Many people who work out on a regular basis choose to include performance enhancement supplements in their diet. These range from protein powders and amino acids, to creatine and antioxidants. However, it seems that the latter may not be such a good choice.
The popular opinion is that taking antioxidant supplements can support the natural process through which your body fights against free radicals, improving workout results. However, multiple scientific studies have proven that supplementing the intake of antioxidants is actually detrimental to exercising.
The publication Eat This, Not That explains that building muscle involves a process called redox (short for oxidation-reduction). Every time the redox cycle takes place in our body, the body is subjected to certain changes, becoming stronger. This process not only influences muscle building, but also other biological processes in our bodies, reason for which it’s essential that it takes place as it should.
However, a study published in The Journal of Physiology shows that there is increasing evidence suggesting that an excessive quantity of antioxidants interferes with the natural redox reactions of the body, diminishing their beneficial results. At the same time, the authors of the study stated that the intake of antioxidant supplements would only be justified in the case of extremely intensive physical exercises, that are rarely performed in regular workouts, even by very active individuals.
Another study, focusing on the impact of vitamins E and C on exercise performance, showed that a higher-than-necessary dose of vitamin C can negatively impact physical endurance. As far as vitamin E is concerned, the study found it neither beneficial, nor detrimental to exercising, therefore having no impact on it.
While antioxidant supplements are not recommended, it is, however, important to ensure the necessary intake of antioxidants from your daily diet. Therefore, stocking up on foods that are high in vitamins C, E, and polyphenols (a type of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables) is essential.