How Cordyceps Mushrooms Affect Exercise, Stamina, and Performance

 

I’ve loved mushrooms since I was a little kiddo.

Foraging for mushrooms with my mother and brother.

Studying nutrition and chemistry in college to learn more about the science of ‘shrooms.

Winning a college innovation contest by discovering a new type of mushroom in Finland.

But then during marathon training, I decided to give cordyceps a try. And of course, I started with eight times the suggested amount.

Man did I fly! And with that I was 100 percent hooked. It was cordyceps that really started my journey to become fungi’s #1 fan and top spokesperson.

So why are cordyceps so good for exercise?

Cordyceps Mushroom and Blood Oxygen

How the Cordyceps Mushroom Affects Exercise and Performance

Cordyceps are used in traditional Chinese medicine to increase the production of red blood cells, as well as to fight fatigue. We now know that cordyceps help to deliver oxygen to your cells[*].

Cordyceps Mushroom and ATP

ATP is your body’s main energy supply and is required for all cellular processes. It’s basically your batteries. Cordyceps can increase the ATP levels in your body, and thereby may increase your energy[*].

Cordyceps Mushroom and Exercise Performance

By supporting oxygen delivery and energy production, cordyceps help to support athletic performance. As a bonus, cordyceps have been studied for their strong antioxidant properties[*].

Preliminary research on the mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris suggests they help:

  • Increase resistance to muscle fatigue[*][*]
  • Improve cardiovascular response[*]
  • Improve VO2Max[*]

Consistent, chronic supplementation is key[*].

How the Cordyceps Mushroom Affects Stamina and Performance

Cordyceps Mushroom as an Adaptogen

Like reishi, cordyceps has adaptogenic properties. As an athlete, it’s critical to help your body adapt to stress. Cordyceps can help to balance out your body. Adaptogens have a nonspecific effect on your body. They are considered to be generally safe, non-toxic, and non-habit forming.

Should I Have Cordyceps Before or After a Workout?

Either or both!

  • Before: Cordyceps supports energy and stamina, so it’s a great addition to your pre-workout routine.
  • After: Cordyceps is also an adaptogen, so it helps your body to adapt to any extra stress your workout is adding to your day. In this way it can help support recovery.

We make it easy for you by offering many different cordyceps products:

Pre-Workout Cordyceps Coffee Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Mix the packet of Mushroom Coffee and oil into the hot water and sip 1 hour before your endurance exercise.

Post-Workout Cordyceps Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Mushroom Elixir with Cordyceps
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut or almond butter
  • 1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy after your workout.

How the Cordyceps Mushroom Affects Exercise

Fun Facts About the History of Cordyceps

Before Written History: Cordyceps was first discovered by yak herders in the Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet. After eating cordyceps their animals became significantly more frolicky and frisky.

AD 620: First known record of cordyceps in Chinese herbal medicine.

1993: The women’s track team from China breaks world records the National Games in Beijing.

9: World records broken by Chinese track team, credited to cordyceps

10: Wild cordyceps gathered daily by the average Himalayan harvester

4: The amount of its weight in silver that cordyceps once cost

$20,000–$50,000: The cost in USD for a pound of wild cordyceps today

680: Discovered varieties of cordyceps throughout the world

Are Cordyceps Vegan?

Many people have watched a nature documentary about “zombie fungus.” It’s true that in the wild, cordyceps grow out of the mummified carcass of insect larvae, usually caterpillars. 🐛 (You may have even heard them called “caterpillar fungus.”)

Harvesting these wild cordyceps in Asia is extremely challenging and prohibitively expensive. They’ll run you about $20,000 for a pound.

Almost all cordyceps you’ll buy in North America is vegan. At Four Sigmatic, we use the extracted fruit body of Cordyceps militaris in Mushroom Coffee, Mushroom Hot Cacao, and Cordyceps Elixir. It’s as potent as the wild variety and definitely suitable for vegans[*].

In the 10 Mushroom Blend and Adaptogen Blend we use the cordyceps mycelium extract of C. sinensis (cordyceps Cs-4). This is also suitable for vegans.

How Did Cordyceps Get Its Name?

Cordyceps comes from the Latin words kordyle and ceps meaning “club” and “head.” Militaris got its name from its growth pattern resembling little toy soldiers. Sinensis means “from China.”

Ask a Professional About Adding Cordyceps to Your Diet

So now the secret is out: Cordyceps is my secret ingredient for performing athletically. Of course, cordyceps aren’t the only nutrition powerhouse in an athlete’s diet. But they can be a fantastic addition to it.

If you’re ready to add cordyceps to your exercise routine, be sure to talk to a sports dietitian, herbalist, or other health care professional about what dose per day would be best for you.

If you want to learn more about cordyceps, be sure to sign up for our Mushroom Academy! And if you’re looking for more foods to eat for endurance, read this post.

 

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