Sponsored by our partner, Go Condition
Whether you’re new to OCR or deep in the game, there’s one often-overlooked secret to success—beyond hustling weight reps or crushing HIIT workouts—that you must incorporate into your training: a well-rounded nutrition plan. (You may be thinking, duh!, but hang on a second.)
Sure, you’re a pro at clocking hydration, macros and micros on a daily basis. You probably take daily multivitamins, eat lean protein and healthy fats, steer clear of processed garbage foods, and consider yourself the smoothie champion of the world. But, surprisingly, that’s not all your body needs to bag PRs and fitness goals.
Enter: flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant and non-nutrient, just as important as the food you consciously consume. Your body can synthesize so-called “non-essential” nutrients, like flavonoids, without having to obtain them directly from food sources. In other words, supplement form is a solid way to get ‘em. But here’s why flavonoids, especially, matter. Although flavonoids are not “essential” nutrients, because they do not appear to be necessary for growth and development, it has been suggested that they are “life span essential,” meaning that their presence in the diet can reduce risk for chronic disease (And: they might just make you faster, stronger and bounce back quicker.)
What Are Flavonoids & How Do They Help with Fitness, Anyways?
Flavonoids are polyphenols, a large group of plant metabolites that creates a stimulus response in the body, which primes it for action, effort and recovery. A recent study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine showed athletes who supplemented with the flavonoid quercetin saw improved aerobic performance, higher VO2 max and better recovery times.
“Flavonoids are crucial to support your body’s inflammatory response,” says Jackie Womble, MS, RDM, LD, EP. “Whenever we are damaging our muscles purposefully (which is exactly what working out is), we’re causing the body’s natural response of inflammation to go “fix” the muscles afterward, making them stronger. Having enough flavonoids in your diet will help with soreness, tissue damage and your overall healing process.”
In addition, thanks to flavonoids’ antioxidant nature, they coral cell-damaging free radicals and metallic ions, and may even protect muscles from damage during workouts, according to a study in the Journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.
But beyond the body benefits, having healthy levels of flavonoids in your diet (about 500 mg per day, according to Womble) may also help with mental sharpness and mental acuity. In emerging research, scientists are finding flavonoids decrease fatigue, mood disturbances, irritability and memory decline, reports Psychology Today.
Best Healthy Sources of Flavonoids for Athletes
Have to squeeze in a workout, but ready to keel over from lack of energy? While you shouldn't make working out on fumes a habit, you can actually eat and drink certain foods, pre exercise, to load up on flavonoids for an extra boost to get you through. Womble recommends eating tart cherries, legumes, berries, citrus fruits and nuts, to start.
“One of the other benefits you get from these flavonoid-rich foods is fiber,” she says. “For athletes and working out specifically, focus on eating nuts, seeds and legumes, which also provide healthy sources of protein and carbs. The trick is to look at your global nutrition plan to identify and integrate the foods that give you more bang for your buck, and help with recovery as well.”
Another cost effective and convenient option, in addition to eating ample whole foods, is to incorporate a flavonoid supplement into your routine. This ensures you’re getting the full daily intake needed to maximize performance. In addition to a complex of three flavonoids (Quercetin, Green Tea & Bilberry) Go Condition packs its capsules with omega-3s, vitamin C, 55mg of caffeine to ensure that all of the flavonoids are fully absorbed. While not a multivitamin, you might still consider this your one-stop wellness shop.
Womble says it doesn’t matter as much when you take your supplements, but rather the consistency with which you do. “Nutrients from supplements are always better absorbed by the body with food, so consider taking them after a wholesome breakfast or hearty protein-rich dinner,” she says. “Aim to take them around the same time each day so you get a steady stream of nutrients and you’re not over or underdoing it.”