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  which looked at how almonds affect muscle recovery after exercise. In the new research study, 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 (86g/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 time points after the treadmill test. They also measured markers of cardio metabolic 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 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 cardio metabolic 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 over weight 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 activeis 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. 


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