Maca and Athletic Performance

Feeling sluggish? Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, why not turn to maca, Peru’s version of ginseng, for a natural lift. Maca is a little-known, but highly effective energy booster that provides essential nutrients for physical and mental performance, something your cup of Joe won’t do. This super food is loaded with over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids, 20 free-form fatty acids, vitamins B1, B2, C and E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium and iron.


Maca naturally contains zinc, glucosinolates and plant sterols, which are potent immune enhancers to help keep you healthy and energized during cold and flu season. This is especially important for competitive athletes as they face regular immuno-compromise and must take special steps to bolster their immune system.


The reason why many of us feel run down is chronic stress that has led to adrenal fatigue. Our adrenal glands, which are walnut-sized organs located above our kidneys, dictate our response to stress by producing several powerful hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When we’re under prolonged, chronic stress, these small glands bottom out and fail to produce more hormones in response to a new stressor.


Without a rise in natural stress hormones that signal increased metabolism and revved up immunity, we feel like we just can’t muster up the energy to finish that last assignment or make dinner for the family. Small things become huge obstacles because of adrenal fatigue. Maca is there to help.


The secret to maca’s ability to increase energy lies in the fact that it supports our body’s over-worked adrenal glands instead of adding more stress by increasing toxins or depleting nutrients (which coffee does). Like ginseng, maca is an adaptogen which means it improves the balance of our health by enabling the body to heal itself with just the right amount of support.


It is rare for a person to misuse maca by overdosing on it. In fact, results are often enhanced by increasing maca consumption. After a short period of maca use, many people also report a noticeable improvement in their cognitive ability, “feeling like a fog has been lifted.” In a world where most of us could use a mental pick-me-up instead of a physical boost, it’s great to know that consuming a natural food will perk us up without any known negative side effects.


Maca is loaded with energy-producing, protein-building amino acids that fuel the body and assist with recovery after a strenuous workout.  With its incredible nutrient profile, supplement savvy athletes use maca to improve their energy level without over-stimulating their body.


Research evaluating the energy-enhancing effects of maca showed a “significant improvement in physical-energetic performance within individuals supplementing with maca compared to the placebo group.” In particular, athletes enjoyed an increase in distance range as a result of greater stamina due to maca supplementation.


In this study, a 14-day supplementation of maca extract improved 40 km cycling time trial performance in trained male cyclists.


Combined with immune enhancement and increased mental alertness, maca has the ability to super-charge your body to give you a more energized life! Not only is it alkaline-forming, which prevents inflammation, it’s also free of stimulants and 100 per cent natural.


More Maca Benefits 


Hormone health – Maca helps the body naturally produce human growth hormone, helps reduce excess estrogen and boosts testosterone. Excess estrogen can lead to moodiness, irritability, PMS symptoms, menstruation problems, PCOS, and can affect weight and how you recover from a workout. 


Improves thyroid function – Due to maca’s overall beneficial effects on your hormones, the thyroid naturally benefits as well. As an athlete, taking care of your thyroid is very important for performance since it can affect both your workouts and your recovery.


Enhances libido – Maca is most commonly known for its libido-enhancing benefits. 


Improves your sleep – This might be hard to believe due to its energizing benefits, but it’s true! Because maca is an adaptogen, it can naturally lower stress in the body that could be preventing you from resting. Sleep is incredibly important for athletes for performance and recovery.


How to use Maca: 

You only need up to a tablespoon a day, with most people finding they only need a teaspoon of it daily to meet their desired needs.


Because it’s most commonly found in a powdered form, it’s easy to incorporate in smoothies, oatmeal, or homemade snack bars. I often add a little pinch of maca to my hot chocolate.


People on hormone-altering medication for treatment of serious conditions like breast or prostate cancer and people with high blood pressure are advised against taking maca.