How Tart Cherries may aid Recovery
Montmorency tart cherry juice is rapidly gaining a following among elite athletes and recreational exercisers as a recovery drink that helps speed the recovery process.
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.
The pain associated with exercise involves muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress. Tart cherries seem to help with all three due to the concentrated amounts of anthocyanins inside.
Studies suggest Montmorency tart cherry juice has the ability to reduce muscle pain and weakness after bouts of intense exercise, workout or training.
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 participants (ages 18-35 years) who were endurance-trained individuals, totalling 127 males and 20 females.
This meta-analysis is the first to document the significant benefits and the potential mechanism for endurance exercise performance.View Study
“Tart cherry concentrate has a significant benefit for endurance exercise performance. Tart cherry concentrate may enhance endurance exercise performance via its low glycemic index, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, and blood flow enhancing effects.” – Ruirui Gao (College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
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.View Study
In a similar study, Montmorency tart cherry juice improved muscle recovery after intensive strength exercise.
Researchers gave 10 well-trained male athletes either 30mL (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.View Study
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.
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.View Study
In a study in the United Kingdom, 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.View Study
Researchers in the UK measured blood markers of inflammation in 16 trained male cyclists who were divided into equal groups that consumed either 30mL (about 1oz) 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.View Study
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 60mL 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.View Study
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 30mL (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.View Study
We recommend drinking a 10oz glass of Montmorency tart cherry juice before workouts. Most of the exercise recovery studies have provided participants with two 8oz or 12oz bottles of Montmorency tart cherry juice per day, the equivalent of close to 100 Montmorency cherries a day.
Drink an additional glass within 30 minutes after workouts, or carry some dried Montmorency tart cherries in your bag. Also try a Montmorency tart cherry smoothie – blending tart cherry juice and Greek yogurt with frozen tart cherries.
You can also try our fantastic range of delicious tart cherry recipes. Add a pop of colour, a nutrient punch and a hint of sweet-tart flavor to overnight oats, grain bowls, salads, side dishes, trail mixes and much more.View Recipes
Matt Fitzgerald is a certified sports nutritionist, endurance coach, and author. His many books include Racing Weight and The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition.
He has served as a consultant to several sports nutrition companies, as a peer reviewer for scientific journals, and as a nutrition advisor to professional runners and triathletes.
Together we have put together a great recovery recipe booklet which comes highly recommended.Download Recipe Booklet
Tart or sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are an American fruit, grown primarily in seven U.S. states: Michigan, Utah, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York. The U.S. variety is called Montmorency.
While the name may come from a valley in France, Montmorency tart cherries are strictly grown in the U.S. So when you buy Montmorency tart cherries, you’re supporting American family farms, all the way from the UK.Learn More