Episode 37 – Tart Cherry Juice

Key Topics Covered

Not a front line supplement.

What is Tart Cherry Juice? 

  • Tart cherry juice is extracted from Montmorency cherries, also known as sour cherries.  
  • They have 5 x the antioxidant concentration than that of a regular cherry. The magical effect comes from this concentrated amount of antioxidants.
  • Benefits include: A range of health benefits from improved exercise recovery to better sleep.

Reducing DOMs

  • If you train/compete hard, this can “speed up” recovery.
  • Mechanism: There are clear reductions in CRP, IL-6 and uric acid ~ essentially reducing inflammation.
    • One example – Runners who drank 710ml of tart cherry juice for 7 days leading up to a race, reported 3x less soreness than those in the placebo group. 
    • Another study – Utilised 480ml for a few days leading up to and immediately post a marathon. Similarly, they had less muscle damage, soreness and their markers of inflammation were lower as well. 
  • Other studies have had similar findings while using tart cherry powder as well. 

Improved Sleep  

  • Tart cherry juice could also improve sleep. Obviously sleep will help improve training performance and recovery.
  • Mechanism: This is due to the high amount of melatonin, tryptophan and anthocyanins content (help the body produce melatonin).
    • There is research showing that tart cherry juice directly increases levels of melatonin and can help improve sleep quality and duration. 
    • A study on insomnia found that participants who drank 480ml of tart cherry juice daily for two weeks increased average sleep time by 85 minutes! 

Caveat Around Antioxidants  

  • There is debate that consuming high amounts of antioxidants around training is detrimental. 
  • Mechanism: Some of the positive adaptations due to training actually occur partly BECAUSE of the oxidative damage and inflammation that occurs. 
  • While this is an interesting thought process that is worth being aware of, it is hard to say whether it really matters. 
  • If you ARE concerned, I would not use it during lower importance competition phases e.g. offseason and pre-season. But if you are competing regularly and the recovery benefits outweigh the minor potential to impact adaptation, then it certainly makes sense to use it during those phases. 

How To Purchase  

  • Tart cherry juice is not just regular cherry juice from the grocery store – Tart cherries can have up to 5x higher levels of antioxidants than sweet cherries. 
  • Specifically, we are looking for Montmorency Tart Cherries, which is what all this research is based on. 
  • Cherry Active Australia (brand) sell concentrated tart cherry juice which makes it even more practical. As little as 30ml is the recommended dosage, in comparison to dosages such as >700ml which has been used in research. 
  • It is not the most cost effective supplement so you should be making sure all your other bases are covered and then if you still have money to invest into this type of thing, go for it.

Dosage & Timing 

  • The optimal protocol appears to be ~250ml of tart cherry juice, 2x per day. 
    • Eg. ~250ml in the morning and ~250ml ~1hr before bed to maximise the potential to improve sleep. 
  • If using Cherry Active, reduce it down to 30ml in the morning and 30ml at night due to it being in the concentrated form. 
  • OR 1450 tart cherries a day! That’s a LOT of cherries.
  • Another side note to consider is that tart cherries are high in sorbitol, which is a FODMAP, and could potentially cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. So that is worth paying attention to as well. 

Useful Links/ Resources

Studies Mentioned

Resources

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