Flavonoids and Recovery

            When it comes to physical activity, regardless of the specific discipline, the factors that contribute to good recovery are as numerous as the ways in which exhaustion or damage can manifest itself. Whether through varied and colorful menus or through supplementation, it is important to make sure that our body is equipped to maintain its optimal functions.

           Clinical studies and published trials on the flavonoid family indicate possible links between their consumption and recovery from muscle damage caused by training. What do these studies conclude?

1. The Problem : Muscle Damage

What is "muscle damage"? Well, as a result of the solicitation of a muscle fiber during an effort involving a significant load - compared to its usual use - the muscle fiber undergoes micro tears. In theory, this immediate damage is also accompanied by gradual degradation of structural proteins[1]caused by the release of calcium ions in the cytoplasm resulting from muscle contraction. As we are programmed to constantly navigate in some sort of homeostasis[2], pro-inflammatory chemical signalers are dispatched to injured tissues to force their repair. This escalation, when it leads to the excessive production of reactive oxygen species, quickly becomes damaging to the integrity of muscle tissue.

Muscle contraction// important load = 

Micro tears =

a)      pro-inflammatory chemical signalers


b)      Excessive calcium ions in the cell

production of reactive oxygen species


In the typical scenario of an athlete who trains daily, the body can quickly tire of constantly being in an inflammatory response. This environment then results in muscle pain, reduction in muscle strength, reduction in range of motion and increased muscle stiffness.

2. The solution : Flavono-what?

By understanding the oxidative impact of muscle damage, we can say that a category of molecules with an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory role could be part of the solution!

Flavonoids are molecules found largely in plants - herbs, fruits, vegetables. They are associated with various antioxidant properties depending on the family to which they belong. Of all the big families, flavones will get all the attention today!

Measure the extent of damage and recovery

In the meta-analysis studies, the impact of flavonoids on candidates was measured via the following variables:




Muscle Maximum Strenght

Isometric maximum strength test before training

Reproduction of the test 24h, 48h, 72h et 96h post-training

a) Control group

b) Supplemented group from 500mg to 1500mg of flavonoides)


Visual Analogue Scale brefore training


Visual Analogue Scale

24h, 48h, 72h et 96h post training

Creatine kinase levels[5]

Concentration before training

Concentration 24h, 48h, 72h et 96h post training


*Supplementation - the sources of flavones used in this study:

Tart cherry, pomegranate, quercetin, cacao, tea extracts, lemon verbensae, blackcurrant, mixed beverages

 Conclusion : Put the cherry on top!

Positive outcomes?

  1. Flavonoid supplementation improved strength recovery by 7% compared to the control group;
  2. DOMS was 4% lower in the supplemented group compared to the control group;
  3. Creatine kinase levels did not change in a statistically representative way.


  1. Muscle recovery : 24h, 36h et 72h (inscreasing as time passes);
  2. DOMS reduction : 24h, 36h, et 72h (decreasing as time passes).

The best source?

  • Tart cherry concentrate shows the best effects at 24h and 72h
  • Ingestion of a beverage seems to give better results at 24 hours compared to oral capsule consumption - no distinction at 36h, 48h, 72h.

Food or capsules?

Is it possible to consume enough bio flavonoids through food? With a varied and colorful diet, why not? However, their bioavailability varies greatly, and the caloric factor can influence your choice! The 2019 studies propose a 100% dietary protocol to meet the required concentration of flavonoids ... not ideal for weight management!

Tableau 1.0 nutritional value of one serving of beverage made from tart cherry juice concentrate - caloric intake linked to the sugar composition

Tart cherry concentrate

240 mL

104g of sugar

416 Kcal


Supplementation is especially interesting when looking at the total calories associated with a cup of juice! Indeed, a few capsules can be effective and save you 400 Kcal of daily carbohydrates!

Finally, the effect of these molecules on an individual's recovery after a good workout has been repeatedly supported by studies and clinical trials. However, the mechanism as such is not completely understood! It seems that the flavonoid family works indirectly by blurring the usual pathways of pro-inflammatory signaling. Here are some of the currently proposed hypotheses:

a) They promote anti-oxydant enzymes production;

b) They may inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, therefore reducing production of pro-inflammatory cytokines

No matter the path, the flavonoids of this world help us perform in the gym, and that's all that matters!




[1] Structural proteins are involved in the integrity of structures such as cartilage, ligaments, connective tissue, cell membranes, etc.

[2] Balance

[3] Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

[4] Visual Analogue Scale Scan : standardized protocol for the assessment of muscle soreness

[5] Biological marker associated with muscle damage



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9. Connolly, et al. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damageBr J Sports Med. (2006)

10. Koch AJ, Pereira R, Machado M. The creatine kinase response to resistance exerciseJ Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. (2014)