Runners are always looking for a competitive edge, and it turns out that tart cherries may help provide it. A 2020 meta-analysis out of the Journal of American College of Nutrition looked at 10 past studies which suggested that tart cherries could improve endurance after they were ingested an hour and a half before exercise.
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Authors suggest that tart cherries could be performance enhancing due to their low glycemic index, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, and blood flow enhancing effects.
Low glycemic foods can help maintain carbohydrate availability during exercise and provide sustained energy. The stone fruit also has the potential to improve exercise performance by reducing oxidative stress, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. The research has also found that tart cherries helped to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles. More oxygen availability to a runner’s working muscles means they can run faster times.
How much tart cherry juice should you drink?
The study suggests that cherry juice should be consumed no more than two hours before exercise and for two to seven days before and two to four days after for optimal effects. While the literature is showing promising results, researches also acknowledged that more work needs to be done to lock down exact supplementation recommendations. Their recommended dosage is 60 to 90 mL of tart cherry concentrate diluted in 100 to 500 mL of water.
Other ways to consume tart cherries
Tart cherries can be purchased in powder form for those who aren’t juice or concentrate fans. Try mixing the powder into your morning bowl of oatmeal or throwing it in a smoothie. Tart cherries can also be bought frozen.
While there’s certainly more research to be done on the topic, tart cherries are something that runners can consider giving a try.