Thanks to kale and spinach, green juices are synonymous with good health. But it turns out that guys with serious fitness goals might need to consider a serious change of hue—concoctions featuring beets, cherries, and tomatoes offer benefits that can improve your results in and out of the gym.
Beets When athletes from runners to rowers were spotted chugging the red juice at the London Olympic Games, the beet generation was born. "Beets are high in nitrates, and an increase in nitric oxide improves blood flow," says Lauren Slayton, R.D., founder of Foodtrainers in New York City. "This helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, which increases speed and delays feelings of fatigue." The newest research suggests that the juice may be most effective for quick, intense workouts. A single dose pre-workout didn't help study subjects cycle faster on a 40K ride, but taking nitrate supplements for six days in a row helped improve 10K time-trial performance. At Home: Chop up three beets, place in a juicer, add a squeeze of lemon juice. On the Go: Red Ace Organic Beet Juice supplement, up to $6 for one 2-oz shot or $60 for 12; redaceorganics.com for store locations. Juice Generation Performance +, $3.95 for one 1-oz shot; juicegeneration.com. Elixir Juice Fatigue Fighter, $8; elixirjuice.com. Organic Avenue Veggie Vibe, $9; organicavenue.com.
Cherries Studies have found that antioxidant-packed tart-cherry juice can help athletes bounce back faster. "It's the equivalent of edible Advil," Slayton says. Cherries have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help ward off post-workout pains. "Tart cherries seem to block the enzyme linked to muscle soreness," says Samantha Lynch, R.D., of Samantha Lynch Nutrition in New York City. At Home: Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., a nutritionist and founder of the Morrison Center in New York City, recommends this recipe: 1/2 cup tart cherries, 1/2 organic green apple, and 1/2 lemon (without the peel). Blend. On the Go: Trader Joe's 100% Tart Cherry Juice, $4; at Trader Joe's, trader joes.com for locations. Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice, $12; cheribundi.com for locations.
Tomatoes At your post-workout brunch, swap OJ for a Virgin Mary: A study found that athletes who drank tomato juice before and after exercising experienced faster muscle recovery than those who carb-loaded after each workout. "Tomato juice has a high amount of potassium, which makes it almost like a natural Gatorade," Lynch explains. "So you get back the electrolytes that you lost during sweating but without extra sugar." At Home: Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice in Venice, California, touts the benefits of her Moon Juice Watermelon, Tomatoes & Lime Juice: Put 2 1/2 cups of watermelon flesh and 1 large ripe tomato through a juicer, then add the juice of 1/2 lime. On the Go: R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Tomato Juice, $3.70; rwknudsenfamily.com for locations. Juice Press Drink Your Salad, $10; juicepress.com. Juice Generation Veg-O-Might!, $5.40; juicegeneration.com for locations.
Ranking the Reds: How the Fruits and Veggies Stack Up
Acai High in antioxidants that help lower blood pressure.
Goji Berries Considered an aphrodisiac food because of their ability to increase testosterone.
Raspberries Raspberry ketone, responsible for the fruit's aroma, may speed your fat burn.
Red Apples Macintosh and Honey Crisp cultivars contain quercetin, which helps with cognition, memory, and alertness.
Red Bell Peppers One of the best sources of cryptoxanthin (a type of beta-carotene), which can help lower cholesterol.
Strawberries Packed with vitamin C and heart-healthy, gut-helping fiber.
Watermelon The lycopene is important for a healthy prostate; the citrulline can decrease the amount of fat stored in fat cells.
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