The Performance Benefits of Cherry Juice for Athletes

Posted 21st February 2016 by Nigel Mitchell, Leading Performance Nutritionist

Over recent years we have gained a great understanding of the importance of the phytonutrients found in foods. These are nutrients that are found naturally in plants which, although beneficial, the body does not need in large amounts. They do not provide energy such as carbohydrates, fats, protein or vitamins and minerals, which are known to be required for health and wellbeing. Phytonutrients are a group of compounds that work alongside other nutrients to help support the body and promote health and recovery.

There are many rich food sources of phytonutrients such as tomatoes, peppers, berries and in particular tart or sour cherries, which also provide antioxidant benefits.

Cherry Juice Supports Sleep and Recovery

Historically a number of health benefits have been linked to cherries, particularly the juice. Recent research has provided some supporting evidence for these claims attributing cherry’s antioxidant properties to the reduction of muscle soreness after strenuous exercise and its natural melatonin content as a natural aid to sleep.

Sleep is recognised as one of the most important components of recovery. The body does not get fitter when training but during rest and the best rest is sleep. Sleep not only supports physical recovery, it also aids mental recovery which is equally critical for performance.

Wide Usage Among Professional Athletes

Over the last few years there has been growing usage of cherry juice among professional athletes. I first used it as part of the preparation of Olympic athletes for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. We used it as part of the general recovery program during periods of heavy training, I also found it useful when athletes were traveling. Since then I have included cherry juice as an important part of the recovery protocol with all professional sports teams that I have worked with.

I suggest athletes use cherry juice after intense training when muscle soreness may compromise later performance. Many athletes find that cherry juice also supports sleep when taken an hour before bedtime.

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