CBD is taking the nation by storm with an incredible amount of fanfare. After all, CBD and athletics seem tailor made for each other. Meanwhile, you’ve probably started finding new variations of CBD infused products showing up in your daily life almost everywhere (think grocery store isles).
But as an athlete, you’re probably wondering how to cut through the clutter and get what you need. So now let’s take a look at one of this plant compound’s most exciting areas of application — endurance sports.
While we’ve hinted at some of these benefits already, CBD’s potential to improve athletic performance warrants a deeper dive. So, we decided to compile everything we know about CBD and athletics here. Enjoy!
- CBD is an adaptogen
- CBD reduces stress
- CBD improves fat metabolism
- CBD reduces inflammation & free radicals
- CBD improves mitochondrial health
- CBD improves insulin sensitivity
- CBD is a neuroprotectant which may help protect against sports injuries
- CBD reduces pain
An adaptogen is defined as something that helps the body adapt to stress. Though CBD isn’t yet officially classified as an adaptogen, it definitely should be. That means it helps the body adapt to exercise, which is a form of stress — good stress — in and of itself.
The most effective workout plan carefully balances training stress and active recovery; in its role as an adaptogenic compound, CBD makes it easier to walk this fine line.
Taking things a step further, CBD reduces existing stress. It may even reduce the risk of overtraining syndrome and the central nervous system exhaustion that accompanies it.
Conversely, CBD also allows for a greater stress tolerance. That means you can train harder and bounce back faster… without getting burned out. All in all, the benefits are pretty impressive. Keep reading to learn more about how they happen behind the scenes.
As an endurance athlete, your training probably already promotes increased fat oxidation and better glycogen storage. You may even train fasted to really boost things. CBD simply accentuates this, which means improved endurance and a stabler mood both on and off the trail. And if you can stay in fat burning mode during low and moderate intensity exercise, you’ll have much more fast-burning fuel left for the really intense stuff. The CBD molecule itself seems to be engineered for endurance.
Though the mechanisms used here are complex, one way CBD may promote fat oxidation is through the activation of brown adipose tissue, or ‘brown fat’, which is more metabolically active than regular fat stores. Another plus? Higher brown fat levels are good for weight loss.
CBD’s ability to reduce inflammatory markers is clearly good for exercise recovery. By boosting the endocannabinoid system, CBD helps immune cells work efficiently to target the right areas. This means lower overall inflammation…and better immunity exactly where it counts.
In addition, CBD is so effective for keeping free radicals in check that the US government has a patent on the subject. Remember that free radicals aren’t entirely bad; in appropriate amounts, they act as helpful signals of stress and friction. CBD helps keep free radical levels in the right range, keeping your training response stays strong.
This means good things for your endurance. You may have heard that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, but did you know that every mitochondrion contains endocannabinoid receptors?
As it turns out, they do! That’s why CBD is able to improve mitochondrial health, which in turn has beneficial downstream effects on fat burning and other qualities we’ve already mentioned. CBD may even improve mitochondrial density, which is a great marker of athletic endurance.
People with diabetes were among the first to notice that CBD can reduce blood sugar — some actually see such improvement that they’re able to get off exogenous insulin!
But CBD’s ability to regulate blood sugar isn’t just good for those with diabetes. This same quality is great for athletes. After all, blood sugar regulation stems from improvements in the body’s response to insulin, also called insulin sensitivity. With improved insulin sensitivity comes the chance for gradual improvements in body composition. That’s because insulin sensitive muscles are more efficient at both intra-workout fat burning and post-workout growth.
While brain health is obviously important to those in contact sports, endurance athletes can stand to benefit, too. CBD’s neuroprotective qualities may guard against concussions and other head trauma. And if a concussion were to occur, CBD also promotes neuroplasticity, fostering the growth of healthy new neural pathways.
Endurance athletes who are at risk for concussions, like competitive cyclists, may even want to consider taking CBD pre-race as a preventative measure. If nothing else, the CBD will likely increase fat oxidation and improve your endurance a little!
This effect is one of CBD’s most powerful, and also one of the main reasons our customers take the plant compound! CBD’s especially promising to athletes, as it reduces inflammation and pain without dampening the training response like aspirin or NSAIDS would. That makes it good for both sports injuries and the more generalized trauma of intense workouts. Athletes who routinely take CBD are reporting less injuries, less joint pain, and less muscle soreness in general.
Overall, CBD presents a promising chance to boost your athletic performance. Of the many factors that impact endurance, CBD improves many of them: it speeds recovery and improves mental resilience; it effectively reduces pain, inflammation and the risk of injury, and it even promotes good sleep. And while it may not directly improve hydration or nutrition, its effects on fat oxidation and leptin levels may make it easier to eat better!