Get the nutritional, performance, and recovery-enhancing benefits of functional mushrooms as part of your stimulant-free pre-workout and post-workout stack.
Mushrooms can be an effective stimulant-free pre-workout supplement, whether you’re an athlete training for your next big event, or just hitting the gym to build or maintain fitness. Having an effective pre-and post-workout nutritional routine can help to maximize your hard work by enhancing focus, stamina, and energy while speeding up muscle recovery.
The sheer volume and variety of supplement, booster, and powder types on the market can be daunting for someone looking to get started. Real Mushroom’s supplements provide many benefits that help with boosting your workout and recovering faster.
In this article, we’ll examine which mushroom supplements you can use for enhancing your workout capacity, performance, and recovery without having to depend on stimulants. We also include some delicious healthy recipes ready to add to your routine today!
Many pre-workout supplements and powders on the market boost your energy using caffeine or other stimulants. Stimulants like caffeine can have a positive effect on alertness, energy, and overall athletic performance when consumed in moderation. However, they are not without downsides.
Stimulants such as caffeine work by activating the central nervous system. Overall, this doesn’t appear to increase the risk of stroke or heart disease in most healthy people, although several studies show that it can temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This may be why some people feel stressed after they consume stimulants such as caffeine (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). If you feel that you might be one of these people, a stimulant-free pre-workout may be a beneficial option for you.
Stimulants can make you feel fatigued and irritable and even give you a headache after they wear off. This is often referred to as “crashing.” It typically occurs about five hours after consuming stimulants such as caffeine (6,7,8). A stimulant-free pre-workout supplement can help you avoid this. Stimulant-free pre-workout aids in providing stable, balanced energy without the crash and crankiness.
Stimulant-free pre-workouts also have an advantage if you like to work out in the evening or if you're caffeine-sensitive. Caffeine reduces the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel sleepy. Simultaneously, it increases the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline to give you energy (9). This is why many people struggle with sleepless nights, anxiety, and jitters after consuming caffeine. With a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement, you can still feel energized without the nervousness and insomnia.
It’s not uncommon for people to become psychologically or physically dependent on stimulants. We all know that one person who can not start their day without their iced latte. There’s a reason for this; studies show that caffeine triggers certain brain chemicals in a similar way that cocaine and amphetamines do (10). Using a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement like Real Mushrooms Organic Cordyceps Capsules can help you avoid these undesirable side effects.
DIRECTBenefits of Mushroom Supplements for Workout & Recovery Optimization:
For pre-workout routines, we recommend three supplements: Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, and Reishi. When used as a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement, these mushrooms can increase respiratory capacity and stamina, support a healthy metabolism, enhance energy, increase blood flow, and promote a healthy inflammation response (11).
Post-workout, we suggest our Reishi and all-new D2Z supplements. These supplements can benefit you after workouts by alleviating occasional stress, helping you to sleep and recover, and can also improve circulation to assist with muscle recovery by helping the body rid itself of lactic acid (11,12,13).
There are also a number of indirect benefits from Real Mushrooms’ supplements that you can take advantage of.
INDIRECT Benefits of Mushroom Supplements for Workout & Recovery Optimization:
No tingling or itchy skin - many pre-workout supplements contain compounds called beta-alanine or niacin. These compounds can cause paraesthesia, the scientific term for tingling or itchy skin (14). Our supplements don’t contain these compounds or any other that can lead to physical discomfort.
No post-workout crash - it’s no secret that having lots of caffeine or other stimulants in your system can lead to a crash. Since Real Mushrooms supplements are stimulant-free, that means no crash after use.
Adaptogenic - mushrooms are adaptogens: non-toxic, plant-based herbal products that can help the body adapt to stress, gently steering it toward equilibrium.
Immune system support - mushroom-based supplements have been found to boost the body’s immune response because of their high beta-glucan content. They can help your body fight off free radicals and balance your body’s immune response. Staying well helps you maintain a regular fitness routine without interruption. Endurance athletes, in particular, are prone to upper-respiratory challenges and functional mushroom supplements can help keep these at bay (15).
Improve sleep - stimulant-free pre-workout supplements may help you to relax and get a better night’s sleep, leading to increased recovery and more energy the next day to keep going.
Your immune system can take a hit when you kick up the intensity of your workouts. During phases like this, it’s beneficial to take extra steps to support your immunity.
