Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 1589–1599 | Cite as

Polyphenols and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Vaughan Somerville
  • Cameron Bringans
  • Andrea Braakhuis
Systematic Review



Polyphenols exert physiological effects that may impact athletic performance. Polyphenols are antioxidants that have been noted to hinder training adaptations, yet conversely they stimulate stress-related cell signalling pathways that trigger mitochondrial biogenesis and influence vascular function.


To determine the overall effect of polyphenols on human athletic performance.


A search strategy was completed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED and SPORTDiscus in April 2016. The studies were screened and independently reviewed by two researchers against predetermined criteria for eligibility. As a result of this screening, 14 studies were included for meta-analysis. Of these, the studied populations were predominately-trained males with an average intervention dose of 688 ± 478 mg·day−1.


The pooled results demonstrate polyphenol supplementation for at least 7 days increases performance by 1.90% (95% CI 0.40–3.39). Sub-analysis of seven studies using quercetin identified a performance increase of 2.82% (95% CI 2.05–3.58). There were no adverse effects reported in the studies in relation to the intervention.


Overall the pooled results show that polyphenols, and of note quercetin, are viable supplements to improve performance in healthy individuals.


Quercetin Polyphenol Resveratrol Mitochondrial Biogenesis Athletic Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Author contributions

VS and AB conceived and designed the study; VS and CB performed the literature search and were responsible for decisions on inclusion/exclusion of articles (with AB as the decider if there was disagreement); VS analysed the data; VS and AB wrote the article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Vaughan Somerville, Cameron Bringans and Andrea Braakhuis declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medical and Health ScienceThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medical and Health ScienceSchool of Medicine, The University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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