After you finish a workout, you could sip a sports drink, but there’s another post-workout drink you may not have considered – tomato juice. According to a new study published in the Nutrition Journal, sipping tomato juice after an intense workout could reduce oxidative stress and help your muscles recover.
Tomato Juice: A Good Exercise Recovery Drink?
Researchers in Stockholm, Sweden asked a group of healthy volunteers to exercise at 80% of their maximal heart rate for 20 minutes on an ergometer. After the exercise session, they tested their blood for a compound called 8-oxodG, a chemical that’s a marker for oxidative damage. Not surprisingly, after exercising intensely, levels of this marker were elevated by 42%. Then they had the participants drink 150 milliliters of tomato juice daily for 5 weeks and repeated the experiment. The results? After sipping tomato juice for 5 weeks, the levels of this marker for oxidative damage didn’t rise after the participants exercises. This suggests that some ingredient in tomato juice may help to reduce oxidative damage after exercise.
Tomatoes Are a Rich Source of Lycopene
Why is tomato juice effective against oxidative damage? Researchers believe it’s the lycopenes in tomato juice. Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment in tomatoes and other red fruits that give them their color. Other good sources of lycopene are apricots, pink grapefruits and watermelon. Lycopene is also a strong antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory compound. This may explain its ability to block oxidative damage after a workout. Tomato juice contains other antioxidants including vitamin C and vitamin E, but these vitamins are partially destroyed during processing. Processing tomatoes by heating them to make tomato juice, tomato sauce or ketchup actually converts lycopenes into a form the body can more readily use.
Other Benefits of Sipping Tomato Juice
Preliminary studies show that dietary lycopenes may reduce the risk of heart disease, age-related macular degeneration of the eyes and some types of cancer, especially prostate cancer, but more recent research has cast doubt on whether it actually prevents prostate cancer. Most experts recommend getting between 25 and 75 milligrams of lycopene a day. A cup of tomato juice has around 23 milligrams in an easily absorbed form.
Exercise Recovery: Sip Tomato Juice?
A cup of tomato juice has 10 grams of carbs, so enjoy a cup along with a snack that contains protein and carbs to replenish glycogen stores and aid muscle recovery. Ideally, you need between 0.3 to 0.6 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within an hour after an endurance workout to replace glycogen stores. Most commercial tomato juice is relatively high in sodium, which isn’t such a bad thing if you exercised in a hot environment for an hour or more and lost electrolytes through sweating. You can also buy low-sodium tomato juice at many supermarkets. In addition, tomato juice is a good source of potassium, another electrolyte lost through sweat.
Exercise Recovery and Tomato Juice: The Bottom Line?
There are advantages to sipping tomato juice after a workout. It’s a good way to help your muscles recover but whether or not it reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness is unclear. It’s also a good way to get more heart-healthy lycopenes in your diet in a form your body can readily use. If you drink it regularly, not just after a workout, look for a low-sodium version.
Nutraingredients-USA.com. “Tomato Juice Shows Sports Nutrition Potential”
Mayo Clinic. “Lycopene”
Medscape Today. “Two Natural Prostate Therapies Strike Out”