If you're a fan of strength training, an athlete, or just someone who wants to get in shape, you probably already follow a diet that encourages muscle growth. But you might be curious, are mushrooms good for muscle growth?
Niacin, riboflavin, and copper are just some vital nutrients in mushrooms that benefit bodybuilding because they improve performance.Mushrooms are also a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is excellent for dieters in a cutting phase because it makes you feel fuller without consuming more calories.
So, let's explore mushrooms' bodybuilding benefits and how mushroom products can help athletes who want to support their training regimens and enable their bodies to handle more stress and training volume. We will also show you the best mushrooms you should add to your diet to grow your muscles faster.
Benefits Of Mushrooms For Muscle Growth
The nutritional value and metabolic effects of mushrooms demonstrate how they differ from plants and animals. They provide advantages for gaining strength and muscle that other food groups frequently do not.
For instance, Lion's mane mushroom boosts energy production. It can help you steadily increase energy levels without any shakes or jitters. The mushroom can also increase muscle endurance(1) and decrease fatigue(2).
Read More: Learn about all the health benefits of Lion's mane mushrooms.
Furthermore, taking Lion's mane pre-workout also enhances fat metabolism(3). This will help you shed unwanted fat from the body. This is crucial because the more lean muscle mass you can have, the higher your metabolic rate and the less body fat you retain.
Here are the other benefits of using mushroom pre-workout:
1. High In Nutritional Content And Low In Calories
The food mushroom is low in calories. Low-calorie foods that are filling (like mushrooms) are a significant advantage for a bodybuilder in a cutting phase to stay within the daily calorie limit.
They let you include a ton of food without packing on the pounds of calories. Adding mushrooms to your nutrition means that you can enjoy a delicious meal without carbs that can make the annoying fat harder to eliminate.
Read More: Planning to eat mushrooms for the first time and prefer raw mushrooms over mushroom supplements? Use our handpicked Lion's mane mushroom recipes to prepare a meal at home.
You need to consume nearly 4 cups of mushrooms to consume the same calories (58 kcal) as half a cup of potatoes.Despite this, mushrooms give you more energy throughout the day than potatoes do. Moreover, potatoes will not aid in muscle recovery in the same way mushrooms do.
The majority of edible mushrooms contain a staggering amount of macro- and micronutrients. More so than almost all plant-based foods, they are excellent protein sources—the mushrooms contain amino acids that let your body heal after a workout. They are also incredibly high in antioxidants.
Riboflavin (or vitamin B2) is abundant in many different mushroom species. It is a crucial vitamin for regulating cell growth, energy levels, and proper immune functioning.
Copper is one of the essential minerals that our bodies need, and low energy and fatigue have been linked to low levels of this mineral.
Although most red meats, seeds, and nuts contain significant amounts of copper, mushrooms are one of the sources many people are unaware of. Compared to almost any other food source, some mushrooms contain more copper!
Read More: See the maitake mushrooms' nutrients and nutritional values.
2. Increases Cellular Energy Production
Mushrooms can help increase the production of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the primary source of internal energy storage in our bodies. ATP is released to provide the energy the body needs to continue working.
In the short term, more ATP translates into more energy. This encourages the recipient cells to become stronger as more energy is available.
In other words, more adenosine means that more energy will be directed directly to your muscles, which will tax them and promote cell growth.
Cordyceps mushroom is particularly renowned for its ability to boost energy production. In 1993, the mushroom attracted the entire world's attention when the female Olympic running team (Chinese athletes) broke several records using the mushroom.
More recently, a 2020 study(4) evaluated Cordyceps militaris' beneficial impact on exercise performance. The mouse in the study was given the mushroom's alcohol extract.
According to the study, administering Cordyceps extracts improves exercise performance by stimulating the ATP synthesis pathway.
Read More: See how cordyceps boosts your energy levels during a challenging workout.
3. Supports Recovery
Recovery is the most crucial component of any exercise program designed to build muscle. You won't see any improvements if your recovery routine is weak or unhealthy.
Surprisingly, mushrooms can help you there as well.
Mushrooms like Lion's mane(5), Maitake(6), Turkey tail(7), and Reishi(8) help lower inflammation. This can shorten recovery times, improve muscle growth efficiency during your off period, and reduce muscle fatigue. Some adaptogen mushrooms, like Chaga, can also reduce stress, which will enhance the effectiveness of your recovery.
