Could this bright yellow anti-inflammatory chemical help you build muscle and get shredded? We take a look at the benefits of curcumin for bodybuilding.
Nature has the power to boost, benefit and build your health. If you want to stay fit and well, good nutrition is key.
Curcumin is a yellow-colored pigment found in turmeric. Scientists have known for years about its potent benefits for cognitive health, joint pain and vascular wellness.
But recently, the bodybuilding community has started to stand up and listen too. Because this vibrant nutrient might also help get you jacked…
What is curcumin?
Also known by its chemical name of diferuloylmethane, curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric.
It belongs to the ginger family, and is a popular spice is Indian cooking. Curcumin has a mild aroma and a scent like oranges. It has a bitter taste that makes it perfect as a curry spice.
Curcumin has been used as a medicinal herb in traditional medicine for hundreds of years. Mostly because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
There’s not a huge amount of curcumin in turmeric – around 3% by weight. That’s why many people opt for a supplement to take advantage of the full benefits of the extract.
Health benefits of curcumin
As an anti-inflammatory extract, curcumin is a versatile health food that goes much further than just spicing up your curry.
Here are just a few of the benefits…
Acute inflammation is an important part of the healing process. Chronic inflammation due to autoimmune disease is a big issue that many people suffer from. It contributes to illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Curcumin blocks the enzymes responsible for causing inflammation. It’s so potent that when compared to medication such as aspirin, it’s just as effective.
Regulates your blood sugar
Suffering from high blood sugar can lead to diabetes and other serious issues. It can lead to short-term issues such as thirst, weight changes and tiredness, but can also lead to long-term problems relating to nerve damage and loss of vision too.
As an effective fix, curcumin helps with glucose uptake, increases insulin sensitivity and helps to regulate the amount of sugar in your blood.
Reduces joint pain
Curcumin acts as a natural painkiller that reduces inflammation within joints, helping to control the pain and stiffness that comes with it.
It can even improve the symptoms of chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis too.
Improves cognitive health
Research shows that curcumin protects against neural degeneration and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Scientists don’t really know how the nutrient benefits brain function, but there are a good amount of research studies showing how effective it is.
- Improves skin health
- May have anti-cancer benefits
- Prevents blood clots
- Regulates blood lipid levels
- Reduces symptoms of depression
- Decreases general pain
Curcumin for Bodybuilders – Could It Get You Jacked?
All of the above benefits are great for general health and wellness.
But what if you’re a bodybuilder who’s more concerned about optimizing body composition and boosting muscle mass?
Because there’s more than enough reason to add some yellow spice to your diet.
Protects against muscle loss
When you’re dieting hard and hitting an aggressive calorie deficit, the last thing you want is to start losing muscle mass.
Some studies have shown that curcumin benefits bodybuilders by inhibiting protein degradation, and as such can protect against muscle loss (although the research for this comes from medical patients with muscle wasting illnesses, not bodybuilding athletes).
Improves recovery and reduces soreness
Curcumin has been found to reduce markers of muscle damage such as C-reactive protein, creatine kinase and a range of interleukins.
Some studies have purposely trained athletes to make them sore (using ‘repeated bout training’ where a muscle is trained over and over to induce muscle damage).
Because muscle soreness is a limiting factor for recovery, adding curcumin to your diet can help you train harder and more frequently.
There’s also an argument that because muscle damage is a trigger for muscle growth, curcumin might actually decrease the stimulus of strength training and therefore limit potential adaptations.
You can’t train hard if you’ve got zero endurance. The best bodybuilders can work through high volume training systems without losing stamina or blowing out of their a$$ at anything over 5 reps.
Curcumin has been shown to reduce fatigue and boost physical performance in animal studies. Obviously, bodybuilders aren’t mice and the results of the study have to be taken with caution, but there’s definitely potential there.
The mice were put through their paces, taking part in grip strength tests and swimming to exhaustion. They had various blood tests, both before and after their workout, as a way of measuring markers of fatigue (muscle glycogen levels, blood nitrogen etc.).
By taking curcumin over a 4-week period prior to testing, the mice experienced higher levels of muscle glycogen (a source of energy) and better athletic performance too.
On a separate note, the idea of mice hitting the gym for forearm day is pretty cool. Maybe they even wore a snapback and stringer vest too bro.
Could even raise your testosterone levels
Testosterone is the male steroid hormone responsible for keeping your body fat low, your muscle mass high and your balls full.
It decreases risk of metabolic and vascular disease and protects your brain against cognitive decline.
Curcumin has been shown to reduce estrogen. Because this ‘female’ hormone can damage testosterone levels, lower estrogen means more room for testosterone in your blood.
The result – more gains, more strength, and a better physique.
It’s not as potent as a premium testosterone booster for ramping up muscle mass, strength and libido, but it won’t hurt.
Combine curcumin with black pepper for an added boost
Absorption of curcumin is pretty poor when taken on its own. Some studies have shown that big doses of 8,000 mg don’t even increase serum levels.
But combining the yellow chemical with black pepper boosts its bioavailability and helps it go to work much easier.
When piperine (black pepper extract) and curcumin are taken together, absorption increases by as much as 30-fold.
Piperine is a potent fat burner in its own right, with studies showing it has a thermogenic effect that triggers up-regulation of two important fat cell regulators – TRPA1 and TRPV1.
Summary – The Benefits of Curcumin for Bodybuilders
Curcumin is a yellow-colored chemical found in turmeric. As a potent anti-inflammatory, it provides several health and wellness benefits.
For bodybuilders looking to optimize results and develop the best physique possible, curcumin can help to reduce muscle damage, lower estrogen, reduce soreness and limit fatigue.
Combine with piperine or a testosterone booster for best results.