You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants in the news in recent years. These little molecules are your body’s front line of defense against pesky free radicals, which cause damage to your body at the cellular level. Antioxidants are also important for bodybuilders for a few very surprising reasons.
Those Pesky Free Radicals
To put it simply, free radicals cause oxidation in your body. If you’ve ever cut an apple in half and left it on the table, you’ve probably noticed that it started to turn brown very quickly. This is the result of free radicals and oxidation. Oxidation itself occurs when chemical reactions transfer electrons to an oxidizing agent. This changes the original chemical into something different. Free radicals are molecules that lose electrons for a variety of reasons, become unstable, and essentially damage other molecules via the process of oxidation.
How Antioxidants Work
Since atoms and molecules become free radicals when they lose electrons and become unstable, you can think of an antioxidant as an electron donor. These molecules step in and donate electrons to free radicals, which neutralize them and render them harmless. In a nutshell, these amazing little molecules stop oxidation in its tracks. Antioxidants come in many forms, but the best way to introduce them into your body is through the foods you eat.
Antioxidants and Bodybuilding
Bodybuilders put their bodies under an incredible amount of stress through intense exercise. Each and every time you exercise, you increase the amount of oxygen being delivered to the tissues throughout your body, and with more oxygen comes more oxidation, which damages muscle cells and causes fatigue. By eating a diet rich in a variety of different antioxidants, and by working out regularly, you can boost your body’s defenses and improve the way it uses those antioxidants.
Best Dietary Sources
While there are supplements out there that are rich in antioxidants, it is best to get yours from your diet. Supplements can only provide a handful of antioxidant types whereas your diet can provide you with thousands. You can get them from vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, and a variety of other sources.
- Vegetables – Cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, onions, peas, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are all excellent sources.
- Fruits – Antioxidant rich fruits include apples, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, lemons, pineapples, plums, lemons, pomegranates, and grapes.
- Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, and sunflower seeds are the very best types of nuts.
- Beans – Beans with high concentrations of antioxidants include broad beans, pinto beans, and soybeans.
- Other Sources – Some other great ways to get your daily dose of antioxidants include dark chocolate, red wines, teas (all colors), and even coffee.
Antioxidants play a very important role in your overall health, but if you are a bodybuilder who works out frequently, getting enough of these helpful molecules into your body is even more important. The good news is that it is generally fairly simple to consume more than enough antioxidants as long as you are eating a healthy and balanced diet.