Read More: See all the health benefits of Chaga mushrooms.
4. Has Antioxidant Capacity
Molecules called antioxidants aid in reducing inflammatory responses in the body. Chaga mushrooms, in particular, appear to have a high antioxidant capacity. Reducing inflammation can enhance muscle recovery, particularly after exercise.
5. Mushrooms Improve Cardio Capacity
Mushrooms, particularly cordyceps and Reishi, have become popular athletic supplements due to their ability to enhance oxygen uptake in the blood. This enhancement in oxygen uptake can significantly impact cardiovascular capacity and endurance.
By increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, the heart and lungs can work more efficiently, improving cardiovascular performance. The increased oxygen availability can also help delay fatigue and enhance endurance during physical activity.
The use of cordyceps and Reishi as supplements for athletic performance has been the subject of various studies, with many showing positive results. Overall, consuming these mushrooms can be a natural and effective way to boost cardiovascular capacity and improve endurance.
Read More:Learn about the Cordyceps benefits for the lungs.
6. Mushrooms Improve Endurance
If you are an avid cardio enthusiast looking to enhance your endurance and overall performance, you may consider incorporating mushrooms into your diet. These nutrient-rich fungi have been found to boost oxygen flow to the lungs, increasing your VO2 max.
VO2 max measures your body's ability to consume and utilize oxygen during physical activity. A higher VO2 max means that your body can perform at a higher level for longer before reaching its cardiovascular limit.
This can translate to faster lap times and the ability to push yourself harder during your cardio workouts. Additionally, the increased oxygen flow to your muscles also leads to improved muscle hypertrophy, which can result in significant gains over time. Including mushrooms in your diet can take your cardio training to the next level and achieve more significant results.
7. Mushrooms Boost Stamina
Multiple studies have demonstrated that athletes who incorporate mushroom-based performance supplements into their regular dietary regimen can perform more sets during their workout sessions without experiencing a decline in form or technique.
This increased training volume has been shown to directly correlate with increased muscle growth, also known as hypertrophy. As a result, regular consumption of mushroom-based supplements can accelerate the process of muscle gain, leading to faster and more substantial results.
8. Mushrooms Boost Testosterone Levels
Recent studies have revealed that certain mushroom species, such as Cordyceps, can stimulate testosterone production in the body. This property has been recognized by many ancient cultures, who have traditionally used these mushrooms as natural aphrodisiacs and vitality enhancers for men.
The boost in testosterone levels not only improves sexual function but also plays a crucial role in muscle growth and development. Consuming these mushrooms as a dietary supplement can help to enhance muscle mass and strength, leading to long-term muscle growth in individuals who engage in regular exercise and weightlifting.
Read More: See the cordyceps testosterone production benefits.
What Are the Best Organic Mushrooms for Muscle Growth
Now that you know how mushrooms promote muscle growth, you may want to know which mushrooms to include in your diet for the best results. Below, we will look at the top 3 mushrooms for muscle growth and the specific benefits each mushroom offers:
Cordyceps Muscle Growth Benefits
Cordyceps mushroom is a type of fungus that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to improve overall health and wellness. The mushroom makes immunity boosting easy, helping the body fight different types of diseases and maintain optimal health.
Read More: See all the health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms.
Below, we will look at the various reasons that make Cordyceps an ideal option for people working on growing their muscles. We will help you understand cordyceps muscle growth benefits.
Cordyceps Boosts Testosterone Production To Increase Muscle Mass
Recently, scientists have discovered that Cordyceps can stimulate testosterone production in the body, making it a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Various research studies have confirmed Cordycep's ability to increase testosterone production. One such research study was conducted in 2021.
The 2021 research study(9) found that a natural extract from the fruit body of Cordyceps militaris can help improve symptoms of male andropause. This condition happens as men age, and their testosterone and other hormone levels decrease.
The extract was tested on rats and in laboratory experiments on cells. It was found to increase testosterone levels and another hormone called dihydrotestosterone in the blood while also slowing down the growth of cells in the prostate. The researchers suggest that this extract could be a useful natural treatment for both late-onset hypogonadism and benign prostate hyperplasia in men.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in muscle growth and development, as it helps to increase muscle mass, strength, and endurance. When testosterone levels are high, muscle fibers can repair and grow more efficiently, leading to improved performance and muscle gains.
