Recover from your workout faster... with watermelon

Watermelon is one of the most popular foods at the market from August to October. Refreshing and juicy, this big fruit is irresistible. According to a study published in 2013, beneath its hard shell, the watermelon could be hiding the secret that enables a faster post-workout recovery. If watermelon juice is good for some athletes, wouldn’t it be for you too? 

L-Citrulline

The amino acid L-Citrulline is found in very few foods. In fact, the watermelon is possibly one of the few that contains such high amounts of it. In studies examining the effects of L-Citrulline supplements on athletes, researchers noted that athletes who were taking these amino acid supplements performed better and recovered much faster after exercising than those who did not.

In 2013, Spanish researchers tried to determine if watermelon juice, naturally rich in L-Citrulline, could be just as effective as supplements and yield similar benefits to athletes. They supplied 11 athletes with 500 mL of watermelon juice or L-Citrulline-enriched watermelon juice, or a placebo without L-Citrulline. Athletes drank each beverage at different training sessions. The results? Drinking watermelon juice (with or without L-Citrulline) appeared to improve athletes’ recovery heart rate times and reduce sore muscles. In short, according to researchers, watermelon and L-Citrulline could be valuable allies for athletes.

Watermelon juice as a recovery drink

Since the publication of this study, many athletes turned to this fruit for a rapid recovery. Of course, this one study does not mean that markets should be emptied out of watermelons. It will take many studies with similar results to change eating habits. Until that time, watermelon juice provides a delicious post-workout drink with potential recovery benefits.

Staying well-hydrated is important when working out. Hydration has been reported to boost performance. When working out for more than one hour, the consumption of a recovery drink made up of 4-8% carbohydrates (sugar) is recommended. Pure watermelon juice has 7.5% carbohydrates. Simply cut slices of watermelon (seedless of course!), put them in a blender and juice it. Add a pinch of salt and you’ll have a nutritious, fresh drink that is easy to make and inexpensive! A quick post-workout recovery makes it irresistible.

References
Chouinard R., Lacombe N. Course à pied. Le guide d'entraînement et de nutrition. KMag, 2013

Tarazona-Diaz, M., Alacid, F., Carrasco, M. et coll. Watermelon Juice: Potential Functional Drink for Sore Muscle Relief in Athletes.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2013;61:7522-7528