Citrus Bioflavonoids And Exercise Endurance

Researchers at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands published a paper in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition volume 18, Article number: 2 (2021) about the effect of consuming citrus flavonoids on anaerobic capacity in what they called “moderately trained athletes”. The distinction is important because many prior studies looked at professional athletes.

What Is Anaerobic Capacity?

The technical definition of anaerobic capacity is the ability to perform an activity without using oxygen. As a result, the body produces excess lactic acid and carbon dioxide.

How does it work in exercise?

  • One example would be what happens when you sprint.
  • The body is moving fast, and uses up the available supply of oxygen quickly.
  • At that point, energy switches to anaerobic mode.
  • During high intensity exercise, muscles get at least part of their energy supply from anaerobic metabolism.
  • During intense exercise the muscle pH decreases to about 6.4-6.6.

However, the anaerobic mode can only be sustained for a short period, since the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles causes fatigue.

Put in basic terms, anaerobic capacity affects how long you can sustain activity at a maximum level. It’s the rate your body can produce energy sustainably.

Anaerobic capacity, and how to build it, is clearly a concern for athletes at any level.

Citrus Flavonoids And Exercise

The study looked at the use of citrus flavonoid supplements, since their use is common among athletes. However, many studies have shown that other benefits of flavonoids are optimized by consuming whole fruits instead of supplements.

The details:

  • The study uses 92 moderately trained healthy men and women.
  • They got daily dosages of 400 and 500 mg for a period of 4 and 8 weeks, along with a control group that got a placebo.
  • Results were assessed in the beginning, after four weeks, and again after eight weeks.
  • The Wingate Anaerobic Test (WANT), a cycle test of anaerobic leg power, was used as the measure.

What they found was significant improvement in anaerobic capacity. From the conclusion:

‘This study shows that daily intake of CFE, a natural flavonoid containing supplement, resulted in increased anaerobic capacity and peak power output during high intensity exercise in moderately trained individuals without affecting the maximum heart rate. Future research needs to be performed to identify the underlying mechanisms that are affected by CFE supplementation.’


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