The Benefits Of Antioxidants In A Runner’s Diet

Free radicals are stray electrons which break off from oxygen molecules as we breathe and use oxygen. This process is called oxidation. These stray electrons can cause cellular damage, prematurely aging our bodies and damaging our organs.

Antioxidants – NordicTrack

Antioxidants – NordicTrack

Runners, whether they prefer outdoor or indoor treadmill running, are particularly vulnerable to the damage of free radicals released by oxidation. This is due to the fact that runners use more oxygen as they run. However, antioxidants can help defend against the damage runners can undergo.

Benefits For Runners Who Consume More Antioxidants

There are many ways that antioxidants can benefit runners, both during their runs and when they are at rest. Some of these ways are:

  • Antioxidants neutralize free radicals – Antioxidants donate an electron to free radicals which stabilizes them. It is in their unstable form that makes a free radical dangerous. So, when runners consume antioxidants, they help protect their bodies from the stressful effects of free radicals.
  • Antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory muscle aid – A side-effect of free radicals is inflammation in the muscles. This is particularly harmful for runners who deal with muscle inflammation as a regular part of their running. Antioxidants can act as anti-inflammatory aids.
  • Antioxidants enhance athletic performance – Runners who have neutralized free radicals can perform at a higher level than others as the free radicals will not interfere with the runner’s oxygen intake.
  • Antioxidant consumption shows improved recovery time – As muscle inflammation is eased by antioxidants, a runner’s muscle fiber can recover more quickly.

Common Foods That Provide More Antioxidants

There are supplements runners can take which contain antioxidants. However, these supplements generally are not absorbed by the body as well as dietary antioxidants. It is recommended that men intake 11,000 micromoles a day and women are recommended to intake 8,000.

To add more antioxidants into your life through your food intake, try these antioxidant-rich foods:

Antioxidant-rich Food Serving Size Micromoles
Red kidney bean ½ cup 13,259
Blueberries (cultivated) 1 cup 9,019
Pecan 1 oz 5,095
Artichoke hearts 1 cup 7,904
Russet potato 213 grams 4,649
Pinto bean ½ cup 11,864
Cranberry 1 cup 8,983
Raspberry 1 cup 6,058

A good deal of antioxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. With some healthy meal planning, you can easily fit more antioxidants into your meals and reap the benefits during your runs.