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Athletes & Antioxidants
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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.
Subsections of the article:
- 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?
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