Recovery from intense cycling accelerated by cherry juice

January 7, 2015

Topic: injury prevention

Recovery from intense cycling accelerated by cherry juice

Researchers from Northumbria University in the U.K. found that tart cherry juice may be able to help cyclists recover more quickly from intense biking tours and races. A proper recovery from any athletic event is one of the best methods for injury prevention. The findings were published in the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. The study authors experimented with Montmorency tart cherry juice and found that the substance helped reduce muscle inflammation and keep the muscles functioning at their normal rate. It also helped improve athletes' recovery.

Testing it out
The scientists created a simulated road race to test the performance effects of the beverage. The study was double-blind, meaning neither side was aware of the participants on the other. They also used a placebo as a control to determine whether the juice had any effect at all. The study used 16 male cyclists in peak shape. The men were separated into two groups, drinking either tart cherry juice or a placebo that had the same amount of carbohydrates.

In this study, the researchers had the participants perform a 109-minute cycling trial on the fifth day of the study to simulate a road race. The researchers observed the cyclists and collected blood samples at intervals throughout the race. These samples could indicate the levels of stress the athletes were under. The findings revealed that the cyclists in the juice group had better muscle function and less muscle inflammation than the athletes in the placebo group. The cherry juice also had a tendency to make the cyclists exercise more consistently and reduced the need for muscles to work as hard. The researchers found that the oxygen levels in the muscles were higher in the placebo group.

During the experiment, the participants stuck to a strict diet that eliminated coffee, alcohol, tea, chocolate, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. They also had to log everything they ate in a diet journal.

The juice group mixed their substance with water, drinking the beverage twice a day for eight continual days. Each drink contained between 90 and 110 Montmorency cherries.

Getting to know Montmorency cherries
Montmorency tart cherries are one of the most common types of cherries in the U.S. and are available year-round. The fruit also comes in many forms aside from the juice, including frozen and dried cherries. People can also integrate the juice into smoothies and other recipes. These cherries hold the most anti-inflammatory properties out of any food, including blueberries and pomegranates. The magic sits in the peel of the fruit, which has the same anti-inflammatory enzyme as medication such as ibuprofen, Oregon Health & Science University noted. 

This is not the first time the fruit has been studied for its recovery properties. Recently, the recovery qualities of the juice were examined using cyclists in a three-day road race.

The researchers noted that given the prior research on tart cherry juice that has found similar findings, these results only strengthen the well-established conclusions. They noted that future research should steer away from sports such as cycling, and instead focus on sports that challenge a person physically while burning an immense number of calories, such as football or hockey.

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