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Whether your health and fitness regime includes weightlifting, high-intensity cardio, or any other type of workout, you have definitely encountered muscle soreness after a strenuous session.
Many people opt to take painkillers after a workout in order to ease the aches and pains, while some let the body heal itself in a natural manner and do not mind dealing with the infamous delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Needless to say, taking painkillers regularly is not an ideal solution and one’s body generally adapts to a demanding exercise regime after a while.
However, is there a surprising relationship between cannabidiol (CBD) and working out?
There is a plethora of evidence that CBD oil may be used as a dietary supplement that helps alleviate a wide range of health issues including insomnia, social anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, epilepsy, diabetes and potentially even obesity and functional disorders of the digestive system.
Working in harmony with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD can assist in maintaining homeostasis in the human body.
This logically leads us to examine the potency of CBD as a natural way of eliminating post-workout aches, pains and muscle soreness.
Can CBD help you reach your fitness goals?
Absolutely, since it may act as an anti-catabolic dietary health supplement!
Furthermore, there is potential evidence that this increasingly popular cannabinoid may boost stamina as a result of the CBD-optimized homeostasis maintained by the ECS.
But before further discussing the fitness-related benefits of CBD when used as a dietary supplement, it is vital to understand that human bodies are naturally built for survival and longevity, rather than to carry large amounts of muscle mass, look aesthetically pleasing or run daily marathons!
Our endocrine system has evolved in a sophisticated manner in order to produce catabolic hormones such as cortisol which break down the muscle mass and allow the body to utilize the resulting amino acids for other functions.
In a way, the human body self regulates the amount of its muscle mass through the release of cortisol and this, in turn, promotes our longevity in general.
How does cortisol actually work?
Cortisol is the human body’s primary catabolic hormone that gets released by the adrenal glands under conditions of high mental and physical stress.
The level of cortisol generally fluctuates throughout the day – usually at its peak in the morning, decreasing during the day, and at its lowest at night. This explains why muscle recovery occurs most efficiently during sleep.
The main functions of cortisol are as follows:
- Reduction of protein synthesis which is associated with a state of hypertrophy whereby individual muscle cells increase in size
- Facilitation of the protein to glucose conversion which generates energy
- Inhibition of tissue growth (i.e. catabolic effect)
- Helps the removal of toxins from the body
- Enhances short-term memory
- Regulates the sugar level in the blood
Furthermore, while it may sound counterintuitive, high-intensity workouts actually trigger an increase in cortisol levels which inhibits our muscles from growing significantly.
Thus, it becomes apparent that it is essential to control the release of cortisol in order to facilitate muscular growth and maximize the effectiveness of your gym routine.
The effect of CBD on cortisol levels
Finally, this is where CBD comes in handy as a potentially anti-catabolic supplement!
A scientific study in the Brazilian journal of medical and biological research demonstrates that CBD and cortisol are closely related. In particular, it appears that CBD intake interferes with cortisol secretion and has a direct effect on reducing cortisol levels in the blood.
Maximizing muscle gains and recovery with CBD
High-quality post-workout nutrition is essential for optimizing your fitness results!
If you are looking to minimize the effects of DOMS after a weightlifting session, in particular, it might be worth investigating CBD oil as a post-workout supplement (without compulsory pre-workout intake). Simply add a few drops of CBD oil into your post-workout protein shake and you are good to go!
However, it is important to note that CBD can also be used as a pre-workout supplement to balance cortisol levels since it has been shown that CBD is associated with limited negative side effects (hyperlink side effects article) even at high daily doses of up to 1500 mg.
Furthermore, CBD also reduces inflammation and potentially promotes better sleep quality which aids recovery and drastically improves muscle gains and overall fitness.
Do professional athletes use CBD to enhance their performance?
Whilst numerous sources claim that CBD is now widely used among top-level athletes, this appears to be a peculiar statement based on purely anecdotal evidence.
A recent Forbes article from August 2018 claims that professional sports leagues are only starting to gradually allow CBD usage. However, the author argues that further scientific research is required, but will likely prove that CBD is a desperately needed natural remedy for athletes to recover from injuries without long term effects or addictions.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) clearly states that athletes may use CBD at their own risk since CBD products are very risky for athletes subject to anti-doping rules owing to the fact that it is nearly impossible to obtain a pure CBD extract or oil.
Generally speaking, CBD is permitted according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but regular products may contain other prohibited cannabinoids such as THC, CBN, CBG, and so on.
In conclusion, if you are a competitive athlete that gets regularly tested you should be extremely careful and perform due diligence before supplementing with CBD products!
A further word of caution if you want to use CBD for your fitness
Please remember that you should not expect miracles – CBD is a dietary supplement that may enhance your fitness results but definitely not an anabolic steroid!
Always be wary of overly-exaggerated positive reviews since reputable sellers and manufacturers will not claim that CBD is a “miracle pill” solution to all of your life’s problems, and same applies when it comes to CBD and working out.
Please remember that a well-structured and consistent exercise routine will improve your physique and well-being, as will a healthy well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
You must avoid binging on fast food if you expect to achieve excellent fitness related results, but you can occasionally treat yourself with a cheat meal or even a cheat day without any significant adverse effects!
CBD may be incorporated into your nutritional regime as a dietary supplement which may be beneficial to your fitness performance. If facilitation of muscular growth and increase of stamina are your fitness goals, you should definitely give CBD a trial run as it has little to no side effects.
As usual, consult with your doctor before consumption and start off with a low daily dose of 5 mg while keeping a log of the observed performance changes. Gradually increase the CBD dosage as deemed necessary.