The Functional Mushroom Playbook
The definitive guide for how athletes can use functional mushrooms to level up their game in sports performance and sports recovery
A starting point for an athlete's journey with functional mushrooms
Functional mushrooms for athletes: An introduction
Amateur or professional athlete, functional mushrooms are not a part of a typical athlete’s diet. They should be, but they’re not. This is an introduction to the world of mushrooms for athletes, including the three types of mushroom, and the potential for athletes to tap into age-old insights to gain an edge in performance and recovery.
The benefits of functional mushrooms for athletes
This article explores the wide-ranging benefits of functional mushrooms for athletes, highlighting their role as adaptogens and their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. It focuses on how these mushrooms can generally enhance both athletic performance and recovery.
Choosing the right functional mushrooms for your sport
There are many different species of 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. This advice provides a starting point in considering which functional mushrooms to use and how to incorporate them into your own routines and diets.
Erasing the stigma: Functional mushrooms are not psychedelic
Broader shifts in cultural attitudes towards psychoactive mushrooms containing psilocybin has led to misunderstanding and negative stigma around many other types of mushrooms. This article explains that functional mushrooms are both 100% legal in the entirety of the United States, and are also decidedly not psychedelic.
Functional Mushroom All-Star Team
Click on the image to meet each functional mushroom, and continue reading below how each mushroom can boost performance or recovery for athletes
The Hydration Heavyweight
The Endurance Powerhouse
The Stealth Fatigue Fighter
The Second Brain Booster
The Natural Energy Source
The Focused Playmaker
The Mind Sharpener
The Queen of Relaxation
The Utility Player
Mushrooms for performance
All functional mushrooms contain a load of antioxidants, but Chaga has the highest levels of any superfood. It supports all-around health, but especially endurance and mid-workout recovery, helping athletes recover faster between training sessions and competitions.
Known as the athlete’s mushroom, Cordyceps helps your body take in and use oxygen, fueling energy production on a cellular level. It provides a sustainable energy boost—without the jitters or crashes associated with stimulants. It also supports endurance, reduced inflammation, and quicker recovery.
The versatile Lion's Mane helps sharpen cognitive function. During workouts and competitions, this means boosting strategic thinking and reaction times, and also helping to lock in learning.
Oysters are functional mushrooms that are a nutritional dynamo for athletes, high in fiber, beta-glucans, and essential vitamins and minerals. They're packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, such as ergothioneine, that promote healthy cholesterol levels, help to reduce cellular damage, and enhance overall health.
Poria Sclerotia isn’t a fruiting body mushroom — think of it more like a functional mushroom truffle, waiting to emerge from underground, storing energy and goodness until the time is right. It is a powerhouse of benefits. Nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory, it has been used to help fight fatigue and is something every athlete should include in their diet.
A little food for thought: Shiitake is a functional mushroom known to be a powerful brain booster. It's chock full of beta-glucans and minerals, including high concentrations of B vitamins and folate (a.k.a. energy makers) that help to turn food into energy and sharpen mental clarity.
Mushrooms for recovery
The versatile Lion's Mane helps sharpen cognitive function. During sleep, this translates to deeper and more restful REM sleep, and the vivid dreams that come along with it. Which, in turn, means more productive workout recovery.
The "queen of mushrooms" Reishi is an all-star player for de-stressing the nervous system and promoting whole-body relaxation and resilience. This is in addition to its potent ability to combat inflammation and fortify the immune system.
Tremella can hold up to 500 times its weight in water. So when you're thinking about staying hydrated, this is a no-brainer. Because Tremella supports whole-body hydration, it also benefits the body's joints and fascia. Not only that, it is rich in antioxidants and will bolster the immune system.
Turkey Tail is a functional mushroom that acts as a prebiotic to support gut health. The gut is a so-called "second brain," helping you to maintain mood and a healthy response to stress. Turkey Tail also helps the immune function, reinforcing the more than half of the body's immune cells that exist in the digestive system.