Weightlifters who consumed pomegranate showed a reduction in oxidative stress both immediately after the training session and up to 48 hours afterwards, discovered researchers from Sfax University, Tunisia.
Compared to placebo, PJ reduced the extent of lipid peroxidation increase induced by the intensive exercise. Weightlifters in the PJ group also saw increased antioxidant responses.
“Supplementation with pomegranate juice has the potential to attenuate oxidative stress by enhancing antioxidant responses assessed acutely and up to 48 h following an intensive weightlifting training session,” concluded lead author Achraf Ammar.
“The present study is the first to demonstrate a potential protective effect of polyphenol-rich pomegranate juice supplementation on the degree of lipid peroxidation induced by intense weightlifting exercises,” added Ammar.
The researchers also found that PJ accelerated the recovery kinetics of oxidative stress markers, indicating that the supplement might improve recovery time in athletes.
“Elite weightlifters might benefit from blunted oxidative stress responses following intensive weightlifting sessions, which could have implications for recovery between training sessions,” suggested the researchers.
Nine elite male weightlifters participated in intensive weightlifting sessions. The weightlifters consumed 250 millilitres (ml) of either a placebo drink or pomegranate three times daily in the 48 hours prior to a training session and an additional 500 ml one hour before the exercise.
Blood samples were taken prior to, 3 minutes after, and 48 hours after the weightlifting sessions. Malondialdehyde was measured as a biomarker for lipid peroxidation. Additionally, biomarkers for both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant response were assessed.
PJ mitigated the exercise-induced rise in blood malondialdehyde by 12.5%, and increased the respective antioxidant response parameters by around 7.5% and 9%.
The supplement group also showed accelerated recovery kinetics of 5.6% for malondialdehyde and 9.5% for the enzymatic antioxidants.
Implications and limitations
The findings suggest that PJ may be useful in reducing recovery time for athletes performing high-intensity weight training, the researchers suggested. They also proposed that the study might improve the understanding of mechanisms to mitigate muscle damage following weightlifting training.
Nevertheless, the team advocated caution as previous research investigating polyphenol consumption during a training intervention has been reported to reduce some of the beneficial effects of exercise such as improvements to blood lipid profile and blood pressure reduction.
“Therefore, athletes wishing to use PJ as a potential recovery aid during intensified training periods, where the degree of oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle damage will be greater, need to balance the aim of promoting recovery from training sessions with the potential to attenuate the exercise-induced redox signalling that provokes physiological adaptations to exercise training,” emphasised the authors.
“Further research is required to optimize the PJ supplementation guidelines,” they concluded.
Volume 9, issue 8. Published online. DOI: 10.3390/nu9080819
“Effects of Pomegranate Juice Supplementation on Oxidative Stress Biomarkers Following Weightlifting Exercise”
Authors: Achraf Ammar, et al