Working out is fantastic for our health and wellness, but it can also lead to muscle soreness and harm. This is where polyphenols come in handy. Polyphenols are compounds that naturally exist in fruits and veggies and have been demonstrated to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recently, a systematic review studied the effect of polyphenol supplementation on athletes’ exercise recovery.
This research(1) investigated eleven randomized trials involving 209 team-sport athletes of average age 15-30. They tested a range of polyphenol-containing supplements such as tart cherry juice, green tea extract, beetroot juice, grape juice, jamelon nectar, and chokeberry juice. Every supplement was then compared to a placebo.
The researchers examined various physical abilities, including countermovement jump, sprint speed, and maximal voluntary isometric contraction. They also examined indicators of muscle damage like creatine kinase, C-reactive protein, and lactate dehydrogenase. Finally, they checked out oxidative stress markers, including total antioxidant capacity, thiobarbituric acid-reacting substances (TBARS), and lipid hydroperoxides.
Tart Cherry Juice Improves Physical Performance
Demonstrated that tart cherry juice appeared to have the most beneficial impact on physical performance. Two out of four studies indicated an increase in countermovement jump from tart cherry juice, and the other suggested faster sprint speed. Beetroot juice had some positive effects on physical activity in one experiment. None of the supplements had an impact on muscle damage biomarkers. Tart cherry juice also elevated the total antioxidant capacity, and grape juice decreased TBARS levels.
The Bottom Line
All in all, this review seems to suggest that drinking tart cherry juice may help reduce aching muscles and speed up physical performance recovery in certain studies. Nevertheless, further research is essential to validate these observations and to figure out what is causing this phenomenon. In the interim, adding more fruits and veggies, especially those with high polyphenol levels, could benefit your post-workout recovery.
Sánchez Díaz, M.; Martín-Castellanos, A.; Fernández-Elías, V.E.; López Torres, O.; Lorenzo Calvo, J. Effects of Polyphenol Consumption on Recovery in Team Sport Athletes of Both Sexes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2022, 14, 4085. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14194085