This week, our special guest bloggers, Lilah Al-Masri, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and Simon Bartlett, PhD, CSCS, ATC, authors of 100 Questions and Answers about Sports Nutrition & Exercise, offer expert tips on juice drinks.
Juice products promising health, fitness, and longevity in a bottle are a dime a dozen these days. Marketers are luring athletes into purchasing costly juice drinks by promising performance gains. Are they true? Can a glass of juice really improve athletic performance? We have reviewed the research of three of the most popular juices in the athletic world—beetroot, tart cherry and pomegranate. The science has shown several promising results including reduced blood pressure, improved sleep, and decreased recovery time, but don’t guzzle these beverages just yet.
The main findings include:
- High in inorganic nitrate which converts to nitric oxide
- Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates blood vessels
- Decreases the amount of oxygen required for exercise thus less energy used
- Performance improvement greater for anaerobic activities
- Improves blood flow
- Reduces blood pressure
Current recommendations and cautions:
- Consume ½ liter of juice or a one shot of concentrated juice 1-12 hours prior to exercise.
- Beetroot is not very palatable and many report it tastes like “sweet dirt.”
- Consuming high levels of beetroot juice may turn urine and stools reddish.
- High in antioxidants - anthocyanins
- Highest anti-inflammatory compound of any food (found in the peel)
- Decreases DOMS- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Faster muscle strength recovery
- Packed with natural sleep aids (melatonin)
- Reduces chronic inflammation – joint pain and arthritis
- May be safer to consume tart cherries than over-the-counter pain relievers
- 8 to 10.5oz 1-2x/day
- Montmorency tart cherries (sweet cherries do not provide the same benefit)
- Add dried and frozen tart cherries to recipes
- High in antioxidants - polyphenols
- Decrease DOMS- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Increases blood flow
- Lowers cholesterol- specifically LDL or “bad” cholesterol
- May block or slow build-up of cholesterol in the arteries
- May slow prostate cancer growth
- Consume fresh pomegranate seeds alone or add to recipes
Although we have included the current dosing recommendations, research is ongoing and most likely dosing instructions will change as the scientific research becomes stronger. If you do decide to add one or more of these juices to your nutrition plan, select juices that are 100% juice rather than a mix or cocktail that has added sugars. You can’t go wrong by adding more of these nutrient-rich foods to your diet, but as with all foods do not over do it. There can be too much of a good thing.
*Note: There are several supplements on the market that claim to provide the benefits of these juices in a concentrated pill form. We do not recommend consuming supplements that have not been tested for safety and efficacy.
More information can be found in 100 Questions and Answers About Sports Nutrition and Exercise by Lilah Al-Masri, MS, RD, CSSD, LD and Simon Bartlett, PhD, CSCS, ATC.
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