It’s Not Magic, It’s Maca!
Imagine waking up every day, with… UNSTOPPABLE levels of energy… A laser-focused mindset… and Mountains of endurance. Think about that for a second.
No more “I’m too tired.”
No more “I’m too stressed to deal with this, maybe next week.”
Energy, stamina, and focus are all major contributors to not only athletic performance but overall health as well. Many of these individuals search for the right supplements to hit peak performance. Whether it's protein, oils, or micronutrients; we’re always looking for that extra edge. And it’s finally here...
POWERFUL PERUVIAN GINSENG
Known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, the maca plant is sometimes referred to as Peruvian Ginseng. This is because maca grows in the Andes mountains of Peru. The harsh conditions and high altitudes (above 4,000 meters) provide the perfect environment for this cruciferous vegetable to grow.
Maca's long history of culinary and medicinal use has been around for thousands of years in Peru. However, the maca plant has exploded in popularity in recent years.
A common ingredient in Peruvian cooking, maca provides that much needed earthy flavor. The main edible part of the plant is the root, which grows underground. It exists in several colors, ranging from white to black. It is often ground up into a powder and added to meals or smoothies.
Aside from its culinary uses, maca may also have several health benefits.
Maca may contribute to overall well-being, including hormone balance, energy, and libido. This versatile adaptogenic herb helps the body adapt to different stressors... along with these 5 unique benefits:
One ounce (28 grams) of maca root powder contains roughly 91 calories. Of those calories, maca provides 20 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, AND 2 grams of fiber.
As a great source of several important vitamins and minerals, Maca root is very nutritious. These vitamins and minerals include:
- Vitamin C -- a strong antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses
- Copper -- an essential element for bone strength, heart health, immune health and more
- Iron -- important for reducing fatigue, treating anemia, boosting immunity, and more
- Potassium -- helps enhance muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and the nervous system
- Vitamin B6 -- plays an important role in mood regulation, improving brain function, and more
- Manganese -- a trace mineral required for the normal functioning of your brain, nervous system and many of your body’s enzyme systems
Furthermore, maca contains various plant compounds, including glucosinolates and polyphenols. These natural chemicals most likely contribute to plant defense against pests and diseases. As well, polyphenols are thought to improve digestion issues, weight management, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases.
Reduced sexual desire is a common problem among adults. Consequently, interest in herbs and plants to naturally boost libido has increased greatly. And the most well-known benefit of maca root is its potential to increase libido.
A study from 2002 found that men who took 1.5 or 3 grams of maca per day experienced increased libido compared to those who received a placebo. Another review from 2010 of 131 participants found evidence that maca may improve sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion.
And recently, a 2015 study found that maca root may help reduce sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women who were taking an antidepressant.
Maca root could also have benefits for people with erectile dysfunction (ED). A small study in 2009 looked at the effect of consuming 2.4 grams of maca root per day for 12 weeks on participants' perception of their sexual well-being. The study participants were males with mild ED. Those taking maca root experienced a more significant increase in sexual well-being than the placebo.
Another widespread use of maca root is to increase fertility, particularly in men. When it comes to male fertility, sperm quality and quantity is very important.
A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men. One of the studies reviewed included nine healthy men. After consuming maca for four months, researchers detected an increase in the volume, count, and motility of sperm.
Some athletes and bodybuilders use this adaptogenic root to increase energy and performance. These athletes claimed to gain more muscle, strength, energy, and more using maca.
A pilot study in 2009 found that using maca extract for 14 days improved performance for male cyclists in a 40-kilometer time trial. Similarly, one study showed that administering maca extract to mice for 3 weeks improved their endurance. As well, the maca supplemented increased the amount of time to exhaustion in a swimming test by up to 41%
In addition to improving endurance, maca may boost energy levels. A 12-week study in 175 people found that taking 3 grams of maca daily led to significant improvements in both mood and energy levels.
While traditional stimulants may seem safe, their overall effects are yet to be known. Many have risks for damaging your liver and heart... and many may actually weaken metabolisms. To boost metabolisms, performance, and muscle synthesis, avoiding damaging stimulants is key. Maca root is not only alkaline-forming to prevent inflammation, but it’s also free of stimulants.
By fighting off fatigue and giving that extra boost of natural energy, maca may help to increase muscle-building.
Maca may improve brain function. In fact, it is traditionally used by Peruvian natives to improve student's performance in school. Likely due to Maca’s ability to boost acetylcholine and act as an antioxidant.
Maca contains significant amounts of the amino acids arginine, serine, histidine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and threonine. Below is the evidence to suggest that maca can improve learning and memory.
For example, a 2011 study found that maca could improve memory in mice. A 2014 review of the literature suggested that it could be helpful in treating conditions that affect these processes.
Maca boosts brain health and function in several ways. One of which is how it boosts anandamide. The Maca compound macamide is structurally similar to anandamide, a neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors in your brain. Also known as the bliss molecule, anandamide's presence in the brain may be prolonged with the help of Maca.
Antioxidants help to fight off free radicals, which can damage cells in the body. As an adaptogenic herb, maca root promotes natural antioxidants in the body, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase.
Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme found naturally in your body to promote the breakdown of free radicals. Glutathione is made in the liver, which is not true of most antioxidants. However, it's main functions include making DNA, supporting immune function, and forming sperm cells.
By nourishing and stimulating the adrenal glands, maca root may help balance hormone levels. By supporting normal hormone production, maca supports the body's natural liver detoxification. As well, this root has been shown to help with PMS, menopause, and hot flashes symptoms. But that's not the only benefit of this adaptogen.
Maca contains flavonoids, which help to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Several studies have shown that maca can enhance your mood. It's been associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression... particularly in menopausal women.
A 2015 study found that maca could reduce symptoms of depression in Chinese postmenopausal women.
HOW TO USE MACA
Maca is easy to incorporate into your diet. Use it as a supplement or sprinkle the powder in smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, energy bars and more.
The optimal dose for medicinal use has not been established. However, the studies performed generally range from 1.5–5 grams per day.
You can find maca in some supermarkets, at health food stores, and at Superfoods Australia. It is available in powder form or in capsules.
What to Look For: The maca plant is native to the Andes mountain range. For the best quality product, look for organic maca grown in Peru.
While yellow maca is the most readily available type, darker types like red and black may possess different biological properties. In this regard, black maca appears to be more effective than other varieties.