How Flavonoids Can Benefit Athletes’ Performance

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know athletes are most often motivated to explore their diets further and make changes based on their different quests for performance enhancement. And while this often includes things such as weight-loss practices, food supplements, and sport foods, there is an immensely valuable, health-promoting and potentially ergogenic form of help that is often overlooked by most athletes: flavonoids.

What exactly are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are phytonutrients rich in antioxidants that are found in a variety of plant foods including grains, tea, veggies, fruits, wine, chocolate, and even bark. There are about six subgroups of compounds that make up the entirety of flavonoids, and more than 6,000 of them have been individually identified. 

The major subgroups include:

  • Flavonols
  • Flavan-3-ols
  • Flavones
  • Isoflavones
  • Anthocyanins
  • Flavanones

We can easily see how this classification may get confusing because many compounds easily become clumped together interchangeably in most common nutrition advice. Individual or groups of different flavonoids may occur in the same foods, such as anthocyanins and flavan-3-ols, both of which occur in strawberries, or in separate foods such as peppermint that contain flavones and flavones only.

Flavonoids work together to improve cellular activity, reduce the damage free radicals do to your system, and each vitamin is essentially responsible for a different health-promoting body function. 

Different flavonoids have distinct functions ranging from managing cardiovascular health to even balancing the anti-inflammatory response. And that’s another reason why it’s crucial for athletes not to rely on their limited intake of whole foods in favor of simple carbs and supplements.

Flavonoids can give you that extra edge you’re looking for.

Flavonoid-rich foods are a staple in any health-promoting diet. And there might be some proof out there that these compounds can provide athletes with an extra edge in performance. 

When exercise is taken to a point where it’s no longer general physical activity and reaches into the point of exhaustion, low rest periods, and sore muscles, there is a massive chance that inflammation and oxidative stress are increased throughout the body. 

Reducing the ill effects of the inflammation exercise induces may help many competitive athletes. There is evidence that flavonoids can bring specific benefits in specific instances, though more research is necessary to be conclusive on their applications in real-life situations.

Quercetin will help you lose weight and gain strength.

Quercetin is one of the more well-studied forms of flavonoids. It’s a compound found in a variety of plant foods such as apples, nuts, capers, cherries, red wine, black tea, beans, leafy greens, and more. 

Since there is no shortage of foods that provide this nutrient, it’s very likely that your diet contains enough quercetin. However, the amount that you’re taking in right now may not be that effective when it comes to creating a performance edge. Dietary evaluation will conclude that the average person consumes up to 30-35 milligrams a day of this nutrient, but most studies that have included this nutrient have used a dosage upwards of 500 milligrams. 

To bring the benefits of quercetin to the mainstream, one study used a 500mg dosage and combined it with vitamin C. 

Introducing it to male athletes, they discovered an improved metabolic rate, body composition, and better total energy expenditure. Most athletes would agree that leaner body composition could bring a competitive edge. 

While this study has shown positive outcomes from supplemental forms of flavonoids, it’s widely accepted that people who eat a diet heavier in nutrient-rich foods are less likely to suffer from being overweight.


Most dietary flavonoids will be provided by foods rich in fiber. These are the types of foods that a lot of athletes might avoid due to gut distress.

That being said, certain foods such as dark chocolate or tart cherry could provide a high enough source to be beneficial. Increasing chocolate intake could allow athletes to meet the high-energy demands of their workouts while providing them with beneficial nutrients such as iron that might otherwise be limited in a performance diet. 

The flavonoids contained inside dark chocolate might play a specific role in improving the availability of nitric oxide, and therefore, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.