Cordyceps mushrooms are a type of fungus that grow on caterpillars and other insects.
Yes, you read that right. This mushroom grows on insects.
Like some sort of alien from outer space, this particular fungus starts by colonizing the host's body. Then, it spreads through the host's internal organs consuming it in the process. As the fungus grows and matures, it forms a stalk-like structure that emerges from the host's body, releasing spores to infect other insects.
So can this seemingly out-of-this-world mushroom improve your athletic performance? And is it worth it to add a bit of cordyceps to your pre-workout? What about commercial pre-workout products with cordyceps added?
If these are all questions you're pondering, you've come to the right place.
Let's dive into what you need to know about cordyceps as a pre-workout.
First, some basics:
What are cordyceps?
Cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to improve energy, stamina, and overall health. They contain compounds such as cordycepin, cordycepic acid, and polysaccharides, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.
They are also known to improve athletic performance, increase sex drive, and improve lung function. However, more scientific research is needed to fully understand the effects and safety of cordyceps mushrooms.
Head over to our guide to learn more about the possible benefits of cordyceps.
Now, you may see some brands referring to cordyceps with "sinensis" added to the end. Here's what you need to know about that.
How can cordyceps help with athletic performance?
Cordyceps mushrooms have been traditionally used to improve athletic performance, and some studies have suggested that they may have beneficial effects in this regard. Cordyceps contain compounds such as cordycepin, cordycepic acid, and polysaccharides, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties, which can help to improve athletic performance.
Some studies have found that cordyceps may improve endurance and reduce fatigue during exercise.
- Human study: 20 healthy older adults, (50-75 years of age) were given 999mg (about 1g) of CS-4, a synthetic form of cordyceps sinensis for 12 weeks. It revealed that improves exercise performance and could aid in better overall health.
- Human study: Cordyceps may also improve lung function, which is important for endurance athletes, as better lung function can help to increase oxygen uptake. Some studies have found that taking cordyceps supplements may lead to a significant improvement in lung function. 37 healthy older adults, were given 3g of CS-4 per day over 6 weeks, VO2 max increased significantly, and supported the belief “that Cs-4 could improve oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity.
- Human study: 22 male cyclists were given 3g of CS-4 daily for 5 weeks. This study reported that there was “no effect on aerobic capacity or endurance exercise performance in endurance-trained male cyclists.”
- Human study: 28 young adults, (18-35 years of age) were given a blend of cordyceps militaris and the results reported that it may improve tolerance to high intensity exercise.
It's important to note that most of the studies on cordyceps and athletic performance have been done on small groups of people, so more research is needed to confirm these findings.
And not all research on cordyceps has been conclusive about exercise performance.
Also, Cordyceps may interact with some medications and it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement.
Is cordyceps safe? What medications does it interact with?
Cordyceps mushrooms have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine, and while they are considered safe for most people, there is still limited research on their potential interactions with medications.
- Cordyceps may interact with medications that are metabolized by the liver. These include some blood thinners, such as warfarin, and some antidepressants, such as fluoxetine.
- Cordyceps may also interact with medications that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.
- Cordyceps may also interact with blood glucose-lowering medications, such as metformin, by decreasing blood glucose levels. This could lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in some people.
- Cordyceps may also interact with drugs that affect blood pressure, so people taking blood pressure medication should consult with their healthcare professional before taking cordyceps supplements.
It's important to note that this is not a comprehensive list of cordyceps side effects, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential interactions between cordyceps and medications.
It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement, especially if you are taking any medication.
Can you add cordyceps to your own preworkout drink?
Yes! In fact, buying a cordyceps supplement in a powder, tincture, or capsule format may actually save you some money. The benefit to adding cordyceps yourself is that you can carefully choose your cordyceps product and measure it out yourself.
There are a few ways you can add cordyceps to your regular pre-workout drink:
- Add tincture: This is the easiest way to add cordyceps as the tincture is dual-extracted and already in liquid form. Measure the appropriate dosage according to your package instructions, add it to your beverage, and mix.
- Add powder: If your pre-workout is already in powder format, this is an easy way for you to add cordyceps powder. Measure the appropriate dosage according to your package instructions, add it to your beverage, and mix vigorously to make sure your cordyceps powder is well-integrated. Look for a dual extract powder using 100% fruiting body.
