Nothing can quite compare to the euphoria you experience after a good workout. Your endorphin levels are high, and you’re flooded with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. It’s as exhilarating as the realization that your body is changing, becoming faster, stronger, and more flexible.
One of the most crucial things for someone who leads an active lifestyle is to provide their body with the nutrients necessary to support more rigorous routines. Building endurance requires you to push your body just a little harder without causing any harm. Various dietary supplements have been formulated to help in this process, but before you purchase any, there are three things that you should consider:
- Does it aid in muscle recovery?
- Will it increase your athletic endurance?
- Can it reduce exercise stress?
is an evergreen herb grown in Asia that has been clinically proven to offer fitness enhancement
via these three benefits. The herb acts as an adaptogen
, helping the body deal with the stress of an intense workout.
So what can you expect when using Ashwagandha in your fitness routine, and how can you reap the maximum benefits for your athletic goals?
Ashwagandha and Cortisol
In today’s busy world, stress is one of the biggest issues individuals are facing. It has no favorites, from the stay-at-home mom to the campus student, the janitor, and the 7th-floor executives.
The body’s response to a stressor, such as a lion randomly walking into your compound, is important. It is what enables us to run or fight. However, in a world where lions are not a common threat, people still have stress levels equivalent to those of the caveman era, only the stressors are not as quickly resolved. The result is consistently high levels of cortisol in the body.
During a high-stress situation such as a workout or walking into your home, and screaming because the coat hanging on the rack looks like a serial killer waiting for you; the body releases adrenaline.
This familiar hormone causes the following:
- Increase in heartbeat and breathing for maximum oxygen intake
- Sharpened senses such as hearing, smell, and sight
- Release of blood sugar and fat from storage in the body for higher metabolism and energy release
Once the threat is resolved, the adrenal glands stop producing adrenaline and the body begins returning to a state of homeostasis. However, if the stress, whether physical or emotional, persists, the body produces cortisol.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone produced by the adrenal glands to regulate energy and immunity during high-stress situations and keep the fight or flight response going. Continued levels of cortisol cause muscle breakdown, fat storage, and impaired muscle recovery. This is because the body begins to break down the muscle-building blocks in our bodies (amino acids) to keep the energy levels high continuously. It also increases your appetite and craving for sweet, fatty, and salty foods. This can serve as an impediment to your fitness goals: despite consistently working out, you experience limited results.
have shown that Ashwagandha may reduce cortisol levels in the body by up to 27%, thereby mitigating many of its repercussions. The herb has a moderating effect on HPA axis activity
in adults experiencing stress. The HPA axis activity is what enables the release of stress hormones; by making them less reactive to stressors, it reduces cortisol levels.
This, in turn, prevents muscle breakdown and enhances your strength training. The reduction in cortisol also reduces appetite and enables a better breakdown of fat in the body, aiding in weight loss. Additionally, lower cortisol levels may reduce inflammation in the body and lead to faster recovery after workouts.
Ashwagandha Effects Beyond Cortisol