Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), an herb with thousands of years of traditional use in Ayurvedic medicine, is one of the well-known and best-selling adaptogens. One possible translation of the Sanskrit name of ashwagandha – “horse essence” – hints at its potential application for sports performance and related categories. In addition, the term also relates to the strength, vitality and vigour of the animal, all qualities which ‘Ashwagandha’ itself imbibes.
In the recent years, several studies have highlighted how Ashwagandha can be a sports performance game changer. Ashwagandha has been found to boost VO2 max, a scientific measure of how well your body produces energy to meet your activity demands. Researchers believe that Ashwagandha boosts hemoglobin and red blood cell count, which increases the capacity of blood to transport oxygen to the peripheral system, thereby increasing VO2 max. Ashwagandha, the powerhouse, is also known to increase energy production in the muscles through its beneficial effects on the mitochondria, the ultimate powerhouse of the cell, thus producing energy through the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
In an oft quoted study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers examined the effects of KSM-66 Ashwagandha root extract on cardiorespiratory endurance over 8 weeks. The study found that participants who supplemented with KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract (600mg/day) experienced a significant increase of 16.40% in VO2 max – which is an indication of the amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise.
A second study published in Ayu, investigated the effects of KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract supplementation on the cardiorespiratory endurance in 50 healthy adults. This 12-week randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial revealed that KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplementation (600mg/day) was responsible for 11.8% and 13.6 % increase in VO2 max at week 8 and the end of the study, respectively.
In a third study, KSM-66 Ashwagandha root extract supplementation (600mg/day), showed a marked improvement of 10.52 % in VO2 max in males and 6.89% in females at the end of the study.
Ashwagandha is not only available as a standalone dietary supplement, but has also been incorporated into broader sports nutrition formulas such as pre- and post-workout ones. There are plenty of products on the market for endurance and energy which use KSM-66 Ashwagandha.
Nature Wise Ashwagandha for Endurance
Daily Nutra Cordyceps Endurance Formula
Natural Force Cordyceps Pro
ProSupps Dr Jekyll Signature Pre-Workout Powder
Natural Force Organic Pre-Workout
Optimum Nutrition Pro Pre Strawberry Burst
Nature’s Essence Energy Pro
Aperegina Pre-Workout Extreme