New Research: Eating Almonds Can Aid in Post-Exercise Recovery

MODESTO, Calif. — A new study found that eating almonds reduced some feelings of muscle soreness during exercise recovery which translated to improved muscle performance during a vertical jump challenge. These results expand on prior research1 which looked at how almonds affect muscle recovery after exercise.

In the research study2, published in Frontiers in Nutrition and funded by the Almond Board of California25 mildly overweight middle-aged men and women performed a 30-minute downhill treadmill run test after eight weeks of consuming 57 g (two ounces) of whole raw almonds daily. The control group ate a calorie-matched (86 g/three ounces) snack of unsalted pretzels. The treadmill test was designed to cause muscle damage to see how almonds affected muscle recovery.

Researchers measured participants’ muscle function; blood markers of muscle damage and inflammation; and perceived muscle soreness using a visual scale, before, during and at three timepoints after the treadmill test. They also measured markers of cardiometabolic health, body composition, and psycho-social assessments of mood, appetite, and well-being at baseline and after eight weeks of almond snacking.

The results: Study participants who ate almonds experienced an almost 25 percent reduction in muscle soreness when performing an explosive power exercise (a vertical jump challenge) over the cumulative 72-hour exercise recovery period. The perceived reduction in soreness translated to better muscle performance during the vertical jump challenge in the almond group versus the control. No significant differences were observed in measures of cardiometabolic health, muscle damage/inflammation, mood state, or appetite for the almond group or the control group.

This study included non-smoking participants who were mildly overweight and occasionally physically active but were not trained athletes. A limitation of this study is that the results are not generalizable to populations with other demographic and health characteristics.

“Our study suggests that snacking on almonds can be recommended to occasional exercisers as a go-to food to help fitness recovery after strenuous exercise,” said Dr. Oliver C. Witard, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition at Kings College London. “Almonds are naturally nutritious with protein, good fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. They can be considered an ideal food for fitness.” One serving of almonds (28 g) has 4 g of plant protein, 13 g of good unsaturated fat and only 1 g of saturated fat.

Dr. Witard’s study joins previous research which examined how regular almond snacking affected exercise recovery for healthy adults who exercise occasionally.

“Sticking to an exercise routine is not easy, so finding dietary strategies to help people be – and stay – physically active is important for public health. Our preliminary findings are encouraging in showing that almond snacking may promote adherence to new training programs among people who are unaccustomed to exercise,” said Witard.

One ounce (28 g) of almonds provides 4 g of fiber and 15 essential nutrients, including 77 mg magnesium (18.3% DV), 210 mg potassium (4% DV), and 7.27 mg vitamin E (50% DV), making them a great snack for healthy active lifestyles.

Study Findings At-a-Glance

Daily almond snacking alleviates perceived muscle soreness and improves muscle performance

  • 25 mildly overweight middle-aged, physically active but untrained men and women performed a 30-minute downhill treadmill run test after eight-weeks of consuming either 57 g/day (two ounces) of whole raw almonds or a calorie-matched (86 g/day) carb snack of unsalted pretzels (control).
  • Researchers measured participants’ perceived muscle soreness, muscle function (measured via a muscle contraction test and a vertical jump physical task) and blood markers of muscle damage/inflammation (creatine kinase and c-reactive protein) before and at 3 timepoints (24, 48 and 72 hours) after the treadmill run.
  • Over the cumulative 72-hour period after the downhill treadmill run, muscle soreness measured during the vertical jump physical task (an explosive power exercise) was reduced by ~24% in the almond group versus the control, which translated to an improvement in vertical jump performance during exercise recovery. No significant differences were observed in measures of muscle soreness and performance during the muscle contraction tests.
  • Researchers also measured markers of cardiometabolic health (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol), body composition and psycho-social assessments of mood, appetite and well-being at baseline and after 8 weeks of almond snacking. No significant differences were observed in measures of cardiometabolic health, muscle damage/inflammation, mood state, or appetite for the almond group or the control group.

Study Conclusion: Snacking on almonds for eight weeks reduced perceived feelings of muscle soreness during recovery from muscle-damaging exercise, resulting in better maintenance of muscle functional capacity. This study suggests that almonds are a functional food snack to improve exercise tolerance in mildly overweight, middle-aged adults.

California almonds make life better by what we grow and how we grow. The Almond Board of California promotes natural, wholesome and quality almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond farmers and processors in California, most of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more about the Almond Board or California almonds, visit or check out California Almonds on FacebookXPinterestInstagram and the Almond Living Magazine

Nieman, D. C., Omar, A. M., Kay, C. D., Kasote, D. M., Sakaguchi, C. A., Lkhagva, A., Weldermariam, M. M., & Zhang, Q. (2023). Almond intake alters the acute plasma dihydroxy-octadecenoic acid (DiHOME) response to eccentric exercise. Frontiers in Nutrition. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2022.1042719
2 Witard, O., Siegel, L., Rooney, J., Marjoram, L., Mason, L., Bowles, E., Valente, T., Keulen, V., Helander, C., Rayo, V., Hong, M. Y., Liu, C., Hooshmand, S., & Kern, M. Chronic almond nut snacking alleviates perceived muscle soreness following downhill running but does not improve indices of cardiometabolic health in mildly overweight, middle-aged, adults. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2024 January 8: doi: