Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cocoa maintains endurance by Jerry Brainum

Whenever training is curtailed, any gains that have been made gradually recede, an effect known as "detraining." While strength gains tend to last longer, any gains made in endurance can rapidly diminish. One reason for this is that endurance gains are based on mitochondria activity, as well as increased blood delivery and vascularity in muscles.But according to a new study involving mice, ingesting cocoa may actually be able to "freeze" any gains made in endurance that would otherwise be lost without training.
     The study involved 32 male mice, who were divided into groups consisting of control, or those provided with epicatechin, and those who exercised, but weren't given epicatechin. thought to be the active element found in cocoa. It's also found in green tea and red wine, among other sources. The mice were detrained for 14 days. They had trained 5 days a week for 5 weeks prior to ceasing training, using an endurance mode, presumably a treadmill. Training was found to significantly induce capillary to muscle fiber ratios, as well as oxidative enzymes.The mice that exercised, but didn't receive the epicatechin (1 milligram per kilogram of bodyweight, twice a week), showed a definite detraining effect, in that the gains reverted to control levels. But those that did get the epicatechin were able to completely maintain all of their endurance gains for the entire 2 weeks of no exercise. It was thought to work by maintaining capillary patency and mitochondrial function.Although this was a mouse study, and thus may not be applicable to humans, it is known that cocoa is a potent stimulant to nitric oxide release, which would help maintain blood vessels and possibly mitochondrial function.
Huttemann, M, et al. Epicatechin maintains endurance training adaptation in mice after 14 days of detraining.FASB Journal 2011; in press.

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