Recovering from your Workout with Cherries

Recovering from your Workout with Cherries

Cherries are beginning to earn their keep as a true superfood. Recent sports nutrition research has identified that cherries have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, thus helping reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and joint pain. They have also been shown to help reduce pain from gout and arthritis and also have impressive cardiovascular benefits.

Whether you use frozen cherries in smoothies, drink cherry juice concentrate, eat dried cherries in a trail mix or snack on fresh cherries throughout the day, they all contain a powerful combination of antioxidants and phytonutrients. One of the best phytonutrients found in cherries are anthocyanins, which give cherries their bright red color.

We all know how important diet is for an athlete. Diet can assist in regulating post-exercise muscle soreness. The better you manage soreness associated with exercise, the more likely you are to have a quality workout again the following day. Sports nutrition scientific studies all point to cherries providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that reduce both inflammation and oxidative damage. During exercise, oxygen causes internal cellular damage. This leads to muscle and joint inflammation and soreness. As athletes, we tend to focus on consuming adequate amounts of protein to aid in recovery and reduce soreness. While this is definitely important and helpful, we now know that foods high in powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are just as crucial to incorporate in the recovery process.

Whether you are a competitive endurance athlete or are just interested in staying fit, cherries should be part of your recovery nutrition program.

Cherries have among the highest levels of antioxidants of all super foods. They're ranked among other antioxidant powerhouses such as red wine, prunes and dark chocolate on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Scale (ORAC). ORAC measures the level of free radicals (the result of oxidative damage) that a specific food can absorb and deactivate. The more oxygen radicals a food can absorb, the higher its ORAC score.

Try adding cherries to your next NutriBullet Blast to reap the benefits of this powerful super fruit! The following is my personal favorite.

Cherry Vanilla Recovery Blast


  • ½ cup frozen cherries
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 scoop vanilla-flavored protein powder
  • ½ cup non-fat milk
  • ½ cup soy milk


Combine all ingredients in NutriBullet and Blast.

Consuming this NutriBlast within 15-20 minutes of completing an exercise bout will maximize your body’s recovery process. Once exercise is complete, there is still a decent flow of blood throughout the body. Because blood is still being delivered to muscles, it can deliver essential nutrients more efficiently at this time. After about 20 minutes, the blood flow slows down and less of these vital nutrients will be absorbed. This NutriBlast contains a comprehensive combination of recovery nutrients.

Cherries - Cherries begin decreasing inflammation and start absorbing free radicals caused by oxidative damage.

Strawberries - Strawberries conpound the effect of the cherries because they also reduce muscle inflammation.

Banana - A banana provides complex carbohydrates, which aid in replenishing the low blood sugar response cause by exercise.

Chia Seeds - Chia seeds are also know to reduce inflammation due to their high omega-3 concentration.

Wheat Germ - Wheat germ provides vitamin E (a fat soluble vitamin) and, when consumed with a fat (like chia seeds), can be more efficiently absorbed. It is also a good source of B vitamins, which are crucial in the production of energy and strengthen crucial components of the blood.

Whey Protein Powder - The most bio-available protein powder – meaning it is quickly and efficiently absorbed.

Non-fat Milk - Milk provides both whey protein and simple sugars (lactose), aiding in both blood sugar regulation and muscle recovery.

Soy Milk - While Whey protein is absorbed quickly, soy protein provides a slow release of protein, which will assist in continued recovery for hours after consumption.

When creating recovery NutriBlasts, snacks and meals, make sure to combine nutrients like I did in this Cherry Vanilla Blast to optimize your capacity to recover.

Remember: each of your workouts is only as good as the recovery from your previous workout!

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, Triathlon Coach

Comment by Richnfeff
September 14, 2014
Can I substitute coconut milk instead of soy milk ? I can't have soy milk. Or do you recommend something else instead or just leaving it out? Thanks
Reply by SarahLefkowitzRD
September 15, 2014
I would suggest unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk from the carton, the canned coconut milk is too rich and high in calories to use for the liquid portion of your shake.
I have been using both tart and unsweetened dark cherries as a constant ingredient in my smoothies.
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