When: After a hard run
Why: If George Washington was more of an athlete, he never would have felled his dad's cherry tree. A study done in 2008 by British researchers found that runners who drank 16 ounces of tart cherry juice in the days before, the day of, and two days after a marathon decreased inflammation, oxidative stress, and muscle damage.
"Cherry juice is very useful for postexercise recovery," says Declan Connolly, Ph.D., professor of physical education and exercise science at the University of Vermont.
Cherries are higher in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than many other types of fruit. Try drinking a cup of tart cherry juice after exercise-particularly during heavy training. But don't guzzle it like it's tap water: One cup has about 30 grams of natural sugar and 130 calories.
Sipping Points: If cherry juice is too tart for you, try a sweeter blend with cherries and other 100 percent fruit juices.
More: 6 Best Hydrating Foods for Athletes
Why: Chock-full of a variety of nutrients in a concentrated package, 100 percent vegetable juice is a tasty way to get a serving or two of veggies. Those made mostly with tomatoes have lots of lycopene, an antioxidant that a British Journal of Nutrition study found protects muscles from oxidative stress caused by exercise.
Many brands have three to five times the amount of sodium and 13 to 17 times the amount of potassium in sports drinks, "which makes vegetable juice an ideal part of a postrun snack or meal that includes carbs and protein," says Kimball.
Sipping Points: Sodium levels can range from 140 to 620 milligrams in regular (non-low sodium) brands. Choose higher levels if you crave salt postrun.
Why: Protein, carbs, and electrolytes make this an ideal drink to add to your postrun nutrition routine
1 11-ounce container coconut water
1 cup cherry juice
1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder
½ cup strawberries, frozen
Add all the ingredients to a blender and whirl until smooth. Serves one.
Calories: 440; Carbs: 70 g; Protein: 27 g; Fat: 2 g
More: 7 New Super Foods
Runners try the newest sports drinks.
What's New: The reformulated drink has a bit of calcium and magnesium, two electrolytes lost in sweat, and sodium and potassium.
Testers' Take: "It's sweet, but not too sweet." "I thought the extra electrolytes gave me a boost during a warm run." powerade.com
More: Which Fluid Hydrates Best: Water or Sports Drink?
What's New: This drink contains a tad less carbohydrate and more sodium than many sports drinks. It has no added coloring, so it's clear.
Testers' Take: "The lime-aid flavor reminds me of a margarita." "It definitely has a light, clean, refreshing taste." "I love that it doesn't contain crazy colors." clifbar.com
Gatorade Powder Pack
What's New: The old standby Thirst Quencher now comes in handy single-serving packs of powder. Add one to a 16.9-ounce bottle of water, shake, drink.
Testers' Take: "They're really convenient. I kept some stashed in my car, gym bag, and desk." "The powder mixed up easily." gatorade.com
More: How Much Fluid Do You Need as a Runner?
What's New: This low-calorie drink has 30 percent fewer calories than most sports drinks, plus protein, which may help recovery.
Testers' Take: "It's less sweet than most sports drinks. I thought it was refreshing." "Many protein drinks have a heavy, chalky taste-this was mild." accelsport.com
More: The New Rules of Hydration
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