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Can Cordyceps Help with Weight Loss?


We all know that consistent exercise and a balanced diet are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. But finding the time and energy to eat right and exercise daily can be difficult, and this is why many recommend using natural supplements to help us achieve our weight loss and maintenance goals.

This is where cordyceps, AKA cordyceps militaris come into play, a mushroom that is found in unforgiving environments in the wild and is now often commercially farmed for its adaptogenic benefits.

Adaptogens like cordyceps are believed to have certain weight loss benefits, which is what we’re going to explore today. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cordyceps militaris aids in weight loss by preventing fat cell creation through a compound called cordycepin, reducing the buildup of fatty tissue.
  • These mushrooms enhance gut health and metabolic efficiency by increasing beneficial gut bacteria, thereby improving nutrient absorption and calorie burning.
  • Cordyceps offer additional health advantages such as anti-aging, improved physical performance, blood sugar control, and anti-inflammatory effects, showcasing their wide-ranging therapeutic potential.


Facts About Cordyceps Militaris

Cordyceps militaris is also known as the “caterpillar fungus” due to its origin, as it is found naturally on caterpillars in the high mountain regions of China.

These mushrooms seem to like heights as they require a minimum altitude of 1,500 meters to thrive. This is why searching for these functional fungi can be difficult and expensive, as its habitat is incredibly limited.

The most potent type of cordyceps is harvested during the last days of summer. In fact, in China, where people have been using cordyceps as medicine for centuries, this fungus is called "dong chong xia cao" which literally means "winter insect and summer grass," a name that perfectly describes how this curious species of fungus occurs.


How Do Cordyceps Aid Weight Loss?

While cordyceps may primarily be known as an adaptogen that helps people with stress, they also have great weight management benefits. There are various ways in which these seemingly simple mushrooms are believed to help you lose weight and keep it off for good, so let’s find out how this is the case.

Cordyceps Reduce Fat Deposition

One of the main components contained in cordyceps is cordycepin, and it has a great influence on adipogenesis, which is the process of fat cell creation and deposition in the human body.

Specifically, adipogenesis is defined as “the process by which fat-laden cells, that is, adipocytes, develop and accumulate as adipose tissue at various sites in the body, both as subcutaneous fat and as depots”.

Here is an interesting study performed on cordyceps which illustrates how the main component, cordycepin, is able to prevent adipogenesis from occurring. This study strongly indicates that cordycepin is able to prevent both adipogenesis and lipid accumulation from happening.

In layman’s terms, this means that not nearly as much of the food you eat ends up turning into fatty tissue that builds up on your body.

Cordyceps Help Regulate Gut Microbiota

Another way in which cordyceps may be able to assist with weight loss and weight management is by improving the health of your intestinal tract, specifically by increasing the amount of gut microbiota present.

Your gut microbiota is the system of microorganisms present in your gut or intestinal tract, which support healthy digestion, energy harvesting, and the immune system, among others.

According to recent studies, the compounds found in cordyceps can increase the abundance and levels of these microorganisms in the gut. Having a more abundant supply of these microorganisms in the digestive tract comes with its own array of benefits, with energy regulation and nutrient acquisition being the two most important ones on this front.

By changing the composition of the bacteria and other organisms in your gut, cordyceps may be able to help your body absorb more of the nutrients it needs to function properly (including for metabolic processes), while also allowing for the more efficient expulsion of waste. This brings us to our next point, cordyceps and your metabolism.

Cordyceps Can Help Boost Your Metabolic Rate

Yet another way in which cordyceps may help you lose weight is by boosting your metabolic rate. Yes, this is linked with the above point, which is because the state of your digestive tract is closely linked with your metabolic rate. In simplest terms, having a healthier gut microbiome and higher overall levels of gut bacteria can help to improve your metabolism or basal metabolic rate.

Your metabolism dictates how fast and how well your body absorbs calories and other nutrients, which it then turns into fuel. The faster your body converts calories into fuel, and the faster it uses them to support various bodily functions, the fewer of those calories are available to be converted into fat, which then gets disposed of on your body.

Although there is more research required on this front, particularly with human trials, it serves to reason that if cordyceps aid in healthy digestion, and if healthy digestion and nutrient absorption improve your BMR or basal metabolic rate, that cordyceps can therefore indirectly improve your metabolism.

The result here is that your body may end up burning more calories just to sustain itself, therefore aiding with your weight loss goals.

Cordyceps and Fat Oxidation

Speaking of your metabolism, a part of this has to do with the rate at which your body takes fats and breaks them down into smaller molecules, which your body can then use for energy, known as fat oxidation.

The more fat oxidation your body engages in, the faster it converts fats into energy. This has two main benefits, with one being that you’ll feel more energetic, and the other being that not nearly as much of the fat you ingest will be deposited on your body, thus aiding with weight loss efforts.

