Bananas and protein shakes usually top the list of best post-workout foods.
But according to new research, it may be better to reach for a handful of almonds.
Scientists from Appalachian State University have reported female and male participants who ate 57 grams of almonds daily for one month as part of a randomised, controlled trial had more of a certain fat in their blood immediately after a session of intense exercise than control participants. The molecule studied is believed to have a beneficial effect on metabolic health and energy regulation.
"Here we show that volunteers who consumed 57 grams 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," said Dr David C. Nieman. "They also reported feeling less fatigue and tension, better leg-back strength, and decreased muscle damage after exercise than control volunteers."
The researchers took blood and urine samples from participants before and after the four-week period of dietary supplementation.
In light of the findings, the team concluded that daily consumption of almonds leads to a change in metabolism, downregulating inflammation and oxidative stress from exercise and enabling the body to recover faster.
"We conclude that almonds provide a unique and complex nutrient and polyphenol mixture that may support metabolic recovery from stressful levels of exercise. Almonds have high amounts of protein, healthy types of fats, vitamin E, minerals, and fibre. And the brown skin of almonds contains polyphenols that end up in the large intestine and help control inflammation and oxidative stress," added Dr Nieman.
Full study results have been published in Frontiers in Nutrition.