Why You Might Want To Try Tart Cherry Supplements To Recover From A Workout

Compared to their sweet sisters, tart cherries are becoming more popular for their health benefits. An 8-ounce glass of tart cherry juice has 149 calories with 20 times the vitamin A and five times the antioxidants compared to sweet cherries. According to Healthline, tart cherries also have melatonin and tryptophan to improve your sleep, and the antioxidants can protect your brain from degenerative brain disorders.

Tart cherry juice, extracts, and supplements can help you after hard workouts and performances because its different phytonutrients can help with recovery, according to Dr. Malachy McHugh, director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City (via Better Homes & Gardens). A 2020 review in the Journal of American College of Nutrition combined data from 10 studies and 147 healthy athletes and found that tart cherry supplementation can improve people's exercise performance if taken seven days before up to 1.5 hours before their exercise testing. The researchers credited tart cherry juice's low glycemic index, anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and ability to improve blood flow for its performance-enhancing benefits.

Tart cherry can shorten recovery time

Tart cherry juice can help endurance athletes recover more quickly after their big races. A 2009 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports had marathon runners drink tart cherry juice five days before, the day of, and 48 hours after their race. Compared to the control group, those who drank the tart cherry juice recovered their isometric strength faster. They also had lower levels of inflammation while increasing their total antioxidative capacity.

Tart cherry extract can also help you in the gym, according to a 2021 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Thirteen men in their 20s took 500 milligrams of powdered tart cherry extract for seven days and then did six sets of 10 reps of barbell back squats. The researchers measured their oxidative stress, skeletal damage, and cardiac muscle damage after their workout. They also tested the weightlifters' handgrip strength. Then the weightlifters took a placebo for another seven days and took their physiological measures again. After taking the tart cherry powder, the weightlifters had stronger grip strength and better measures of recovery compared to when taking a placebo.

Tart cherry doesn't work for all athletes

Because tart cherry supplements and cold water immersion have both been used to help endurance athletes recover, a 2022 study in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living looked at the effects of both recovery techniques on trail marathon runners. One group just took the tart cherry supplement, another took tart cherry plus cold water immersion, a third group did just the cold water immersion, and the fourth group drank a fruit-flavored drink. The researchers didn't find any difference between groups in levels of inflammation, muscle function, and C-reactive protein. However, combining both recovery techniques seemed to have increased the amount of muscle damage.

Tart cherry supplements might just be best for land-based sports. A 2016 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition had water polo athletes take either tart cherry juice or a placebo for six days before a game. Tart cherry supplements didn't reduce inflammation or oxidative stress any more than the placebo group. Although the anthocyanins and phytochemicals in tart cherries can improve recovery, the researchers concluded that non-weight-bearing water polo doesn't create the same demands on the body to produce significant effects of tart cherry supplementation.