By Andrew Heffernan
Looking to boost your post-workout recovery? Feeling extra sore after a tough workout? You might need a little tartness in your life — namely, tart cherry extract.
Like many other plant-based foods, tart cherries confer a long list of benefits, particularly in people who don't get basic nutrients from other sources.
Tart cherries — so-called to distinguish them from the sweet, snackable ones available in produce sections — appear to confer important health benefits that are greater than the sum of the lip-puckering fruit's nutritional parts. You can incorporate tart cherry extract into your diet via juice, specific tart cherry supplements, and protein powders that include it in their formulas, like LADDER Whey Protein and LADDER Plant Protein.
Bounce back faster from your workouts with the combination of tart cherry and high-quality protein in LADDER Whey and Plant Protein!
"Tart cherry is effective in helping improve recovery after intense bouts of exercise — both resistance training and endurance," says Paul Falcone, senior scientist at LADDER. That's what makes it an ideal component to help support post-workout recovery.*
Got a big race coming up? A challenging hike, a track meet, a max-effort lift? Tart cherry extract may be your saving grace. In one randomized control trial, runners who took tart cherry juice for seven days prior to and on the day of the race experienced significantly less muscle soreness afterward than those who didn't.
Even if you're not a competitor, tart cherry extract is an excellent addition to your post-workout regimen because it helps reduce the post-exercise muscle soreness associated with hard workouts, allowing you to return to exercise sooner.*
Tart cherry extract may help reduce muscle breakdown after a resistance-training session, potentially increasing your post-workout muscle gains.*
Your muscles grow through a one-step-back, two-steps-forward process. Directly after a strength-training workout, damaged muscle breaks down. Proper rest and refueling reverses that process, causing muscles to supercompensate, growing bigger and stronger than before your workout.
Essentially, muscle growth is an ongoing dance between catabolism (breakdown) and anabolism (growth): First, it breaks down, then it grows back stronger. If you can reduce catabolism or increase anabolism — or both — you get bigger, stronger muscles faster.
Health and fitness types will remember a time when the phrase "free radicals" and "antioxidants" were on everyone's lips, the former being touted as the nutritional equivalent of Thanos and the latter as the pill form of Thor.
Turns out it's not that simple: Free radicals aren't always bad, and antioxidants aren't always good. Oxidation may, in fact, be necessary to help stimulate recovery and repair, and blunting it may compromise your fitness gains.
But tart cherry extract — a concentrated form that contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins — has been shown to be effective where other antioxidants were not. "The body utilizes nutrients like Vitamin C differently than it utilizes the multi-molecular food matrix of a tart cherry extract," says Falcone.
The mechanism may not be clear, he explains, but the effect of the extract is: "Tart cherry may be effective due to a mechanism other than oxidative stress," says Falcone. "Or it may be possible that different antioxidants are used in the body in different ways.
However it works, he says, "the data support that consuming tart cherry extract helps improve exercise recovery."*
For workout-recovery benefits, it's best to take tart cherry extract — a key ingredient in LADDER Whey and Plant Protein powders — shortly after your workout, says Falcone, as muscle breakdown is occurring.*
If you don't have quick access to your powder, there's no need to rush, but protein is a crucial component of muscle growth and your body needs plenty of it.
Other foods do contain anthocyanins — but researchers haven't yet fully unraveled the mechanisms behind the benefits of tart cherry. Unlike Vitamin C pills, a pure-food extract like tart cherry extract may contain hundreds of compounds we may not even have isolated and identified, and its power may well derive from the interaction among all those elements rather than from a single component.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.