Mushrooms for Muscle Growth
It’s no big secret that adequate nutrition is essential for building muscle effectively and efficiently over the long term. Ample amounts of vegetables, dairy, eggs, and either meat-based or soy-based protein are standard items on any bodybuilder’s meal plan.
But what about mushrooms?
It might surprise you to hear, but mushrooms actually offer plenty of (largely untapped) muscle-growing potential.
The unique properties of mushrooms are only now beginning to be appreciated by a significant portion of the fitness community. About time, we say.
Let’s take a good look at the amazing benefits of mushrooms for muscle growth and how you can incorporate them into your existing regimen.
Mushrooms for Building Muscle Benefits
Mushrooms are distinct from both plants and animals, and this is reflected in their nutritional value and their effects on our metabolism. For building muscle and strength, they offer benefits that other food groups often lack.
Below, you’ll find an overview of the various key strengths unique to mushrooms that can be an immense advantage when using them to add muscle mass.
Improves Cardio Capacity
Many types of mushrooms, popular as athletic supplements, including the cordyceps and reishi, are capable of increasing oxygen uptake in the blood. This ultimately results in increased cardiovascular capacity and improved endurance.
Following from that, it has been shown that athletes who regularly consume mushroom-based performance supplements can last through more sets than those who do not.
Being able to work out at a higher volume without compromising form means higher chances of hypertrophy. Ultimately, this leads to faster results in terms of muscle gain.
If you do a lot of cardio work, you’re also going to be interested in the endurance-boosting capabilities of mushrooms. By feeding more oxygen to the lungs, mushrooms can actually expand our VO2Max, thereby extending the amount of time it takes for us to reach our cardiovascular limit.
In practice, this means faster laps by being able to push yourself harder for longer – and also, yet again, increased muscle hypertrophy leading to higher gains over time.
Cordyceps and some other mushroom species can actually stimulate testosterone production, as recent studies have shown.
This is the reason why these mushrooms were known in a lot of ancient cultures as natural aphrodisiacs and vitality enhancers for men – but in the gym, an extra shot of testosterone also goes a long way toward improving your chances of solid, long-term muscle growth.
Cellular Energy Production
Mushrooms can encourage increased production of ATP. This compound, whose name stands for adenosine triphosphate, is our body’s main internal energy storage unit.
Anywhere that the body requires energy to keep functioning – which is to say, everywhere, all the time – ATP is released in order to provide that energy.
More ATP means more energy, especially in the short term. That, in turn, encourages the recipient cells to grow stronger and increase their own energy capacity.
In other words, more adenosine means more energy going straight to your muscles as they are being taxed, which stimulates cell growth.
Natural Energy Booster
Many mushrooms can boost your metabolism, increasing your energy levels and making you feel more awake and alert. However, compared to caffeine, mushrooms achieve this effect through a different chemical process.
This means that, while your ability to stay on your feet and keep focus will be noticeably improved, you will not get any of the jitteriness or shakiness that many experience from coffee. Your sleep cycles are also much less likely to be affected by taking mushrooms.
We all know the adage: gains aren’t made in the gym, but in bed! As annoying as it is to hear, it’s still true, backed by mountains upon mountains of research.
The single most important aspect of any muscle-building exercise regimen is recovery. Without a solid, healthy recovery routine, you won’t get any gains!
Amazingly, mushrooms can support you there, too. By lowering inflammation and reducing muscle fatigue, mushrooms can shorten recovery periods and make muscle growth during your off period more efficient.
They also contain some essential ingredients which can lower cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Lower stress levels further improve the quality of your recovery.
Micronutrients in Mushrooms
Most edible mushrooms are incredibly rich in both macro and micronutrients. They’re great sources of protein, much more so than almost all plant-based foods, and are also incredibly rich in antioxidants.
Despite that, mushrooms tend to be fairly low in calories per gram, so you can safely add them to your existing diet plan without having to rethink your caloric intake goals.
This essential micronutrient is found in abundance in many different species of mushrooms. You might know it better as vitamin B2. It is crucial to the proper functioning of the immune system while also regulating cell growth and internal energy levels.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, is similarly present in large amounts in mushrooms, making them one of the best organic sources of this essential compound. Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease and complications such as plaque buildup or clogged arteries.
Copper is one of a group of essential minerals that our bodies require, for example to maintain the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Low levels of copper are linked to poor mental development and compromised immunity, as well as low energy and fatigue.
While most red meats, nuts, and seeds do contain ample amounts of copper, mushrooms are one of the sources of this mineral that many don’t know about. In fact, some mushrooms contain more copper than almost any other food source!
Cordyceps Muscle Growth
Of all the various species of fungi used by athletes around the world as performance supplements, the cordyceps mushroom is one of the most famous and well-studied.
A parasitic mushroom, the cordyceps’ life cycle consists of attaching itself to the larvae of insects, infecting their nervous systems and other internal tissue.
Eventually, the mushroom’s fruiting body will literally break and grow out of the host’s body, and the resulting stem-like protrusion is what the fungus uses to release spores and propagate.
Dried, cured cordyceps has been used for medicinal and dietary reasons as far back as in Ancient China circa 1,500 B.C.
It is an excellent endurance booster, capable of greatly increasing VO2Max, while also providing lots of essential antioxidants and ensuring positive long-term muscle growth thanks to its incredibly high levels of protein and various micronutrients. This makes it an amazing mushroom for muscle growth.
Reishi Mushroom Muscle Growth
Reishi is one of the more distinctive-looking mushrooms out there: its body, which is shaped like a mostly flat, red-brown disc usually found growing out of tree barks, is easy to recognize and hard to misidentify.
What’s more, the reishi mushroom grows in most temperate climates around the world, making it common and relatively easy to procure. As a performance supplement, reishi is a wonderful companion both during your workouts as well as recovery.
Reishi is an immunomodulator and is capable of lowering the risk of infections by bolstering your immune response and encouraging the healthy replenishment and growth of fresh cells. This also helps fight against existing bacterial or viral infections, as well as tumors and even cancers.
Furthermore, reishi improves the cardiovascular system's functioning and reduces fatigue symptoms, particularly useful for endurance training.
Lion's Mane for Muscle Growth
Lion’s mane mushrooms are known for their mostly white bodies with thick, fur-like webs of appendages known as teeth. Sometimes called the “Mushroom of Wisdom”, Lion’s Mane supports our nervous system in a variety of ways.
It can improve memory functioning and reduce brain fog, but where Lion’s Mane really shines in its application as a workout supplement is in its ability to provide razor-sharp focus.
Increased mental concentration has been shown to improve exercise performance. This is because a sharper mind can more easily compensate for micro-deviations in form. And as we all know, five sets done at perfect form are infinitely more effective in promoting muscle growth than twenty sets done at mediocre form.