Reducing Muscle Fatigue with Citrus

Reducing Muscle Fatigue with Citrus
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Daily citrus fruit consumption during athletic training may reduce muscle fatigue, as evidenced by lower blood lactate concentrations.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The same lactic acid that makes yogurt tangy is the same lactic acid that builds up in our muscles when we exercise strenuously. Instead of bacteria fermenting the sugar in milk to make energy for themselves, our muscles ferment sugar in our diet to produce energy to contract. If (like when we’re sprinting) lactic acid builds up in our muscles faster than it can be removed, we can end up with a burning sensation in our muscles, forcing us to stop.

Now, if we train, we can increase the number of blood vessels in our muscles, and clear out the lactate faster. For example, if you take some overweight sedentary women and start them on an aerobic training program of running and walking, at the end of three months, their lactate levels during exercise decreased 17%. But, those on the same program who drank two cups of orange juice a daydecreased their levels 27%. They did the same exercise program, but the citrus group experienced “a significant decrease in blood lactate concentration”—signifying “an improvement in physical performance, with less muscle fatigue.”

I don’t recommend drinking juice, because you’re losing all that wonderful fiber that slows the rate of fruit sugar absorption into our system. Here’s the blood sugar spike one might see after drinking Coca-Cola. Compare that to the spike you see with orange juice; no difference. But, now, what if you ate the same quantity of sugar in the form of orange slices? Significantly lower.

So, the whole fruit is nearly always better than fruit juice. Now, this is not to say OJ isn’t better than Coke. OJ has those citrus phytonutrients, like hesperidin, which may be why the women’s triglycerides didn’t go up, even though they were drinking two cups of fruit juice every day. Hesperidin may actually help lower our digestion of fats, but once you get up to three cups a day of juice, you really can start bumping up your triglycerides.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to pasukaru76 via flickr and Benjah-bmm27 via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The same lactic acid that makes yogurt tangy is the same lactic acid that builds up in our muscles when we exercise strenuously. Instead of bacteria fermenting the sugar in milk to make energy for themselves, our muscles ferment sugar in our diet to produce energy to contract. If (like when we’re sprinting) lactic acid builds up in our muscles faster than it can be removed, we can end up with a burning sensation in our muscles, forcing us to stop.

Now, if we train, we can increase the number of blood vessels in our muscles, and clear out the lactate faster. For example, if you take some overweight sedentary women and start them on an aerobic training program of running and walking, at the end of three months, their lactate levels during exercise decreased 17%. But, those on the same program who drank two cups of orange juice a daydecreased their levels 27%. They did the same exercise program, but the citrus group experienced “a significant decrease in blood lactate concentration”—signifying “an improvement in physical performance, with less muscle fatigue.”

I don’t recommend drinking juice, because you’re losing all that wonderful fiber that slows the rate of fruit sugar absorption into our system. Here’s the blood sugar spike one might see after drinking Coca-Cola. Compare that to the spike you see with orange juice; no difference. But, now, what if you ate the same quantity of sugar in the form of orange slices? Significantly lower.

So, the whole fruit is nearly always better than fruit juice. Now, this is not to say OJ isn’t better than Coke. OJ has those citrus phytonutrients, like hesperidin, which may be why the women’s triglycerides didn’t go up, even though they were drinking two cups of fruit juice every day. Hesperidin may actually help lower our digestion of fats, but once you get up to three cups a day of juice, you really can start bumping up your triglycerides.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to pasukaru76 via flickr and Benjah-bmm27 via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

The burning sensation during strenuous exercise may be related to the buildup of lactic acid in our muscles. But, that’s different than the delayed onset muscle soreness that occurs in the days following a bout of extreme physical activity. That’s thought to be due to inflammation caused by muscle cell damage—little micro-tears in our muscles. If it’s an inflammatory reaction, than might anti-inflammatory phytonutrients help? Find out in Reducing Muscle Soreness with Berries.

For more on what citrus phytonutrients can do, see Keeping your Hands Warm with Citrus.

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: How Citrus Might Help Keep your Hands Warm, Citrus to Reduce Muscle Fatigue, and Berries to Prevent Muscle Soreness.

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