Various research studies have confirmed the benefits of testosterone in muscle growth. One research study(10) was done to see if a treatment with a gel containing testosterone (T) could improve muscle strength, body composition, physical function, and quality of life in older men with low testosterone levels.
The study was controlled, with 274 men randomly assigned to either use the T gel or a placebo gel for six months. The results showed that the men who used the T gel had better muscle strength in their legs, lean body mass, and less fat mass than those who used the placebo gel.
They also had a better physical function and reported improved quality of life. The study suggests that T treatment may benefit older men with low testosterone levels, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.
A more recent research study in 2017(11) analyzed the effects of 3-year testosterone supplementation in older men.
The study included healthy men who were 60 years old or older and had low levels of testosterone in their blood. The men were randomly assigned to either a group that received a gel containing testosterone or a group that received a fake gel (placebo) for three years. The study tested the men's muscle strength, power, and physical function at the beginning of the study and then at 6, 18, and 36 months.
The study showed that the men who received testosterone had better results in tests of stair-climbing power, chest press strength, and leg press power than the men who received the placebo. Additionally, the men who received testosterone had a more significant increase in muscle mass.
The researchers concluded that testosterone replacement for three- years in older men was associated with modest but significant improvements in stair-climbing power, muscle mass, and power.
Read More: See how Cordyceps boosts libido in men by increasing testosterone production.
Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris Speed Up Post Workout Recovery
In addition to its testosterone-boosting effects, Cordyceps also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce muscle damage and inflammation, speeding up the recovery process after intense exercise. Faster recovery provided by cordyceps extract can also improve exercise performance since you no longer have to visit the gym with sore muscles.
Read More: See the difference between Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris.
Cordyceps Supplementation Boosts Maximal Oxygen Consumption
Moreover, various research studies have confirmed Cordyceps' ability to boost high-intensity exercise performance by increasing the Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max), time to exhaustion (TTE), and ventilatory threshold (VT).
One study conducted in 2017(12) aimed to investigate the effects of a mushroom blend containing Cordyceps militaris on high-intensity exercise. Twenty-eight people participated in the study and were randomly assigned to take either the mushroom blend or a placebo for one week, and then 10 of them continued for another two weeks.
The study used a variety of tests to measure the participants' physical fitness, including their ability to consume oxygen, their time to exhaustion, and their ability to produce power.
After one week of supplementation, there were no significant differences between the mushroom blend group and the placebo group in any of the measures of physical fitness. However, after three weeks, the group taking the mushroom blend had a 4.8 ml/kg/min improvement in their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) compared to only 0.9 ml/kg/min in the placebo group. Additionally, this group significantly improved their time to exhaustion and ventilation threshold after three weeks, while the placebo group did not.
The study suggests that consuming a mushroom blend containing Cordyceps militaris may improve tolerance to high-intensity exercise. However, more significant benefits may be seen with consistent and prolonged use.
With prolonged use, cordyceps can increase your exercise duration, enhance your physiological functions, improve your body's ability to process lactic acid, and enhance your overall sports performance, allowing you to handle a tough session in the gym.
Read More: See why more people are using Cordyceps pre-workout.
Reishi Functional Mushrooms for Muscle Growth
Reishi mushroom has immunomodulatory properties and can enhance the immune system by promoting the production and growth of new cells. This can help prevent and fight against infections, tumors, and cancers.
When your body is healthy, growing and maintaining muscles is easier. However, what's even better is that Reishi can improve cardiovascular function and decrease fatigue, making it beneficial for endurance athletes.
Reishi Fights Fatigue
Various research studies have demonstrated Reishi's ability to fight fatigue. For example, one research study(13) looked into Reishi's ability to fight fatigue in cancer survivors. This study looked at using Reishi mushroom (also called Ganoderma lucidum) to see if it could help reduce tiredness in breast cancer patients receiving hormone treatment.
They took 48 patients and randomly assigned them to either take the mushroom powder or not. Then, they asked the patients questions and checked their blood before and after four weeks.
The researchers found that the patients who took the mushroom powder felt better physically and less tired. They also felt less anxious and depressed and had a better overall quality of life.
They also saw that the mushroom powder did not cause serious side effects. This study suggests that taking this mushroom powder may help reduce tiredness and improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients receiving hormone treatment.
