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Nutrients. 2013 Dec 20;6(1):50-62. doi: 10.3390/nu6010050.

The effects of acute post exercise consumption of two cocoa-based beverages with varying flavanol content on indices of muscle recovery following downhill treadmill running.

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Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Health Science, Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926, USA.


Dietary flavanols have been associated with reduced oxidative stress, however their efficacy in promoting recovery after exercise induced muscle damage is unclear. This study examined the effectiveness of acute consumption of cocoa-flavanols on indices of muscle recovery including: subsequent exercise performance, creatine kinase, muscle tenderness, force, and self-perceived muscle soreness. Eight endurance-trained athletes (VO2max 64.4±7.6 mL/kg/min) completed a downhill running protocol to induce muscle soreness, and 48-h later completed a 5-K (kilometer) time trial. Muscle recovery measurements were taken at PRE, 24 h-POST, 48 h-POST, and POST-5K. Participants consumed 1.0 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight of a randomly assigned beverage (CHOC: 0 mg flavanols vs. CocoaCHOC: 350 mg flavanols per serving) immediately after the downhill run and again 2 h later. The same protocol was repeated three weeks later with the other beverage. An ANOVA revealed no significant difference (p=0.97) between trials for 5 K completion time (CHOC 1198.3±160.6 s, CocoaCHOC 1195.5±148.8 s). No significant difference was found for creatine kinase (CK) levels (p=0.31), or muscle soreness (p=0.21) between groups over time. These findings suggest that the acute addition of cocoa flavanols to low-fat chocolate milk offer no additional recovery benefits.

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