Appalachian State

Exercise and Polyphenols: Absorption and Afterburn Effect

September 13, 2013

Scientists from Appalachian State University (ASU), Dole Food Company and NC State University are some of the first to find in a human trial that following exercise polyphenols enter the body in elevated levels via the colon and that polyphenolic metabolism is ramped up for 14 hours after exercise.

In the joint study, long-distance runners were given either a soy protein complex infused with polyphenols from blueberries and green tea or just the protein complex. The runners ingested the soy protein complex for two weeks and also during three days of running for two-and-a-half hours each day. Each dose was the equivalent of consuming three cups of blueberries and just over a cup of brewed green tea. 

It Is Diet And Exercise!

The study provides further proof that a healthy diet and exercise work together to enhance human health

More specifically, Mary Ann Lila, PhD, director of the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute and a study collaborator, emphasized the importance of the increase in polyphenolic metabolism.


“Burn fat while you sleep is a great message. We showed that the metabolism is stimulated by exercise, but we saw fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis with more ketones at 14 hours post exercise in the treatment group. The placebo group went back to normal levels.”

Ketogenesis is the production of biochemicals called ketones from the breakdown of fatty acids in the liver. They provide energy to the body, especially the heart and brain.

The study’s lead author David Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, director of the ASU Human Performance Laboratory, added that the study results point to increased gut permeability as another important benefit of exercise. “If you are willing to exercise hard enough to sweat, gut permeability increases and you get more of these beneficial compounds coming back into your body.”

Also a study collaborator and co-author Nicholas Gillitt, PhD, director of nutrition research for Dole Food Co., summarized, “It is useful to show in human clinical trials that when you eat fruits and vegetables, these compounds can flood into the system, even if it is not by the classic way everyone thought they did. We have already shown the carbohydrates in bananas provide a good source of energy during exercise. This study shows the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables could also be helpful to athletes who experience high levels of oxidative stress and inflammation.”

Nieman, Lila and Gillitt’s findings were published on August 15, 2013 on PlosOne in the paper Influence of a Polyphenol-Enriched Protein Powder on Exercise-Induced Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Athletes: A Randomized Trial Using a Metabolomics ApproachThey are planning additional collaborative studies. Read more.

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