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Consuming almonds may boost post-exercise muscle recovery, performance: Study

The treadmill test was designed to cause muscle damage to see how almonds affected muscle recovery.

Consuming almonds may boost post-exercise muscle recovery, performance: Study
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NEW DELHI: Eating almonds may reduce some feelings of muscle soreness during exercise recovery and improve performance in specific tasks, according to a small study.

In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, 25 mildly overweight middle-aged men and women performed a 30-minute downhill treadmill run test after eight weeks of consuming 57 grammes (two ounces) of whole raw almonds daily.

The control group ate a calorie-matched (86 grammes per three ounces) snack of unsalted pretzels. The treadmill test was designed to cause muscle damage to see how almonds affected muscle recovery.

The researchers measured participants’ muscle function; blood markers of muscle damage and inflammation, and perceived muscle soreness using a visual scale, before, during and at three timepoints after the treadmill test.

They also measured markers of cardiometabolic health, body composition, and psycho-social assessments of mood, appetite, and well-being at baseline and after eight weeks of almond snacking.

Study participants who ate almonds experienced an almost 25 per cent reduction in muscle soreness when performing an explosive power exercise (a vertical jump challenge) over the cumulative 72-hour exercise recovery period, the researchers said.

The perceived reduction in soreness translated to better muscle performance during the vertical jump challenge in the almond group versus the control, they said.

“Our study suggests that snacking on almonds can be recommended to occasional exercisers as a go-to food to help fitness recovery after strenuous exercise,” said Oliver C. Witard, Senior Lecturer at Kings College London, UK.

“Almonds are naturally nutritious with protein, good fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. They can be considered an ideal food for fitness,” Witard said in a statement.

No significant differences were observed in measures of cardiometabolic health, muscle damage or inflammation, mood state, or appetite for the almond group or the control group, according to the researchers.

The study included non-smoking participants who were mildly overweight and occasionally physically active but were not trained athletes.

A limitation of this study is that the results are not generalisable to populations with other demographic and health characteristics, the researchers said.

Sticking to an exercise routine is not easy, so finding dietary strategies to help people be — and stay — physically active is important for public health, they said.

The preliminary findings are encouraging in showing that almond snacking may promote adherence to new training programmes among people who are unaccustomed to exercise.

“The noteworthy discovery of a 25 per cent decrease in muscle soreness over the course of the 72-hour recovery period emphasises the significance of incorporating nutrient-dense foods, such as almonds, into a balanced diet to promote general health and fitness,” said Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head-Dietetics, Max Healthcare – Delhi.

“The study also highlights the potential of almonds to encourage those who are not used to exercising to stick to new training regimens,” Samaddar added.

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