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Is Maca Pre-Workout Good? (6 Healthy Benefits You Must Know)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Maca is one of the many popular items in the superfood world. Many bodybuilders and athletes use it to boost their energy levels and supplement their diet.

As a fitness expert, I was curious whether its effects were real or exaggerated. So, I teamed up with a dietician, read some clinical studies, and even had some clients incorporate this supplement into their diet.

Here’s what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Maca root powder is a popular pre-workout in the superfood world and is used by many athletes to enhance their nutrition.
  • It can benefit your health by improving mood, increasing libido, promoting cognitive function, and reducing inflammation.
  • Maca powder is a versatile food and can be combined with other foods.

So What Exactly is Maca?

A scoop of maca on top of a pile

Maca is a Peruvian plant grown in the Andes mountains. It’s a cruciferous vegetable (like kale, cabbage, and broccoli) that’s been used since early times by Inca warriors.

It’s commonly used in Peruvian cooking. It can be ground into a powder and can be added to your meals (more popularly, smoothies).

While maca root itself is hard to digest, its powdered form is more palatable and digestible. It has a robust earthy taste and is similar to a butterscotch flavor.

One ounce (28 grams) of maca root powder consists of over 70% carbs [8].

Here’s the complete list of the nutrients:

  • 91 calories
  • 20 grams of carbs
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of fat

Does Maca Make a Good Pre-Workout?

Close up shot of Maca in a bowl

Yes, Maca may make a good pre-workout.

Incorporating Maca into your pre-workout and post-workout routine can have a host of benefits.

Here are some of its most popular ones:

  • Increased stamina
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Protection of adrenal glands

Stamina and Energy Boost

This benefit is likely due to Maca’s adaptogenic qualities [1]. Adaptogens, like Ashwagandha and ginseng, are substances known to help the body adapt to stress and boost energy levels.

Maca also seems to have the same effect by helping the body balance stress levels — including physical stress caused by a heavy workout.

It helps the body adapt to increased exercise by regulating and balancing important hormones, resulting in increased stamina.

A 2009 study found that Maca helps increase overall energy levels and prevent you from feeling tired [2].

Enhances Recovery

Close up shot of Maca on a spoon

Maca is rich in antioxidants [3]. Studies suggest that antioxidants can enhance muscle recovery after exercise by increasing the number of cells responsible for muscle repair and increasing blood flow to your muscles [4] [5].

Many clients who reported using it for their post-workout routine said that it sustained their energy after exercise.

However, this could have also been due to Maca’s energy and mood-boosting effects.

Protects Adrenal Glands

Intense exercise puts your adrenal glands under constant pressure, causing them to produce high amounts of cortisol [6]. This eventually leads to adrenal fatigue.

Maca has been found to fight the effects of this fatigue on account of its adaptogenic effects [7].

Other Benefits

Top view of a wooden bowl with Maca

In addition to being an excellent pre-workout supplement, Maca may affect health in a few documented ways [9].

It may help with: 

  • Increasing libido
  • Reducing erectile dysfunction
  • Increasing fertility
  • Improving overall mood
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Reducing sun damage
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Fighting free radicals
  • Reducing menopause symptoms
  • Improving memory and learning

For the sake of brevity, we’ll look at the top three benefits.

Heightened Libido

Maca is known to increase libido in both men and women [10]. It helps men overcome erectile dysfunction and reduces sexual dysfunction in post-menopausal women [11], [12].

Enhanced Mood

Maca can be used as a mood enhancer.

Studies have shown that Maca can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, especially in post-menopausal women [13].

Improved Memory and Learning

A 2014 review suggests that Maca may have benefits in learning and memory [14].

However, only animal research is currently available. So, we're not too sure these effects apply to humans.

How to Use It in Your Food

Here are some tasty pre-workout foods to which you can add Maca:

  • Acai bowls
  • Smoothies
  • Fruit juices
  • Protein shakes
  • Chia seeds (to make the perfect superfood)

Since Maca is organic, we found that it mixed perfectly with other certified organic foods to make a healthy meal.

Related Articles:

FAQs

Does Consuming Maca Have Any Negative Side-Effects?

No, there are no negative side effects from consuming maca. However, you shouldn’t exceed the recommended dosage on the product label.

What Is a Safe Dosage of Maca?

Up to 3 grams of maca is usually considered a safe dosage. However, the dosage will also depend upon one’s age and health.

Who Should Avoid Taking Maca?

People with hormone-sensitive cancers should avoid taking Maca. These cancers include ovarian, breast, uterine, and endometrial.

Our Verdict on Maca Powder

While Maca is a stimulant that can greatly benefit your fitness goals, its earthy flavor might not suit many palates.

There are some good-tasting and more potent supplements on the market that can give you the same pre-workout benefits as Maca and much more on top of that: 

We tested all of these products ourselves and also conducted a research poll with our clients.  These brands came on top for their flavor and effectiveness, which aligned with our testing results.

Take a look at our list and buy your pre-workout today.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19781622
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814602001334
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK299045/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591404/
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23005-adrenal-gland
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614596/
  8. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2193874/0
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322511
  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1439-0272.2002.00519.x
  11. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1439-0272.2008.00892.x
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411442/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24931003/
  14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115300162
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