How Adaptogens Can Help You Improve Athletic Performance
Adaptogens are the true superheroes of the herbal world, as they help us cope with stress, anxiety, and fatigue. These natural substances have been used in various cultures for thousands of years. However, adaptogens have become increasingly popular in recent years due to people seeking holistic and natural ways to support health.
Positive Aspects of Adaptogens
One of the most popular adaptogens is ashwagandha, a plant used for over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote vitality and longevity. Another good example is ginseng, a plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve physical and mental performance.
Although the research is still in the early stages, the evidence we have so far shows a positive link between adaptogens and workout performance.
Let’s see what adaptogens are and what benefits they bring.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are roots, herbs, and fungi that have the potential to regulate our hormones and immune system response, helping our bodies adapt to stress. Unlike other herbs, adaptogens restore homeostasis rather than provide a specific effect. That makes adaptogens the perfect option for people looking for something to support their overall health and well-being.
People use adaptogens for a variety of reasons, like managing stress, improving cognitive function, boosting athletic performance, and more.
So, how are adaptogens able to maintain homeostasis in our bodies?
Adaptogens affect adrenal glands, preventing them from becoming overworked. That helps regulate levels of cortisol, which is our body’s stress hormone. That allows us to adapt to stressful situations and feel less tired.
However, researchers are only scratching the surface of the adaptogenic world. So, there is still a lot we don’t know about how adaptogens work and what they can do for our health.
What we do know is that certain adaptogens can help us improve physical performance.
How Adaptogens Can Help You Improve Athletic Performance
Most athletes seek something that can give them a competitive advantage and make their workouts more efficient. This is where adaptogens can help, as their natural ability to counteract the effects of stress can greatly impact workout performance and recovery.
Here’s how adaptogens can help you achieve better results.
1. Adaptogens May Increase Muscle Strength and Endurance
When we are exposed to stress, our brain initiates the fight or flight response, which helps our body get ready to escape outside danger. If the perceived stress continues, our bodies remain in a state of higher metabolic activity, which impairs our immune system, causes fatigue, and limits our physical performance.
Adaptogens can prevent this by increasing our ability to resist stress, allowing us to feel more energized.
For example, multiple studies have examined the effects of ashwagandha, one of the most popular adaptogens. One clinical study discovered that supplementation with this potent adaptogen could help healthy males increase muscle mass and muscle strength.
Other studies reported similar results, stating that ashwagandha could help both recreational and professional athletes increase muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance.
2. Adaptogens Can Increase Oxygen Utilization
Oxygen is a molecule that plays a vital role in our energy metabolism. Without enough oxygen, your muscles wouldn’t have enough energy to train, and your performance would suffer.
Luckily, some adaptogens can improve oxygen utilization, allowing muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. That can help you enhance your performance and delay fatigue.
For example, researchers discovered that using Siberian ginseng helped cyclists increase oxygen consumption during exercise, boosting their endurance by 23%.
Ashwangada was also shown to increase maximum aerobic capacity and respiratory exchange ratio, which are both vital parameters for how our muscles utilize oxygen. As a result, athletes’ endurance improved after supplementing with this adaptogen.
3. Adaptogens May Help Reduce Inflammation and Muscle Damage
When we exercise, our muscles experience microscopic damage that needs to be repaired. This triggers an inflammatory response that activates the immune system to start healing.
Although mild inflammation after a workout is normal, excessive inflammation can lead to significant muscle damage, delayed recovery, and a higher risk of injury.
Luckily, adaptogens have anti-inflammatory properties that can help our bodies overcome inflammation after exercise. This speeds up recovery, reduces soreness, and decreases the risk of injury.
A systematic review of the effects of ashwagandha on physical performance concluded that this adaptogen could improve physical recovery and reduce muscle damage and soreness after exercise.
That’s why adding this adaptogen to your diet could cut down the recovery time and help you stay on top of your game.
4. Adaptogens May Improve Mental Clarity and Focus
Being a great athlete is not just about physical health. You also need to stay in shape mentally, and adaptogens could be a great way to do that.
In addition to helping you counteract the effects of stress, adaptogens also have the potential to improve your mental clarity and focus.
For example, research suggests that a common adaptogen, Rhodiola rosea, could improve attention, cognitive function, and mental performance.
More importantly, adaptogens can improve focus and tolerance to mental exhaustion in situations of decreased performance. So, consuming adaptogens can help you stay sharp and focused despite feeling fatigued or stressed.
5. Adaptogens Can Help You Sleep Better
Adaptogens have calming and relaxing effects on our minds and body, which could improve the quality of our sleep. That’s important because sleep is vital for muscle repair, muscle growth, hormone regulation, mental health, and immune function.
Many adaptogens can help improve your sleep. For example, valerian root and Rhodiola rosea have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation and mood, which is vital for a good night’s sleep. Ashwagandha could also improve sleep, especially in people who have insomnia.
How to Use Adaptogens for Athletic Performance?
If you want to use adaptogens for athletic performance, you need to consider several things.
First, you want to see what benefits you want to experience and which adaptogens can help you. After all, there are many different adaptogens with unique properties and potentials.
Once you choose the right adaptogens, you should consider the form to take them. Some people take daily capsules, while others use powder form, drinks, or drops. Many athletes have also started taking a daily wellness shot, which typically combines several adaptogens and other substances like nootropics and superfoods. This is a great way to optimize health and ensure better athletic performance.
Lastly, you need to consider timing, dosage, and how to incorporate adaptogens in your daily routine for the most benefits. You should consult your healthcare provider beforehand if you have any underlying conditions or are taking medications.
Adaptogens are herbs, roots, and fungi that help our bodies maintain homeostasis.
Incorporating adaptogens into your diet could help improve athletic performance by counteracting the effects of stress, promoting energy and endurance, boosting recovery, improving focus, reducing muscle damage, and supporting your overall well-being.
Adaptogens are available as capsules, powder, extracts, drinks, or wellness shots. That makes it easy to incorporate them into your daily routine and experience all the benefits.
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