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What Is Kratom?

Kratom, also known by its botanical name Mitragyna speciosa, comes from an evergreen tropical tree related to the coffee family that grows in Southeast Asia. While it has not been approved for medical use or researched extensively in clinical trials, many people who use kratom find it helpful. 

Purpose of Kratom & Potential Uses

In lower serving sizes, people primarily report their kratom experience as energy-boosting. From feeling more friendly in social situations to supporting focus during self-care, low servings of kratom have many potential uses. The more calming and soothing effects of kratom are generally experienced at higher serving sizes. 

 

Why Kratom Is Included Among Top 2023 Workout Substances

Kratom has been used since ancient times. For example, field workers have consumed low serving sizes to promote productivity and stamina during long days of labor. 

While there isn’t extensive evidence on kratom pre-workout or kratom for workout, substances like caffeine have been well-researched. 

Potential Benefits & Effects

When working out, heightening pleasure and reducing pain from over-exertion can be important aspects of an exercise experience. 

It’s also important to note that the International Olympics Committee (IOC), which releases regular guidelines for elite athletes, suggests pre-workout caffeine to be limited to about 3-6 mg/kg. For example, a 100 kg (220 lb) athlete would consume the equivalent of 2-3 cups (8 oz) of coffee before intense exercise.

In other words, unless you’re a high-performance athlete, a little goes a long way. If you’re not working out at an elite level, effects (like heightened heart rate) may cause unwanted symptoms that interrupt your day or worsen your level of wellness. 

Some Direction Regarding Serving Size

As a reminder, coffee and kratom serving sizes don’t directly translate, so it’s important to consult a kratom expert and well as your personal healthcare providers before deciding what serving size would be right for you. Keep in mind that a holistic healthcare practitioner may be more open to discussing kratom than a conventional doctor. 

In general, a low serving of kratom is considered to be 1-5 grams. At this level, users report heightened energy and focus. Higher servings produce more calming effects, which may not be appropriate for exercise. 

 

What To Keep In Mind When Purchasing Products 

It’s recommended that you consult a physician or holistic health care provider before starting to take a new substance. From the evidence available about kratom, it seems as though the effects are dependent on the amount consumed. 

This means that it may take some tailoring to find out what serving size is best for you (and that more doesn’t always equal better). Using kratom inappropriately can lead to unwanted effects, like reduced motor coordination (which would obviously not be ideal for an athlete).  

If you’re a first-time kratom user and an athlete, you may want to start with liquid kratom extracts as opposed to capsules or raw leaf powder. While all three of these kratom types are a concentrated form of the leaves, liquid kratom allows for athletes to more easily adjust the amount until optimal results are achieved. Small servings have a potentially shorter duration (about an hour), which would be ideal for an athletic event. 

Once you find the serving size that is right for you, capsules may become a convenient option. Especially for sports like running or cycling, capsules may provide a needed boost before an event. 

Convenient & Cost Effective

Since kratom can be consumed as a capsule, pills are becoming more popular for athletes. Unlike powders or liquids, capsules come in a standardized serving size, so you can rest assured you’re getting the exact same amount each time

Along with convenience, kratom may make sense as a plant-derived pre-workout due to its low cost. Comparable to a package of caffeine pills, kratom liquids cost about  $7 per bottle. 

Legality and Policy 

Although kratom is legal in the United States, some states have banned it. As an athlete, it’s important to understand your state’s regulations

Beyond legality, you may want to review the policies of sports organizations of which you are a member. More elite organizations may have rules against kratom use which would disqualify you from competing. When in doubt, it’s worth checking out the guidelines.  

What to Look for on the Label 

Not all kratom products are created the same. Some companies use additives, fillers, or unnecessarily high serving sizes of kratom, which can counteract its potential benefits.

To ensure you’re getting the highest quality available, check your product for: 

  • Third-party testing 
  • Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) 
  • Unnecessary additives or fillers 
  • % mitragynine content

 

Combining Kratom With Other Healthy Habits

When using kratom for wellness, favorable effects may be best experienced when kratom is combined with other healthy habits. Getting enough sleep, eating well-balanced meals, and participating mindfully in movement throughout the day can all be key to creating overall wellness and excelling in exercise. 

Keep in mind that other beverages and foods you consume throughout the day may be a source of energy. When you’re consuming kratom, it’s wise to avoid or limit these sources of caffeine in order to keep your body feeling balanced: 

  • Chocolate
  • Coffees and teas 
  • Energy drinks or energy bars
  • Medications that contain caffeine (i.e. Excedrin) 
  • Supplements that contain caffeine    

Since some people are more sensitive to kratom than others, it’s important to remember that the effects of kratom may be different from one athlete to another

Use Caution When Combining Kratom with Other Substances

Most negative kratom-related effects occur when kratom is mixed with drugs, medications, or preexisting health conditions. Even if you’re taking medications for health or supplements for sports performance, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re mixing kratom with. 

As mentioned above, it’s always wise to check your labels for potential interactions. Consulting your healthcare team can help you decide if kratom could easily fit into your fitness and lifestyle routines without negative effects.  

 

The Final Word On Kratom For Fitness

Energy boosters, like caffeine, have long been used to promote sports stamina. From energizing effects to the prospect of improved performance, kratom may be the key to a better workout. Keep your sights set on kratom in 2023 — you’ll be hearing more about its unique potential in sports performance, as well as other areas of wellness, for years to come.

References

Baum Isadora. The Dangers of Using Kratom Tea To Treat Anxiety or Opiate Withdrawal. Health.com. Published January 2023. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Natural Herb Kratom Mat Have Therapeutic Effects And Relatively Low Potential For Abuse Or Harm, According To A User Survey. Hopkinsmedicine.org. Published February 2020. 

La-up A, Saengow U, Aramrattana A. High serum high-density lipoprotain and low serum triglycerides in Kratom users: A study of Kratom users in Thailand. Heliyon. 2021;7(4):e06931. 

Merotto L. Coffee, Caffeine pills or Pre-workout: What is the best form of pre-workout caffeine? Leighmerotto.com. Published February 2020. 

National Library of Medicine. OPRM1 gene (opioid receptor mu 1). Medlineplus.gov. Accessed 2023. 

Stevens CJ. Kratom: Is It Safe? Healthline.com. Published June 2020. 

Swogger MT, Smith KE, Garcia-Romeu A, Grundmann O, Veltri CA, et al. Understanding Kratom Use: A Guide for Healthcare Providers. Front Pharmacol. 2022;13:

Annika Weeks

Annika Weeks ("Anni") is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician (NDTR). With expertise as a health professional and experience as a patient in the healthcare system, she hopes to bridge gaps by creating more credible nutrition, health, and wellness information online.

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