There are many different species of functional mushrooms and one size definitely does not fit all. Different sports put different demands on athletes, and each athlete plays their sport in their own ways. All of which to say, take the following advice as a starting point in considering which functional mushrooms to use and how to incorporate them into your own routines and diets. As you do, here are some key questions to ask yourself:
1. What are the needs of your sport?
For example, the game of soccer, with an emphasis on bursts of speed and intuitive ball passing, clearly demands different things than the long, sustained running required by a marathon.
2. What are the needs of your position or role in that sport?
For example, in football, the physicality and defensive instincts of a linebacker is a very different skill set than the speed and precision required of a wide receiver. Not to mention that they each tend to train differently, have different body types, and have different dietary needs.
3. What is your personal style of play?
You are the one who knows you best. What are the strengths and weaknesses in your game? Be sure to consider how your mind works as well as your body.
4. What are your personal sport and health goals?
What does “peak” athletic performance look like for you? For some, just getting off the couch and running a 5k is a big objective, while others want to be serious contenders for a UFC belt or World Cup trophy. Beyond athletic performance or recovery, also consider your personal health objectives.
To kick-start your thinking, here are some functional mushrooms to consider for a whole range of different sports. Obviously, this list should be seen as only a starting point, to help you figure out what will work best for you in your sport.
- Baseball and softball: The strategic nature of the game benefits from Lion's Mane for mental clarity. The recovery aspects of Reishi and Turkey Tail can help with the frequent games and potentially even the stresses of traveling to road games.
- Basketball: The fast pace and agility required in basketball align with the energy-boosting properties of Cordyceps. For support in seeing the floor and snap decision-making, consider the focus-enhancing abilities of Lion’s Mane.
- Boxing: The high-intensity demands of boxing align with the energy boost from Cordyceps and cognitive support from Lion’s Mane, crucial for in-ring strategy.
- Cycling: Cyclists could use Cordyceps for sustained energy during long rides and Chaga for its antioxidant properties to aid in recovery from the physical demands of cycling.
- Football: The physical intensity and mental pressure in football can be balanced with Cordyceps for energy and Lion's Mane for cognitive benefits, helping with strategy and decision-making on the field. Post-game, anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms like Poria can assist in recovery from physical impacts and injuries.
- Golf: The mental game in golf can benefit from Lion’s Mane for focus. The anti-inflammatory properties of Reishi and Poria can assist with the dreaded golfer’s elbow and the repetitive motion of swinging.
- Handball: The high-intensity and fast-paced nature of handball often benefits from Cordyceps, which boosts energy and endurance. And Lion’s Mane can help players with cognitive functions like focus, reaction time, and strategic thinking, which are crucial in a fast and tactical sport like handball.
- Hiking: Hikers can benefit from Turkey Tail for immune support, especially important in outdoor activities, and Lion’s Mane for cognitive clarity while wayfinding and navigation.
- Ice Hockey: Cordyceps can enhance energy levels for hockey players when they’re on the ice, while Chaga can help support mid-game endurance. The physicality of ice hockey demands big-time recovery, which is where Reishi can help.
- Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): Athletes can use Cordyceps for increased energy during training and fights, and Lion's Mane for improved cognitive function, crucial for strategic fighting and reaction times. Post-fight, Reishi and Turkey Tail can aid in stress management and immune support.
- Soccer: Soccer players, needing continuous energy and stamina, might find Cordyceps useful for endurance. Lion's Mane can enhance strategic play and on-field decision-making. For recovery, Shiitake and Reishi can support muscle recovery and overall well-being, given the high physical demands of the sport.
- Swimming: In a sport that demands both physical and mental resilience, swimmers may benefit from Cordyceps for energy and stamina during longer workouts or races, as well as Reishi for recovery and stress management.
- Tennis: The endurance and quick reflexes needed in tennis can be supported by Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane, enhancing both physical stamina and mental agility.
- Track and Field: Athletes can use Cordyceps for increased energy and endurance, critical for both sprinters and long-distance runners. They should consider Chaga for better endurance over time. Lion’s Mane can help with being in the moment during high-pressure competitions.
- Wrestling: The combination of physical strength and strategic combat in wrestling can benefit from Cordyceps for energy and Shiitake for immune support.