Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Antioxidants & Food: Does it make a difference what you eat?

We all know that exercise triggers the generation and release of harmful oxidants that can damage your muscles, organs and DNA. It’s also well-known that eating itself generates harmful oxidants. But whereas the harmful oxidants generated from your normal diet are well-managed by your body, the harmful oxidants generated by exercise aren’t. Many experts think that the solution to exercise-generated harmful oxidants is eating.

To this end, many experts recommend consuming foods high in antioxidants – dark fruits, a wide variety of colored vegetables and more.

But does eating a lot of foods with a high total antioxidant capacity (TAC) really have any effect on traditional markers of antioxidant stress?

An Italian study found that it doesn’t matter much how high the level of antioxidants you consume is, but it does matter when you consume them and, most importantly, if your blood level is already sufficient when required.

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: If you want to stop intra-workout muscle loss, make sure you’re armed to the gills with antioxidant-rich blood before you set foot in the gym. Coffee is a great source of antioxidants before working out, and it also gives you a major performance-enhancing boost, so take advantage of it. Finally, make sure you consume dark fruits and berries within four hours of your workout. This helps dramatically tone down inflammatory signals and helps speed you into the anabolic growth phase.

Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:1290–7.

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