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The Best Time to Take Maca Root | 4 Unbelievable Benefits

The Best Time to Take Maca Root | 4 Unbelievable Benefits

There is a new hype, and it’s all about maca root! 

While you may be thinking, “do I really need another supplement?” Potentially, yes! This one you might just want to try!

We get it, if we all followed the hype of every new supplement out there, we would have 50+ powders in all of our smoothies, but the growing popularity of maca root is for good reason! 

There are many well-studied benefits of maca root, suggesting possible benefits of everything from enhanced energy levels and performance to hormonal balance and beyond! 

Now, with any supplement, it’s important to take it at the right time and in the right dosage to get the most benefit. So today, we will discuss the potential benefits of maca root, the proper dosages of maca root, and the best time to take maca root. 

And if you read all the way until the end, you may even find a delicious maca powder overnight oats recipe to try out tomorrow morning! 

Let’s dig in…

Peruvian Maca root health benefits
Hailing from the harsh climate of the Andes Mountains in Peru, the maca plant is a true example of survival of the fittest!

What is Maca Root?

This Peruvian root vegetable which comes in three colors (red, yellow, and black), grows at an elevation of 3700-4500 meters and has been eaten baked, roasted, or in soup for over 3000 years. [1]

After harvesting, the root of the plant is ground and dried, making a golden powder that can easily be added to everything from smoothies, soups, bread, and so on. If you’ve been following us at FWDfuel for a minute, you know we absolutely love building smoothies, and using this delicious anti inflammatory smoothie ingredient is one of our favorites!

Maca root contains unique bioactive compounds, including macamides, macaridine, alkaloids, and glucosinolates that make the real medicinal magic happen. [2]  

It has been labeled as a superfood, which is well earned for these bioactive compounds, plus the fact that it’s absolutely packed with a variety of nutrients. Talk about getting a huge bang for your buck!

Overall, maca is also rich in fiber, which helps feed those healthy gut bugs, and contains 11% protein, including important amino acids leucine, arginine, phenylalanine, lysine, glycine, alanine, valine, isoleucine, glutamic acid, serine, and aspartic acid. [3

We aren’t finished there… 

Other nutrients found in high amounts in maca root include vitamin C, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and calcium.  

The most impressive vitamins and minerals contained in just 100g (7 tablespoons) of maca include [4]:

  • 475% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C
  • 82% of iron
  • 300% of copper

So, through its magical array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants, maca root has been helping the Peruvian people experience increased energy, endurance, hormonal balance, libido, and reproductive health just to highlight a few of the many benefits appreciated since the 13th century. [5]  

Now that you have the 4-1-1 on what maca root is, let’s dive deeper into the benefits and discuss the best time to take maca root. 

Similar to a radish, maca is a small ground dwelling plant.

The 4 Unbelievable Benefits of Maca Root

  1. Naturally Balance Hormones

The best time to take maca root is in a situation where hormones are imbalanced.

Hormones act as chemical messengers throughout the body for a variety of processes. You might know of hormones as being highly influential on reproduction. However, they also play a big role in regulating metabolism, mood, energy, focus, immunity, sleep, and even body temperature.

The prevalence of hormonal issues such as high or low levels of estrogen and/or progesterone, high or low levels of cortisol, or high or low levels of testosterone and/or DHEA, is increasing at an alarming rate. 

Common causes of these imbalances include:

  • Inflammatory diet
  • Chronic stress
  • PCOS
  • Exposure to toxins (mycotoxins, plastics, phthalates, parabens, heavy metals)
  • Diet low in nutrients
  • High percentage of body fat.
  • Blood sugar imbalances

We would bet your bottom dollar that you know at least one person suffering from thyroid, adrenal dysfunction, and/or fertility issues that have resulted in trouble conceiving, debilitation fatigue, sleep issues, osteopenia and osteoporosis, skin issues, bloating and bowel issues, sugar addictions, and the list goes on… 

While it is possible to receive hormone replacement therapy and medications for hormonal imbalances, jumping straight to this approach may not be necessary with more natural hormone-balancing therapies, such as using maca.

Many scientific studies also show promising benefits for maca being an excellent adaptogen, which assists the body in responding to stress. [6

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens help the body improve the function of the central nervous system by helping your body be resilient and “adapt” through times of high stress. They have stress-reducing abilities that have been shown to fight fatigue, improve mental focus, and balance hormones. This is especially true if you’re a high-level athlete or bodybuilder regularly stressing your body to the max to maximize performance or muscle size.

