In a previous post, we discussed the different types of soreness that athletes struggle with in chasing after their fitness goals but, understanding these pains won’t make them any less of a nuisance. Fortunately, as we learn more and more about how the human body works, we find more ways to help relieve these pains. Specifically, a new study, examining post-exercise muscle soreness, has revealed a potentially powerful weapon in these ongoing battle: the watermelon.
How It Works
Watermelon, or more specifically, watermelon juice, has been receiving a lot of positive press lately in the fitness world. And for good reason. The sweet summer snack is loaded with amino acids and antioxidants that could be useful for everything from boosting your immune system to preventing sunburn.
But, some athletes still tend to shy away from watermelon due to it’s high sugar content. Unfortunately, this crowd is also depriving themselves of a healthy dose of the amino acid called citrilline.
This particular amino acid is used in the creation of nitric oxide, a gas that expands the blood vessels and makes sure all of the necessary nutrients reach your muscles to keep them fueled. But citrilline plays another, vitally important role in the body, by supporting the urea cycle.
By aiding in the in creation of urea, citrilline helps to eliminate lactic acid from your body. This vilified byproduct of exercise is to blame for much of the fatigue and soreness that you have to deal with after a long workout.
What The Study Found
Since watermelon is extremely high in citrilline, and citrilline has the above-mentioned benefits, it’s not really a surprise that consuming watermelon would be a useful habit for athletes and even casual exercisers. To make this easier, many juices are available on the market and, of course, can be made at home. The situation is slightly confused, however, by citrilline-enriched juices which might seem to be even more beneficial. To help sort things out, the researchers compared the benefits of both enriched and natural watermelon juices.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, both enriched and natural watermelon juice have the amazing and useful ability to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness when taken an hour before exercise. Both juices were also found to have lowered resting heart rates for 24 hours afterwards as well.
One interesting find from the study had to do with the bioavailability, or the body’s ability to absorb and use the citrilline. These enriched juices, although containing much more citrilline then the natural juices, are also pasteurized. This pasteurization can change the citrilline in a way that, according to the researchers, makes it more difficult to absorb and use.
Ultimately, unpasteurized, natural watermelon juice could be an extremely useful tool against post-exercise muscle soreness.