Studies indicate that cordyceps do in fact increase the rate of fat oxidation in the body, which should therefore help you keep the weight off.

Cordyceps Can Help Improve Overall Physical Performance

Another area in which cordyceps can be of assistance is with overall physical performance. This is because cordyceps could increase the production of ATP or adenosine triphosphate, an essential molecule to deliver energy to the muscles.

To be specific, when you exercise, your body pulls more oxygen into the bloodstream to feed the muscles. That oxygen then converts glucose to ATP, with ATP being essential for protein synthesis and muscle contraction, thus aiding in physical performance. The more ATP you have in your system, the better your physical performance should be. 

In fact, there is evidence to suggest that cordyceps supplementation could increase VO2 max by 7% to 11%. VO2 Max is a measure of how efficiently your body uses oxygen, so in theory, if cordyceps increase your VO2 max, they in turn would increase oxygen delivery to the muscles, thus increasing ATP levels, and ultimately, improving physical performance.

In terms of weight loss benefits, if you are better able to perform physically, it means that not only can you increase the intensity of your physical output, but the duration too. The longer and harder you work out or physically expend yourself, the more calories you burn, and ultimately, the more weight you lose.

Cordyceps and Blood Sugar Regulation

In various studies conducted on diabetic mice, cordyceps proved to lower blood sugar. This evidence suggests that these functional mushrooms could be a helpful tool in treating type 2 diabetes. This is in part because cordyceps appear to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range by mimicking the mechanism of action of insulin. 

The human body requires certain levels of insulin to break down sugars in the blood, mainly glucose. Diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, which means that the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or use it properly, to effectively decrease blood sugar to tolerable levels. 

Blood sugar control is important for those suffering from diabetes, and in general. Hyperglycemia, a condition characterized by high blood sugar, can lead to kidney, nerve, and eye issues, which may prove to be fatal if left untreated. 

Further evidence also suggests that cordyceps, specifically the cordycepin found in them, helps to keep blood sugar levels in check by affecting human gut flora and microbes in such a way that the body can more effectively metabolize glucose. As far as weight loss is concerned, this is very important.

The reason for this is very simple, because all of the glucose in your system that is not properly broken down and turned into energy is stored in your tissues as fat.

Therefore, if cordyceps help your body regulate blood sugar and turn glucose into energy, they therefore aid with weight loss because they prevent excess glucose from turning into fat.

Cordyceps, Hunger Hormones, and Satiety

Although there is much more research required on this front, it is thought that the main constituents of cordyceps may also help to decrease the levels of hunger hormones that the body produces, specifically ghrelin.

This is a hormone that makes you feel hungry. It tells your body that you need food, and the more of it you have in your system, the hungrier you feel.

If cordyceps can indeed decrease ghrelin levels, then the result is that you’ll feel less hungry on a consistent basis, leading to decreased food intake, and ultimately to weight loss.

Other Health Benefits of Cordyceps

Besides maintaining a healthy weight and getting there in the first place, cordyceps also have many other potential health benefits, so let’s take a look at the biggest ones.

Anti-aging Properties

One of the most commonly sought-after benefits of cordyceps has to do with their potential to slow down symptoms of age-related decline, particularly mental or cognitive decline. 

There is evidence that cordyceps possess antioxidant qualities, and this is one of the main characteristics that contribute to the anti-aging qualities of these mushrooms.

Another study showed that cordyceps increased antioxidants in mice, improving their memory and other aspects of cognitive performance, such as learning ability and creativity.

Further research demonstrates how cordyceps may have neuroprotective properties, which means that they can potentially stop the death of neurons in the brain, while also contributing to the faster and increased growth of new neurons, ultimately slowing down symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.

On that note, cordyceps also show potential to protect the nervous system, particularly from oxidative stress

Consequently, there could be an increase in mental clarity and creative power, which means that cordyceps could help to promote focus, although more studies are needed to confirm this potential.

What is certain is that the antioxidant qualities that cordyceps feature contain several benefits, with cognitive benefits being just some of them.

May Improve Kidney Function

review of 22 studies suggests that cordyceps may improve kidney function. One of the active ingredients in cordyceps, cordycepin, is shown to have beneficial effects on people suffering from kidney disease. 

Although the literature is extremely dense and scientific, the main takeaway is that cordyceps may be able to slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease by reducing levels of urinal protein, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. 

Not only do cordyceps show promise in terms of improving overall kidney function, but may actually assist those already suffering from kidney disease. 

Heart Health Benefits

2012 study suggests that cordyceps may have cardioprotective properties related to cordyceps' high adenosine content, specifically related to the antioxidant effects it has. Furthermore, adenosine is also important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and a healthy heart rate.  

In fact, a 2014 animal study showed that cordyceps could reduce cardiac injury in rats with chronic kidney disease, which could reduce the chance of heart failure.

In addition to this, another animal study showed that cordyceps could help regulate LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.