Take Maca to Increase Sex Drive

It has even been studied and described as an aphrodisiac, helping to improve sexual dysfunction in women further. [7

There is also research on its ability to boost libido, especially in men and post-menopausal women. Some evidence suggests that taking concentrated maca supplements may benefit those with low libido or low sexual desire.

Multiple studies have linked intake of maca for 6-12 weeks with significant improvements in sexual function and libido in those who were experiencing sexual dysfunction. [8,9

The benefits of maca root for hormone balancing can also be experienced by men, with multiple studies showing that maca can improve semen quality.  In one pilot study of healthy men, it was shown that maca increased sperm concentration by 35%, total sperm count by 84%, and mobility and movement of sperm by a huge 109%. [10]   

Increase Progesterone

Maca has been shown to increase progesterone levels, which makes for an overall favorable hormone balance. [​​11

Low progesterone has been a growing issue for women, leading to potent PMS symptoms and, in some cases, difficulty carrying a pregnancy. In these cases, low progesterone can be the best time to take maca root.

There is a strong correlation between high stress levels and low progesterone levels, which makes sense as to why so many women have low progesterone levels, extremely high or extremely low cortisol, and associated estrogen dominance these days! 

By balancing your cortisol levels naturally, you’re not only lowering stress levels but also improving your body composition, immunity, and energy levels, as these aspects are all affected by the release of cortisol.

Coming off The Pill

Though taking maca while on the pill is not recommended, using maca after coming off the pill or other form of hormonal contraception may be helpful. Many women find it’s the best time to take maca root, noting an easier transition to natural cycling and boosting of hormone production after being suppressed for so long.

How long does it take maca root to regulate my period?

Every female body is different, so getting a regular period after coming off the pill will vary from person to person, but one can expect the cycle to return within 3 months of coming off the pill, and maca may help expedite that process!

Reduce Menopausal Symptoms

While it’s not fully understood how this magic powder works, maca has been shown to improve the function of the endocrine glands, which are the glands that secrete hormones throughout your blood. [12] This is super important for women going through menopause because ovarian production of hormones begins to slow down. 

Maca has also been shown to significantly reduce the uncomfortable symptoms that are associated with menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and decreased libido. [13] For these reasons, it is becoming a wildly popular remedy for women throughout peri and postmenopausal stages, given its ability to stimulate the overall production of hormones. 

Disclaimer: It is not recommended to use maca to treat fibroids. Diet, lifestyle, and liver support are the areas you’d want to tap into for managing this condition.  

  1. Fight Oxidative Stress

Overall, our modern-day lifestyles have evolved into a state where we are continually bombarded with stress and environmental toxins that can deplete our immune system. Whether you’re working your tail off as a single parent, you’re living in a moldy house, eating food that has been sprayed with Round-Up (glyphosate), or bathing yourself in perfumes and parabens, toxic exposure is EVERYWHERE and is at an all-time high in the 21st century. 

The best time to take maca root is now. 

Of course, some individuals will go on about their everyday life seemingly unscathed, but many people experience lasting negative effects from chronic exposure to stress and environmental toxins that can cause free-radical damage or oxidative stress within the body. We are only just beginning to learn through modern science how all of this affects us. Oxidative stress has been shown to play a direct role in early aging, fatigue, and the development of diseases, including cancer. [14

What’s the solution to oxidative stress?

Antioxidants! The best time to take maca root is in situations of oxidative stress.

Truly, antioxidants within the diet have never been more important, and a very unique quality of maca is that it’s rich in antioxidants. 

Athletes are another group of individuals that stress their muscles frequently, driving more oxidative stress in the body. Recent animal studies show promising potential for their ability to reduce oxidative stress-induced damage by decreasing levels of reactive oxygen species in both blood and muscle. [15]

Maca has also been shown to have a protective effect on the mitochondria (aka the powerhouse of the cell) of spinal cells AND improves our muscle’s antioxidant activity by providing increased levels of muscle glycogen, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase, one of the most important antioxidants for humans. [16] Additionally, it has been shown that the best time to take maca root is before exercise, as it may help reduce post-exercise levels of serum lactate dehydrogenase, lactic acid, and blood urea nitrogen, AKA all the things that leave us feeling sore and under-recovered! [17

  1. Improve Mood 

It is estimated that 19.4 million adults, or 7.8 percent of all adults in the United States, had at least one episode of major depression in 2019 and rates continue to climb. [18]  

While medication works well for some, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, it was estimated that in 2020, only 20 out of every 100 patients reported the effectiveness of their anti-depressant medication. [19]  

Let’s take a moment to reflect on how shocking of a statistic that is. 20 OUT OF 100 PEOPLE, meaning out of 100 people, 80 people are taking medication for a condition that is not being improved. 

