Pomegranate fruit may limit post exercise muscle soreness and strength reduction.
Pomegranate is a tree grown for its red fruit. It may have some use as a post-workout nutrient through:
- Enhancing muscle recovery. Pomegranate fruit seems to reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle strength after exercise.
Native to Iran and deeply integrated into Greek, Hebrew, Muslim, and Christian mythology and texts, pomegranate, Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing tree with a rich history of use in culinary and ceremonial practices. This small, spiny tree is most famous for its edible red fruit; its name literally means “fruit” in Old French.
Pomegranate has long been incorporated as a syrup, molasses, or vinegar in many traditional Iranian dishes, taken as a sweet juice with sour notes, and even used as a spice. The seeds, juice, and peel of pomegranates are ripe with several potential bioactive ingredients, the most abundant of which are called ellagitannins.1
Practitioners of India’s Ayurvedic medicine have taken pomegranate’s value one step further and claim that the fruit may have medicinal properties. Research examining such claims has begun to uncover promising findings, including improved muscle and the cardiovascular function.
How Pomegranate Might Help Post Workout Formulas
Enhancing blood flow
Pomegranate juice has been found to protect nitric oxide (NO) from being destroyed while simultaneously elevating its production via nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)3 as well as improve its biological actions, two of the principal ones being widening blood vessel diameter and increasing blood flow.4 By augmenting blood flow, pomegranate increases the amount of oxygen available to muscles, which theoretically, can allow them to perform better and recover more quickly.
Pomegranate is known for having antioxidant qualities, and exercise is one major activity that increases oxidative stress on the body. As such, this may be another mechanism through which pomegranate improves exercise recovery. 5 6
Pomegranate’s Post Workout Benefits & Uses
Pomegranate—whether taken in juice or tablet form—seems to have one main benefit that is confirmed by clinical studies:
- Improved muscle recovery. The fruit has been shown to speed up the process of muscle recovery, resulting in fewer muscle damage markers, reduced or delayed onset of soreness, and improved muscle strength after resistance training.7
This effect may be useful for recovery after weightlifting and other forms of resistance training.
Various clinical studies point to the capacity of pomegranate to increase post workout muscle strength and vitality.
In this randomized investigation, 17 trained men took either a placebo or pomegranate juice after performing sets of 20 elbow flexion and 10 knee extension exercises. Compared to placebo, postexercise elbow muscle soreness was significantly reduced and elbow flexing strength was significantly elevated in the pomegranate group.
- The study concluded that “supplementation with pomegranate juice attenuates weakness and reduces soreness of the elbow flexor…These results indicate a mild, acute ergogenic effect of pomegranate juice in the elbow flexor muscles of resistance trained individuals after eccentric exercise.”10
In this randomized investigation, 9 weightlifters participating in 2 olympic-weightlifting sessions took either a placebo or natural pomegranate juice (POMj). Significant improvements were noted in the pomegranate group compared to placebo: improved performance (+8.30%), lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (-4.37%), delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) in the knees (13.4%), decreased systolic blood pressure, decreased heart rate, and reduced presence of muscle damage markers, such as C-reactive protein.
- The study concluded that “natural POMj seems to ameliorate the capacity to adhere to an intensive training program. Therefore, elite weightlifters are advised to use natural POMj during intensive training program and competition to accelerate muscle recovery.”11
In this randomized investigation, men were asked to perform 2 sets of 20 elbow flexion exercises and were given either a placebo or pomegranate extract (POMx®) every day during a period of 9 days. As expected muscle strength dropped post-exercise, but the resulting elbow flexion strength was found to be significantly higher in the POMx group (85.4% ± 2.5%) compared to the placebo (78.3% ± 2.6%).
- The study concluded that “supplementation with ellagitannins from pomegranate extract significantly improves recovery of isometric strength 2-3 d after a damaging eccentric exercise.”12
Dosage for Post Workout
- Research studies use roughly 1000 mg of pomegranate powder or a 500 mL drink
- Typical pomegranate supplement dosage ranges from 100 – 120 mg daily
- Pomegranate capsules often come as 400 mg standardized to 30% punicalagins
Supplements in Review Says
- Pomegranate 400 mg post-workout.
Pomegranate seems to benefit post workout muscle recovery. Although research is still in its early stages, human studies have shown that pomegranate may improve muscle recovery after working out, resulting in tangible benefits such as reduced soreness and improved strength.
Try 400 mg of pomegranate standardized to 30% punicalagins. Start at 120 mg of pomegranate extract (calculated from 400 mg standardized to 30% punicalagains) for optimal post workout benefits.
- Singh RP, et al. Studies on the antioxidant activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum) peel and seed extracts using in vitro models. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jan 2;50(1):81-6. ↩
- Parle M, et al. Neuroprotective effects of pomegranate juice in mice. International Journal of Medical Sciences 2010;2:166-9. ↩
- De Nigris F, et al. Beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on oxidation-sensitive genes and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity at sites of perturbed shear stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Mar 29;102(13):4896-901. ↩
- Ignarro LJ, et al. Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide. 2006 Sep;15(2):93-102. ↩
- Haber S, et al. Antioxidant and antiatherogenic effects of pomegranate. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 7-15-2011;68:1302-5. ↩
- Zarfeshany A, et al. Potent health effects of pomegranate. Adv Biomed Res. 2014;3:100. ↩
- Hajimahmoodi M, et al. Antioxidant capacity of plasma after pomegranate intake in human volunteers. Acta Medica Iranica 2009;47:125-132. ↩
- Trexler ET, et al. Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flow and running time to exhaustion. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Sep;39(9):1038-42. ↩
- Roelofs EJ, et al. Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flow and vessel diameter after high-intensity exercise in young, healthy adults. Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Apr;17(3):317-325. ↩
- Trombold JR, et al. The effect of pomegranate juice supplementation on strength and soreness after eccentric exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25:1782-8. ↩
- Ammar A, et al. Pomegranate Supplementation Accelerates Recovery of Muscle Damage and Soreness and Inflammatory Markers after a Weightlifting Training Session. PLoS One. 2016; 11(10): e0160305. ↩
- Trombold JR, et al. Ellagitannin consumption improves strength recovery 2-3 d after eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Mar;42(3):493-8. ↩