Almonds are an excellent source of vitamins, amino acid arginine, dietary fibre and various phenolic compounds. Accordingly, there is much interest in the potential health benefits of almonds and specifically their ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. These properties have led a group a scientists in China to investigate whether Almonds may also impact on exercise performance.
Ten trained athletes consumed 75 g/d whole almonds or energy matched cookies for 4 weeks. They completed a performance test comprising of 125 minutes of steady-state cycling followed by a 20 minute time trial at the start of the study, after the almond treatment period and after the cookie treatment period.
Almond consumption increased cycling distance in the time trial by 1.7 km compared to the time trial at the start of the study. Carbohydrate oxidation and blood glucose levels were greater and oxygen consumption reduced during exercise following almond consumption.
The nutrient rich profile of almonds makes them a great addition to the diet however more research is required to confirm whether the daily intake of almonds can improve exercise performance and the physiological reasoning for this. It should be noted that almonds, whilst being rich in nutrients, are also energy dense, with 75 grams providing 432 kcal. Whilst this is unlikely to be an issue for endurance athletes, those individuals on a calorie restricted diet should consider reducing this portion size.