How can antioxidants work for your bodybuilding gains?
We’ve all heard the word before; antioxidants. We know they are good for us and can help us when it comes to things like immunity, inflammation, and just aid in our overall health, but do we really know what they are? What they do? Why they matter?
Sometimes in the health and fitness world, these big words get tossed around and we go along with it because, well, why wouldn’t we? If we know they will help us, then who cares what it means. With so many companies claiming their products contain antioxidants, and maybe they actually do, it is way easier to take in these nutrients than we may think. So, are antioxidants some magic pill to give you super human health and gains? Not exactly. But what they can do is really impact your gains for the better so you continue to see the gains you are working for.
Let’s dive right into antioxidants and see what makes these so great. From what they are, the benefits of them, and how they can affect your bodybuilding goals, we’ll also work to include where to get them from so you can be sure they make their way into your diet.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants help keep free radicals in check. They are molecules found in certain foods like fruits, vegetables, and include vitamins we all know like vitamin C. But in order to understand why antioxidants matter, we should jump into what free radicals are, which will give us a much better understanding of how antioxidants operate (1).
Free radicals are always being formed in your body during things like digestion, hard exercise, smoking, just to name a few. On their own, they aren’t exactly bad, for they are natural byproducts of certain processes. However, when they are produced in excess, things can get ugly.
These free radicals are highly reactive and can attach to normal cells and damage them. But if you maintain a good balance between antioxidants and free radicals, your body can manage. When this balance gets thrown out of whack, and free radicals take over, it can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can eventually lead to cell and tissue damage, which as athletes who take their bodies seriously, you just don’t want and certainly don’t need (2).
To prevent oxidative stress and other negative effects to bodily functions, a balance of antioxidants to free radicals must exist. If that balance is thrown out of whack, free radicals can take over and start to wreak havoc on your body. But, with help from those antioxidant rich foods and supplements, you can balance this back out and get back on track.
Benefits Of Them
The benefits of antioxidants go more than just fighting off free radicals. Knowing what these can do for you may encourage you to seek more of them out so you see those gains you want most.
Benefits of antioxidants include:
- Balance out free radicals: As said above, having a balance of antioxidants to free radicals can reduce oxidative stress and keep you running as efficiently as possible.
- Certain properties for your body: Antioxidants have properties that can help a host of body parts. For example, flavonoids, which can protect blood vessels and prevent inflammation, are beneficial for your heart health.
- Immunity: They can work to help boost immunity so you stay healthy and grinding in the gym for much longer (3).
- Skin health: Can help prevent aging and assist with skin health to counteract damage from UV light (4).
- Fight inflammation: Work to reduce stress and fight off any inflammation and soreness that keeps you from doing the things you love.
Antioxidants & Bodybuilding
When it comes to antioxidants and bodybuilding, these compounds can greatly affect our gains. By working for a host of benefits that aid in our bodily functions, as athletes who are constantly grinding inside and out of the gym, having the right things helping us can make all the difference. To start, their ability to counteract free radicals to fight oxidative stress is huge, for that can help keep our workouts goings strong and give us the best chance to recover and continue to see gains without losing anything.
On top of all this, the added benefits above like immunity, fighting inflammation, and helping certain body parts all plays into our overall health and wellness. Through hard training, strict diets, and the constant stress on our bodies, we push ourselves to the max. Antioxidants will fight for us and give us the best chance at continuing to see those valuable gains we want most.
Where To Get Antioxidants From
Now we know how valuable antioxidants are, but where can we find them? Lucky for us, they are in foods we eat every day and knowing what foods they are can allow us to tailor our diet to include these foods on a regular basis (5).
Foods With Antioxidants
- Dark Chocolate
Antioxidant Vitamins & Minerals
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Best Supplements To Boost Your Health
While getting these nutrients through whole foods is imperative, sometimes we miss those vital nutrients and need to supplement. Thankfully, companies have put a priority on creating health and wellness supplements that can greatly affect our overall health. For those looking to get the most out of their supplements, definitely consider a multivitamin, omega-3 supplement, and super greens supplement, for these will pump you with those essential vitamins and minerals so you stay as healthy as possible.
Now we know what antioxidants finally are. How they work can greatly benefit your gains and as someone who constantly puts their body through stress, it is important to prioritize your health first. Put an emphasis on placing antioxidants into your body and really give yourself the best chance at success.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Harvard Medical School (2019). “Understanding antioxidants”. (source)
- Pham-Huy, L.; et al. (2008). “Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health”. (source)
- Bendich, A. (1993). “Physiological role of antioxidants in the immune system”. (source)
- Nguyen, G.; et al. (2012). “Systemic antioxidants and skin health”. (source)
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Antioxidants: In Depth”. (source)