Scientists from the Faculty of Sports Science at the University of Burgundy reported that two 500 milligram (mg) doses of polyphenols increased the endurance of athletes studied by almost 10 percent.
Furthermore, the study found that the time the time it took for athletes to reach the maximum perceived exertion or fatigue barrier was delayed by almost 13 percent. The study was conducted in partnership with the European Center for Evidence Based Nutrition.
The study found healthy and physically active males who took acute supplements of polyphenols had significant increases in endurance with greater energy expenditure, as demonstrated by the lengthening of time to exhaustion and time to maximal perceived exertion. Energy expenditure is the amount of energy that a person needs to carry out physical movements.
Forty-eight physically active men with an average age of 31 were recruited to participate in the study published in Nutrients. The participants were randomly given either 500 mg of polyphenols or a placebo at two separate testing sessions.
The findings did not show significant differences between the main cardiovascular and respiratory measured patterns. Moreover, a similar observation was obtained on muscle pain two days after exercise.
The results indicated that improved performance from the acute polyphenol intake was safe and did not cause additional pain to the subjects. “Polyphenols are already known to have an impact on blood flow and benefits for sports performances,” said Guillement. He noted that the population size of the study is bigger than usual and that the benefits were observed after acute administration.
“Generally, polyphenol-based ingredients require a (sub)chronic administration to demonstrate a significant physiological impact,” he explained. As noted by the researchers, polyphenols, such as those found in grapes and apples, may be beneficially impacting endurance through an action on nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator that widens blood vessels to improve blood flow.
Guillemet said in the article that he and his team plan to conduct more study regarding the association among nitric oxide, vasodilation, and sport performance improvements.
They plan to further investigate and explore performance improvements for other kinds of exercise.
Polyphenols are micronutrients that can be obtained from certain plant-based foods which contain antioxidants. They are also known to improve or help cure digestive problems, difficulties in weight management, diabetes, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases.
Polyphenols are commonly found in cloves and other seasonings, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, berries such as strawberries and blackberries, plums, sweet cherries, beans, nuts, vegetables like spinach and artichokes, soy, black and green tea, and red wine. (Related: Scientists discover how polyphenols in green tea may protect the health of diabetics.)
The best way to consume polyphenols is through foods that naturally contain them because artificially-made supplements may come with side effects such as carcinogenic effects, genotoxicity, thyroid issues, and estrogenic activity in isoflavones. More research is needed to confirm the side effects of the nutrient.
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