Benefits of drinking cherry juice before/after exercise

The best time to drink an 8 oz cup of tart cherry juice for athletic performance is before strenuous exercise. Sugars, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in cherry juice appear to promote muscle recovery, increase strength, build muscle mass, and even relieve pain.

Both endurance athletes and athletes of bodybuilding can benefit by consuming cherry juice before, during, or after exercise!

The best time to drink tart cherry juice is before exercise!

Actually, the best time of the day to drink a serving of tart cherry juice is before a big race or exhaustive workout. Sugar in tart cherry juice provides steady levels of energy during exercise, while antioxidants may delay fatigue, relieve main, and help recovery faster.

So, drinking tart cherry juice before exercise is particularly beneficial before a big race or a competitive athletic event.


Pure unsweetened tart cherry juice has 12.2 grams of sugar per 100 mL. A cup has about 43 grams of sugar.[1]

However, tart cherry juice doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. It has a low glycemic index of around 43. This means that it can fuel athletes for many minutes. Certainly, sugar in a cup of tart cherry juice can fuel the muscles for up to 60 minutes during intense exercise.[2]

In fact, the glycemic index of sweet cherries is significantly lower than the glycemic index of other fruits such as apricot, grapes, peach and blueberry.[3]

Firstly, tart cherry juice is packed with antioxidant compounds which control glucose responses.

Also, tart cherry juice has two main types of sugar: glucose and fructose. Glucose is an instant source of energy for the muscles. But, fructose has to be metabolized by the liver first. So, tart cherry juice provides energy for a long time. This is crucial for prolonged physical exercise and, hence, improved sports performance.


Tart cherry juice is packed with powerful antioxidant compounds. It’s high in flavonoids. Anthocyanins in particular.

According to a study, the consumption of 30 or 60 mL of Montmorency cherry concentrate can increase plasma antioxidant levels by 2–3 times within 1–2 hours![4]

Is tart cherry juice the best pre-workout beverage?

Certainly, cherry juice is one of the healthiest beverages an athlete can drink before a workout.

However, it lacks caffeine. It doesn’t contain any.

If you want an extra boost of caffeine before your workout, you should drink green tea or coffee! You could mix green tea with cherry juice for a super-healthy pre-workout beverage, packed with sugar, caffeine, and antioxidants!

Why should I drink cherry juice during exercise?

Athletes could drink tart cherry juice during demanding exercise as well.

Firstly, sugar provides an extra boost of energy to the working muscles.

Additionally, as it’s high in electrolytes, cherry juice hydrates you better than tap water. Tart cherry juice helps replenish the main electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, and calcium. A serving provides:

  • potassium: 572 mg, 17% DV
  • magnesium: 39 mg, 9% DV
  • calcium: 46 mg, 4.6% DV

Benefits of drinking cherry juice after a workout

Another great time to drink tart cherry juice is right after intense exercise. It supports muscle recovery, as sugars quickly replenish muscle glycogen stores, while antioxidants neutralize exercise-induced free radicals!

The best time to consume sugar is right after exercise!

Consuming sugar right after demanding exercise is beneficial for muscle recovery. At that time, the body has increased insulin sensitivity, as it tries to replenish muscle glycogen stores.

Fast muscle recovery is key for athletes who daily perform hard workouts in order to win a competition or match.

Drink tart cherry juice for improved athletic performance!Pin

In fact, any food or beverage high in sugar has beneficial effects on muscle recovery. Athletes can drink fruit juices, or even sugar-rich sodas like Coca-Cola, right after strenuous exercise.

Also, you could enjoy your favorite candy as a post-workout snack.

15–30 minutes after the first sugar-rich post-workout snack, you can enjoy your main protein-packed post-workout meal.

Keep in mind that foods packed with added sugar are beneficial for muscle recovery only after exhaustive workouts. Amateur athletes who don’t perform demanding exercise should avoid consuming foods or beverages with added sugar. It can make them gain weight.


Tart cherry juice is a much healthier post-workout beverage than other fruit juices or sodas because it’s packed with antioxidants.

A 30 mL serving of tart cherry juice concentrate has a total phenolic content of about 600 mg and an anthocyanin content of about 40 mg.

Polyphenols in cherry juice have anti-inflammatory effects. They relieve muscle pain, promote muscle recovery, and even mitigate soreness.

What’s the best time to drink cherry juice for muscle recovery?

The best time of the day to drink tart cherry juice for elite athletes who want the fastest muscle recovery is before exercise.

Antioxidants in cherries protect muscle function across a range of types of physical exercise and promote recovery.

How often should athletes drink tart cherry juice?

Drinking tart cherry juice one time before a big race or intense exercise isn’t enough, though.

According to many studies, cherry juice can improve athletic performance only when athletes drink it several days before a big race or a game.[5]

For instance, endurance athletes could start drinking tart cherry juice 5–7 days before a big race. Also, they should continue drinking it at least 3 days after the event.

