As a collegiate athlete, I’m constantly thinking about improving my performance through recovery. More specifically, as a distance runner, I spend time reading, watching videos, and listening to podcasts about some of the best methods to continue to push my body and put more miles on my legs the following day. 

Tart cherry juice (TC juice) has performance-enhancing, recovery, and disease-reducing effects. According to a meta-analysis of TC juice, the phytochemicals and polyphenolic compounds, which are chemicals produced by plants that can help protect the body’s cells from damage from environmental toxins, may “lessen muscle damage, reduce levels of pain, and improve recovery in athletes.” These effects are the result of the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. After exercise, especially endurance-related activities, oxidative stress and inflammation increase and muscle force production decreases. It should be noted here that not all inflammation is bad. Inflammation after exercise can carry chemicals and hormones that help with the healing process of damaged tissues. However, too much inflammation can slow recovery and that’s where phytochemicals are helpful. 

When muscle damage is reduced, recovery occurs faster, thereby enhancing performance the following day. Drinking TC juice can decrease unnecessary inflammation and reduce muscle soreness, which allows athletes to feel at their best in order to perform well. The amount of TC juice one should drink varies depending on the person and the sport. Male and female endurance runners and triathletes were given TC juice in supplement form in an experimental study. The TC juice was in a capsule consisting of 480 mg and was to be taken daily. This amount was enough to provide the benefits from the polyphenolic compounds among these athletes as they performed in their respective events. Making sure you’re ingesting enough will ensure the best results but having some is always better than none!

  • Levers, K., Dalton, R., Galvan, E., O’Connor, A., Goodenough, C., Simbo, S., Mertens-Talcott, S. U., Rasmussen, C., Greenwood, M., Riechman, S., Crouse, S., & Kreider, R. B. (2016). Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition13, 22.
  • Vitale, Kenneth C. MD1; Hueglin, Shawn PhD, RD2; Broad, Elizabeth PhD, APD3. Tart Cherry Juice in Athletes: A Literature Review and Commentary. Current Sports Medicine Reports 16(4):p 230-239, 7/8 2017. | DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000385 

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