When it comes to talking about workout drinks, the focus is usually on protein shakes. But what if, instead of just adding a new kind of drink to your diet, you could upgrade something you already enjoy?
By itself, coffee already has some exercise benefits, like increasing your body’s ability to burn fat. You can make it go even further by blending in some mushrooms! That’s right - mushroom coffee should be your drink of choice for working out. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at what it can do for you.
Even without the magic addition of mushrooms, coffee has some excellent effects!
Faster Fat Loss
Drinking coffee before a workout can encourage your body to rely on fat cells as an energy source, rather than the usual source of glycogen. Combine this with caffeine’s ability to increase your metabolism, and you have a perfect recipe for faster fat loss.
Less Muscle Pain
Research has shown that drinking coffee before a workout can decrease the amount of muscle pain you feel during it. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to push yourself, as it means you’ll be able to break through barriers you might normally encounter - running further, or lifting more - and building muscle more effectively.
Higher Performance Levels
As well as reducing muscle pain, coffee can increase how well you perform too! This is particularly noticeable in endurance training, with studies showing it increased speed and distance covered by long-distance runners and cyclists.
Of course, this isn’t about coffee - it’s about the blend. Mushrooms have been part of traditional remedies for a very long time, and with so many varieties out there, there’s a lot to cover! However, there are a few key ones that we recommend for fueling your workouts.
Cordyceps are a type of mushroom, covering around 400 different species. Mostly native to Asia, they can be hard to source in the wild - but luckily, they can be farmed. Like many mushrooms used as supplements, they are often bitter and unpleasant to eat, but when ground to a fine powder have a much more mellow flavour. That’s why mushroom coffee is ideal - allowing you to experience the benefits of something you wouldn’t be able to in another way.
While research into the benefits of Cordyceps is a new field, there’s a lot of promising results.
The extract is thought to help the body produce higher levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP); something which helps deliver energy to muscles. Early studies suggest that it helps your body make better use of oxygen. This is perfect in combination with caffeine’s positive effects on your performance.
One measurement of fitness levels is VO2 max - the maximal oxygen uptake - and it’s been shown that taking cordyceps extract can increase this, or other measures of performance
This mushroom isn't just helpful for immediate workout effects, however. One of it’s oldest associations is with heart health, and it’s approved for treatment of arrhythmia in China. Current research suggests it can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the amount of triglycerides (something linked to heart disease) in your blood.
Whilst more study is needed, these early results are incredibly promising, and suggest that not only is mushroom coffee a great workout drink, but an excellent choice for overall health.
Whilst less directly linked to your workout performance, there are other mushrooms worth adding to your coffee - and Lion’s Mane is one of them. The major benefit for your exercise routine are it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Combined with coffee’s ability to reduce muscle pain, this will help make your workouts easier and allow you to recover faster.
As with cordyceps, it also has additional health benefits. Again, much of this research is in the early stages, but there are hugely promising results for it’s impact on dementia and memory loss. One particular study showed that taking a supplement of Lion’s Mane over a period of four months improved the mental functioning of older adults with mild cognitive issues.
As with the above two examples, Reishi mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years. A recent study shows it can help with your workouts - especially if you’re doing altitude training. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed good outcomes for athletes who took a reishi supplement during their training. It suggests that the mushroom can help rebalance the changes in your immune system caused by strenuous exercise.
Whilst you might think of mushroom coffee as a modern trend, chaga has been used to blend with coffee since the 1940s. It first came to popularity in Finland to help stretch coffee supplies a bit further during WWII. It has a lot of general benefits, being rich in vitamin D, calcium, and other helpful nutrients and vitamins.
When it comes to helping your workout, it can reduce fatigue, and early research suggests it also reduces how much lactic acid is produced. This means less muscle ache to contend with! Like Lion’s Mane, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
As you can see, the blend of mushroom coffee has lots of benefits - both for general health and your workouts. Key advantages to combining them, rather than having them separately are:
- A better balance of caffeine - enough to gain the benefits, not enough to make you jittery
- Easy to work into your diet - remember, simplicity breeds success
- Less time-related than protein shakes, so you can make it part of your everyday routine
- Low effort - especially if you use a pre-made mix!
- A huge nutrient and vitamin boost
- You can blend a few varieties of mushrooms together with ease
- A rich, mellow flavour with no taste of mushroom at all
- Solely plant-based - and excellent when combined with vegan milk
Of course, as with any new supplement, you should be aware of possible side-effects. If you have any kind of allergy to fungi, it’s best to avoid it. Beyond that, mushrooms have been in use for so long that as long as you’re only having the recommended amount or less, there’s little to worry about!
If you want to know more, check out these Top 5 Questions about Mushroom Coffee Answered!