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Athletes & Antioxidants

 

You may have heard that antioxidants can help reduce your recovery time after strenuous exercise. You know the stiffness, swelling, pain, fatigue and reduced strength that your muscles experience after a good workout.

And antioxidants can help!

Well, some of them can.

Today I’m going to dive into some of the science, but I also want to note that more research is needed.

In this article, we’ll go over how the muscles get “oxidative stress” in the first place, and what “antioxidants” actually are.

Then we’ll look at some of the research on the effects of both antioxidant supplements and antioxidant foods on muscle recovery.

And lastly, when is the best time to get those antioxidants for maximal impact.

FIRST OFF – WHY DO MUSCLES GET SORE AFTER A WORKOUT?

Even if you haven’t heard of it, you know EIMD (exercise-induced muscle damage). This is an “official” term to describe the stiffness, swelling, pain, fatigue and reduced strength that can follow one, two, or even up to five days after a tough workout.

With EIMD symptoms, strength can decline by up to 40-50%, and this can significantly reduce performance for days, or even weeks afterwards!

This is because, at a microscopic level, after a good workout, there is damage to the muscle cells; and so the body’s natural repair mechanisms kick into gear. They bring fluid and immune cells to help fix those muscle cells so they can start rebuilding. This causes the inflammation and oxidative stress that show up as the symptoms of EIMD.

After a workout, the inflammation actually  helps to repair the muscle, so this inflammation is exactly what is needed so that the muscle can rebuild a bit stronger than it was before.

In fact, this is what makes muscle recovery time critical.

So, as you can see, we don’t want to eliminate the symptoms and recovery time, we just want to reduce them, so we can get back to training again.

And, of course, exercise is just one of many things that cause oxidative stress and inflammation within the body.

BACK TO BASICS – WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ANTIOXIDANT?

HOW CAN ANTIOXIDANTS REDUCE MY RECOVERY TIME?

CAN ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS HELP WITH EIMD?

CAN ANTIOXIDANT FOODS/DRINKS HELP WITH EIMD?

WHEN SHOULD I EAT/DRINK ANTIOXIDANTS TO REDUCE MY RECOVERY TIME?

SUMMARY

REFERENCES

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http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/08000/Montmorency_Cherry_Juice_Reduces_Muscle_Damage.21.aspx

Close GL, Ashton T, Cable T, Doran D, Holloway C, McArdle F, MacLaren DP. Ascorbic acid supplementation does not attenuate post-exercise muscle soreness following muscle-damaging exercise but may delay the recovery process. Br J Nutr. 2006 May;95(5):976-81.
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16611389

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16998453

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Hutchison AT, Flieller EB, Dillon KJ, Leverett BD. Black Currant Nectar Reduces Muscle Damage and Inflammation Following a Bout of High-Intensity Eccentric Contractions. J Diet Suppl. 2016;13(1):1-15. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2014.952864. Epub 2014 Aug 25.
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https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2016/5137431/

Kay CD, Holub BJ. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2002 Oct;88(4):389-98.
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Keul KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr.2010, 7: 17 (7 May 2010).
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Laupheimer MW, Perry M, Benton S, Malliaras P, Maffulli N. Resveratrol exerts no effect on inflammatory response and delayed onset muscle soreness after a marathon in male athletes.: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot feasibility study. Transl Med UniSa. 2014 Apr 8;10:38-42. eCollection 2014.
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McLeay, Y,  Barnes, MJ, Mundel, T, Hurst, SM, Hurst, RD, Stannard, SR. Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Int Soc Sports Nutr.2012, 9: 19 (7 May 2012).
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Miller ER 3rd, Pastor-Barriuso R, Dalal D, Riemersma RA, Appel LJ, Guallar E. Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46. Epub 2004 Nov 10.
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Rabello de Lima CL, Oliveira Assumpção C, Prestes J, Sérgio Denadai B. CONSUMPTION OF CHERRIES AS A STRATEGY TO ATTENUATE EXERCISE-INDUCED MUSCLE DAMAGE AND INFLAMMATION IN HUMANS. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(5):1885-93. Doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9709.
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Sousa M, Teixeira VH, Soares J. Dietary strategies to recover from exercise-induced muscle damage. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Mar;65(2):151-63. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2013.849662. Epub 2013 Nov 4.
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