Take your antioxidants before you need them

Exercise triggers the generation and release of harmful oxidants that can damage your muscles, organs and DNA. It’s also well-known that eating itself generates harmful oxidants. But whereas the harmful oxidants generated from your normal diet are well-managed by your body, the harmful oxidants generated by exercise aren’t. Many experts think that the solution to harmful exercise-generated oxidants is to consume foods with a high total antioxidant capacity (TAC), such as dark fruits and a wide variety of colored vegetables. But does eating a lot of high-TAC foods really help?

An Italian study found that it doesn’t matter much how high the level of antioxidants you consume is, but it does matter when you consume them and, most importantly, if your blood antioxidant level is already sufficient when required.


If you want to stop intra-workout muscle loss, make sure you’re armed to the gills with antioxidant-rich blood before you set foot in the gym. Coffee is a great source of antioxidants before working out, and it also gives you a major performance-enhancing boost, so take advantage of it. Finally, make sure you consume dark fruits and berries within four hours of your workout. This helps dramatically tone down inflammatory signals and helps speed you into the anabolic growth phase.


Valtueña S, et al. Food selection based on total antioxidant capacity can modify antioxidant intake, systemic inflammation, and liver function without altering markers of oxidative stress Am J Clinical Nutrition. May 2008; 87:1290-1297.

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