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How Cherry Juice Can Help You Bounce Back From a Workout

This natural remedy offers several benefits, including exercise recovery and better sleep.

Giselle Castro-Sloboda Fitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
Expertise Fitness and Wellness
Giselle Castro-Sloboda
4 min read
cherries in a bowl

The secret to improved post-workout recovery and a better night's sleep. 

Getty Images/S847

Exercise recovery is more than massages, foam rolling and taking rest days. One natural alternative to other supplements, tart cherry juice, has been found to speed up your post-workout recovery and have other positive benefits as well. Components in tart cherry juice have an anti-inflammatory effect on muscle tissues to help you recover faster. 

I've tried a few tart cherry juice brands, like Cheribundi and other selections found at my local health store, to help with exercise recovery in the past. To get the lowdown on all the benefits that tart cherry juice provides and the specific type you should drink, I got some expert tips from registered dietitians. Here's what to know before you try it. 

The benefits of tart cherry juice

two women and a man holding a plank

Tart cherry juice has many post-workout benefits.

Getty Images/Valerii Apetroaiei

Tart cherry juice contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols, which may speed up recovery from strength-based exercise, decrease muscle soreness and lessen muscle breakdown, according to studies. "Some research shows that tart cherry juice may enhance endurance exercise performance by increasing oxygen delivery to the working muscle," says sports dietitian, Jessica Isaacs.

Tart cherry juice has other health benefits that help you regardless if you're active or not. Taking tart cherry juice can improve sleep quality and duration because it's a natural source of melatonin. It also has a protective effect on brain cells and reduces blood pressure, which is important for keeping your heart health in tip-top shape. 

The type of cherry is important

two glasses of cherry juice with cherries scattered around.

Make sure when shopping for tart cherry juice that it's made from the Montmorency cherry.

Getty Images/Lisaamc

It's easy to assume that any type of cherry can provide the health benefits you're looking for. The truth is there's one cherry that's superior to the rest. "Studies have found that the Montmorency tart cherry juice, which can be found as a concentrate or as a juice, is the most effective," says Kaleigh Best, a registered sports and performance dietitian. Keep in mind that regular cherries or cherry juices do have antioxidants, but they don't have the same concentrations and varieties as the Montmorency tart cherry juice.

There are three easy ways to consume tart cherries, aside from eating them: tart cherry juice, tart cherry juice concentrate or a pill form of powdered tart cherry juice. These can be found at your local health or vitamin store. (If you're uncertain, ask an employee who can help you purchase the correct version.) 

Since tart cherry juice is naturally processed, you'll notice some versions may be sweetened. "The amount of tart cherries per serving should be considered as well as the amount of sugar present," advises Isaacs. As long as it's made up of tart cherry juice, as opposed to simply cherry juice, then you'll receive the health benefits.

How much you should drink

Isaacs recommends drinking the tart cherry juice to get optimal results. She says for exercise recovery, consuming eight to 12 ounces of tart cherry juice or one to two ounces of juice concentrate within an hour post-exercise, combined with other recovery nutrition, is ideal. One other strategy used by researchers is to drink eight to 12 ounces of juice or one ounce of concentrate twice a day, for four to five days before exercising, and two to three days after. If you're aiming for better sleep and recovery, Isaacs recommends drinking eight to 12 ounces of tart cherry juice or an ounce of concentrate within 30 minutes upon waking up. 

If you're planning on eating the fruit, it's best to stick with fresh or frozen tart cherries, but keep in mind the quantity you will have to eat is going to be more than drinking it in juice form. "To maximize these benefits, you would need to eat at least 2 cups of cherries, twice a day," says Isaacs.

When it comes to pill or capsule versions of tart cherry juice, follow the dosage instructions on the package. 

Who should avoid it

As with any supplements you take, it's important to be aware of health precautions. Although tart cherry juice is relatively safe, there are some exceptions. Best says, "Athletes who are in their off- or pre-season training should avoid drinking tart cherry juice so they don't interfere with their bodies' ability to adapt to their training." 

If you're taking medications, you should discuss with your doctor any drug-nutrient interactions that may occur with tart cherry juice. "If you are taking a blood thinner, such as aspirin or Warfarin and/or if you are also using cholesterol-lowering medication, such as Lipitor or Zocor, you should consult with your doctor first before drinking tart cherry juice," says Alex Larson, a dietitian and nutrition coach.

Bottom line

If you're looking for a natural way to combat muscle soreness, boost recovery and improve your sleep, tart cherry juice is a great option alongside a balanced diet. It offers science-backed health benefits and tastes good, and if you aren't a fan of tartness, you can always consume it in pill form. Interested? Just remember to consult with your doctor first, as with any new supplement. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.