A Dose of Antioxidants to Improve Your Athletic Performances
Regardless of which is your favourite sport, you have certainly noticed that the composition of products sold to improve performances before, during, and after training can vary greatly. Some contain different types of carbohydrates, more or less protein, and others are loaded with astronomical quantities of added vitamins and minerals. In this article, I will elaborate on the latter: sports products supplemented with vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins C, E, and A, as well as selenium and magnesium are often added as antioxidants in sports gels, drinks, and post-workout drinks. Why? During a medium-to-high intensity workout, our body uses much more oxygen than at rest. In these conditions, some molecules within our body become unstable as they lose an electron when in contact with oxygen, and thus become “free radicals”. These molecules are so unstable (even hyperactive) that they can damage other cells of the body, which will in turn also become free radicals.
This is where the famous antioxidants come into play! According to some studies, these nutrients have the ability to neutralise free radicals. This means that taking antioxidants pre- and post-workout could decrease muscle fatigue (thus allowing for better sports performance), and improve muscle recovery (which means less muscle aching and the ability to train again sooner). So that’s why these nutrients are added to sports products!
Unfortunately, studies on the subject (mainly on vitamin C and E) are not very conclusive. Some results even suggest the opposite and point toward a decrease in performance. One the one hand, there is every reason to believe that physical activity increases the body’s capacity to produce more antioxidants, and on the other hand, it seems that foods rich in antioxidants (field berries, pomegranate, cranberries, cherry juice, carrots, yams, etc.) are more effective than antioxidant supplements.
So, following this information, instead of paying a fortune for sports products, why not make your own sports drinks based on antioxidant fruits? I am convinced your wallet would only benefit from this!
Caroline Proulx, P.Dt.
Nikolaidis, M. and al. (2012). Does vitamin c and e supplementation impair the favorable adaptations of regular exercise?. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2012, doi: 10.1155/2012/707941
Mastaloudis, A. and al. (2006). Antioxidants did not prevent muscle damage in response to an ultramarathon run. Medicine & Science in sports & Exercise, doi :10.1249/01.mss.0000188579.36272.f6
Bryer and al. (2006). Effect of high dose Vitamin C supplementation on muscle soreness, damage, function, and oxidative stress to eccentric exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 16, 270-280.
Howatson and al. (2010). Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 20, 843-852, doi : 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x