With that being said, it’s no secret that many people are now realizing that anti-depressant medication use is often accompanied by unpleasant side effects, driving people to seek alternative treatments and supplements.

Ironically, there is a wide pool of research on maca for improvement in mood and cognitive function, showing that 3-3.5 grams per day of maca root may improve mood and energy, reduce anxiety and depression scores, and reduce diastolic blood pressure, particularly in postmenopausal women. [20, 21

In the cases where conventional treatments are not working, it could be the best time to take maca root. When paired with other dietary, cognitive therapy, and lifestyle interventions, you can treat the root cause of the issue rather than slapping a bandaid on a gaping wound!

While more high-powered, large-scale studies are needed, much of the research thus far has been extremely supportive of using maca for depression, stress, and various hormonal symptoms.

***If you do find that you suffer from depression, we encourage you to seek professional help or speak with your healthcare provider before considering adding maca to your health plan.

  1. Maca Root Increases Overall Energy 

Who doesn’t want more energy? Everybody, yes, but what if we could do it in a way that served as a natural energizer without caffeine?!

Maca is a lifesaver for those who do not metabolize caffeine well, because it provides a nice energy boost without having to drink a cup of coffee! 

There are multiple animal studies supporting the claim of the ability of maca to improve energy from helping endurance to fighting fatigue. A 2017 study found maca to be beneficial in improving swim duration and average acceleration when given to mice. Even more interesting is that blood sample testing found that compared to controls, mice who ingested maca had enhanced glutathione peroxidase and creatine kinase and decreased lactate dehydrogenase. [22

This makes for less soreness and easier recovery!

A similar study completed in 2015, which provided various dosage amounts to mice versus a control group, found maca led to reduced exercise-induced fatigue as well as improving energy metabolism and antioxidant status. [23

OK, we may not be mice, but the evidence is promising (and mice are kind of cute) so let’s roll with it; The research has to start somewhere. 

Not to mention, how you feel in response to trying a supplement says a lot, and many of our clients (and ourselves included) report noticeable increases in energy and focus when routinely using maca. So, give it a try for yourself and notice an increase in energy without the highs and lows from sugar or caffeine! 

Health Benefits of Maca Root Infographic to help better understand the best time to time maca root

Best Time to Take Maca Root 

In our experience, maca is best used earlier in the day. Although it does not contain caffeine or act as a stimulant, many people notice increased energy levels after taking it, thus taking it in the morning or afternoon would be the best time to take maca root. 

How to take it

Maca has a naturally nutty taste to it, opening up plenty of options for consuming this superfood. Its taste can be masked by sweet foods or easily added to savory dishes. To maintain your daily intake, it’s all about creating a set habit, ritual, or routine for yourself when consuming maca.

Here are some suggestions for getting your maca in daily!

  • Add into any of your protein shakes or smoothies
  • Purchase in capsule form
  • Purchase your own plastic capsules, which you can fill with the powdered form
  • Sprinkle over salads
  • Stir into a shot glass of water or juice and consume directly (if you’re not put off by the rich nutty taste!)
  • Blend into your recipe mix for energy bites
  • Add a pinch into your afternoon Golden Milk ot tea
  • Make your own cashew butter with a couple servings of Maca

Maca is best consumed in raw form, as cooking or baking may reduce the number of vitamins, minerals, and other important antioxidants that are available, therefore reducing the overall maca root benefits.

Best Maca Brands and Usage

If you’ve been interested in exploring natural health remedies for a while now, maca is a great place to start in your journey to alternative therapies. When used orally and appropriately, short term. Maca appears to be safe in doses up to 3 grams daily for 4 months. [24, 25]

A top brand of maca we recommend is Feel Good Organics Raw Maca Powder, because it is raw, straight from the Andes Mountains in Peru, and reasonably priced. The greatest concern right now is that due to the sudden increase in demand for maca, a variety of other countries, including China, have both legally and illegally obtained maca roots for growing. They obviously aren’t growing the plants in their native soil, so the quality of nutrients is debatable.  

Regardless of what you buy, we encourage you to stick with an organic brand that guarantees the maca is 100% from Peru.

Whether you’re looking to simply improve overall health, mood, and well-being or increase your energy levels, most everyone can experience the benefits of maca root. However, if you do have a particular condition that has already shown up in scientific studies as being effectively enhanced by maca, consider exploring options for maca root supplementation with this powerful superfood. 

