By Sarah Gearhart
According to a research study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, drinking cherry juice can reduce exercised-induced muscle pain and damage—thanks to its anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants.
Providing an alternative to icing sore muscles isn’t the juice’s only benefit, though; it also hydrates and nourishes your body with water, vitamins and carbs, which are exactly what you need post-workout. “Carbohydrates replenish glycogen, which is the fuel stored in muscles,” says Amy Bragg, RD, director of performance nutrition for Texas A&M athletics.
Bragg says your muscles are like sponges when their stores are depleted, which makes re-hydrating within 30 minutes of working out crucial. But don’t go reaching for just any kind of juice; not all are equally nutritious. Bragg warns that “juice cocktails” and “juice drinks” typically have added sugars or high fructose corn syrup, which are not ideal nutrients. In fact, too much fructose [i.e., sugar] can reduce the rate at which your body absorbs water.
Check the label and opt for 100 percent juice. Bragg recommends cranberry, blueberry, cherry and pomegranate juices, all of which are particularly high in antioxidants. Finally, don’t think you can always substitute juice in place of eating the real thing. Juice tends to be lower in fiber, so make sure to eat plenty of whole pieces of fruit on a daily basis.
Amy Bragg, RD, CSSD, LD, is in her fourth year as director of performance nutrition for Texas A&M Athletics, where she provides nutrition education, plans training table and pregame meals, and manages body composition assessments for Aggie athletes. For more information, visit www.aggiefit.com.