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When to Take Ashwagandha for Muscle Growth

Taking ashwagandha in the morning, before workouts, or in the evening can optimize muscle growth. Timing depends on individual goals and preferences.

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb, has gained popularity in the fitness community for its potential benefits in muscle growth and physical performance. This article explores the optimal timing for taking ashwagandha to maximize muscle growth, supported by scientific evidence and expert recommendations.

Understanding Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is renowned for its adaptogenic properties. It helps the body manage stress and has been shown to increase levels of growth hormone and testosterone. Both are essential for muscle building. Additionally, ashwagandha enhances protein synthesis in muscle cells, reduces inflammation, and improves muscle recovery, according to a study.

Benefits for Muscle Growth

Increased Testosterone Levels: Testosterone is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. Studies show ashwagandha can significantly increase testosterone levels in men, leading to improved muscle mass and strength.

Enhanced Muscle Strength and Size: A study involving 57 young male subjects found that those who took 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily for eight weeks experienced significant increases in muscle strength and size compared to a placebo group (NCBI).

Improved Muscle Recovery: Ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after intense workouts, speeding up recovery time.

Optimal Timing for Ashwagandha Intake

The timing of ashwagandha supplementation can significantly impact its effectiveness for muscle growth. Here are the key considerations:

Morning Intake

Taking ashwagandha in the morning can be beneficial for several reasons:

Reduction of Cortisol Levels: Cortisol, a stress hormone, is typically highest in the morning. High cortisol levels can hinder muscle growth by breaking down muscle tissue. Taking ashwagandha in the morning can help reduce cortisol levels, promoting muscle growth throughout the day.

Improved Strength and Performance: A 2018 study found that a once-a-day 500 mg dose of ashwagandha taken in the morning for 12 weeks resulted in significant improvements in upper-body and lower-body strength.

Pre-Workout Intake

Taking ashwagandha about an hour before a workout can enhance performance and improve recovery time:

Enhanced Performance: Ashwagandha can improve muscular strength and endurance, making it an excellent pre-workout supplement. It can also be combined with other supplements like creatine and beta-alanine for even better results.

Improved Recovery: By reducing muscle damage and inflammation, ashwagandha helps athletes recover speedyer from intense workouts, allowing for more frequent and effective training sessions.

Evening Intake

Taking ashwagandha in the evening or before bed can also be beneficial, particularly for those who struggle with stress and sleep issues:

Improved Sleep Quality: Ashwagandha has been shown to improve sleep quality, crucial for muscle recovery and growth. A 2020 study found that 120 mg of ashwagandha taken two hours before bed for six weeks significantly enhanced overall sleep quality.

Reduced Cortisol Levels: Taking ashwagandha before bed can help reduce cortisol levels throughout the night, further promoting muscle growth and recovery.

Dosage Recommendations

The optimal dosage of ashwagandha for muscle growth can vary based on individual needs and goals. However, studies have generally used doses ranging from 300-600 mg per day. It is crucial to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it to avoid potential side effects.

General Guidelines

For General Health: A daily dose of 300-500 mg of standardized ashwagandha extract is recommended for promoting overall health and well-being.

For Muscle Growth and Performance: A dose of 500-600 mg per day is commonly suggested for athletic performance and muscle growth. This can be divided into two equal parts to maintain consistent levels of ashwagandha in the system throughout the day.

Combining Ashwagandha with Other Supplements

Ashwagandha can be combined with other supplements to further enhance its benefits for muscle growth and physical performance:

Creatine: Combining ashwagandha with creatine can improve muscular strength and endurance.

Whey Protein: Taking ashwagandha alongside whey protein can promote muscle growth and recovery.

Beta-Alanine: This supplement helps increase muscle endurance and reduce fatigue during high-intensity exercise.

BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids): Essential for muscle growth and repair, BCAAs can be taken with ashwagandha for even greater benefits.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While ashwagandha is generally considered safe, it is crucial to be aware of potential side effects and precautions:

Mild Stomach Discomfort: Taking very high doses of ashwagandha or taking it on an empty stomach may cause mild stomach discomfort in some people. It is advised to take ashwagandha after a meal to enhance absorption and reduce the risk of stomach issues.

Interactions with Medications: Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications or have adverse effects in some individuals. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting ashwagandha supplements, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha helps manage stress and boosts muscle growth.
  • Morning intake reduces cortisol levels.
  • Pre-workout intake enhances performance and recovery.
  • Evening intake improves sleep quality and reduces cortisol.
  • Optimal dosage ranges from 300-600 mg per day.
  • Combining with other supplements can enhance benefits.
  • Be aware of potential side effects and consult a healthcare professional.

Summary

Ashwagandha offers several potential benefits for muscle growth and physical performance, including increased testosterone levels, enhanced muscle strength and size, and improved muscle recovery. The optimal timing for taking ashwagandha can vary based on individual goals and preferences. Taking it in the morning can help reduce cortisol levels and improve strength, while taking it before a workout can enhance performance and recovery.

Evening intake can improve sleep quality and further reduce cortisol levels. Regardless of the timing, it is crucial to follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

References

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