However, it doesn’t end with just animal studies, because here we have a human study where over 1,800 patients were studied, and it was shown that cordyceps helped to improve symptoms of heart arrhythmia. 

May Reduce Inflammation

Some researchers believe that cordyceps may be effective as an anti-inflammatory as it has the ability to suppress some proteins that increase inflammation in the body. 

In addition, an animal study showed that cordyceps could reduce inflammation in the airways, while a different study suggested that it could also serve as a topical anti-inflammatory, to reduce inflammation associated with skin conditions and even arthritis.

It is important to note that most studies on the potential therapeutic benefits of cordyceps are limited to laboratory and animal studies. Therefore, we still need more research that fully corroborates the possible benefits that cordyceps could bring to human health.

With that being said, the anti-inflammatory potential of cordyceps should not be ignored, as anti-inflammatories are vital for a number of bodily functions, including, but not limited to blood pressure regulation, cognitive function, and various types of chronic inflammation. 

Cordyceps Militaris and T-Cells

T-cells or T lymphocytes are a type of leukocyte or white blood cell and an essential part of the immune system. T cells and B cells are the two main types of lymphocytes, and these determine the type of immune response to foreign substances or antigens in the body.

Different studies suggest that Cordyceps contains substances that stimulate "T cells" in the immune system. This data indicates that many of the benefits claimed for cordyceps may not be too far off the mark.

By stimulating T cells, cordyceps may promote healthy liver function, and some of the biochemical compounds in cordyceps may treat erectile dysfunction. Directly related to this, here we have a study performed in mice that indicates that cordyceps can help alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and this shows great potential for human application. 

All this data suggests that cordyceps could be good for boosting the immune system, improving kidney and liver function, and even treating impotence, one of the uses of these functional mushrooms, which have been so popular for centuries.


Possible Side Effects from Cordyceps

Although there are no studies yet to determine the safety of cordyceps supplementation in humans, the long history of use of these functional mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine suggests that they are non-toxic and, therefore, safe for human consumption.

The possible side effects that some users may experience can range from stomach discomfort to nausea in case of consuming excessive doses and, in some cases, dry mouth.

Other than these adverse effects, cordyceps is considered generally safe by many experts, practitioners of complementary or alternative systems of medicine, and even governments. In fact, the Chinese government recognizes Cordyceps CS-4 as a safe, natural drug and has even approved its use in hospitals.

Dosage and Preparation

Official research on the use of cordyceps in humans is so limited that science still needs more specific studies to determine the ideal dose of cordyceps for each purpose.

The most common dose used in human studies is 1 to 3 grams daily. This dose doesn't seem to have a link to any adverse effects and may provide some of the health benefits of cordyceps. As for the preparation, it all depends on the type of cordyceps supplement you decide to take.

Cordyceps extract usually comes in capsules or in powder form, but you can also find whole cordyceps fruit bodies. There are cordyceps extracts that come in ready-to-take “00” capsules, usually dosed with 400 mg of cordyceps powder.

On the other hand, you can easily take cordyceps powder by diluting it in some liquid and taking it, always trying to stay in the range of 1 to 3 grams per day. You can add your cordyceps powder to your morning coffee or to just about any food or drink since it's so easy to mix and its taste is virtually undetectable.

If you prefer Cordyceps fruit bodies, you could take them in tea, using six to eight Cordyceps fruit bodies in 200-250 ml of drinking water. To make your cordyceps tea, simply keep the cordyceps bodies boiling in water for 1 minute.

After a minute of boiling, turn the flame to the lowest setting, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for another 14-15 minutes and you'll have your cordyceps tea ready to drink.

How Much Cordyceps to Take Daily?

The moderate dose of cordyceps that most experts recommend is 2,000 mg or 2 g.

Some experts recommend doubling this dose in the first couple of weeks as, like many functional mushrooms, the organic compounds in cordyceps need to be built up in the body for you to start noticing changes or benefits.

Regular doses of cordyceps for adults range from 3g to 6g per day, with 6g being a high dose. Most studies and existing information suggest that the ideal range of effectiveness without adverse effects is 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day for up to 1 year.

There are no current studies yet showing the effects of the long-term use of cordyceps beyond this time.

Final Thoughts on Cordyceps and Weight Loss

The evidence discussed today is a clear indication that cordyceps have many potential health benefits besides weight loss and weight maintenance alone.

If you’re looking to reap all of the potential benefits that cordyceps have to offer, check out TUNE IN, a fantastic supplement made with cordyceps and plenty of other beneficial ingredients, with lion’s mane, ashwagandha, and alpha GPC being just some of them! It’s a great way to give you a mental and physical boost!

If you want to harness the power of cordyceps, combined with other energy-boosting ingredients like ashwagandha, lions main, and a whole host of vitamins, superfoods, and nootropics, check out TUNE IN from VYU. A fast-acting mental performance drink for all-day focus and energy.

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