Cordyceps mushrooms are touted as natural supplements for improving athletic performance because of its ability to boost ATP production and increase endurance in the face of exertion. How could a simple mushroom provide benefits that range from increased vitality and longevity, to increased energy, and enhanced endurance. Keep reading to find out.
Does Cordyceps Boost ATP and Increase Endurance?
Yes, cordyceps does boost ATP and improve utilization of ATP. Let’s summarize the findings and make things clear. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They produce the ATP our bodies and muscles use as fuel.
Cordyceps may boost ATP by 18% or more. Creatine has been shown to enhance the recycling of used ATP. The combination of creatine and cordyceps may increase the effects on the production and utilization of ATP, providing for synergistic effects which can produce even greater gains in performance than using the two on their own.
How Cordyceps Impacts Performance and Endurance
Cordyceps delivers its performance-enhancing benefits, which are achieved through increased mitochondrial production of ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is a form of “cellular currency,” or energy, produced within our mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy-producing powerhouses of our cells. They produce more than 90% of the fuel that we use daily. By improving both the factory (mitochondrion) in our cells, as well as increasing the accessibility of its fuel sources (ATP), we are optimizing our fitness and mental capabilities.
This is the hypothesis supported by the first studies, and experienced anecdotally by those who have supplemented with cordyceps and enjoyed a surge of energy and stamina. In contrast, we know mitochondrial dysfunction negatively impacts ATP metabolism, even disrupting synaptic function. Not only does a compromised synaptic function mean reduced cognitive functions, it can affect the communication of central nervous systems with neural units controlling voluntary muscle contractions, meaning that strength and coordination can be affected as well.
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More on cordyceps mushroom
Cordyceps is a rare mushroom found on a caterpillar only at higher elevations in Northern China and Tibet. Like coffee, performance benefits were first noticed by herders, who noticed their cattle became “stronger and tougher” when fed those particular caterpillars. In later centuries, cordyceps was used in Chinese and Tibetan medicine as a natural vitality elixir. These indigenous healers used cordyceps to fight disease, increase endurance, and improve longevity.
Numerous contemporary studies have attempted to back up the claims that cordyceps may enhance strength and exercise capacity.
- Cordyceps delayed fatigue in mice studies by 12.5%.
- Cordyceps increased the threshold for lactate production by 10% in human studies.
- Cordyceps “enhanced mitochondrial ATP production maintains mitochondrial structural and functional integrity, thereby slowing aging”.
The problem for many studies is that they used poor sources for their “cordyceps”. Instead of getting their real fungal sources from caterpillars in China, they are using products of the mycelium grown in laboratories, usually using grains as a growing culture.
Although the interesting thing is that even though the synthetic forms of cordyceps are usually looked down upon, they’ve always shown to provide the same benefits as the natural sources of cordyceps, and are way more sustainable to cultivate.