MONDAY, OCTOBER 19TH, 2015
Everyone knows you should properly fuel before a workout to give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to perform whatever task you’re demanding of it. If we do remember to fuel we typically lean on protein bars, shakes, and other “manufactured” nutrition. Have you considered that there’s a sweeter, more natural option?
Tart Cherry Juice
“The best way to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise is to prevent muscle damage from occurring during exercise. And one of the best ways to prevent muscle damage during exercise is to consume the right nutrients before exercise. Tart cherry juice does just that,” reported Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80-20 Running, at Competitor.com.
Tart cherry juice has become a darling of endurance athletes in recent years because its rich anti-inflammatories accelerate recovery, increase training capacity, boost performance, and decrease muscle pain. What runner, triathlete, cyclist wouldn’t want those benefits?
The foremost study on the subject, conducted by Dr. Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and Laboratory Director in the School of Psychology and Sports Sciences at Northumbria University, found that the phytochemicals, particularly the anthocyanins found in Montmorency cherries, offer the anti-informmatory and antioxidating properties that provide all of these key benefits. His research has found this to be more concentrated in the juice than in the whole cherry, offering exercisers a more effective recovery from strenuous physical activity.
Fitzgerald recommend drinking the tart cherry juice before an event, as it may get you to the finish line faster. As well, he suggests that its ability to aid recovery may make getting up the next morning more comfortable, too!
Another unexpected source of super nutrition for athletes is beetroot juice, which has been noted to increase time trails.
“Cyclists who ingested half a liter of beetroot juice before a 2.5-mile or a 10-mile time trial were almost three-percent faster than when they rode unjuiced,” reported the New York Times.
That same study they covered found that the beetroot juice improved blood and oxygen flow to the muscles, which only serves to improve performance and recovery.
The sweetest yet of the unexpected performance drinks is chocolate milk! That “dessert” beverage you’ve likely avoided indulging in for years is heralded as an optimal choice for athletes.
“It helps replenish the muscle tissue and actually gives you a shorter recovery time,” Ingrid Nelson told the Washington Post.
The milk creates “healthy” spikes in insulin that are used to move sugar into the muscle, where it turns into glycogen (energy storage). In turn, it also activates muscle protein repair and growth.
It’s not the chocolate or the cacao that’s doing this though, it’s the sugar, according to Rebecca Scritchfield, RD in the same Washington Post piece. Any flavored milk (vanilla, strawberry, etc.) is going to produce the same results. What you want to look for is a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. The milk on its own just doesn’t have enough of the carbs (or sugar).
In research conducted at Indiana University, they found that the chocolate milk was a “super fuel for exhausted muscles,” and that it “performed as well as Gatorade and almost twice as well as another sports recovery drink, Endurox.”