MUD/WTR vs. Coffee? What’s Better for Runners

If you are a runner who has had issues with coffee, then the adaptogenic coffee MUD/WTR may be a good alternative for you. The purported benefits of MUD/WTR aren’t widely backed by research. To feel benefits from an adaptogen, you must take it regularly, advises registered dietitian Megans Robinson. but if you drink this “mud coffee” every day, there is a chance you could feel benefits such as increased energy and a stronger immune system. It won’t hurt–except for maybe your wallet. Read on to learn the pros and cons of MUD/WTR.

Whitney heins drinking coffee
I drank adaptogenic coffee for years to avoid tummy troubles from coffee.

Back in 2018, I got some horrific news—I was allergic to coffee. Maybe I am being hyperbolic but coffee, for my years as a morning anchor and then as a mom, was my lifeline. The taste (and smell once I got a programmable coffee maker) was the reason I got out of bed. But in order to calm my gut I had to give it up and drink coffee alternatives like Mudwater (or MUD/WTR) in its place.

I started drinking MUD WTR after I learned I was allergic to coffee.

I guess I was ahead of the curve because now adaptogenic mushroom coffees are ubiquitous. Scroll through Instagram and you’ll likely see ads for coffee replacements with adaptogenic mushrooms like Mud Wtr everywhere making promises of calming gut issues, boosting your immune system, and providing mental clarity and steady energy. (Surely, if you haven’t, reading this article with kickstart them for the algorithm… )

But is it true? Does MUD WTR taste like mud water? And finally, is MUD WTR good for runners? Will we feel better and perform better if we drink it?

For this MUD WTR review, my writer and athlete Rachel Penate and I did the research and also spoke with registered sports dietitian Megan Robinson to answer all things MUD/WTR.

Related: Tart Cherry Juice Benefits for Runners

Let’s get going first with my experience drinking MUD/WTR.

My experience drinking MUD/WTR

My experience drinking an adaptogenic drink in place of my morning coffee took some getting used to. I didn’t feel as alert at first, but I did notice that over time my energy was steadier throughout the day. My gut was also happier! The acidity of coffee would often leaving me running for the bathroom—not in a good way!

The MUDWTR starter kit is 30 bucks with a subscription.

However, the taste was not as satisfying as coffee. I liken its earthy flavor to watered-down chai tea, adding oat milk to make it creamier. I had loaned some to fellow runner friends to try and they could not get past the taste. In my experience, if you stop expecting it to taste like coffee, then you’ll grow more accustomed to it.

Once I no longer was allergic to coffee, I switched back to coffee as I missed its flavor and more noticeable energy boost from the caffeine, especially for my running.

Ok, so what exactly are adaptogenic coffees like MUD/WTR? Let’s take a closer look.

Related: Should Runners Drink Prime?

What is MUD\WTR?

MUD\WTR is a California-based coffee alternative company that combines organic ingredients like cacao, spices, masala chai, and a variety of mushrooms (such as Lion’s Mane) to provide the consumer with a rich variety of vitamins and antioxidants. According to MUD\WTR, this combination of adaptogens will “give you natural energy and focus without the jitters and crash.”

While MUD\WTR is typically discovered by the consumer invested in finding a morning beverage alternative to the naturally addictive “cup of Joe,” MUD\WTR tastes nothing like coffee. Cheekily, MUD\WTR describes the taste of their blend as though “your mug of hot cacao met a chai latte and they had a baby.” 

Others call it simply mushroom water as it is basically ground mushrooms mixed with water…

MUDWATR ingredients
MUDWATR ingredients contain a variety of mushrooms.

What are adaptogens?
From alcohol alternatives to your everyday morning beverage to energy drinks, it seems that “adaptogens” have “slid into our DMs” as the latest buzzword. According to UCLA Health, “Adaptogens are herbs, roots and other plant substances (like mushrooms) that help our bodies manage stress and restore balance after a stressful situation.”

According to Robinson: Herbs that claim to be an adaptogen must fit the following criteria:
–Not cause disruptions but help normalize with normal physiological functions of the body.
–Improve the body’s resistance against environmental stressors.

While adaptogens have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine, the body of research is relatively new in the United States. MUD\WTR’s adaptogens include (but aren’t limited to) masala chai, cacao, lion’s mane, chaga, reishi, cordyceps, turmeric, cinnamon, and sea salt. 

Adaptogens build up on your system, so you’ll see benefits with consistent and sustained use. 

Related: Is Celsius Good for You?

What does mudwater taste like?

MUD/WTR does not taste like mud water even though it may resemble mud water in appearance.

Most MUD/WTR drinkers say it tastes like chai tea—or its biggest critics will say it tastes like a watered-down mud latte. Really, MUD/WTR is more like a tea than a coffee competitor. It offers packages with a different spice blend (cacao, matcha, turmeric, and rooibos) that all have a slightly unique flavor. The blends are intended to be used at different times of day.

MUD\WTR is easy to make. Simply mix their powdered blend of choice with hot water. The frother is a nice touch that makes the final product fluffier and creamier. 

Is Mudwater worth it?

A MUD/WTR starter kit starts at $40 (if you subscribe) for 30 servings and includes a rechargeable frother and recipe book (about $1.50 a serving). (It’s $60 if you don’t subscribe. If you wish to cancel, consumers say it’s a difficult process.) Considering what kind of coffee or tea you typically buy, this price point can be double what you normally spend on your morning beverage. 

This video shows you how to make MUD/WTR at home for less than a dollar per serving.

Pin this MUD/WTR review for later!

What does mud water do to your body?

It’s not known what mud water does to your body. Animal studies show there may be potential benefits but most of the ingredients of MUD/WTR have not undergone human clinical trials.