“Mushrooms have unique compounds that are not found in high amounts in other foods, like beta-glucans and polyphenols... I am a big fan of reishi mushroom extracts for myself and athletes during a phase of higher intensity when we are purposely overreaching a bit and during or around travel. The immune system can take a hit during both of those times and easy-to-consume items that help boost immunity can be helpful then. Reshi has data to support that it may help immune system function (38,39,40,41)."
-Dr. Mike T Nelson PhD, MSME, CISSN, CSCS
Types of Mushroom Supplements for Workouts
Real Mushrooms has four different stimulant-free supplements we recommend, depending on whether you’re looking to boost your energy pre-workout or improve recovery post-workout.
The benefits provided by our Cordyceps-M Peak Performance supplement can help you have a much more effective workout.
The benefits of Cordyceps include:
Can improve respiratory capacity
Can increase stamina and energy levels
Human and animal studies have shown that Cordyceps and other mushroom-based supplements can have a significant impact on athletic performance.
One way that Cordyceps is believed to do this is by supporting lung function. While more research is needed, there is animal and human data indicating cordyceps calms agitated bronchial tubes and supports healthy respiratory function (20,21).
Some animal research suggests that Cordyceps may boost the body’s adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production (22,23). ATP is a molecule that’s essential for delivering energy to your muscles. Increasing ATP may help your body optimize the use of oxygen, especially during exercise. This may help you exercise at a higher intensity for longer.
In one study involving 30 healthy older adults, researchers tested the effects of Cordyceps on exercise endurance. Half of the participants received 3 grams of a synthetic strain of Cordyceps called CS-4 while the other half received a placebo. After 6 weeks, the CS-4 group had increased their VO2 max by 7%, while the placebo group remained the same. VO2 is a measurement used to determine how much oxygen your body can absorb during exercise (24).
A small pilot study found that when cyclists took Cordyceps-based supplements for three months, they were at lower risk of developing non-functional overreaching or overtraining syndrome compared to baseline (25). Both of these conditions can result in far less effective training, longer recovery periods, more frequent injuries, and even negative outlook and mood swings (26).
"Cordyceps has been a game changer for my cycling performance; I noticed the performance benefits the most during hard VO2Max intervals and longer threshold efforts. Holding high power output with more controlled breathing is a huge advantage. I've been using Real Mushrooms for over 4 years now, as well as a lot of the EVOQ.BIKE Community!" - Brendan Housler @evoq.bike
Animal studies suggest that the polysaccharides (PCM) in Cordyceps may help reduce tiredness and improve exercise performance. In one study, researchers supplemented rodents with varying levels of PCM for 28 days. Then, they subjected the rodents to swimming tests and compared them to control rodents (i.e. no PCM). The results revealed that rodents who consumed higher amounts of PCM could swim longer before tiring and had improved exercise biomarkers compared to those who had little to no PCM (27,28).
Supplementing with Cordyceps can be a great way to increase stamina, support your lungs, and keep you from over-straining your body, especially if you’re planning on undertaking more intense workout sessions.
Lion’s Mane has a wide variety of benefits, but it’s most well-known for its brain-boosting abilities, which can help you get into the mental and physical state necessary for strenuous or lengthy workouts:
Better Focus - Lion’s Mane has the ability to improve focus (30, 31). It may increase your mental stamina, helping you get and remain in the right mindset for exercise. It can be just the thing to help you stay mentally energized throughout your workout and avoid brain drain afterward.
Better Stamina - Animal studies have found that Lion’s Mane can increase tissue glycogen content and antioxidant enzyme activity, which helps keep muscle tiredness at bay and increases exercise tolerance (35).
Reishi is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms and has been used in traditional medicines around the world for thousands of years. A few of the reishi mushroom benefits could be huge boons for your workouts, including:
Improved Circulation - Studies on Reishi have found it to enhance circulation and heart health. It also helps maintain blood pressure already within a normal range (11).
Better Muscle Endurance - Animal studies on Reishi have discovered its unique ability to decrease blood lactic acid levels, increase hepatic glycogen, and protect against exhaustive exercise-induced oxidative stress in muscles (36, 37). These benefits can help increase the duration of sustained physical efforts before exhaustion is reached, and can help improve the recovery time of muscles.
Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout Recipes
For even more inspiration, here are some recipes that will show how you can make your own stimulant-free pre-workout drinks using Real Mushrooms’ 100% certified organic supplements.
