Eat broccoli sprouts for your workouts

This 2021 human study investigated effects of pre- and post-workout glucoraphanin intake:

“The tablet used in this study contained 30 mg of glucoraphanin, a precursor of sulforaphane (SFN), which is converted to SFN in the intestinal lumen by intestinal microflora. Subjects took one tablet of SFN supplement per meal, three times a day. Healthy men without exercise habits, smoking, or medication were included in the experiment:

eccentric exercise subjects

Pain on palpation reached its peak 1–2 days after exercise and recovered to baseline 5 days after exercise. Muscle soreness on palpation and range of motion were significantly lower 2 days after exercise in the sulforaphane group:

range of motion

Serum malondialdehyde, an indicator of exercise-induced oxidative stress, showed significantly lower levels 2 days after exercise in the sulforaphane group. SFN intake may protect the balance of antioxidant capacity and suppress excessive oxidative stress caused by exercise.

Continuation of SFN intake – from 2 weeks before and up to 4 days after eccentric exercise – suppressed exercise-induced oxidative stress and inhibited muscle soreness and muscle damage. To our knowledge, this study is the first to analyze these effects of SFN in humans.”

https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.14814/phy2.15130 “Effect of a sulforaphane supplement on muscle soreness and damage induced by eccentric exercise in young adults: A pilot study”


This study found that four days wasn’t enough time for 19-to-23-year-old men to fully recover from bicep eccentric exercise, regardless of glucoraphanin treatment or control group status. What’s an appropriate exercise recovery time? found a similar result using taurine as treatment with 20-to-33-year-old recreationally fit men who didn’t fully recover from bicep eccentric exercise after three days.

These researchers referenced Autism biomarkers and sulforaphane to acknowledge that this study’s 30 mg of glucoraphanin three times daily wasn’t sufficient to fully activate Nrf2 signaling pathways:

When SFN was added to PBMCs of healthy subjects in ex vivo experiments, NQO1 expression was increased, while HO-1 was not increased at a low SFN concentration (0.5 µM). However, when 2 or 5 µM of SFN was added to PBMCs, both NQO1 and HO-1 gene expression were increased. Concentration of the SFN supplement may be a reason why the amount of supplementation used in our protocol did not increase HO-1 expression.”


I create isothiocyanates by microwaving 3-day-old broccoli / red cabbage / mustard sprouts at 1000 W to 60°C (140°F) shortly before eating them. Unlike this study, I don’t depend on metabolism after the stomach to produce isothiocyanates from glucosinolates:

  • Less dependence on these subjects’ gut microbiota for sulforaphane production would have reduced a source of dose variability. Broccoli sprout compounds and gut microbiota first paper reviewed that subject.
  • Glucoraphanin intake with nothing else an hour before and after would have also reduced chances of sulforaphane loss by reacting with food. See Week 19 item 2 for two studies that found eating protein, fats, and fiber along with broccoli sprouts lowered isothiocyanates’ bioavailability.

Still, this was a step forward in research. Have fun with New Year’s resolutions.

PXL_20211226_123100412

5 thoughts on “Eat broccoli sprouts for your workouts

  1. I love your blog. I just found it. I have a High School degree, but I have been studying sulforaphane for a few months. Have you read how boosting NRF2 affects the circadian rhythm?
    From this paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5826263/
    “Consistent with this concept, activation of NRF2 at a circadian time corresponding to the peak generation of endogenous oxidative signals resulted in NRF2-dependent reinforcement of circadian amplitude.”
    Ever since reading this I have been afraid to take sulforaphane at any time other than between 8 and 8:30 AM so I can boost my circadian amplitude as it rises during the day instead of boosting it on the way down (which may mess up what circadian rhythm I have left).
    Anyway, great site. Please let me know if I am off base on worrying about the timing of taking sulforaphane.

      • Thank you so much for responding. I see you discounted that study I referenced due to one of the authors (which is fair). That is the only article I have seen that posits that the timing of Nrf2 activation impacts the amplitude of the circadian rhythm.
        Do you have an opinion on whether it is important to activate Nrf2 at the start of the circadian up cycle, as to not be amplifying it on the down stroke?

        Thanks, Dave

        • I don’t know, Dave. There are so many factors involved.

          Here are topics with circadian clock associations from papers published in the last two weeks:
          – Insulin signaling
          – Metabolism
          – Intervertebral disc height
          – Bioelectricity
          – Immune response to parasites
          – Red chili peppers
          – Oat fiber
          – Parkinson’s disease
          – Pain sensitivity
          – Human oral microbiota
          – Type 2 diabetes
          – Oxygen signaling
          – Magnetic fields
          – Lithium
          – Microglia
          – Uncontrollable stress
          – Male fertility
          – Motor vehicle fatalities

          What did you think about different Nrf2 profiles in Nrf2 and circadian rhythm where the equivalent of 19-year-olds had a twice-daily Nrf2 cycle, whereas 68-year-old equivalents were on a daily Nrf2 cycle?

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