Maca powder has gained popularity between natural bodybuilders, as a natural product that helps to build muscle mass. Is this true?
What is maca powder?
Maca is the root of the maca plant. It is grown in the mountains of Peru. In most cases, maca is grown at an altitude above 13,000 feet (4,000 m) from the sea level. It may be the highest-altitude crop in the world.
Moreover, the maca plant is used in the region, for medical purposes for thousands of years.
It is believed that maca has helped the locals to withstand the harsh conditions.
Health benefits of maca powder
Research has shown that maca may affect sexual behavior, fertility, the mood, high blood pressure, memory, osteoporosis, metabolism, and the treatment of some tumor entities (3).
Maybe some health benefits are due to maca unique compounds, called macamides. No other plant contains them. Further research is needed, though.
Most noteworthy, maca is known for its ability to correct hormonal imbalances in men and women (2).
Also, maca may help women entering perimenopausal.
Is Maca high in protein?
According to the USDA, maca powder is 20% protein.
Moreover, mama powder is rich in dietary fiber (20%), and sugars (40%).
Practically, a teaspoon of maca contains 1 gram of protein.
Furthermore, a tablespoon of maca contains approximately 3.5 grams of protein.
Is Maca good for bodybuilding?
Yes, maca is a good source of protein. Is this the reason for its popularity, though?
Hemp, soy, or pea protein are also good supplements, for building muscle mass.
So, why is maca good for a bodybuilder?
Maca is considered a non-hormonal energizing supplement (2). It can assist physically active people, and people who follow demanding exercises.
Moreover, studies have found that maca stimulate the metabolism (2). Better metabolism means a leaner body.
Also, maca may increase the energy and vitality of a person.
Last, but not least, maca powder has linked to stress reduction (2). For instance, stress can affect the function of the immune system, or the cardiovascular system.
So, can maca powder help you build muscle mass?
Maca powder helps you build muscle mass, as it acts as an energy stimulus. It boosts energy levels steadily.
So, you can work out harder and longer. Maca powder increases both endurance and also muscular stamina.
Furthermore, some maca manufactures claim that maca powder reduces recovery time.
Moreover, in a study, researchers gave bike athletes maca powder, as a natural supplement. Seems like maca powder improved athletes’ performance (4).
So, maca powder may act as a natural stimulant, that improves strength and endurance.
Finally, a study linked maca powder to a better overall health status (5).
How to recover faster?
Moreover, vitamin C can reduce recovery time. It’s a powerful antioxidant, that it fights free radicals.
Free radicals are produced in the muscles during exercise. The faster you get rid of them, means less recovery time.
Another food supplement that speeds up muscle recovery is amla powder. Due to its rich antioxidant content.
The amino acid profile of maca powder
Maca powder contains 19 acids.
The most abundant amino acids of maca powder are arginine, serine, histidine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and threonine (6).
Moreover, maca powder contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Another good food supplement for building muscle mass is moringa powder. Moringa powder is 30% protein. Also, it contains all the essential amino acids. Furthermore, it’s rich in antioxidants. So, moringa powder can speed up muscle recovery.
Does Maca affect testosterone?
To date, maca hasn’t been shown to affect total serum testosterone levels in humans.
A 2011 study tried to find out the effect of maca powder to testosterone. It showed that maca powder didn’t affect testosterone levels. (1)
Should I take Maca before or after workout?
You should take a teaspoon of maca powder before a workout.
Maca powder will give you the energy you want to follow a hard exercise plan.
So, maca powder will energize the body naturally. Contrary to caffeine, maca powder provides energy in a more balanced way.
Moreover, it is good for stress reduction.
In any case, better avoid consumption of maca powder late at night.
Finally, consider consuming beets, as they are rich in nitrates. Studies have shown that nitrates promote athletic performance. More here.
Does Maca have side effects?
Maca doesn’t have any significant side effects.
Maybe you better consult your physician if you’re on medication, though. Especially if you have a hormone condition. There are reports that maca extracts might act like estrogen.
Certainly, maca root doesn’t contain plant estrogens or any other phytohormones. It is confirmed by many studies (2).
Scientists believe that maca helps to maintain hormonal balance, by stimulating the endocrine system. Due to, the fact that maca is rich in sterols (2).
Sterols are present in both animal and plant food. They are a subgroup of steroids. Moreover, sterols affect fat-soluble vitamins and steroid hormones.
Plant sterols have linked to decreased LDL cholesterol, cancer risk, and weight loss.
How much Maca per day?
Consumption of maca is considered pretty safe (2).
Data has shown that maca consumption not only is safe but also can improve the health status (3).
So, the daily dosage of maca is up to you.
Start with 1 teaspoon of maca daily. You can increase the dosage if you train harder.
You can add 1-2 teaspoons of maca powder to your smoothie.
What type of maca powder to prefer?
Prefer the gelatinized form. It’s more digestible and concentrated.
Also, gelatinized form is better for people with digestion problems.
The gelatinization process removes some starchy components that are hard to digest.
The label should write “Gelatinized Maca”. Otherwise, it’s the cheaper raw maca.
- A 2011 study: First case report of testosterone assay-interference in a female taking maca
- International Journal of Biomedical Science: Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca
- PMC: Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Maca, a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands
- Northumbria University, Newcastle: A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen.
- PubMed: Role of maca consumption on serum interleukin-6 levels and health status in populations living in the Peruvian Central Andes over 4000 m of altitude.
- The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: The Tropical Plant Database