One of the most common questions I’m asked by clients is ‘how do I improve my performance in the gym?’ and as an online transformation coach, my answer can be different to that of many others.
With so many pre-workouts and stimulants on the market, it’s easy to get sold into supplements that are built on clever marketing and empty promises. Enhancing performance in the gym for me, is really about improving your lifestyle factors like sleep and nutrition, as well as prioritising recovery. That being said, relying on supplementation in partnership with these things is an excellent way to increase motivation and energy levels – so that your goals can be hit more effortlessly.
There are many supplements you should be prioritising as part of your health protocol, and for me, these are generally protein, creatine and good old caffeine for optimum vitality. However, there is one thing that is arising quickly in the health industry that has piqued my interest, which is the health benefits of mushrooms. It’s a concept that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
There are many mushroom blends out there which claim to have different purposes and different benefits. Lion’s mane for brain health, reishi for stress relief, turkey tail for gut health – the list goes on. But when it comes to performance in the gym, cordyceps mushrooms are most reached for because they’re mostly known for being the energy boosters of the mushroom family.
Cordyceps are interesting in that they typically grow out of the body of an insect over weeks or even months at a time – usually resulting in the mushroom growing out of the head of the host insect. Crazy. Thankfully, cordyceps can also be grown in a controlled environment with no insect impact, which is my personal preference. But if you’re going to go lab-grown, make sure you check the label, because it needs to be made from high quality, pure and safe materials. I’ve used brands like TAKe Bio Actives, because they only use certified organic ingredients.
There are some reasons why cordyceps mushrooms might be for you when looking to tick your next health or fitness goal:
Cordyceps mushrooms are believed to have the potential to improve athletic performance by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body. ATP is the main source of energy for cells, and it is essential for providing the energy needed for muscle contractions and other physiological processes.
Cordyceps mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, which are substances that can help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and when they interact with other molecules in the body, they can cause damage to cells and tissues, leading to a variety of health problems. When I’m working with a client, consuming a diet that is high in antioxidants (like in fruits and vegetables) is important to neutralise free radicals and prevent them from causing damage to the body and slow down the ageing process.
Being sick is going to hurt or halt whatever fitness or health goal that you have, so boosting your immune system is vital. Cordyceps mushrooms are believed to have immune-boosting properties, and many people believe that these mushrooms can help to support the immune system and protect the body from infections and diseases.
My take on it? Increasing performance in the gym with mushrooms needs a little more research, but in saying that, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it can increase energy with very little side effects or risks. Why not – the risk vs potential reward is worth it.