Cranberry supplementation may increase athletic performance during intense exercise

Cranberry supplementation may increase athletic performance and delay muscle fatigue during exercise, according to the authors of a recent study published in Physical Activity and Nutrition. Runners who supplemented with cranberry extract for 28 days had better running speed in the 1500-meter run, less lactate accumulation after a 400-meter run, and their muscles extracted better oxygen.1.2

Image credit: Adobe Stock – Maks Narodenko

When it comes to elite athletes, any advantage can make the difference between finishing fifth or landing on the podium, said lead study author Andreas Bergdahl, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology at the Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. the press release.1

Blueberries are one of the richest foods in antioxidants in the world. They are especially rich in polyphenols, with the highest polyphenol count of any fruit or vegetable in the American diet. Polyphenols (including proanthocyanidins). [PAC]anthocyanins and flavonols) are secondary plant compounds that can protect the body from harmful free radicals.1.2

Intense exercise can be a major cause of free radicals, and more and more athletes are using health supplements to reduce damage, improve performance and recover faster. Current evidence shows that blueberries can increase physical performance during rowing and cycling by reducing inflammation and preventing blood lactate formation, but there is little data on these ergogenic effects during running.1.2

In this study, researchers enrolled 14 high-level runners on Concordia’s varsity track and field team to evaluate cranberry supplementation on running performance and recovery. He had participants in a 1500m and 400m clock event with no baseline supplements. Participants ran these distances a second time, with the only difference being that they received a high dose of cranberry extract (0.7 g/kg body mass) 2 hours earlier.1

For the next 28 days, the runners consumed a small dose of cranberry extract (0.3 g/kg body mass), after which they ran another time trial of 1500 and 400 meters.

The 400 meters is shorter and more intense and involves the anaerobic system [and] the 1500 meters uses the aerobic system, but is shorter than what athletes typically run, lead author Francis Parenteau, a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University, said in the press release.

The 28-day supplementation regimen increased aerobic performance during long-distance running, with runners increasing their speed by 1.5%. Chronic supplementation significantly improved muscle reoxygenation rates (P = 0.04; 2 = 0.29) as well as reduced deoxygenation rates (P = 0.13; 2 = 0.20). Furthermore, continuous supplementation attenuated the postexercise lactate response during the 400-meter run (P = 0.01; 2 = 0.27), but not the 1500-meter run. 2

But supplementation isn’t entirely necessary for better athletic performance, as athletes can also benefit from just eating more blueberries, Bergdahl concluded.1

REFERENCES
  1. According to new Concordia research, blueberries give runners an all-natural boost. Concordia University. News release. March 19, 2024. Accessed March 20, 2024. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1038222
  2. Parenteau F, Puglia VF, Roberts M, Comtois AS, Bergdahl A. Blueberry supplementation improves physiological markers of performance in trained runners. Physical Activity and Nutrition. 2023;27(4):8-14. Published online: 31 December 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.20463/pan.2023.0032

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