It doesn’t have to be a New Year for you to want to start getting healthy, or even for you to start pushing yourself further and keep hitting those personal bests. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or a professional athlete, it’s likely that you’ll want to keep up to date with the lateness fitness news and fads.
With so many products out there claiming to make your workouts better, easier, and help you hit those body goals, you’ll probably end up trying every trick in the book. Whey protein (or maybe hemp protein), pre-workout shakes, special diets, and even specialized gym equipment… there are endless supplements out there.
But what if there was one you hadn’t tried yet? Could you be using CBD oil in conjunction with your workouts?
What is CBD oil and how does it work?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. Collectively known as cannabinoids, these compounds are what produce the effects cannabis has on the body when ingested. THC is perhaps the most famous of these plant compounds, since this is the one that causes users of marijuana to feel ‘high.’
However, CBD is a compound that does not cause intoxicating effects. Therefore, it is safe to consume, and it only produces minimal side effects (such as a dry mouth, which is easily fixed by taking a drink). As a result, CBD is legal across America, which is why the sale of CBD oil is taking off. By extracting cannabidiol from the cannabis plant via CO2 extraction, companies are creating CBD oils and tinctures that can be added to your daily routine.
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system within our bodies in order to create some pretty great effects. This system, shortened to the ECS, consists a network of receptors throughout the whole body, along with compounds called endocannabinoids that we produce naturally. Usually, the endocannabinoids bind with corresponding receptors in order to regulate and control a range of biological functions, including temperature, immune system response, and inflammation. However, sometimes our body doesn’t work as well as it could, and this is why taking CBD could help.
By using CBD oil, you can help to restore the balance in your body, since the cannabinoid can bind to CB2 receptors in your immune system and organs in order to promote wellbeing.
Does this mean that CBD could be used in relation to fitness?
CBD and general wellbeing
If you love hitting the gym or heading out for a run in the evenings, you’ll know how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Before we get onto to discussing how CBD might boost your workout, let’s talk about how it can be used to promote your day-to-day health.
Natural appetite control
Part of any fitness routine is eating right. They say that abs are made in the kitchen, and they’re not wrong! If you’re looking to lose weight by hitting the gym, then CBD might be a good thing to be taking alongside your workouts.
Metabolism is partly controlled by the endocannabinoid system, with receptors found throughout the digestive tract. Furthermore, CB1 receptors are found in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls appetite. A pharmaceutical company once developed a diet pill called Rimonabant, which worked by blocking the CB1 receptors in order to control appetite; the drug was discontinued due to psychological side effects, but this does show that blocking the CB1 receptor does work in lowering your appetite.
CBD also blocks the CB1 receptor in some way, and it does not possess psychological side effects, making it a safe alternative to Rimonabant. So, if you’re wanting to lose weight, then reaching for a bottle of CBD oil might be a good idea!
Stress and state of mind
If you’ve ever tried going to the gym when you really don’t feel like it, you’ll know how hard it is to push yourself. It’s kind of important to stay motivated and be in a fairly good mood before you start pumping iron, lest you give up before pushing yourself to your max.
Turns out that CBD could help. A few studies have looked into the effects of cannabinoids on stress, with a 2011 study* administering CBD to people with social anxiety. After taking the oral solution, the participants who were given actual CBD experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, whereas those who had been given a placebo noticed very little change.
With stress and anxiety being linked, there is a possibility that CBD could reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress and, as a result, potentially boost your mood. And this could make for better workouts!
Another important aspect of a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep. If you aren’t sleeping properly, you aren’t functioning properly, and this means you won’t be able to get the most out of exercise.
Well, a study* at the University of Sao Paulo tested the effect of CBD on the sleep-wake cycle in rats. Male rats were separated into groups and administered different strengths of CBD, with sleep recordings made during light and dark periods. The researchers found that rats treated with 10mg or 40mg of CBD had an increased total percentage of sleep, with REM sleep decreased in these same groups. As a result, the rats had more deep sleep, meaning they were better rested.
