Tart Cherry Juice for Athletes
by Amity Warme
In recent years, the use of tart cherry juice has increased rapidly in both elite and recreational athletes seeking to improve performance.
What is tart cherry juice for?
Many benefits are attributed to drinking tart cherry juice, including:
- Reduced inflammation
- Better sleep
- Improved recovery
- Reduced muscle pain
- Increased immunity
Is tart cherry juice science-based?
Those things all sound great, but what does the science say about tart cherry juice? Does it live up to the hype? Let’s take a look:
- Exercise is well known to produce oxidative stress in the body, leading to inflammation and decreased performance over time. Tart cherry juice contains high amounts of polyphenolic compounds which have antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties. Recent studies support the theory that these compounds lessen muscle damage, reduce levels of pain, and improve recovery in athletes, especially for those undergoing intense exercise training.
When do I take tart cherry juice?
How does this apply to you as an athlete? Should you try taking tart cherry juice?
- Athletes in a building phase or seeking training adaptations:
- There is some question whether or not the high levels of antioxidants in tart cherry juice can blunt training adaptations during the building phase of a training program. More research is needed, but this may not be the optimal time for tart cherry juice consumption.
- Athletes in the peak of their conditioning, when recovery is more important than further adaptations:
- When the focus is on recovery and maintenance, tart cherry juice is likely to have a beneficial effect. For example, during a multi-day competition when the ability to recover quickly and perform at a high level day after day is the priority.
How much tart cherry juice should I take?
- Most studies have used a dose of 1 fluid ounce of Montmorency cherry juice concentrate (watered down with 7 ounces of water), twice daily. This appears to be an effective dosing method.
- It is recommended to drink this amount at least 4 days before a big event, during the event, and for 2 days after the event.
In conclusion, there are many pros in regard to drinking tart cherry juice. First, it is a real food and does not present the numerous side effects and risks that accompany drugs, supplements, and illegal performance enhancing substances. Second, it contains carbohydrates which are beneficial for sport performance on their own. And finally, the antioxidant content appears to confer many health and performance related benefits to the athlete, including reduced muscle pain, faster recovery, increased immunity, and better sleep.
~This is informational only and not medical advice. Always check with your healthcare provider before changing your diet or activity.
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