Over the past several years more and more athletes and fitness enthusiasts have been turning toward natural supplements and foods to improve performance. You’ve probably heard of Whey protein, Soy protein and Creatine and maybe even know about Taurine and Ginseng. But there is another food that is starting to make waves in the natural fitness arena. That food is called: Maca.
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the extreme conditions of the high Andes and that has been used for 1000s of years as a staple food. Maca is incredibly nutrient dense and is one of the world’s best foods for balancing and increasing hormones. It has been and is currently used for a variety of health improvement purposes, among them natural energy boosting and muscle building.
Maca helps to build muscle in 5 distinct ways:
• Maca raises your energy in a balanced way – To build muscle, you’ve got to exercise and to exercise you need energy. But unlike the energy you get from carbohydrates, sugar or caffeine, the energy you get from Maca is sustained and consistent. One good serving of Maca lasts most people several hours with no crashing afterwards.
• Maca is a good source of quality protein – Maca powder contains 4 grams of protein per tablespoon. There is some debate among natural bodybuilders as to how much protein a person should have daily, but the average recommended intake is about 1.5 grams per 1 KG of body weight. If you weigh 60 KG, for example, you would take 90 grams of protein or so. That figure is based on animal proteins, which are harder for the body to assimilate. Vegetarian bodybuilders need to consume less protein because the body breaks down plant proteins easier. If you take just 2 tablespoons per day, you already get 8 grams of protein in addition to Maca’s other benefits.
• Maca is anabolic – the word “anabolic” itself means “building up muscle,” and that’s something Maca helps to do.. Jeff Anderson of naturalbodybuildingtips.com says: “My day always starts with a protein shake. This typically consists of a vegetarian protein source like rice, pea or hemp protein, or some combination of the three. Blend 30-40 grams of protein in 8oz of organic coconut milk and 8-12 oz water. I also add a banana, some mixed frozen berries, a Tbsp of cacao nibs, and 2 Tbsp maca powder to naturally increase my testosterone to build more muscle.“
• Maca balances hormones for both men and women – Maca works as an adaptogen, which means that it adapts to the needs of a specific body based on health condition and gender. Both men and women can benefit from taking Maca for increased athletic performance and bodybuilding because it stimulates the production of balanced levels of appropriate hormones: testosterone for men and estrogen for women. That makes Maca unique among all supplements for muscle building.
• Maca reduces the size of the prostate – Studies have shown that Red Maca in particular reduces the size of the prostate gland. This is important of course for older men. But it’s also important for any males who have ever tried steroids of any kind. Steroids enlarge the prostate, which can lead to some life threatening consequences.
Maca is suitable for vegan and raw food vegan bodybuilders
There are some amazingly accomplished natural bodybuilders who’ve created their strength exclusively through raw food vegan foods. Some of my personal inspirations are:
• Stephen Alrin (a.k.a Thor Bazler), author of “Raw Power – The Power of Raw Foods, Superfoods and Building Strength and Muscle Naturally”, has used Maca for years and includes it in his natural raw food bodybuilding supplements.
• Mike Adams, the Health Ranger of www.naturalnews.com says this about Maca: “Many bodybuilders use, instead of artificial steroids, the natural power of Maca tuber. Maca naturally stimulates the body’s own production of testosterone and it gives visible results in strength and endurance sports.”
• Peter Ragnar, who has performed various world class feats of strength as a 100% raw vegan, told us that he has gotten great gains in strength using Maca and hemp seed powder.
• Bijan Anjomi, who captured the title of “Mr. Universe – Natural Division” three times – in the years 1993 and 1994 at ages 51 and 52 – – and finally in 2003 at age 60, did so as a vegan and taking Maca.
In terms of getting the most from adding Maca to your training routine, I recommend using 60% Black Maca for muscle building combined with 40% Red Maca for prostate. It commonly comes in the form of a powder and is easy to mix into smoothies and drinks. I personally take about 1.5 tablespoons a day at 165 lbs. and sometimes a bit more when I’m going to work out especially hard. One final tip is to make sure that you only get Peruvian grown, organic Maca products. There are some inferior products grown in China and grown in other parts of the Andes with chemicals and pesticides. Watch out for those. I wish you all the best in all your fitness activities.
For the latest on Maca and to try some of The Maca Team’s products, check out their website here.
Mark Ament is an avid mountain biker and hiker who has followed a vegetarian diet for over 20 years. He adds many superfoods into his daily routine including Maca. In 2008 he took his passion for high quality products and founded The Maca Team, LLC. In the past several years his family run company has grown to the point where it now sources and sells the world’s largest selection of certified organic, GMO free, Peruvian grown Maca products.
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