Sure, workouts can be exhilarating. All that endorphin coursing through your veins and leaving you feeling extra pumped. But they can also hurt and leave you with all shades of soreness afterward that could last days. In a bid to remedy this, experts at Appalachian State University recommend you eat some almonds. Their study reports that people who engage in intense physical exercise during the weekends would endure an easier path to recovery if they consume almonds every day.

Several studies have shown in the past that after sweating it out at the gym, the body utilizes fatty acids in its recovery process as it serves as an energy source as well as induce hormone production, and reduce inflammation, and according to the research authors, almonds help make these things happen.

Almonds, in addition to their ever-growing list of health benefits, increase the amounts of 12,12-dihydroxy9z-octadecenoic acid (12,13-DiHOME) in the blood. This is a fatty molecule created from brown fat tissue that helps enhance fatty acid uptake into skeletal muscle thereby stimulating recovery.

“Here we show that volunteers who consumed 57g of almonds daily for one month before a single ‘weekend warrior’ exercise bout had more beneficial 12,13-DiHOME in their blood immediately after exercising than control volunteers,” says David C. Nieman, a professor, and director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Study Methodology

A total of 64 participants comprising 38 men and 26 women with no regular weight training habits were recruited for the study. Adopting a randomized trial method, half of the group was selected and placed on a diet of 57 grams of almonds per day for thirty days. Meanwhile, the other half ate a cereal bar with the same amount of calories. Blood samples were collected before and after the dieting period.

Participants then carried out exercises like vertical jumps, a bench press, leg-back strength exercises, a 30-second Wingate anaerobic test, and a 50-meter shuttle run test, all within 90 minutes. Blood and urine samples were collected afterward and then every day for the next four days with participants required to fill out questionnaires each time to measure their mental state.

Results

As the researchers expected, after the 90-minute workout regimen, participants reported feeling less vigor, more muscle damage and soreness, fatigue, and depression. Analysis of their blood samples revealed interesting results. First was the boost in levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines for both groups, a molecule in the body associated with minor muscle damage, and second, was the disparity in 12,13-DiHOME.

Blood samples obtained from participants in the almond dieting group showed a 69 percent increase in the fatty molecule of interest compared to those obtained from the control group. Also, oxylipin, a mildly toxic derivative of  9,10-diHOME known for interfering with the after exercise, was found to be 40 percent higher in participants in the control group—suggesting a change in the body’s metabolism due to the intake of almonds.

“We conclude that almonds provide a unique and complex nutrient and polyphenol mixture that may support metabolic recovery from stressful levels of exercise,” said Nieman.

Takeaway

Evidence suggests almonds have numerous benefits. From lowering blood sugar to reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and now, aiding recovery post work out.

With just a handful of almonds, the recovery process after an intense workout can be hastened to leave you good as new and ready to go for the next workout session.

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