- Take a cordyceps capsule: Instead of mixing cordyceps in with your pre-workout, use your pre-workout drink to take a cordyceps capsule. Capsules are pre-measured and easy to take on the go.
If you're looking to add cordyceps to your pre-workout drink, we really love FreshCap's brand.
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What to know about cordyceps and rhodiola preworkout
Rhodiola and cordyceps are sometimes combined in pre-workout supplements as they are believed to work synergistically to enhance athletic performance.
Rhodiola rosea, also known simply as Rhodiola, is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It has been traditionally used in folk medicine to improve energy, reduce fatigue, and improve mental function. It's considered an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress.
Rhodiola contains compounds such as rosavins, salidroside, and tyrosol which are believed to be responsible for its effects on the body. These compounds have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties. Additionally, Rhodiola may help to reduce the perceived level of exertion during exercise, and may improve endurance and reduce fatigue.
There are some studies that suggest that cordyceps and Rhodiola may have beneficial effects when combined for pre-workout supplement.
A study in 36 healthy adults found that taking a combination of 3 grams of cordyceps and 200 mg of rhodiola per day for 12 weeks led to a significant increase in maximal oxygen uptake and a significant decrease in fatigue during exercise.
Additionally, Rhodiola may help to reduce the perceived level of exertion during exercise.
However, it's important to note that most studies on cordyceps and Rhodiola are small and more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Also, Cordyceps and Rhodiola may interact with some medications and it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement.
Additionally, make sure to check the quality and dosage of the supplement you're taking, specially if it's a combination of cordyceps and Rhodiola.
When is the best time to take a cordyceps preworkout drink?
The best time to take a cordyceps pre-workout drink will depend on the specific product and the individual. Generally speaking, it's recommended to take supplements such as cordyceps about 30 minutes to an hour before exercising to allow enough time for the body to absorb the nutrients.
It's important to check the label of the specific cordyceps product you're using to see if it includes any timing recommendations. It's also recommended to follow the recommended dosage on the label or as advised by a healthcare professional.
It's also important to note that taking cordyceps alone may not be sufficient to improve athletic performance. A balanced diet, adequate hydration, regular exercise routine, and adequate sleep are all important factors in maintaining good physical fitness. Additionally, make sure to check the quality and dosage of the cordyceps supplement you're taking, specially if it's part of a pre-workout drink.
Should I consider cordyceps coffee instead of cordyceps preworkout?
Cordyceps coffee and cordyceps pre-workout supplements are two different products that can be used for different purposes.
Cordyceps coffee is a type of coffee that is infused with cordyceps mushrooms. It is typically made by adding ground cordyceps mushrooms to coffee beans before brewing. Some people consume cordyceps coffee as a way to improve energy, endurance, and overall health.
However, it's important to note that the effects of cordyceps coffee on athletic performance have not been well-studied, and more research is needed to confirm any potential benefits.
Cordyceps pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, are specifically formulated to be taken before exercising to improve athletic performance. They typically come in the form of capsules, powders, or teas, and contain higher concentrations of cordyceps mushrooms than cordyceps coffee.
It's important to note that cordyceps coffee may have a lower dose of cordyceps than pre-workout supplements, and the effects may be different. Additionally, cordyceps coffee may have a different taste and texture than regular coffee, and some people may not like it.
Head on over to our blog if you want to learn more about cordyceps coffee.
It's always best to check the recommended dosage and quality of cordyceps in both products before consumption.
Did you know? Cordyceps isn't the only powerful mushroom preworkout. Learn more about lion's mane as a preworkout supplement in our guide.
How much cordyceps should I take in my preworkout?
The best dosage of cordyceps for pre-workout will depend on the individual and the specific product. It's important to check the label of the cordyceps supplement you're using to see if it includes any dosage recommendations.
Most studies on cordyceps and athletic performance have used dosages of 3 grams per day. For example, a study in 30 healthy adults found that taking 3 grams of cordyceps per day for 12 weeks led to a significant increase in maximal oxygen uptake and a significant decrease in fatigue during exercise.
Another study in 30 healthy men found that taking 3 grams of cordyceps per day for 6 weeks led to a significant improvement in endurance capacity during exercise.