It takes several days of consuming cherry juice to increase the antioxidant status of the body.

Athletes who play many back-to-back games in a season would benefit by maintaining cherry juice consumption during the entire season.

When there is little time for recovery between games, foods packed with antioxidants like cherry juice are key for sports performance.

When should athletes avoid drinking cherry juice?

According to researchers, drinking tart cherry juice daily may not be optimal during the off-season or the build stage of training.

You could drink a glass of tart cherry juice 30–60 minutes before single-day intense training, though.[6]

Also, amateur athletes better avoid drinking too much cherry juice. It has many calories and sugar. Just a cup has about 210 calories! Hence, only elite, hard-working athletes could regularly drink cheery juice without gaining weight.

People who follow a sedentary life or perform low to medium difficulty workouts should avoid consuming foods or beverages packed with sugar. Too much added sugar is bad for health and has been linked to obesity.

Benefits for bodybuilding

Drinking tart cherry juice is particularly beneficial for athletes of bodybuilding because it appears to substantially improve the antioxidant status of the muscles. It enhances recovery from eccentric as well as isometric exercise-induced muscle damage.[7,8]

Moreover, tart cherry juice may help athletes of bodybuilding who work out for muscle gain and strength to attenuate muscle soreness and strength decrement during recovery.[9]

Muscle soreness perception may be reduced over time by drinking cherry juice before resistance training.

The supplementation with Montmorency cherry powder has similar effects as cherry juice concentrate. Athletes of bodybuilding could add them to their favorite post-workout smoothies!


Additionally, cherry juice may lower total cholesterol.

Athletes of bodybuilding tend to eat lots of foods high in saturated fat (e.g. red meat, dairy), due to their high protein content. But, consuming high amounts of saturated fat may raise blood cholesterol, which is bad for the heart.[10,11]

Vitamin B6

Also, a glass of tart cherry juice provides 10% of the Daily Value of vitamin B6. This B vitamin is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism.

Additionally, vitamin B6 is a key vitamin for maintaining a lean body year-round. It manages insulin sensitivity and provides energy to the muscles.

Why should endurance athletes drink tart cherry juice?

Endurance athletes can benefit from drinking tart cherry juice as well. Not only does it protect from exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammations, but also it appears to enhance blood flow.

According to a recent study, endurance athletes substantially enhanced sports performance by drinking tart cherry concentrate for a week before exercise.[10]

According to another study, runners who drank cherry juice for 7 days before or during a race minimized post-run muscle pain.[11]

Tart cherry juice may also protect runners and other long-distance endurance athletes from muscle damage, which results in inflammation and decreased force production.

Why should athletes drink tart cherry juice before, after, or during strenuous exercise?Pin

It may even alleviate muscle soreness the next day after a big race. Especially if the athlete drank cherry juice a week before the competition. Drinking a glass of cherry juice 2–3 days after a marathon is also beneficial for faster recovery of muscle strength and reducing muscle pain.[12]

In fact, tart cherry juice appears to be effective in treating inflammation even among non-athletes with chronic inflammatory diseases.[13]

Cherry powder supplements had similar effects on athletic performance!


Additionally, cherry juice is packed with thiamine. A serving provides up to 18% of the Daily Value.

Athletes who do intense workouts daily have a high risk of thiamine deficiency. Strenuous exercise depletes it. But, thiamine deficiency may lead to exercise-induced fatigue, as it’s important for energy metabolism!

Moreover, as it’s a water-soluble B vitamin, we have to daily get high dosages from our diet. Actually, there are many foods with thiamine that athletes should eat daily.


Also, tart cherry juice is an excellent dietary source of copper. A serving provides 17% of the Daily Value.

Copper is necessary for the natural synthesis of collagen and healthy connective tissue. Furthermore, it helps the body extract energy from food!

We have to get adequate copper from food for a lean body!


Furthermore, tart cherry juice boosts the body with manganese. A serving provides 9% of the Daily Value.

Normal levels of manganese are essential for athletes. It’s involved in protein and carbohydrate metabolism, bone formation, and immune response! It’s necessary for neutralizing exercise-induced free radicals as well.

We can get more than enough manganese from our diet. Even athletes who have increased daily needs.


Runners and other long-distance endurance athletes may require higher phosphorus intakes than the general population. Especially, during competition season.[14]

A cup of cherry juice provides 8% of the Daily Value.


Most noteworthy, tart cherry juice is an excellent plant-based source of iron. A cup provides 8% of the Daily Value.

It’s absolutely vital for athletes to maintain a healthy iron status before a competition. Iron plays a key role in physical performance, as it’s a dominant feature in oxygen transport and energy metabolism.

Endurance athletes have an increased risk of iron deficiency.[15]

So, athletes should consume foods high in iron like certain fish, tahini, beans, dark chocolate, spinach, muesli, or oatmeal.


