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Antioxidants - Add a Lean, Muscular Body to the List of Benefits!
I'm sure by now you've heard all about the amazing health benefits of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. Not only do these free-radical fighting antioxidants help you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, but they also help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and loads of other degenerative diseases. But that's not all. Antioxidants also help you to recover better from exercise...and that means more muscle and less fat on your body in the long run!
The function that antioxidants play in aiding your recovery from exercise is the inhibition of free radicals produced during exercise. Any time you workout, free radicals are produced in the body that damage muscle tissue. Having an adequate supply of antioxidants about an hour or so before your workout can greatly reduce the muscle damage caused by free radicals, hence, improving your muscular recovery from exercise.
Some of the most potent sources of whole food antioxidants are berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries), cherries, acai fruit, various teas (green tea, white tea, black tea, and red tea - a.k.a. rooibos tea), nuts, seeds, red and black beans, purple potatoes, grapes, red wine, cinnamon, and dark chocolate or cocoa. Don't be fooled by all of the intense marketing for expensive antioxidant supplement pills...remember whole foods are always better for you (and cheaper) than a pill.
My favorite pre-workout antioxidant-loaded snack is a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter, a small amount of blackberry jam, and topped with a pile of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. I wash it down with a glass of iced green tea or rooibos tea sweetened with just a small bit (about a teaspoon) of raw honey. This is literally a quintuple-whammy of potent anti-oxidants! The almond butter, blackberry, blueberries, raw honey, and the green or rooibos tea are all loaded with different varieties of muscle protecting, youth promoting antioxidants. I throw down this snack about an hour before my training. Give it a try for yourself, or be creative and come up with your own antioxidant-rich pre-workout snack based on your tastes.
Remember, your body is continually bombarded every day by free radicals (creating oxidative stress) from exercise, air pollution, smoke, sun exposure, junk food, exposure to chemicals, etc. To reap the full benefits of antioxidants, try to make sure that every meal and snack you eat has at least one or two sources of antioxidant rich foods. This will give you a continuous supply of antioxidants throughout every day to prevent damage from the free radicals you are constantly exposed to.
Antioxidants are just one piece to the puzzle of a healthy diet that will give you the lean, muscular, youthful, and disease-free body that everyone wants. To discover the secrets behind all of the other pieces to the diet puzzle that create a lean body (macronutrient profile, glycemic response, hormonal response, glycogen storage, muscle protein synthesis, the role of leptin, the insulin process, etc.), visit http://truthaboutabs.com
Michael Geary - NCSF CPT, AFAA CPT;
National Nutrition Month: Raising a Healthier Generation through Diet, Education - USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
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