However, it's important to note that these studies were conducted on small groups of people, and more research is needed to confirm these findings.
3 grams is a relatively high dose for daily use.
For daily use, you may find that 500-1,000 mg is sufficient enough.
In general, it's always best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it to the recommended dosage. Also, it's recommended to take cordyceps supplements at least 30 minutes to an hour before exercising to allow enough time for the body to absorb the nutrients.
Cordyceps militaris vs cordyceps sinensis - which type is in your workout supplement?
There are over 750 different species of cordyceps that grow all over the world, which are categorized into a variety of families with varying names. From the colorful cordyceps militaris to the dark and tough ophiocordycipitaceae, there are hundreds of genuses that make up this fascinating mushroom.
But when it comes to the cordyceps in the tincture, powder, capsule, coffee, or pre-workout brand you're buying online, it's most likely cordyceps sinensis.
Cordyceps sinensis is lab-grown cordyceps.
Natural cordyceps (like cordyceps militaris) mushrooms are those that are found growing wild in nature, typically on the bodies of insects. Wild cordyceps sinensis thrives in the harsh and difficult-to-navigate environments of Tibet, India, Nepal, China, and Bhutan. They are relatively rare and can be quite expensive. We're talking potentially thousands of dollars here.
On the other hand, lab-grown cordyceps mushrooms are produced by cultivating the fungus in a controlled environment, like a lab. These mushrooms are usually called "cordyceps sinensis" on your package label. Lab-grown cordyceps can be grown using the same strains of the fungus as the wild mushrooms, but can be produced in larger quantities and at a lower cost.
This makes it easy to pass some of the same cordyceps benefits on to you without traveling to harsh environments to crawl the ground for dead insects.
Does it matter what kind of cordyceps is in my preworkout?
The main difference between natural cordyceps and lab-grown cordyceps is the environment in which they are grown. Natural cordyceps mushrooms grow in the wild and are subject to the conditions and variations of the environment. Lab-grown cordyceps mushrooms are produced in a controlled environment and are grown under specific conditions, which allows for greater consistency in the final product.
Another difference is that natural cordyceps may contain different types of compounds or different amounts of compounds when compared to the lab-grown cordyceps. Some people believe that wild mushrooms are more potent and more effective.
With that said, because of the controlled environment they're grown in, lab-grown cordyceps have been found to be less contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants than their wild counterparts.
What to look for in a commercial cordyceps product
It's also worth noting that not all lab-grown cordyceps are created equal! Some companies may use genetically modified strains or use chemical fertilizers. So it's important to check for certifications and labels to ensure the lab-grown cordyceps you're buying is organic, non-GMO, and produced under good manufacturing practices.
When looking for a commercial cordyceps supplement, it's important to consider the following factors:
Quality: Look for supplements that are manufactured in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified facility and that have been third-party tested for purity and potency. Companies that provide transparent third-party COA (certificate of analysis) which tests for heavy metals and other contaminants in your product.
- Dual extraction process: Look for a mushroom product that has undergone a dual-extraction process. This means the mushroom has been commercially extracted using hot water and alcohol. This makes the beneficial compounds, like beta-glucans and cordycepin, more bioavailable to your body. We have a complete guide to mushroom extraction if you want to learn more about this process.
Dosage: Check the recommended dosage on the label or as advised by a healthcare professional, and make sure to stick to it.
Ingredients: Make sure to check the ingredient list to ensure that the supplement only contains cordyceps mushroom and no other fillers or binders.
Certifications: Look for certifications such as USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, or certifications from other reputable organizations to ensure that the supplement has been grown and processed in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable manner.
Price: Compare prices from different brands to ensure that you're getting a good value for your money.
At Remeday, our trusted products have passed our rigorous requirements for quality, potency, transparency, and 3rd party lab testing. We only ever recommend products we've tried ourselves and would suggest to family and friends.
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Real Mushrooms Cordyceps Powder
Real Mushrooms is the real deal when it comes to potency, quality, extraction, transparency, and 3rd party lab testing. We've used this brand ourselves for years! Simply add a scoop of this powder to your current preworkout supplement for maximum benefit for a fraction of the cost of specialty mushroom preworkouts.
Here are some of our other top picks for cordyceps preworkout:
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