Are Antioxidants Negatively Affecting Your Training
First and Foremost we must start off with identifying what are Antioxidants? Antioxidants are compounds such as Vitamin C, E etc and have become incredibly popular in recent years, due to its ability to neutralize reactive oxygen species which are though to be responsible for being the root cause of many chronic disease including cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration and aging. Free radicals promote damage to our DNA, which may hinder our athletic performance.
So Tommy, How is taking something that may help prevent cancer, ageing and cardiovascular pulmonary disease a band thing?
When we workout, we generate free radicals. Oh no. However, free radicals from exercise are good thing, since it triggers our body to build greater protection against physical stress. When we take antioxidant supplementation , it can hinder our ability to adapt as body is not required to neutralize these free radicals. Research has consistantly showns that chronic use of antioxidants supplementation with training will negatively affect performance. (How can we improve running performance)
Can Antioxidants ever improve performance?
Although when taken chronically, antioxidants hurt performance, in short acute use it may actually improve performance. This is due to the fact that it is able to help fend odd Reactive Oxygen Species that may hinder performance. Thus, on race days, acute supplementation of antioxidants may be a valuable tool.
Research on this topic
Antioxidants and Exercise Performance: With a Focus on Vitamin E and C Supplementation (Higgins 2020)
“Increased oxidative stress during exercise results in the production of free radicals, which leads to muscle damage, fatigue, and impaired performance. Despite their negative effects on performance, free radicals may act as signaling molecules enhancing protection against greater physical stress. Current evidence suggests that antioxidant supplementation may impair these adaptations”
“Given that antioxidant supplements (e.g., vitamin E and C) tend to block anabolic signaling pathways, and thus, impair adaptations to resistance training, special caution should be taken with these supplements”
“Acute antioxidant supplementation has been shown to improve performance during high intensity exercise with short recovery intervals”
Impact of Dietary Antioxidants on Sport Performance: A Review (Braakhuis 2015)
“With regard to the optimal timing of antioxidant consumption, much of the evidence is pointing towards an acute performance benefit but performance impairment when taken chronically.”