Moreover, cherries are among the richest foods in melatonin. This hormone is key for recovery! It improves glycogen use and has potent antioxidant properties! Athletes can benefit by consuming high doses of melatonin!

The richest beverage in melatonin that athletes can consume regularly is cranberry juice! You can combine tart cherry juice with cranberry juice. Especially at evening workouts. Melatonin helps sleep better at night. A good night’s sleep is crucial for muscle growth and recovery!

Whole cherries or cherry juice?

As a rule of thumb, consuming whole fruits is much healthier than drinking fruit juice. Fiber in fruits and other whole foods is essential for good health. For instance, it controls blood sugar spikes and help lose weight.

The best time to eat whole cherries is in the morning! They have many benefits for the health and weight loss!

But, athletes before, during, or after strenuous exercise may benefit from getting high amounts of sugar that fruit juices provide.

So, if you perform intense exercise and have a lean body, you can drink cherry juice as part of a well-balanced diet.

But, an amateur athlete who works out to lose weight or an athlete of bodybuilding in the cutting phase should prefer consuming whole cherries.

Athletes can eat cherries and other foods with fiber about 2 hours before exercise. Runners and other endurance athletes in particular should be very mindful of the timing of fiber consumption.

Fresh tart cherry juice or concentrated juice?

The skins of Montmorency cherries contain most of the anthocyanins.

Certainly, a highly processed product like cherry concentrate or cherry powder has been degraded.

According to measurements, the anthocyanin content of Montmorency cherry concentrate can be up to 60% lower than fresh-frozen Montmorency cherries.

Heat and exposure to sunlight can further deteriorate the final product.

Still, tart cherry concentrate is a healthy way to consume cherries all year. Also, just a small 30 mL serving of cherry concentrate is equivalent to dozens of cherries!

Tart cherry juice or smoothies with whole cherries?

Before a workout, prefer drinking tart cherry juice because it has no fiber, which can affect physical performance. Fiber before exercise can cause stomach discomfort, bloating, cramps, gas, and many more!

But, after strenuous exercise, a smoothie with whole cherries, a scoop of protein, and some dark leafy greens can be the ultimate post-workout snack!

If you don’t have whole cherries, you can use cherry concentrate or even cherry powder!

Are cherry supplements effective?

Taking supplements with tart cherry powder is another healthy alternative to fresh cherry juice.

In fact, cherry powder has a pretty high phenolic content. The total phenolic content for the tart cherry powder per serving is 28–65% higher than the juice from fresh-frozen cherries!

You can find a wide variety of tart cherry powders or concentrate juices on iHerb.

Certainly, drinking fresh tart cherry juice around exercise is the healthiest way to enhance recovery.

How to drink tart cherry juice before/after exercise?

Drinking pure tart cherry juice is good for athletic performance and muscle recovery. But, combining it with other nutritious fruit juices can be even better for athletes.

For instance, you can combine cherry juice with orange, grapefruit, or lemon juice, which are particularly rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for athletes as well. Cherry juice doesn’t have any vitamin C.

Also, you could drink cherry juice with pineapple juice. Pineapple juice is the only food containing a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, called bromelain. Bromelain in pineapple juice might relieve joint pain. Shoulder, ankle, knee, wrist, or waist pain due to intense exercise is very common among athletes.

Last, but not least, athletes could drink tart cherry juice with beetroot juice before a big race or intense workout. Beetroot juice is naturally packed with nitrates. These compounds enhance physical performance, as among others, they help transport more oxygen to the muscles. This is particularly beneficial for runners and other endurance athletes.

How much tart cherry juice should an athlete drink per day?

Many studies have provided athletes with two 8 fl oz glasses or two 12 fl oz glasses of cherry juice made from fresh-frozen Montmorency cherries a day. This is estimated to be the equivalent of 100 and 150 cherries, respectively!

In other studies, participants took two 30 ml servings of Montmorency cherry juice concentrate a day. This dose is the equivalent of approximately 180 cherries.

However, only hard-working elite athletes with extreme energy needs should consume such high amounts of cherry juice or concentrate. 2 glasses of cherry juice provide too many calories and sugar.

cupscaloriessugars (g)cherries
2 12 oz 42086150
2 8 oz28058100
12 oz2104375
8 oz1402950
Calorie & sugar content of cherry juice.

As a rule of thumb. most amateur athletes should drink only an 8 oz glass of fresh cherry juice before intense exercise, or a 30 mL serving of cherry juice concentrate. This is more than enough in most cases. This is the equivalent of about 50 cherries!

What type of cherry is the best for muscle recovery?

All cherry varieties are packed with phytonutrients. Commercial juices are made from tart cherries and not sweet cherries (or any other variety). It’s a matter of cost and availability rather than differences in the phenolic concentrations between them.

Share to...