Montmorency tart cherry juice is rapidly gaining a following among elite athletes and recreational exercisers as a recovery drink.
Keeping up with your exercise regimen is a lot easier when you recover quickly after a workout. Montmorency tart cherry juice has been the focus of multiple studies that suggests a beneficial role in exercise recovery. Positive results have been found with long-distance running, cycling, sprinting, field sports and strength training.
A look at the science.
Effective recovery strategy following strenuous exercise: This first-of-its-kind meta-analysis published in the InternationalJournal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism concluded that tart cherry supplementation – in the form of Montmorency tart cherry juice, powder or tablets – has a significant effect on improving the recovery of muscle strength and reducing reported muscle soreness after exercise among study participants. The systematic review and meta-analysis examined 14 previously published studies (223 male and 71 female study participants, average age 26 years). The sample sizes in the 14 studies ranged from 10 to 54 participants. A subgroup analysis identified by exercise type across 3 studies (94 study participants at different time points) showed a significant effect of tart cherry supplementation on recovery of jump height, and a significant but smaller effect on sprint speed. For the inflammatory biomarkers, a significant effect was observed for inflammation markers of C-reactive protein and Interleukin 6; but no significant effects were observed for creatine kinase.
Endurance Exercise Performance : A new meta-analysis of 10 previously published studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that Montmorency tart cherries may have the potential to improve endurance exercise performance. After pooling research to determine significance, the Canadian researchers found that Montmorency tart cherry concentrate, when consumed in juice or powdered form over a period of seven days to 1.5 hours before cycling, swimming or running, significantly improved endurance exercise performance among study participants (ages 18-35 years) who were endurance-trained individuals, totaling 127 males and 20 females. This meta-analysis is the first to document the significant benefits and the potential mechanism for endurance exercise performance.
Strength training: In one of the first tart cherry studies on exercise, Montmorency tart cherry juice decreased some symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Researchers gave 14 male college students either 12 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice or a placebo drink twice a day for 8 days. On day 4, the participants performed strenuous weight lifting. Isometric elbow flexion strength, pain, muscle tenderness, and relaxed elbow angle were recorded before and for 4 days after the exercise. Self-reported pain and strength loss were significantly less in the tart cherry group; strength loss averaged over the 4 days after the eccentric exercise was 22% with the placebo but only 4% with the tart cherry juice.
In a similar study, Montmorency tart cherry juice improved muscle recovery after intensive strength exercise. Researchers gave 10 well-trained male athletes either 30 mL (about 1 ounce) of tart cherry juice concentrate or a placebo twice a day for 7 days before, day of, and 2 days after single-leg knee extension exercises. Montmorency tart cherry juice consumption was found to reduce strength loss and reduce a biomarker for oxidative damage.
Running: Oregon Health and Science University researchers gave 54 healthy male and female runners participating in the annual 199-mile Hood to Coast relay race either Montmorency tart cherry juice (10.5 ounces twice a day) for 7 days before and on the day of the race or a placebo drink.11 Participants assessed level of pain using a visual scale at baseline, before the race, and after the race. The tart cherry group reported a significantly smaller increase in muscle pain following the race compared to the placebo group.
In a UK study, 20 recreational male and female runners competing in the London marathon were divided into 2 groups: one group consumed 8 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for 5 days before, day of, and 2 days after the marathon, while the other group was given a placebo drink. The participants drinking the tart cherry juice experienced a faster recovery of strength and reduced markers of inflammation compared to those who drank a different beverage.
Cycling: Researchers in the UK measured blood markers of inflammation in 16 trained male cyclists who were divided into equal groups that consumed either 30 mL (about 1 ounce) of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water or another placebo beverage, twice a day for 7 days. On days 5, 6 and 7, the participants performed high-intensity cycling intervals – exercise that was designed to replicate the demands of a 3-day race. The markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (C-reactive protein and uric acid) were significantly lower in the cyclists who drank the tart cherry juice compared to those who did not.
Another study with cyclists found that Montmorency tart cherry juice helped lower their systolic blood pressure and improved end-sprint performance. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, 10 trained male cyclists drank either 60 mL of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water or a placebo beverage. Tart cherry juice supplementation increased test peak power by 9.5% and the total work completed during the 60 seconds sprint by 10%; there was no impact on the time to exhaustion. Among the study participants drinking the tart cherry juice, systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced 1.5 hours after consumption.
Field sports: In a study with 16 semi-professional male soccer players, Montmorency tart cherries were found to aid recovery following a test that simulated the physical and metabolic demands of a soccer, field hockey or rugby game. The soccer players, ages 21 to 29, were divided into 2 equal groups and drank either 30 mL (about 1 ounce) Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water or a placebo drink twice a day for 8 days. On day 5, the soccer players completed the exercise test. Compared to the placebo group, the tart cherry group experienced greater functional performance (including agility), recovered faster, reported less muscle soreness, and had lower markers of inflammation (Interleukin-6). There were no differences is muscle damage and oxidative stress.
Additional studies on Montmorency tart cherries and exercise recovery:
Tart Cherry Recovery Recipe Booklet
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