Recovery has become a buzz word in the world of performance nutrition. Being able to help an athlete recover effectively wards off injury and illness, improves performance the next day and assists with favorable body composition changes. However, there is so much confusion about what should be eaten in that post-workout time (meaning ideally in the first 30 minutes after a workout). One relatively new player in the post-workout world is making a huge splash: tart cherry juice. Collegiate programs have used this secret weapon for years to help athletes recover. Here's how you can get in on the action:
Tart cherry juice has a huge amount of positive research to support its use for decreasing inflammation in the muscle. This is because cherries contain a class of vitamins and other nutrients called "antioxidants." When in juice form, the athlete can ingest a large number of these antioxidants in a short period of time. This helps those muscles repair after a hard workout and/or buffer up the immune system on a daily basis.
Many athletes simply add 100% tart cherry juice or cherry juice concentrate to their post-workout beverages to reap the benefits. However, some athletes will drink the juice or concentrate up to 2x/day for general inflammation relief. Typically this applies to athletes training a high number of miles or time - such as ultramarathoners.
As mentioned above, drink 4-6 ounces of juice immediately following a workout and up to 1 other time each day (if applicable). If using the concentrate, mix 2 Tbsp right into your post-workout drink, mix into smoothies or reconstitute with water to drink 1-2x/day. My favorite is to mix the concentrate into low-fat chocolate milk - delicious! While you could probably substitute fresh or dried cherries and a benefit, there isn't as much research for these forms.
There is no one brand that shines over another - the key is to find a brand available in your area that is 100% tart cherry juice (no other berries or juices mixed in). You can also easily find concentrate available online.
Your Nutrition Coach,