Read More: See how Reishi fights cancer.
The fact that Reishi was able to fight fatigue in cancer patients suggests that Reishi could also help you fight fatigue during a high-intensity workout. This will allow you to build muscle by working out more extended periods.
Reishi Facilitates Weight Loss
Weight loss can be significant for people who are building muscle for several reasons:
- Increased muscle definition: Losing body fat can make the muscle definition more visible, giving a leaner and more toned appearance.
- Improved muscle-to-fat ratio: When the muscle is built, it is often accompanied by increased body weight. However, if fat loss is also achieved, the muscle-to-fat ratio will be improved, resulting in better overall body composition.
- Increased endurance: When carrying excess weight, endurance can be affected, and it can be harder to complete high-intensity exercises. Losing weight can improve endurance and allow for more intense and effective workouts.
- Increased energy levels: Carrying less weight can increase energy levels, allowing for more intense and longer workouts.
- Better overall health: Excess weight can contribute to several health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Losing weight can improve overall health and reduce the risk of these conditions. In addition, with a healthier body, building muscle will be easier for you.
If you are overweight and trying to replace fat weight with muscle mass, research shows that reishi mushrooms can help. In 2015, researchers conducted a study(14) analyzing Reishi mushrooms' benefits in fighting obesity.
This study looked at whether Reishi mushroom in the form of water extract can help reduce obesity in mice that were fed a high-fat diet. The results showed that the mushroom extract helped the mice lose weight and reduce inflammation.
The effects were also passed through the mice's feces, suggesting that the mushroom affects the gut bacteria. The study also found that a certain type of sugar in the mushroom, called polysaccharides, may be responsible for these effects. The study suggests that this mushroom extract may help treat obesity and its related health problems by affecting gut bacteria.
Read More: See our detailed guide on how Reishi mushroom promotes weight loss.
Lion's Mane Mushroom for Muscle Growth
Lion's Mane mushrooms are characterized by their white bodies and thick, fur-like appendages called teeth. Also referred to as the "Mushroom of Wisdom," Lion's Mane can benefit the nervous system in multiple ways, such as enhancing memory and decreasing brain fog. Below, we will look at the various ways this mushroom improves muscle growth:
Lion's Mane Boosts Your Focus During a Workout Session
The most notable application of Lion's mane mushroom as a workout supplement is its potential to improve focus and concentration during physical activities.
The greater mental focus has been linked to better exercise results. This is because a more focused mind can easily adjust for small deviations in technique. This is crucial to muscle growth because performing five sets with perfect form is more effective than twenty sets with poor form.
Read More: See how Lion's Mane benefits your memory and overall brain health.
Lion's Mane Fights Fatigue
Lion's Mane may aid in muscle growth due to its anti-fatigue properties. Studies have shown that it may lead to increased blood flow to muscles and blood vessels, resulting in improved endurance and decreased physical fatigue in mice. However, more research is needed to determine its effects on humans.
Researchers conducted a study in 2014(15) looking at the effects of Lion's mane mushrooms—also scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus (HEP)—on fatigue in mice. The mice were divided into four groups and given different doses of HEP for 28 days.
They were then made to swim until they were exhausted, and the time they could swim was recorded along with certain blood and tissue measurements related to fatigue. The study found that HEP could decrease fatigue in mice by reducing certain blood waste products, increasing muscle energy stores, and improving antioxidant enzyme activity. This study provides evidence that HEP may benefit sports nutrition and reduce fatigue in humans, but more research is needed.
Read More: See how using Lion's mane pre-workout fights fatigue during a training session.
Lion's Mane Facilitates Quick Recovery After a Workout
The Lion's Mane mushroom can help to reduce inflammation and recovery time, allowing you to maximize your training efforts daily. There has been extensive research on the anti-inflammatory properties of Hericium erinaceus, which has demonstrated its potential in treating inflammation.
In this 2015 study(16), the researchers examined the effects of a specific extract from the Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) on inflammation in fat cells. They found that the extract reduced the production of certain inflammatory molecules in cells grown in a lab dish.
The researchers also found that the extract could help prevent inflammation in fat cells grown alongside immune cells that can cause inflammation. The researchers suggest that Lion's Mane mushroom extract might help reduce inflammation in fat tissue, which is thought to be a contributing factor in obesity-related diseases.
