Ashwagandha, popularly called Indian ginseng, has been around for millenia. Its ancient roots have been used in naturopathic medicine and it is classified as an adaptogen because it does the following:
- Helps the body adapt to and resist stressors
- Supports the nervous system and endocrine system
- Supports immune health and the circulatory system
But there is so much more to this miraculous herb. If you are interested in being fit and building muscles the healthy way, ashwagandha should be in your gym bag. If you pay closer attention to the first benefit outlined above, it would do a lot to enhance your gym efforts.
Do you know that ashwagandha helps you manage stress in a manner that can benefit your muscle health? Now you know! But how does it achieve this? Find out how this herb can help your gym routine in this article.
Let’s begin with understanding how the body deals with stress and the after-effects resulting from that process.
The cortisol hormone
When the cortisol hormone is released, glucose is produced, which becomes a source of energy to the large muscles. This sugar is not stored because cortisol makes sure that the body uses up all of the glucose it produces immediately.
Cortisol works with another hormone (epinephrine) to increase the heart rate and give you that rush of energy that is usually felt when you have to confront a threat.
When the threat is out of the way, the hormone level goes back to normal.
While this is a good thing, cortisol levels may go wild. Our body, in an effort to keep up with constant stress, may produce a high dose of cortisol. The more stress we are exposed to, the more cortisol the body pumps out.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone – this means that cortisol breaks down molecules in the body. Protein is one of such molecules that cortisol breaks into amino acids and glucose providing the energy needed to confront stress. It also stops the process of creating protein molecules. Consequently, this makes it hard for your body to build muscle. Invariably, your muscle becomes the source of energy to face stress. This catabolic state makes you lose overall mass in fat and muscle.
You may have already figured out by now that what has just been described impacts your gym training negatively and may be counterproductive to your workout efforts.
Effects of high cortisol on gym performance
Slows down testosterone production
Testosterone plays an important role in increasing muscle mass, repair growth, and recovery. Building muscles becomes harder because cortisol is a muscle breaker as was highlighted above.
Causes insomnia. While cortisol plays a role in the sleep cycle, it can be a sleep disruptor. A high cortisol level can lead to insomnia and make you feel fatigued. Sleep is very important to keep fit and can help your gym performance. During sleep, your body recovers and energy is conserved. Most importantly, it helps to build up the muscles that were active during your gym sessions. Sleep also helps the body produce growth hormone that helps to regulate the fat, muscle, tissue, and bone in our bodies,
Suppresses the immune system. Cortisol slows down the immune cells that protect you from harmful agents that invade your body. This makes you prone to falling sick and preventing you from recovering after a workout.
Weight gain. A high level of the stress hormone can increase your cravings for food. Under such high stress, you need energy to be on your toes. When your body requests energy to cope, this may be a wrong signal to your brain that you need to eat. Indulging in your cravings is a way your body reacts to the negative impact of stress. You end up overeating and feeding on unhealthy junk food. Unused glucose is stored as fat which leads to weight gain. Building muscle mass requires that you eat healthily.
In plain terms, cortisol can make a mess of your physique, and here’s how ashwagandha can help.
Benefits of ashwagandha in the gym
helps muscle growth/size
Research has linked ashwagandha with an increase in muscle size and strength. Consuming ashwagandha supplements can increase overall strength and help you get the most from your time spent doing workouts.
Reduces cortisol level
A study in 2019 of 60 adults confirmed a reduction in cortisol level after taking 240 mg of ashwagandha extract for 60 days, while the control group showed no changes in their cortisol level.
Another study also revealed that this herb extract, when taken in doses of 200-300mg per day, can effectively reduce cortisol levels resulting in anxiety reduction. Studies are still ongoing to further prove the efficacy of this herb on cortisol levels. But as an adaptogen, this herb helps the body manage stress effectively which enhances your fitness and health.
Helps you burn fat
Ashwagandha helps you build muscles, and muscles help you burn fat. Building muscles can help you have a faster metabolism which means more calories are burnt. Again, the muscle tissues can help you get rid of fat tissues. So, as ashwagandha helps with building your muscle mass, it extends to promoting fat loss.
Improves vitality and stamina
Ashwagandha enhances sports performance and cardiorespiratory endurance.
A study of 50 healthy adults between 20 and 45 years with normal body mass index received 300 mg of ashwagandha twice daily for 12 weeks. These men saw significant improvement in aerobic performance, and their overall health quality improved.
Ashwagandha can certainly supercharge your physical performance and athleticism.
Ashwagandha is an aphrodisiac and helps the body produce testosterone. It achieves this by increasing the serum levels of the luteinizing hormone that controls the testes in men. This hormone also stimulates the production of testosterone from the testes. A 2013 study showed that ashwagandha increases testosterone levels in infertile men. Ashwagandha also inhibits the reduction of testosterone levels.
A Healthy testosterone level affects a number of functions in the body that can enhance your gym performance. They include the following.
- Healthy distribution of fat
- Muscle builds and grows. (mass and strength)
- Healthy heart and blood flow
- Stronger bones
- Recovery and healing
Other benefits of ashwagandha include
Reduces blood sugar level
Ashwagandha increases insulin secretion and helps the muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin. This helps to regulate the blood sugar level. Even in diabetic patients, it helps reduce their blood sugar levels.
Have anti-cancer properties
According to the National Institutes of Health, it stops the growth of new cancer cells in various ways. Other animal studies revealed that it can help with treating some kinds of cancer, including breast, lung, and brain cancer.
We could go on and on about how far this herb can greatly improve your overall health. The long and short of it all is that a good dose of Ashwagandha can achieve a healthier you.
But If you hope to maximize the full benefits of ashwagandha for muscle growth, you should be utilizing weight training muscle-building exercises too. Dumbbell and barbell exercises that can help you build muscle should be on top of your workout schedule.
Dumbbell exercises are hand weight exercises that help to strengthen the muscles and train the muscle to increase in size. Some examples include;
- Goblet squat
- Dumbbell clean
- Arnold press
- Renegade row
- Bent arm dumbbell
Barbell exercises involve weightlifting and help you perform the same muscle action repeatedly to train your strength and improve your muscles . Some examples include.
- Push press
- Bench Press
- Floor press
Even when you can’t afford to visit a gym or set up one in your house, the following weight exercises can help.
Are you already wondering how to get a hold of ashwagandha? Look no further. Getting ashwagandha supplements is simple. You can order OfNoah’s ashwagandha supplement called Vigour by visiting their website. It’s one of the best platforms to buy ashwagandha in singapore. And what’s more, you can book a consultation session with a physician if you need to be sure about adding this herb to your diet.