New Study Finds Juice Helps Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Set for sports activities and juice of bottle on floor.

Whether you are a seasoned runner or a weekend warrior athlete, strenuous exercise can often lead to sore muscles and discomfort that could last a few days. A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry may offer some relief, finding that enjoying a juice cocktail combination of watermelon juice and pomegranate juice could help reduce muscle soreness.

Previously linked to benefits during exercise, the study explored two natural compounds, citrulline and ellagitannin, found in watermelon and pomegranate juice, respectively. Citrulline, an amino acid, can help reduce the amount of lactic acid that builds up in your body after exercise and can also be converted to nitric oxide which increases blood flow and can boost muscle performance. Ellagitannins, a polyphenol antioxidant, help protect the body from oxidative stress.

To test the theory, nineteen healthy, 18-30 year old men were given a 200ml (just under 1 cup) beverage before performing intensive exercise involving squats. Participants each consumed one of four beverages; watermelon juice, watermelon juice enriched with citrulline, a mix of watermelon juice enriched with citrulline and pomegranate juice, or a placebo. Over the next 48 hours, the participants were asked to rate their muscle soreness on a scale of 1 to 5.

While all watermelon juice combinations saw a faster reduction in muscle soreness, the watermelon/pomegranate cocktail saw significantly reduced muscle soreness compared to the placebo and no muscle soreness was reported after 48 hours.

The study – Consumption of Watermelon Juice Enriched in L‑Citrulline and Pomegranate Ellagitannins Enhanced Metabolism during Physical Exercise –was led by Ascensión Martínez-Sánchez at the Institute of Plant Biotechnology (UPCT) in Spain and was funded by the Spanish National Centre for Development of Industrial Technology.