A STUDY by the University of Chichester reveals how New Zealand blackcurrant extract [CurraNZ] significantly improves running performance in trained footballers by allowing them to better maintain fastest maximum sprint times.
The peer-reviewed study, Effect of New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract on Performance during the Running Based Anaerobic Sprint Test in Trained Youth and Recreationally Active Male Football Players was published in the Journal Sports last week.
Researchers examined whether short-term supplementation of drug-tested New Zealand blackcurrant extract would improve performance during repeated, high-intensity sprints in trained academy footballers and recreationally active players.
The results showed New Zealand blackcurrant supplementation benefited trained footballers to a greater degree, compared to their recreational counterparts.
Blackcurrant had a clear effect on trained footballers
- Youth academy footballers experienced less slowing in the high-intensity, repeated sprint tests
- They had reduced slowing of sprint times, an effect not observed in the recreational players
Academy players experienced 12% less fatigue
- 12 of the 24 players (including five of the nine youth academy players) demonstrated a lower fatigue index of 12%, calculated as a percentage of the change in the fastest sprint time
The double-blind, randomized, cross-over study used a running-based anaerobic sprint test (RAST), consisting of 6 x 35-metre sprints with ten seconds of recovery. The exhaustive test is designed to assess anaerobic performance and measure power and fatigue.
The study involved 15 University team football players and nine academy players from an English professional club youth team.
Players consumed 600mg of New Zealand blackcurrant anthocyanin extract, CurraNZ, for seven days leading up to, and including, testing.
'There was a strong message that trained footballers benefited more from blackcurrant supplementation'
Mark Willems, Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester (pictured, right), says: “We want to get a better understanding of the specific exercise conditions under which blackcurrant works for athletes.
“We have shown that blackcurrant is beneficial for endurance athletes and for sports that require high-intensity, repeated bursts of activity with long recovery times.
“This study focused on repeated sprints with short recovery times and the blackcurrant clearly worked under those conditions for the trained footballers. There was a strong message that trained football players tended to benefit more from blackcurrant supplementation.”
New Zealand blackcurrants are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, powerful vasodilators and antioxidants that help reduce fatigue events during exercise.
Blackcurrant ‘performance effect’ could affect team sport results
In professional football, a disproportionate number of goals are scored in the final 15 minutes of match play, when players are likely experiencing physical fatigue. Therefore, an ability to maintain repeated sprints and experience less fatigue may have an effect on game outcomes.
This RAST study is the latest in the University of Chichester’s program of performance research to demonstrate that blackcurrant can have a significant effect on repeated sprint ability in athletes.
Similar findings emerged from the peer-reviewed, published Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST), showing runners slowed less in later phases of sprinting blocks, experienced less fatigue and ran for longer, at higher intensity.
An earlier high-intensity intermittent treadmill study, designed to mimic running patterns in team sports, showed that participants ran 10.8% further – the equivalent of 411m - with blackcurrant supplementation.