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Cordyceps vs. Caffeine: Which offers better energy for athletes?

Cordyceps vs. Caffeine: Which offers better energy for athletes?

Athletes often face the challenge of maintaining optimal energy levels to maximize performance and ensure effective recovery. While caffeine has long been the go-to energizer for many, a growing interest in natural, less stimulating options has brought Cordyceps functional mushrooms into the spotlight. In this post, we'll delve into the benefits and drawbacks of both Cordyceps and caffeine to help you decide which might be better for your athletic needs.


Understanding Caffeine and Cordyceps

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant found in coffee, tea, and many energy drinks. It's known for providing a quick energy boost by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain — those are the receptors that help you feel more alert and delays the onset of fatigue.

Cordyceps functional mushrooms, on the other hand, are a type of medicinal mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Today, they're gaining popularity among athletes for their potential to enhance energy production without the jitters associated with caffeine. Cordyceps is even being included in specialty cordyceps energy drinks aimed at providing sustained energy for endurance sports.


Mechanisms of Action

Caffeine increases adrenaline levels and boosts blood flow, enhancing alertness and physical performance but can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Conversely, Cordyceps are believed to improve the body's use of oxygen which, in turn, improves the production of ATP (the energy currency of cells). This leads to enhanced endurance, with less cardiovascular stress.


Benefits and Drawbacks

Caffeine for athletes:

  • Pros: Immediate increase in energy and focus, improved reaction times. And coffee is delicious. 
  • Cons: Can cause insomnia, nervousness, and in some cases, dependency if consumed in large amounts regularly.

Cordyceps for athletes:

  • Pros: Supports energy enhancement naturally, with additional benefits like boosting immune function and respiratory health.
  • Cons: The effects are likely most potent when used regularly, over time. Many consumer products on the market today do not include an adequate Cordyceps dosage for athletes (see our recommended intake guidelines for Cordyceps here).

Jake Plummer, the former Pro-Bowl NFL quarterback, peers out through a forest of Cordyceps militaris


Comparative Studies and Athlete Testimonials

Studies have shown that caffeine can enhance performance in short bursts of intense exercise and endurance sports. However, Cordyceps are not to be underestimated. Research indicates that Cordyceps energy benefits include increased resistance to fatigue and improved stamina, which can be crucial for endurance athletes.

Athlete testimonials often highlight the lack of "crash" associated with Cordyceps energy, unlike the rapid drop in energy some experience with caffeine. For example, endurance athletes who have switched to Cordyceps energy drinks report more stable energy levels during long races.


When I started using functional mushrooms, Cordyceps was the first one. It was like an immediate impact — for the energy alone!

—”Suga” Rashad Evans

Athletes should choose Cordyceps

No one here is going to look down on a delicious cup of coffee in the morning. If your activities require short, intense bursts of energy, or you need a quick wake-up before a morning training session, caffeine might be a suitable option.

However, it's pretty clear that when it comes to improving athletic performance, Cordyceps is the winner. Cordyceps is better for anyone looking for a more sustainable and natural approach to boosting energy. 



Love Cordyceps?

Have you tried using Cordyceps for your sport? What was your experience? Share your stories in the comments below—we’d love to hear about your experiments and outcomes with these energizers!