This hearty and delicious smoothie uses the power of Cordyceps mushroom powder and beets to support cardiorespiratory and muscle endurance and performance. Beets contain ample nitric oxide to help increase blood flow, support lung function, and strengthen muscle contractions (32,33). The Cordyceps extract powder generates a comprehensive energy-boosting effect to increase overall endurance and stamina (22,23,24).
½ cup steamed beets or 1-2 tsp beet powder
½ cup purple cabbage
½ cup dark berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or a berry blend works well here
sprig of fresh mint (peppermint or spearmint works here)
The Everything Smoothie is an excellent stimulant-free pre-workout smoothie that will give you a comprehensive boost of protein and medicinal mushrooms to power any intense training. This delicious and healthy recipe uses Real Mushrooms’ Lion’s Mane Extract, Chaga Extract, and Cordyceps-M in the bulk powder variety.
It also calls for creatine monohydrate and an addition of your favorite protein powder. All you need to do is add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. This smoothie is so full of nutrients and protein it can even be used as a meal replacement.
¼-⅓ cup can BPA-free organic coconut milk or filtered water as the base (your choice)
1 free-range egg yolk
1 small banana
1 tsp (5g) creatine monohydrate
20-30 grams grass-fed cold-processed whey protein concentrate
Reishi isn’t just a boost for a stimulant free pre-workout meal; it can help you recharge post-workout, too. Potential benefits of taking our Reishi supplement after exercise include:
Muscle Recovery - Reishi is an antioxidant powerhouse that can help dramatically reduce oxidative stress in the body. Reishi increases the antioxidant potential of blood to help clear exercise metabolites that produce soreness and exhaustion sooner. This may help muscles recover faster from the load you put on them from exercise (11).
Real Mushrooms’ newest supplement is a super-booster blend of Reishi and Chaga extracts combined with zinc and vitamin D. Potential benefits from the D2Z supplement for your post-workout include:
Zinc for muscle recovery - zinc works in our bodies to help muscles repair from exercise by helping out with protein synthesis. Essentially, it helps your body take all the protein and amino acids you loaded up on pre-workout and convert them to muscle as your body recovers (34). D2Z uses chelated zinc, which is more easily absorbed by the body than other types of zinc on the market.
Vitamin D - Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin to keep up energy levels and keep your immune system healthy. It’s also been found to promote bone health and prevent injury to your muscles (34).
Functional mushrooms - Reishi and Chaga provide all the benefits we’ve talked about above, such as immune system support and an added energy boost.
D2Z is currently only available in a capsule form. While you won’t be able to add it to a tasty recipe this way, it is a very convenient and efficient way to be added to your daily exercise routine.
Our Evening Vegan Mushroom Golden Milk recipe is the perfect way to wind down after an intense workout. Reishi will help settle your mind and body down for relaxation and recovery, while turmeric, ginger, and other spices are also high in antioxidants to help your muscles rejuvenate after a hard workout.
To a small saucepan, add coconut milk, almond milk, ground turmeric, grated ginger, the cinnamon stick, coconut oil, black pepper, Reishi, carob and sweetener of choice.
Whisk to combine and warm over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling – about 3-4 minutes – whisking the whole time.
Turn off heat and taste to adjust sweetness level.
Take out the cinnamon stick and if you like it very smooth, you can strain the golden milk to take out the ginger pieces.
Final Thoughts on Mushroom Supplements for Workouts
Adding stimulant-free, caffeine-free supplements to your pre and post-workout routines has an undeniably big benefit. You’ll be able to focus on your routine, stay energized, and recover faster, all without the crash that accompanies stimulants.
While mushrooms may not have been your first thought as a stimulant-free pre-workout or post-workout nutritional powerhouse, there are a lot of potential benefits from this all-natural solution.
Our mushroom supplements are 100% certified organic and guaranteed to contain no artificial additives or grain fillers. We’re committed to delivering you the highest quality and most effective products that you can be confident in.
So whether you’re just getting started on a new healthy lifestyle or are a seasoned exercise veteran, Real Mushrooms’ supplements are a great way to add a boost to your workouts today.
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Real Mushrooms is the premier provider of organic mushroom extracts, verified for the beneficial medicinal compounds like beta-glucans and free from starchy fillers like grains. With over 40 years of mushroom growing experience, Real Mushrooms prides itself on providing a transparent source of functional mushrooms that you can trust. All the information provided on our blog has been reviewed by our science and medical team.
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