The Proven Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice
You ready to be introduced to the most exciting new sports supplement on the market?
What’s so exciting about it, you ask?
IT ACTUALLY WORKS THAT’S WHAT.
….if you buy the right type. But more on that later.
A super sour juice of cherries is probably the last thing you’re thirsting for right after a workout, but recent science might just change your tastes.
We make this juice available to athletes at both college and professional levels for a good reason: it has powerful antioxidant abilities that can improve your strength and reduce muscle soreness significantly.
Let’s get to it.
The most compelling and my favorite piece of science regarding tart cherry juice is their impact on strength. With athletes, they often have a workout that goes straight into practice. If it’s camp, they may engage in intense physical activity three times a day.
You can imagine how sore and exhausted they are by the end of the day!
That’s where tart cherry juice comes in to help with strength output.
A study was done with 14 college athletes. Half drank cherry Kool-aid and the other half cherry juice immediately after their workouts. They then were made to do bicep curls twice a day in the presence of muscle soreness from previous activity.
They found that the boys who drank the placebo lost strength at a rate of 22%.
The tart cherry juice group? Only a loss of 4%.
Am I a total fitness nerd or is that statistic giving you life, too?
Another study produced similar results. There was also a study done where recreational marathon runners supplemented with cherry juice and their markers for muscle damage were examined both before and after the race. The study concluded that muscle soreness was significantly reduced due to enhanced recovery. Another study produced similar results.
Scientists believe this is due to the unique action of the antioxidants in tart cherries and their ability to clear out the effects of exercise-induced inflammation...
...or what we weightlifters feel as the ouchies in our muscles on the day after leg day.
This is important because, well, how do you feel going in for chest day on Wednesday when you’re still sore from the shoulders you did on Sunday? Not as strong or “ready” as you could be right? Maybe only lifting at 78% percent?
Well, if cherry juice could get you lifting at 96% instead, that means more weight lifted which means more strength and better performance.
General Health Benefits
This one isn’t quite as exciting, but still worth bringing up.
There have been a handful of studies that have shown that supplementing with tart cherry juice can help with cognitive function, improve memory by up to 22% and even help to cure insomnia. It should be noted, however, that all of these studies were done on an older population (ages 60-80). Not to say that it couldn’t have the same benefits for those that are younger, but we aren’t there with the science just yet to confirm it could.
And I mean...if you’re already taking it for performance benefits, if there’s even a chance it can also help with brain function and sleep, it’s an attractive plus!
How Much and When Should I Drink It?
This is important, so listen carefully.
If you are either an athlete in the off-season or someone who is actively trying to build muscle right now, DO NOT SUPPLEMENT WITH CHERRY JUICE.
The powerful ability of tart cherry juice to blunt an inflammatory response is great when we want to feel less sore or throw around more weight. However, we need exercise-induced inflammation in order to gain muscle.
You see, that soreness you feel and those microtears you get from lifting are all contributors to muscle growth. That inflammation must happen and then be recovered from, in order for gains to happen. If you blunt that inflammatory response, you’ll blunt the adaptive mechanism we need for hypertrophy.
So if you’re looking just for performance benefits to generate more strength and power, tart cherry juice will be helpful, but counterproductive if muscle gain is on your agenda right now.
That said, you’ll want to have 10 ounces of tart cherry juice within 30 minutes after a workout. If you’re drinking concentrate (and ohhhh will you know if you are, the stuff is like a shot of liquified Warheads) I recommend you only drink 1 ounce, but dilute it in water or Gatorade. The acidity of it can give you killer heartburn which isn’t ideal.
This is especially true if you follow the recommendation to have 10 ounces pre workout as well. I don’t recommend this protocol as a necessity, but some science has shown increased benefits by supplementing twice.
As a final note in terms of recommendations, please know that tart cherry juice does not take the place of regular recovery. You still need your protein, carbs, hydration and adequate sleep after your workouts to recover optimally.
What Type to Buy?
This is the brand I’ve used in the past with athletes. It’s better than concentrate because it’s formulated and diluted to be more palatable and drinkable postworkout. They also have a version with whey protein mixed in, but…
*whispers* it tastes pretty gnarly.
And I can say that because that’s not an affiliate link up there.
ANYWAY, if you decide to go on a quest for some tart cherry juice, you should be careful. Due to cherry juice rising in popularity in the sports world, like every other trendy product that comes out in fitness, there’s a lot of watered-down, glorified-fruit-punch copycats out there trying to cash in on the hype with cheap, crappy products that offer little to zero benefits.
The first thing you should know the right type to look out for. Read the label on the product to make sure the juice is coming from cherries that are “Montmorency.” These are the types of cherries that were used in the studies we talked about earlier.
If you don’t see that word up there anywhere on the label, put it back. It’s a knockoff.
Finally, for those wondering, no, you won’t get the same benefits just eating the dried tart cherries you can find. This is because the antioxidant content isn’t as concentrated and you’d have to eat A LOT to get the performance benefits.
The bottom line? I love this supplement because of all of the exciting science around its ability to improve strength, reduce soreness, boost immune health and possibly even improve brain function. These effects have been demonstrated and duplicated, so I endorse it! Just make sure you’re not taking it if you’re in the off-season or trying to build muscle right now.
Have you tried tart cherry juice? Let me know your thoughts!