Overall, the study showed that Lion's Mane mushroom has the potential to help prevent or reduce inflammation in fat cells, which may be beneficial for people with obesity.
Lion's Mane can help you recover faster after a tough workout by fighting inflammation. This will help you get back to training sooner, resulting in faster muscle growth.
Lion's Mane Boosts Testosterone Levels
As noted earlier, testosterone plays a crucial role in muscle growth. Like Cordyceps mushrooms, Lion's mane mushroom also boosts testosterone production. The mushroom is known to fight all conditions that negatively affect testosterone production:
- The mushroom improves sleep quality
- The mushroom blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT
- The mushroom encourages the production of hypothalamic hormones, which, in turn, promotes testosterone production.
By boosting testosterone production, Lion's Mane encourages muscle building.
Read More: See how Lion's Mane improves testosterone production.
Lion's Mane Facilitates Weight Loss
As noted earlier, weight loss is a vital aspect of muscle growth. Before growing your muscle, you must get rid of the fat mass. Various research studies have supported Lion's Mane's ability to facilitate weight loss.
For example, one research study conducted in 2014(17) analyzed Lion's Mane's ability to promote weight loss. The study investigated the effects of Lion's Mane (also known as Yamabushitake or Hericium erinaceus) on lipid metabolism in mice.
The mice were fed a high-fat diet with either a hot-water extract or an ethanol extract of the mushroom. After 28 days, the mice fed the mushroom extracts had a decrease in body weight gain, fat weight, and levels of a type of fat called triacylglycerol in their blood and liver.
The study also found that the ethanol extract of the mushroom acted as an activator of a certain protein called PPARα, which may have played a role in improving lipid metabolism in the mice.
Read More:See our detailed guide on how Lion's Mane promotes weight loss.
Is Mushroom Good For Males?
Mushrooms have several beneficial effects on men. They increase energy, endurance, and testosterone levels. Fungi are also loaded with zinc, which acts on the genital organs and boosts sex life.
Is Lion's Mane Good For Bodybuilding?
The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion's mane mushrooms can help reduce recovery time following exercise. This can enhance the post-workout recovery of muscles, making it an excellent choice for bodybuilding.
Are Mushrooms Good To Eat After A Workout?
Mushrooms are loaded with proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibers, and essential bioactive compounds that provide nutritional support after a workout and improve endurance and recovery.
There are several benefits of mushrooms for muscle growth, from increasing energy production in the cells to providing nutritional support, increasing stamina, and fighting inflammation and oxidative stress.
Lion's Mane, Chaga, Turkey Tail, Reishi, and Maitake are some of the mushrooms you may want to include in your diet if you are targeting muscle growth. Above, however, we have discussed the benefits you get from using Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, and Reishi for muscle growth. Each mushroom has unique benefits, and combining them at ideal dosages (discuss this with your doctor) can allow you to enjoy a combination of these benefits.
Have you used mushrooms to grow muscles? What benefits did you enjoy? Let us know in the comments.
- Increase in muscle endurance in mice by dietary Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) possibly via activation of PPARδ, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30938015/
- Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25574220/
- Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20622452/
- Beneficial Effect of Cordyceps militaris on Exercise Performance via Promoting Cellular Energy Production, (4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7717596/
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26559695/
- Anti-Inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Effects of the Grifola frondosa Natural Compound o-Orsellinaldehyde on LPS-Challenged Murine Primary Glial Cells. Roles of NF-κβ and MAPK, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8229786/
- The mycelium of the Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31791317/
- Useful Treatment of Severe Atopic Dermatitis with Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi): A Multiple - Case Study, (8)http://as4qol.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/mn2014001_honjo_jas4qol.pdf
- Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract Decreases Testosterone Catabolism and Testosterone-Stimulated Prostate Hypertrophy, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7824671/
- Effects of Testosterone on Muscle Strength, Physical Function, Body Composition, and Quality of Life in Intermediate-Frail and Frail Elderly Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study , (10)https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/95/2/639/2596855
- Effects of Testosterone Supplementation for 3 Years on Muscle Performance and Physical Function in Older Men, (11)https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/102/2/583/2972073
- Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27408987/
- Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22203880/
- Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557287/
- Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus, (15)https://www.spandidos-publications.com/etm/9/2/483
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, (16)https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,05ab5a7e40e7ba9a,23e858671d0eab97.html
- Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet, (17)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20622452/