In general, you might consider the use of maca for the following:

  • Time of high stress
  • Fast-paced lifestyle
  • Engage in high-level exercise 
  • Feel consistently sluggish  
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Infertility (both men and women)
  • Suffer from depression or anxiety
  • Work or live in a job where you are exposed to environmental toxins or chemicals

Dosage

There is no set daily dosage of maca, but as with introducing any new supplement into your diet, it’s best to start in small doses and monitor your tolerance.

If you do end up purchasing a maca supplement, you will find that the manufacturer will recommend a daily intake of about 1 tsp or between 1000mg and 3000mg, with most evidence showing the use of 3-3.5 g/day. It is also helpful to remember that if you purchase a loose maca powder, 3000mg equals 0.6 of a teaspoon.

To really determine if maca may benefit you, regular daily use for 10-14+ days may be necessary to begin experiencing the benefits.  Remember that maca is a food rather than a medicine; therefore, you don’t need to worry as much about overdosing as you would with a medication. However, this is not a license to be foolish!

Of course, by consulting with a naturopath or doctor who practices alternative or functional medicine, you can receive individualized guidance on maca use given your unique situation or condition.

If you’re already taking medication for a particular condition, then it is highly recommended that you seek professional guidance before adding or modifying a supplement.

For most people adding maca into the diet = taking an extra step toward a holistic approach to health. Rather than reaching for other quick energy fixes like that 4th espresso shot, Monster Energy Drink, or the pill for your hormonal woes, consider trying maca root.

On that note, if you are experiencing repeated bouts of high and low energy throughout the day or even chronic fatigue, you may want to also check out our post on Natural Energizers Without Caffeine.

Maca Powder Overnight Oats

Time for a recipe! Maca powder overnight oats have been a fan favorite with our clients recently! Give this one a try to switch up your conventional morning oatmeal or cereal and simultaneously support your health and hormones. 

Apple Pie & Maca Oats

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. Add chopped apple to small saucepan 
  2. Cook over medium heat, frequently stirring, until apple is softened and slightly browned (approximately 5-7 minutes)
  3. Add maple syrup to the pan and mix with apples.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until the oats are thick and creamy. You may add more liquid for a more runny consistency.
  5. Transfer to bowl and add toppings if desired
  6. Enjoy warm or store the remaining serving in the refrigerator. 

By reading this article, we hope you feel equipped with knowledge regarding one of the top superfoods on the planet and fully understand the best time to take maca root. 

By using natural supplements to improve your health issues, you may find that you can correct nagging symptoms or experience a performance boost without unwanted side effects of medications that can often make matters worse. If you’re experiencing consistent issues with fatigue or GI upset, it may be important to consider an elimination diet first or a professional evaluation with a functional medicine practitioner to help determine the root cause of the problem. 

Now maybe you’ve tried using maca or other anti-inflammatory supplements but aren’t noticing many of the benefits we have discussed today. We’ve got you! 

Consider investing with the guidance of a practitioner to assess your gut health, hormones, and diet and make individualized recommendations to get help for the root of your constant fatigue, reduce stress, improve anxiety, and reduce chronic inflammation. 

If you want to set up virtual 1-on-1 coaching, check out our virtual coaching packages, and consider booking a free 1 on 1 strategy call to map out a plan for success with our individual virtual nutrition coaching. 

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16042502/
  2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/193496/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/#:~:text=Free%20fatty%20acids%20are%20also,acids%20are%20present%20at%2052.7%25
  4. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2193874/0
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21977053/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411442/?report=reader
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4411442/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20691074
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27621241/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14600359/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18784609/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944358/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33729250/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26453017/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33729250/
  18. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/facts-statistics-infographic
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361016/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27548190/
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24931003/
  22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28231388/
  23. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2015.1087036
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12472620/
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12525260/

About The Author

Abby Grimm

Abby is a functionally trained Registered Dietitian. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Dayton and completed her Master of Science in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University, where she is an adjunct instructor. Abby has been an athlete her entire life, but never truly discovered her potential until she dialed in her nutrition from a whole-foods approach. As a high school athlete and into her college career often experienced fatigue, discomfort, and nagging injuries that held her back from excelling despite trying to eat properly. Throughout her functional nutrition education and competitive involvement in the sport of Crossfit, Abby began a more holistic lifestyle, which has significantly improved her performance and overall well-being. Abby enjoys sharing her knowledge of functional sports nutrition to help improve the lives of active individuals.

2 Comments

  1. Fish

    I’ve read not to mix maca in hot drinks such as coffee as the nutritional value decreases much like with baking – great 👍🏼 article!!

    Reply

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