Energy and Stamina – both in and out of the gym! 😉
Maca isn’t just some new kid on the block it has been around for Millennia- about 3000 years in fact! Legend has it that Incan warriors took this energy giving herb before going into battle and it’s no wonder when you consider the energising properties of this vegetable root. This amazing root from Peru grows 11000 feet above sea level and is often referred to as Peruvian Viagra – but that’s not the reason why we love it!
Maca has many names- Peruvian Ginseng and Peruvian Maca to name a couple. This caffeine-free stimulant is grown in the heights of the Andes in Central Peru and with a great vitamin profile it’s no wonder it’s considered an vital energiser! Maca contains water soluble vitamins B and C, well known for their energy providing and immune supporting functions. In addition it contains Vitamin E, selenium (a powerful antioxidant), magnesium and is rich in other minerals and trace elements.
In Peru the Maca root symbolizes rebuilding, strength, having a good foundation and vitality. It is widely used as a stamina booster and a performance enhancer.
Maca is considered to be an adaptogen as it helps the body perform optimally. For example it can assist with adrenal function by balancing out the adrenal glands. The beauty of an adaptogen is that it can increase or decrease the function of a gland to restore it to its natural and optimal level of function! This means that if your adrenals are overwrought and trigger happy, Maca can help to calm them down. Likewise if your adrenal glands are sluggish Maca can give them a vital boost!
Adrenal adaptogens are very important. The adrenals are glands that sit on top of our kidneys, often referred to as our ‘Fight or Flight’ response glands, but they are also responsible for producing one of the most potent rebuilding or anabolic hormones called DHEA. DHEA in both men and women is a precursor to our sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
If you prop yourself up and compensate for lack of sleep with copious amounts of coffee (or fuel your gym workouts with pre-workout!) then you are more than likely overworking your adrenal glands. While some people are skeptical of this consider some of the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Being highly strung (ie an inability to handle stress)
- Feeling fatigued for no apparent reason during the day
- Higher energy levels in the evenings (ie circadian rhythm out of sync)
- Craving salty foods
- Weakened immune system
- Lines on your fingernails
- Low sex drive
- Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
Anyone who has suffered from adrenal fatigue knows just how real this issue is. The only real cure is to remove caffeine from your diet for a period of time and give the adrenals the tools to repair themselves. That’s where Maca comes in. Not only does it provide a caffeine free energy boost but it will also help to restore optimal adrenal function.
Maca benefits men and women differently. But both will see improved fertility and increased libido. It can reduce erectile dysfunction in men, increasing fertility and improving hormonal balance. In relation to menstrual problems Maca can reduce cramps and alleviate symptoms of PMS – i.e a reduction in the instance of bad moods! If cramps or poor mood during your menstrual cycle negatively affects your training then perhaps you should consider Maca.
But why is Maca on our top 10 in relation to athletic performance?
- Maca contains iron and helps restore red blood cells. This is vitally important as it will reduce risk of anemia and cardiovascular diseases (but this is not a free pass to eat burgers!)
- This amazing superfood, contains high amounts of arginine which increases nitric oxide production therefore improving blood flow. This will allow you to work harder for longer – no wonder the Incan’s loved it as a pre-battle perk!
- Maca has anti inflammatory properties and so is beneficial for gut health. Reducing inflammation in the gut will mean that you can absorb your nutrients more readily and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort.
- As previously mentioned Maca works to support the adrenals.
- It has a positive balancing effect on hormones
- And Maca has alkalising properties. This is vitally important as a bodily system that is too acidic (as either a result of diet, disease or exercise) will not function optimally
As you can see – it has some amazing benefits that could help a whole host of people! However I feel it’s important to also point out who Maca is not suitable for and why. Because of the powerful detoxifying nature of Maca there are some instances when the supplement shouldn’t be used ie in cases where we don’t want to mobilize and excrete toxins within the body. Therefore don’t take Maca if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as there are no studies on these special populations! If you wish to get pregnant then by all means supplement as this root is often called Peruvian Viagra and has been used for centuries to increase fertility in men and women! Due to the antioxidant nature of Maca it should not be used by those undergoing chemotherapy, but most antioxidants are are disallowed for this special population for various reasons beyond the scope of this review!
Supplementing with Maca is relatively inexpensive and it is a great alternative to caffeine as it is energizing without the possible side effects of adrenal fatigue or subsequent crash. Being an adaptogen it might just hold the key to a more revitalised and energised you, both in and out of the gym!
For more information, or to purchase please follow the link below…
Naomi McArdle MSc