep, I never had a problem sleeping. You could always start with a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon and see how that works. Let us know if you try it 🙂
Thanks for your response, will look into it 🙂
You are most welcome. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions 🙂
Oh how wonderful! And look at all the super benefits you received from this super food. I would totally be interested to try this 30 day Maca diet, do you think you were drinking more water because of how you consumed the Maca, and that really helped too? Anyways, anything that gives me more energy and clearer skin and less painful periods is a WINNER in my books. Going to add to my list and see if I can source some. Thanks heaps for this really interesting post.
Thanks Anna and so glad you enjoyed reading about the super benefits of Maca. True I did drink more water, but I’ve always been a water drinker so it was just one extra mug of water. The energy booster, clearer skin and strong nails and hair and just feeling better overall are huge benefits. Let us know if you are able to find some. Cheers!
I have heard lots of good things about maca but only through adverts, never firsthand so its good to learn about someones specific experience. Thanks!
Thanks Lottie for your comments. That’s actually why I decided to embark on the 30 day diet. I wanted to know for myself if it was just advertising or if there was something special about this superfood. Pleasantly surprised to see and feel the benefits. If you are thinking about it, do give it a try.
Loved the article
How much did you put into one mug of hot water?
I’m thinking of trying it.
Glad you enjoyed the article Jan. I use just one heaping table spoon of maca and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. Please let us know if you try it!
I love 30 day challenges, just the right amount to get you properly immersed in something! Thanks for sharing, it’s fascinating to learn about new ingredients and history 🙂
Thanks Lauren. The best part about this challenge is that it was not about “removing” anything from my diet, but rather adding something natural. Glad you enjoyed learning about this ancient superfood.
My mother swears by maca. I tried maca caplets, which I bought in Buenos Aires, and I must admit the results were not miraculous. Maybe I should try the powder.
That’s wonderful to hear Ana. Glad your mom is having success with maca. I personally prefer the powder. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. Cheers!
I have never heard of Maca, but love the idea of an age old remedy.
More than an old age remedy, Maca helps keep the body functioning at an optimal condition. Glad you discovered this ancient superfood from this post. Appreciate your comments Paula.
I am so intrigued by this and will definitely do more research. I’d like to see if I can grow it myself. 🙂
Thanks Krista. Wow, you are interested in trying to grow it yourself. It does high in the mountains of the Andes. Please do follow up and let us know if you are able to grow it. Thanks