Fatigue is one of the biggest enemies of athletes, keeping you from going harder and longer to gain that extra muscle and lose more fat. While resting and stretching can help you recover from fatigue, some supplements can reduce fatigue or increase your resistance to fatigue to help you maintain your strength and stamina for longer.
How Muscle Fatigue Works
The process of muscle fatigue begins almost as soon as you begin your workout. Within the first seven seconds of anaerobic exercise, your body uses ATP and creatine phosphate for energy. Once both are used up, your body begins the process of glycolysis. During glycolysis, your body breaks down glycogen, the main form of stored glucose, to create two ATP molecules.
More ATP means more energy, but glycolysis also produces pyruvate. Excess pyruvate is turned into lactic acid, which accumulates in your muscles, making them more acidic in the process. That acidity causes the stinging, burning pain you associate with tired muscles. After time, the lactic acid inhibits the production of energy in your muscles altogether.
Epicatechin and Muscle Fatigue
Epicatechin is a flavonol, a bioactive compound found in (some) plant-based foods. It is most commonly found in cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, but also appears in green tea. In several studies, epicatechin has a significant effect on muscle fatigue resistance and athletic performance in general.
The study involved a group of mice split into two groups. One group was given plain water, while the other was given liquid epicatechin twice a day. Half of the mice in each group were then placed on a treadmill. This continued for 15 days.
Unsurprisingly, the mice that had been given epicatechin and ran on the treadmill were found to be much fitter, but a biopsy found that the leg muscles of these mice actually had new capillaries and indications of more mitochondria. Even those mice that had been given epicatechin without the exercise showed greater mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy in cells. They are the main cellular organelle involved in the creation of ATP. Generally, the more mitochondria in a muscle, the more energy it can create, and the more resistant it is to fatigue.
Other Benefits of Epicatechin
Along with fatigue resistance, epicatechin offers other potential benefits to your athletic performance. Studies have found that epicatechin is a myostatin inhibitor. Released by muscles, myostatin has been found to suppress muscle growth and is found in higher concentrations as you age. As a myostatin inhibitor, epicatechin can actually cause increased muscle mass and greater strength.
Other studies have found that epicatechin may:
- Improve blood flow, vascularity and endurance by increasing the production of nitric oxide
- Reduce cholesterol
- Possess powerful antioxidant properties
- Improve overall heart and brain health
As enticing as it might sound to eat a chocolate bar before your workout, chocolate tends to contain a lot of sugar and other components that could make you feel sluggish. You can get more out of epicatechin through products like Magnitropin™, a supplement that combines multiple ingredients to increase endurance, strength, appetite and boost overall performance.