This is good news for those who aren’t sleeping well, since CBD could help you get the sleep you need to live a healthy lifestyle.
CBD as a pre-workout
A lot of the evidence on CBD as a good pre-workout supplement is anecdotal. This does not mean it has no foundation, however. Let’s take a look at how it might be beneficial to take it before a workout, and what it could do for you during exercise.
Some people have reported using CBD as a pre-workout in order to increase their endurance and make their gym sessions that much better. But, is there any truth to this?
To be honest, scientific evidence remains sketchy on this right now. There are anecdotal reports on this, and there isn’t really any harm in trying it yourself since CBD has so few side effects.
However, we wanted to point out in this section that different cannabinoids could actually hinder your endurance. In fact, Brook Henry, PhD, an assistant research scientist at the University of California, has mentioned that a study looked into the effect of THC on exercise. The study found that smoking THC cigarettes reduced the endurance of runners. Of course, the effects of THC are very different to those of CBD, so the latter might not have these negative effects. That said, if you’re wanting to try CBD as a means of increasing endurance, try getting an oil with very little THC.
Discomfort during exercise
When you work out, the body produces more of a certain endocannabinoid called anandamide (AEA), which reduces pain and inflammation. Administering CBD increases the power of AEA because it prevents it from being metabolized, meaning that “there is a plausible biological pathway that might explain how CBD administration could potentially reduce discomfort associated with exercise,” according to Dr. Henry.
Cortisol is a hormone released in response to mental or physical stress. It is released by the adrenal glands and tends to be present in high levels during lifting. Cortisol is regarded within fitness circles as the enemy of bodybuilders because it prevents the build-up of muscle. Anyone who knows a lot about fitness knows that even toning up and losing weight requires lifting of some kind, meaning that cortisol could get in the way. However, cortisol levels spike after about 1 hour of lifting, making it worse for bodybuilders because they are the ones likely to be lifting weights for significant amounts of time.
In general, the more exercise you do, the fitter you will be and the better your body becomes at dealing with physical stress; thus, you release less cortisol. But what if there was a way to reduce cortisol production earlier on, so you could build muscle faster?
Well, another study* conducted at the University of Sao Paulo, which looked at the effects of CBD on cortisol (among other things). The study found that, although a placebo also caused cortisol levels to reduce, CBD caused a much more significant decrease in levels of the hormone. The researchers concluded that CBD interferes with cortisol production, which could be a big incentive for regular gym-goers to use the supplement.
CBD for athletic recovery
Several athletes, including the NFL’s Derrick Morgan and UFC fighter Chris Camozzi have opened up about their CBD use as a vital part of athletic recovery. But why are professionals turning to this compound?
Pain reduction & anti-inflammatory effects
Scientists have been looking more and more into CBD as a potential analgesic. One study*, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, supported previous claims by showing that inflammatory pain was reduced in rats when they were given CBD as a treatment.
This is because CBD has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory. A study* conducted by R. Gallily et al. found that CBD effectively reduced paw swelling and pain in mice.
While both of these studies were conducted on rodent models, it is apparent that CBD could be a very effective painkiller and anti-inflammatory, meaning that it could benefit athletes during the recovery process.
Reduction of muscle spasms
Athletes often suffer muscle spasms as a result of muscle strain, dehydration, or damage to the muscles or nerves.
By reducing pain and inflammation in the muscles, CBD can also reduce spasticity and act as a muscle-relaxant, preventing muscle spasms from occurring.
Final Verdict on Combining CBD with Your Workout
It seems that CBD could be a great help for people looking to work out and live a healthy lifestyle. Alongside anecdotal evidence that CBD oil could be great for boosting endurance as a pre-workout supplement, there is scientific evidence that it could actually benefit you by reducing pain, inflammation, cortisol production, and helping you to sleep better.
So to answer the question “how could CBD be used for the perfect workout?”, you could be using CBD products before or after a workout to maximize your fitness success.
- Sleep: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23343597
- Cortisol: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8257923
- Pain: https: nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
- Inflammation: scirp.org/Journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=53912#.VP4EIildXvY