The cordyceps mushroom has long been a fan favorite of the alternative medicine and anti-aging crowd, but it has some significant advantages for athletes as well.
Indeed, research strongly suggests that cordyceps can in many ways improve our performance, both in and outside of the gym.
Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating fungus and find out just how you can boost your results and achieve better gains by incorporating the cordyceps into your diet!
Cordyceps Sinensis Price
The cordyceps mushroom is actually not one particular kind of fungus but a whole genus including hundreds of species! However, the most interesting dietary supplements are the cordyceps militaris and cordyceps sinensis variants.
When someone says “cordyceps,” what they are referring to is most likely just one of these two species. Compared to other non-edible varieties of cordyceps, they are actually quite rare.
In terms of price, cordyceps has enjoyed a bit of a craze over the past couple of decades. Especially from the early 2010s onwards, prices of raw cordyceps have increased dramatically.
While China produces a big chunk of the global cordyceps supply and imports are cheap enough, a pound of fresh cordyceps can still go for over $10,000! This makes the cordyceps one of the few mushrooms and one of the few herbal products in general that is currently worth more than its weight in gold.
However, there is still good news for us casual consumers: cordyceps sinensis supplements are fairly affordable if you buy smart. You shouldn’t need to spend more than $20 on a bottle of cordyceps supplement capsules or $30 to $40 on a bag of fresh cordyceps mycelium or spawn.
This is because most of the supplements out there are made from lab-grown mycelial cultures of cordyceps sinensis, or sometimes from synthetic militaris, not from the much, much more valuable raw cordyceps harvested in the wild.
Cordyceps Active Compounds
To understand exactly how cordyceps mushrooms affect and benefit us, we first need to grasp what cordyceps are made of.
The most important active compounds in cordyceps are beta-glucans, cordycepin, and Adenosine. These three are known for a long list of general health benefits.
Here are some of them:
- Beta-glucans boost the immune system, lower bad cholesterol levels and help prevent several types of heart disease.
- Cordycepin exhibits several strengths in fighting tumors and infections, which are considered indications in favor of its use as an alternative cancer treatment.
- Adenosine is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that helps circulation and promotes nervous system health.
Besides these powerful active compounds, cordyceps is also chock-full of vitamins, healthy minerals, and polysaccharides. For a mushroom, it’s surprisingly high in protein as well.
Benefits for Physical Performance
Now, here comes the main attraction. What exactly can cordyceps do to increase performance in daily exercise? The answer is actually “plenty,” so let’s take a detailed look.
Increased Energy and Fitness Levels
Because of cordyceps’ adenosine content, among other factors, the mushroom helps the body produce higher amounts of ATP, which is the primary unit used within the body for energy transport.
Higher ATP levels generally correlate to more blood flow and increased oxygen in the muscles, leading to a higher VO2 max.
In simpler terms, the cordyceps mushroom can effectively increase your endurance by extending the amount of time your muscles can spend in a state of maximum exertion before giving out.
Whether you’re training for endurance sports or trying to add some mass, a higher VO2 max should count as a good thing for just about any athlete.
Improves Sleep Cycles
Due in part to the cordycepin found in cordyceps, the fungus has the unique ability to increase the quality of non-REM sleep. The non-REM cycle is also called deep sleep, and it is where we get the most of our nighttime rest and the phase where muscle growth and regeneration takes place.
That gains aren’t made in the gym but might be an adage during your sleep, but it’s true.
Therefore, cordyceps’ abilities to improve sleep should particularly interest those who value healthy, consistent gains and quality rest.
Many cordyceps’ components, including its polysaccharides, minerals, and beta-glucans, are known as strong anti-oxidants.
Apart from promoting a healthy appearance and slowing down visible aging, these compounds also improve energy levels by increasing the production of hormones such as testosterone.
This aids in physical strength and improves mental clarity, memory, and sexual performance.
Improving Liver Bioenergetics
Cordyceps has been shown to work wonders not just on our gut biome but also on the bioenergetics of the liver. What this means is that not only are you at a lower risk of liver disease and certain cancers with cordyceps, but your overall immune system will equally benefit.
This is all down to the many polysaccharides present within the cordyceps mushroom.
These improve many immunological and metabolic functions in organs everywhere in the body. However, for most athletes, the detoxifying and strengthening effects on the liver will be the most important to note.
Dosage for Pre-Workout
Cordyceps does not have a known maximum dosage; in fact, its toxicity has yet to be definitively determined, so it’s not sure yet whether it is possible to overdose on cordyceps per se.
However, it’s most recommended to consume cordyceps at a dosage between 1 and 3 grams each day. This will not just be easier on your wallet but also ensure that this new addition to your diet doesn’t overtax your immune system.
Remember that, as with many other edible mushrooms, allergic reactions to cordyceps are incredibly rare but do happen! If you want to make sure, consult with your physician before starting a cordyceps supplement regimen.
Read on below if you want to try out cordyceps for yourself and see what it can do for your performance, whether in the gym or out in the field.
We’ve tried and compiled a list of excellent pre-workout recipes containing cordyceps that you can incorporate into your morning routine with ease and without many ingredients!
Simple Cordyceps Morning Boost
For minimalists, this easy-as-pie cordyceps recipe is enough to allow you to reap all of the mushroom’s many benefits for your health and performance while still being light on the wallet and easy to make in five minutes!
- 1 bottle of green kombucha, or alternatively green tea or coffee according to preference
- 1 scoop of fresh cordyceps extract, powdered
Prepare your kombucha, tea, or coffee as usual. Then, add the mushroom extract, and stir until it dissolves entirely. Done!
Iced Cordyceps Drink With Blueberry and Green Tea
This is an excellent option if you want something slightly more sophisticated but still simple enough to prepare by yourself early in the morning, then take a look at this yummy blueberry and green tea-based cordyceps drink!
- About 1 L (4 cups) of water
- 3 bags of green tea
- 1 to 2 cups of fresh blueberries
- ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice
- Fresh mint
- 1 scoop of cordyceps extract, powdered
- Optional: honey for added taste
First, wash your blueberries. Add them to a pot with the lemon juice, and bring to a boil. When completely liquid, strain the resulting mix into a glass bowl.
Next, bring the water to boil in a pot. Turn the heat off and insert your tea bags. Remove bags once the tea has sat long enough, according to your personal preference. If you want to use some honey (or a different kind of sweetener), add it now.
Add the blueberry mixture, stir, and pour everything into a large appropriate vessel, such as a carafe. When ready to drink, fill a cup with this mix and add the mushroom powder. Stir, and enjoy!
Cordyceps Apple Cider Vinegar Mix
This drink is a great option if you want to combine cordyceps with another superfood – apple cider vinegar. If you’re looking to crush your weight loss goals or beat bad cholesterol, this would be an excellent and enjoyable way to do it.
- 150 ml water (about ½ cup)
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
- 1 scoop cordyceps mushroom extract, powdered
Add all the ingredients one by one to a large glass, bowl, or bottle. Stir thoroughly until the honey and cordyceps powder have both dissolved. Enjoy!