During the hot summer days, few things taste as delicious and refreshing as chilled watermelon. Watermelon juice has also been a favourite with athletes for a long time and now Spanish researchers have provided evidence that it reduces muscle soreness after exercise and improves performance.
The reduction in muscle soreness is attributable to l-citrulline, an amino acid that is found in watermelon. L-citrulline speeds up the removal of lactic acid, which leads to improved physical performance because athletes can engage in more intense training and recover faster after every training session. According to the study report, which has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, watermelon juice is a great drink for athletes aiming to boost their performance because l-citrulline facilitates nitric oxide synthesis and accelerates the transportation of glucose in the muscles.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena (Technical University of Cartagena). An hour before training, the participants were served either natural watermelon juice, enriched watermelon juice or a placebo. The researchers established that either type of juice helped reduce recovery time and relieved muscle soreness 24 hours after the workout session. However, the report noted that the natural (unpasteurised) juice appeared to be more readily absorbed by the body than the enriched version.
The researchers are hoping that their findings will promote the use of natural ingredients to enhance athletic performance. They believe that future studies should focus on the amino acid levels necessary for reducing muscle fatigue and boosting athletic results.