Ashwagandha is an adaptogen taken from the roots of the ashwagandha plant that is generally used for hormonal balance and wellbeing. It can be taken for everything ranging from fatigue to pain relief to boosting sex hormones in men.
Ashwagandha is popularly used as a supplement to build muscle and lower stress. It has been shown to be able to increase muscle strength and decrease fat levels following consistent use.
The main effects of ashwagandha that are useful for muscle building are the impact it is has on hormones. Ashwagandha has been shown to be able to increase thyroid hormone, increase luteinizing hormone, decrease cortisol, and increase testosterone. All of these hormonal effects are beneficial for muscle building and translate over into more gains, more strength when lifting, and better recovery.
Ashwagandha’s effect on testosterone and cortisol is well researched and is the reason for it being one of the best adaptogens to take for building muscle.
This effect on cortisol and testosterone from ashwagandha has also made it commonly used for mood, stress, infertility, and mental and physical performance.
Positive Effects of Ashwagandha
There are many studies done of the effects of ashwagandha.
This placebo-controlled study found that after supplementing with ashwagandha for 60 days, the cortisol levels in those taking ashwagandha were significantly reduced. This study had similar findings and concluded that ashwagandha is able to decrease cortisol.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone. It serves a purpose in the body but due to modern stressors such as sugar, lack of sleep, poor diet, social media, and other environmental factors, it is chronically elevated above normal levels in most people. Catabolic hormones break down molecules and can inhibit the effects of testosteorne, an anabolic hormone. By taking ashwagandha, you can bring down your levels of cortisol into an optimal, healthy range, improving the results from lifting as well as improving overall strength, mood, focus, and energy.
Ashwagandha is also shown to be able to stimulate the release of testosterone as well. It does this by stimulating the thyroid to release greater concentrations of hormones. Ashwagandha is unique in that it has the ability to directly stimulate the thyroid gland to produce hormones, bypassing the usual process that occurs biologically. Ashwagandha has been shown to contain unique compounds which do not exist in other any other naturally occurring herb which may be part of the reason for its uncommon effects when consumed.
This study found that after 8 weeks, the salivary testosterone levels in men who took ashwagandha had increased 15% and their DHEA levels had also increased by 18%. DHEA is a hormone that is used to produce other hormones such as testosterone.
The results in terms of muscle have been backed up by studies too. This study found that there was a muscle strength increase and an overall reduction in fat in those who took ashwagandha for 30 days. This study also found a significant increase in strength and testosterone in addition to a decrease in body fat.
Summarizing, all the proven effect of ashwagandha for lifting are increased testosterone, lowered cortisol, increased DHEA, improved muscular strength, lowered stress, and muscle gains.
There are also studies which show the effects of ashwagandha on mood and mental performance such as this one.
How Much Ashwagandha Should You Take?
The best dose for taking ashwagandha is 500mg-1g per day. You can taken more than this but it is better to then divide the doses up into 1-2g each and take them throughout the day. More than 2g at once is unnecessary.
To start, see how 250-400mg effects you then build up from there. It is better to first take it in the evening.
Some side effects of ashwagandha can be dizziness, tiredness, and headaches. It is good to be aware that since ashwagandha reduces cortisol, it could make you tired. Cortisol is highest in the morning and decreases throughout the day, by causing a steep decline in this hormone you could feel less awake but this side effect is not too significant and certainly isn’t felt by everyone.
Best Ashwagandha Supplement
The best source of ashwagandha is going to be a pure powder extract of the root in order to feel the full effects and gain all the benefits of supplementing with ashwagandha.
For the pure powder extract of ashwagandha it is best purchased at Bulk Supplements. They currently have 500g of ashwagandha extract which is enough to last over 4 months of use if you are taking it every day. This is the best source of ashwagandha available and contains more ashwagandha than most other supplements on the market.
Overall, ashwagandha is beneficial for muscle building for many reasons, The primary reasons for this are that it increases testosterone, decreases cortisol, increases DHEA, has been proven to improve strength, decreases body fat, and is able to help build more muscle. All these effects have been researched and are backed up with evidence from controlled studies.
The other positive effects from ashwagandha are better mood, less stress, better sleep, and a higher libido. The side effects from taking this supplement may be dizziness, tiredness, and headaches. For the best dose of ashwagandha, start at around 250-400mg then work up to the range of 500mg-1g. You can take more than 1g but it is better to limit how much you take to 1-2g maximum at once. The best way to take these doses is over the course of the day at 2-4 separate times.