Consuming almonds promotes muscle recovery and reduces fatigue due to physical exercise. This is what emerges from a study conducted by scientists at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, published in ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’. The research, which involved 64 healthy non-smoking, non-obesity adults with an average age of 46 who performed fewer than 3 training sessions per week, showed that snacking on almonds reduced feelings of fatigue and tension. , increase leg and lower back strength during recovery and reduce muscle damage during the first day of recovery.
The experiment, supported with funding from the Almond Board of California, used a randomized parallel group design – reports a note – in which treatment participants (33) ate 57 grams of almonds per day, divided between morning and afternoon , for 4 weeks. Participants in the control arm (31) instead consumed a granola bar of equal calories, again in divided doses.
Participants handed in blood and urine samples and answered questionnaires about mood and muscle pain. Height, weight and body composition were measured. Then the people in the study were instructed to perform muscle function tests (exercises), and once completed, they began the 4-week supplementation period, either by eating almonds or granola bars. At the end of 4 weeks, participants submitted dietary records, blood and urine samples, and other questionnaire responses. Muscle function testing was repeated and then participants engaged in 90-minute eccentric exercise sets comprising 17 different exercises. Examples of eccentric exercise include slowly lowering a load to the floor, lowering into a squat, or lowering into a push-up. The people in the study returned the following day to submit additional blood and urine samples and questionnaires, as well as to perform additional physical fitness tests.
Researchers evaluated changes in plasma oxylipins, which are bioactive oxidized lipids involved in the post-exercise inflammatory response, and urinary phenols (plant antioxidants) that end up in the gut (large intestine), plasma cytokines, biomarkers of muscle damage, mood and physical performance.
“What we discovered – explains David C. Nieman, biologist and lead author of the research – definitively tells us that almonds should be added to sports nutrition strategies to help people recover better from exercise”. For Nieman, “Almonds are the ultimate fitness food. When it comes to fueling exercise, the focus often falls on carbohydrates, but almonds offer a nutritional package — including good unsaturated fats, antioxidant vitamin E, and proanthocyanidins (class of polyphenols, which are protective compounds in plants) – which helps explain the benefits that emerged in our study.” A serving of almonds (30 grams) contains 13 grams of good unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat, recall the note.
In subjects who consumed almonds – we read – a reduction in post-exercise fatigue and tension was found. Higher levels of leg and lower back strength were also observed; lower levels of serum creatine kinase, which is a marker of muscle damage, immediately and one day after exercise; higher levels of oxylipin (molecules that affect muscle function, recovery and fat burning); increased urinary levels of phenol derivatives in the large intestine (indicates consumption of polyphenols from almonds and polyphenols are naturally occurring plant compounds that protect plants and may benefit human health), and some improvement in mood after intervention.