CBD is undoubtedly the hot topic right now. While we believe much of this hype is justified when it comes to the benefits for athletes, it has also introduced a lot of outrageous claims and confusion.
I'm going to share with you my first-hand experience and those of our team of Feed Athletes who have been using CBD for the past 2 years in our workouts and recovery. We have now tested over 100 different CBD products.
I'm going to skip over the science to keep this guide focused on the practical.
As an athlete, when do I use CBD?
- I use CBD Balms and lotions before, during, and after training on areas of chronic pain and inflammation. In my case that is primarily my knees and back. I have had situations where my back was aching so much in the morning that could barely get out of a chair, but after 30 minutes of applying CBD balm, I was ski racing with the world's best.
- I use CBD Drops (also known as tinctures) almost every night before bed. I used to be a bit of an Ambien / Lunesta addict, and I haven't used either in over 18 months. CBD is much more useful for me than melatonin for deep restful sleep (although I do sometimes combine it with Melatonin).
- I use CBD Honey. I'm a little hooked on this. In the afternoon I use a CBD Honey in Green Tea, and I can have an unbelievable focus for 3 hours straight. I turn off the email, put the phone on vibrate and make this my productive time. I've also used it before afternoon workouts when my motivation was low to train, and it jump-started me into gear.
How much CBD do athletes take?
This depends on if I'm taking a drop, a balm, or a gel cap as the bioavailability varies wildly based on the format. Bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Oral consumption, like in a Gel Cap has approximately 6% bioavailability in one study and between 4% and 20% in another. Let's assume you have a Gel Cap of 50mg; your absorption into your bloodstream would be 2mg to 10mg.
Sublingual consumption (i.e., under your tongue) with drops is much more effective with rates between 12% and 35% being absorbed.
Transdermal consumption with balms and lotions has very little data on actual absorption rates and it is likely pretty low. However, that doesn't mean it is not effective. From my first-hand experience, it works, but you want a high dosage CBD Balm and to apply it liberally to the area of pain. The advantage is that you are getting right next to the area where you want it to go.
So how much should you take?
I've experimented with all sort of different levels.
CBD Gel Caps, I find 30mg to 50mg works well for me for a restful night's sleep.
CBD Drops, I find that 25mg to 50mg works well for me for an in-depth focus at work. Probably closer to 25mg to 30mg at work and closer to 50mg before bed.
CBD Lotions, it is tough to know how much I'm applying to a specific area. I like a balm that is closer to 15mg per "dose" and I'll apply 2-3 doses to my knees or back. I measure a dose as approximately the size of a big blueberry of balm or lotion. All of the balms we sell have a relatively high dosage of CBD.
How much you will need requires you to test out different amounts of CBD. I started with 10mg drops for a long time before I moved up to 20mg, then to 30mg to 50mg. You might not feel anything at 10mg or 20mg, but then all of a sudden at 30mg you will be like, "oh, I'm feeling pretty mellow."
At no time will you feel "high." There is not enough THC in any of these CBD products to be psychoactive.
What are the different types of CBD for athletes?
CBD that we can legally sell is extracted from Hemp where the THC levels are very low. There are currently 3 flavors of CBD:
- CBD Isolate: Only CBD with no THC or other Cannabinoids
- CBD Full Spectrum: CBD, THC (up to 0.3%), and the full spectrum of Cannabinoids and Terpenes that are naturally occurring in Hemp.
- CBD Broad Spectrum: This is the same as CBD Full Spectrum in that it has CBD and all the Cannabinoids, but all of the THC is removed.
If you want the maximum CBD Benefits, then you want to go with Full Spectrum. If you are a tested athlete, tested at work or don't want any THC, then go with an Isolate product.
Is CBD Legal?
In terms of the real Police (aka Feds) it became legal at a Federal level in December 2018 to purchase and use CBD products extracted from Hemp that have below 0.3% THC. You should check with your local state laws to see if there are special regulations in your state.
In terms of the sports Police (aka USADA / WADA), CBD is legal in and out of the competition. However, THC is likely not legal in competition, and it can stick around for a while, so you want to be sure to use an isolate product. There is one other issue, which is the other Cannabinoids which WADA/USADA has overlooked making legal. If you are a tested athlete, email us to discuss this.
What CBD should I use in my training & recovery?
To make this easy, I created a list of our Top 11 CBD Products for Athletes for you to check our you can see our full collection of CBD products.
I'm currently using:
- Floyd's of Leadville CBD Balm + Arnica as my recovery balm
- Luce Farms CBD Extract 1500mg as my favorite drops
- Cordial Organics Warming Balm pre-workout on my aching knees
- Luce Farms CBD Honey as my afternoon treat
- Plant People Stay Sharp Gel Caps at work.