Citrus Flavonoid Supplementation May Improve Exercise Performance


Alyssa Bialowas

cup of teaThe proper diet and supplementation regimen can improve exercise performance in athletes. Research supports the idea that nutritional supplementation is beneficial for exercise performance, and aids the process of recovery following exercise. As we know, high intensity exercise induces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) due to muscle cell injury and subsequent inflammation, which typically leads to feeling of pain – See 6 Cures For Sore Muscles After HIIT. Antioxidant supplementation is a tool of interest to assist with muscle fatigue, muscle soreness and inflammation. Successful antioxidant supplementation is crucial to enhance training capacity for athletes.

Flavonoids are a class of plant and fungus secondary metabolites that are found primarily in fruits and are thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects. In addition to benefits in muscle recovery, flavonoid supplementation has been shown to enhance endurance exercise performance in athletes, however no conclusive clinical research has been performed to prove it. This study set out to determine whether flavonoid supplementation improves cycling performance in trained male athletes.

Related Article: Eccentric Exercise & Antioxidant Supplementation

The Study

39 male participants between the ages of 18-25 that participated in moderate to high intensity exercise over 3 times a week and did not use dietary antioxidants or vitamin supplements were included in the study. Participants were randomized into two control groups, receiving a different intervention between the groups. The first group ingested a daily dose of 500mg of flavonoid extract over a period of 4 weeks. The second group was given a placebo over the same period. Both groups performed the same exercise intervention, which consisted of a 5-minute warm-up followed by a 10-minute time trial on the cycle ergometer at max power output. Power output and heart rate were measured post exercise, and athletes indicated their perceived exhaustion after each bout of exercise.


Over the 4-week period of the study, the first group of participants who ingested a daily dose of 500mg of flavonoid extract significantly increased their peak power output. Heart rate and oxygen consumption significantly decreased in the flavonoid extract supplementation group, while it did not significantly decrease in the placebo group.


Flavonoids are one group of phytochemicals found primarily in red wine, tea, cocoa, soy, citrus fruits, berries, apples, onions, dried beans, peas and lentils. Flavonoids act as a shield to protect against toxins and help repair damage to your cells, your muscles and your body. Through training, a diet that consists of flavonoids not only aids in repairing your body after exercise, but also enhances exercise performance.

Related Article: Athletes May Be Suffering From Vitamin D Deficiency

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Overdevest, E., Possemiers, S., van Leeuwen, J., Wolfs, K., & Wouters, J. (2018). “Citrus

Flavonoid Supplementation Improves Exercise Performance in Trained Athletes.”

Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 17, 24-30. 

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