Citrus And Muscle Mass

Researchers in Spain published a paper in the journal Food & Function (Issue 9, 2021) looked at the role of a flavonoid found in oranges and its role in improving muscle mass and reducing fat. The research study looked at a group of amateur competitive cyclists in a randomized contolled trial.


Hesperidin, specifically 2S-Hesperidin, is the primary flavonoid in sweet oranges or Citrus sinensis, and is also found in significant concentrations in lemons, limes, blood oranges, and tangerines. The new study joins a growing body of research that has looked at its beneficial role, particularly for athletes, in muscle development and even reducing fat.

  • 40 amateur cyclists were divided into two groups
  • One took 2S-hesperidin in the form of a 500 mg supplement daily
  • The other group took a placebo
  • The study went on for eight weeks

What the study found

Body composition was measured via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and anthropometric measurements. Metabolic rates were also measured. The results, even for a relatively short study, were significant.

  • Decrease in body fat for those taking hesperidin
  • Decrease in fat in the lower limbs
  • An increase in muscle mass, both as a percentage and in total muscle mass
  • None of these changes were observed in the group taking the placebo
  • Another benefit that emerged was that hesperidin helps to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

The researchers postulated theories about the exact mechanisms by which hesperidin appears to operate. “Taking into account described results as well as that no dietary control was included in this study, the potential of 2S-hesperidin combined with a proper dietary control may be even greater.”

The researchers explain in the conclusion. “These changes in body composition may provide an advantage to endurance athletes in maintaining or improving their physical condition during pre-season and start the season with less fat and more muscle. Besides, 2S-hesperidin appears to prevent an increase in the RER in rest metabolic rate, post intervention.”

The study was funded by HealthTech BioActives, a maker of supplements.

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