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The effect of almond consumption on elements of endurance exercise performance in trained athletes

Muqing Yi1*, Jinde Fu1, Lili Zhou1*, Hong Gao1, Chenguang Fan2, Jing Shao1, Baohua Xu1, Qirong Wang1, Juntao Li1, Guangwei Huang3, Karen Lapsley3, Jeffrey B Blumberg4 and C-Y Oliver Chen4

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Sports Nutrition, National Institute of Sports Medicine, 1st Anding Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100029, China

2 Chinese Baiyi Cycling Team, Fengtai District, Beijing 100072, China

3 Almond Board of California, Modesto, CA 95354, USA

4 Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA

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Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:18  doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-18

Published: 11 May 2014



Almonds are a healthy tree nut food with high nutrient density. Their consumption has been shown to ameliorate oxidative stress, inflammation, etc. The objective of the study was to examine the effect of almonds on elements of endurance exercise performance in trained athletes.


A 10-week crossover, placebo controlled study was conducted. Eight trained male cyclists and two triathletes were randomly assigned to consume 75 g/d whole almonds (ALM) or isocaloric cookies (COK) with equal subject number. They consumed the assigned food for 4 wks and then the alternate food for another 4 wks. They underwent 3 performance tests including 125-min steady status exercise (SS) and 20-min time trial (TT) on an indoor stationary trainer at the start of the study (BL) and at the end of each intervention phase. Venous blood was collected in the morning prior to the performance test for biochemical measurements and finger blood during the test for glucose determination. Carbohydrate and fat oxidation, energy expenditure, and oxygen use were calculated using respiratory gas analysis.


ALM increased cycling distance during TT by 1.7 km as compared BL (21.9 vs. 20.2 km, P = 0.053) and COK increased 0.6 km (20.8 vs. 20.2 km, P > 0.05). ALM, but not COK, led to higher CHO and lower fat oxidation and less oxygen consumption during TT than BL (P < 0.05), whereas there was no significant difference in heart rate among BL, ALM and COK. ALM maintained higher blood glucose level after TT than COK (P < 0.05). ALM had higher vitamin E and haemoglobin and lower serum free fatty acid (P < 0.05), slightly elevated serum arginine and nitric oxide and plasma insulin (P > 0.05) than BL, and a higher total antioxidant capacity than COK (P < 0.05).


Whole almonds improved cycling distance and the elements related to endurance performance more than isocaloric cookies in trained athletes as some nutrients in almonds may contribute to CHO reservation and utilization and effective oxygen utilization. The results suggest that almonds can be incorporated into diets of those who undertake exercise training for performance improvement.

Almonds; Exercise performance; Substrate oxidation; Antioxidant defense capacity