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Protein plus Antioxidants May be Better for Post-Workout Muscle Synthesis than Protein Alone

When you work out, you cause muscle damage, which is necessary for muscles to strengthen.  However, prolonged pain post-exercise can interfere with later workouts. A recent study has found that taking a combination of protein and antioxidants after exercising may be effective for combatting muscle soreness and loss of muscle function.


Participants in the study included 60 sedentary but otherwise healthy men between the ages of 18 and 30. They consumed one of three beverages:


    1. 250 ml of water with 31 g whey protein hydrolysate and non-caloric flavored powder;
    2. 250 ml of water with 31 g whey protein hydrolysate and powered antioxidants;
    3. 250 ml of sugar flavored water, as the control.

    All of the men performed 100 maximal eccentric contractions of the knee extenders designed to cause muscle fiber damage, inflammation, impaired muscle function, and muscle soreness. The men consumed the drink immediately before exercise and again six hours and 22 hours after exercise. The researchers measured peak isometric torque, peak isokinetic torque, thigh circumference, and muscle soreness of knee extensor muscles measured at baseline, immediately after exercise and one, two, six, and 24 hours after exercise.

    The researchers noted no difference in muscle soreness, thigh circumference, muscle function, macro and micro nutrient intake, and total work between the three groups. However, they did note a 17% improvement in peak isokinetic torque in the protein/antioxidant group and an 11% improvement in peak isokinetic torque in the protein-only group, when compared with the control. They also noted the least muscle soreness over time in the protein/antioxidant group, when compared with the other two groups.


    Researchers from Skidmore College led the study. It was published on July 3, 2017, in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.


    Protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is also a building block for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. Previous studies suggest that consuming high amounts of protein may help build muscle and increase metabolism.


    Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. The best sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. You can find flavonoids in fruits, red wine, and teas.

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