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New Study Reveals Consuming Almonds Boost Post-Exercise Muscle Recovery and Performance

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A new study found that eating almonds reduced some feelings of muscle soreness during exercise recovery which translated to improved muscle performance during a vertical jump challenge. These results expand on prior research[1] which looked at how almonds affect muscle recovery after exercise.

In the new research study[2], published in Frontiers in Nutrition and funded by the Almond Board of California, 25 mildly overweight middle-aged men and women performed a 30-minute downhill treadmill run test after eight weeks of consuming 57g (two ounces) of whole raw almonds daily. The control group ate a calorie-matched (86 g/three ounces) snack of unsalted pretzels. The treadmill test was designed to cause muscle damage to see how almonds affected muscle recovery.

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.

The results: Study participants who ate almonds experienced an almost 25 percent reduction in muscle soreness when performing an explosive power exercise (a vertical jump challenge) over the cumulative 72-hour exercise recovery period. The perceived reduction in soreness translated to better muscle performance during the vertical jump challenge in the almond group versus the control. No significant differences were observed in measures of cardiometabolic health, muscle damage/inflammation, mood state, or appetite for the almond group or the control group.

This 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 generalizable to populations with other demographic and health characteristics.

“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 Dr. Oliver C. Witard, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition at Kings College London. “Almonds are naturally nutritious with protein, good fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. They can be considered an ideal food for fitness.” One serving of almonds (28 g) has 4 g of plant protein, 13 g of good unsaturated fat and only 1 g of saturated fat.

Dr. Witard’s study joins previous research which examined how regular almond snacking affected exercise recovery for healthy adults who exercise occasionally.

“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. Our preliminary findings are encouraging in showing that almond snacking may promote adherence to new training programs among people who are unaccustomed to exercise,” said Witard.

One ounce (28 g) of almonds provides 6g protein, 4 g of fiber and 15 essential nutrients, including 76 mg magnesium (20% DV), 7.3 mg vitamin E (50% DV), and 210 mg potassium (4% DV), making them a great snack for healthy active lifestyles.

Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head-Dietetics, Max Healthcare – Delhi said, “Over the years, I have consistently recommended daily consumption of almonds to my patients, and the new study funded by Almonds Board of California shows it is extremely crucial to incorporate these powerhouses of nuts into their diet. The findings of the Witard study, which suggest that consuming almonds daily can reduce muscle soreness and enhance muscle function, excite me as a dietitian. The noteworthy discovery of a 25% decrease in muscle soreness over the course of the 72-hour recovery period emphasizes the significance of incorporating nutrient-dense foods, such as almonds, into a balanced diet to promote general health and fitness. The study also highlights the potential of almonds to encourage those who are not used to exercising to stick to new training regimens. Overall, as a dietitian, I strongly recommend incorporating almonds into the diet, as they offer vital nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, and antioxidant vitamin E, that are beneficial for both overall health and muscle rehabilitation when included in a regular diet.”

Dr. Rohini Patil, MBBS & Nutritionist said that “As a nutritionist, I’ve long advocated for the inclusion of almonds in my patients’ diets due to their exceptional nutritional profile. This latest study highlights the importance of almonds in muscle recovery and performance. The significant reduction in muscle soreness observed in participants consuming almonds highlights their potential to support post-exercise recovery, ultimately leading to enhanced muscle function. Moreover, the fact that this improvement in muscle performance was accompanied by no adverse effects on other health parameters reaffirms almonds’ role as a safe and effective dietary component. I highly recommend incorporating almonds into your diet for their myriad health benefits, including aiding in muscle rehabilitation and promoting overall well-being.”

Overall, the latest study funded by the Almond Board of California suggests that snacking on almonds for eight weeks reduced perceived feelings of muscle soreness during recovery from muscle-damaging exercise, resulting in better maintenance of muscle functional capacity. This study suggests that almonds are a functional food snack to improve exercise tolerance in mildly overweight, middle-aged adults.

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