  • Chaga has been shown to have anti-tumor effects in larger quantities than what is included in MUD/WTR.
  • Reishi has been found to delay memory declines in rats.
  • Lion’s mane has been shown to help the cognition capabilities of dementia patients.
  • Cordyceps improved learning and memory in mice

Also note that according to some of the Mud/Wtr products, the amount of adaptogens may be too little to make a significant difference, says Robinson. For example, the reishi dose 0.56 g in the coffee alternative kit is below the amount recommended 1.5-2.0 g/day to reduce the sympathetic nervous system (anxiety, etc).  

Potential Benefits of MUD\WTR

No caffeine crash.

The primary benefit (and selling point) of MUD\WTR is undoubtedly the natural energy benefits without the crash of caffeine. MUD\WTR claims to have only a fraction of the caffeine of coffee–35mg in one serving (compared to the 80 mg-100 mg of caffeine found in a cup of coffee. Yet it claims drinkers reap the same energized, clear-headed benefits of a jolt of caffeine. 

Stress management.

MUD\WTR contains many adaptogens that may naturally help the body cope with stress as well as offer essential vitamins (D, B12, potassium), antioxidants, and prebiotics — supporting heart, brain, gut, and immune health.

Caffeine alternative.

Drinking MUD\WTR can offer those who cannot drink caffeine (due to medical conditions), or regularly experience the negative effects of caffeine, an alternative that gives them that same “warm-beverage-in-your-hand-morning-ritual experience” while also providing an energizing mental benefit.

Mental performance improvements.

Since there is preliminary research that shows enhanced cognition, some drinkers may experience enhanced focus and memory.

Boosted immune system.

There is little risk in trying a mushroom coffee like MUD/WTR

Research shows that beta-glucans in mushrooms are natural defenders that boost the immune system by optimizing its response to viruses, pathogens, and infections. I first heard of beta-glucans when I started taking Previnex Immune Health and noticed I wasn’t getting my kids’ illnesses as often.

According to Previnex founder, David Block, the amount of beta-glucans in MUD/WTR is enough to help boost your immune system. Drinking this mushroom tea daily could help guard you against germs. 

(If you want to try Previnex Immune Health, save 15% with code TMR15 plus a money-back guarantee).

Related: How to Tell if a Supplement is Good Quality

Potential Downsides of MUD\WTR

Taste (as it compares to coffee).

Undoubtedly, the main complaint consumers have about MUD\WTR is its taste. While the company itself does not mince words about its blend flavor, many people who try this mushroom coffee cannot get past how different the smell and flavor is compared to regular coffee. While some say it has a sweet chai flavor, many complain the overall taste is too watered down. 

Lack of efficacy evidence.

There is little evidence (currently) to support the long-term benefits of MUD\WTR and other mushroom coffees. While many of the individual ingredients have been studied, there is little to no research that offers information on how these herbs benefit humans when combined in MUD\WTR. Plus, Robinson notes the amount of ingredients in the MUD/WATER is not enough to have an impact. 

Unregulated product.

In addition, supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that medications and drugs are, so it is up to the consumer to take a bigger risk in trusting the integrity of the company and their ability to regulate these supplements appropriately. MUD/WTR does say their products are third party tested and do not contain contaminants.

Potential for drug interactions.

Some of the adaptogens found in MUD\WTR may react adversely with prescription medication. With any new supplement, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor (because I am not one!).

Related: The Best Supplements for Runners

Will MUD/WTR benefit me as a runner?

MUD/WTR review pin
Pin this MUD/WTR review for later!

As runners, we are all naturally inclined to move, eat, and rest in ways that are going to positively affect our overall fitness. One could argue that everything contained within MUD\WTR is naturally beneficial to the health and wellbeing of a runner — antioxidants to fight free radicals and prebiotics for immunity and gut health; B12, D, and potassium for energy.

However, the reality is that there is just no existing empirical evidence to definitively say it positively affects performance or that those effects will be the same across the board. There also lacks evidence that the amount of these ingredients is enough to have any sort of perceptible positive effect. 

Conversely, there is plenty of scientific evidence that caffeine is a performance enhancer. It’s one reason why caffeine is included in energy gels.

Related: The Best Energy Gels for Your Marathon

That said, there is low to little risk in trying MUD\WTR or another coffee alternative (if desired) and seeing how it affects you personally. And if you are looking for something that may overtime enhance memory and reduce stress levels, then MUD/WTR could be a great fit for you. Just remember, you should drink it every day over time for it to have an impact. 

The Bottom Line of Mud/WTR vs. Coffee: If you are a runner who has had issues with coffee, then MUD/WTR may be a good alternative for you.

It is no secret that caffeine consumption can come with an array of negative side effects — from an elevated heart rate to jitters, to dependency. For most, the negatives of traditional coffee are unfortunate, but they are also manageable when consumed with care (i.e., reducing your caffeine consumption, drinking tea, or finding a decaf blend you enjoy). 

If you love your cup of coffee, don’t think you have too much caffeine, and have no interest in finding an alternative, then stop right there, the cost and flavor of MUD\WTR will only annoy you. But, if you are looking for a coffee replacement then MUD/WTR may be the best coffee alternative for you. It’s got great nutritional benefits that can supplement or replace your 1-2 cups of coffee morning or daily routine.

Overall, it seems that the average consumer with no real desire to detox from coffee goes back eventually (like me), but those who don’t already drink coffee (or have a medical need to avoid coffee altogether) find MUD\WTR an enjoyable alternative. If you want guidance with your running goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:



Leave a Comment


Download my FREE FULL MONTH of strength workouts for runners!

Looking for a free running plan? Email me at [email protected].

You have Successfully Subscribed!