Dr. Tom Clifford is a world leading researcher in the world of tart cherry juice and beetroot juice when it comes to athletic recovery. Dr. Clifford has a bachelor's in sports and exercise science and a master's in sports performance. He also has a doctorate and exercise, health, nutrition. He's worked with several elite sports teams, including the Newcastle Falcons rugby team. Our conversation today sheds some light on the truths, the myths, and the theories behind tart cherry juice and beetroot juice when it comes to athletic performance and recovery.
Dr. Tom Clifford's Information
University Profile: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ssehs/staff/tom-clifford/
Jase Kraft's Information:
Jase Kraft: [00:00:00] Today's guest is the world's leading researcher in the world of tart cherry juice and beetroot juice when it comes to athletic recovery. Tom has a bachelor's in sports and exercise science and a master's in sports performance. He also has a doctorate and exercise, health, nutrition. He's worked with several elite sports teams, including the Newcastle Falcons rugby team. Our conversation today sheds some light on the truths, the myths, and the theories behind tart cherry juice and beetroot juice when it comes to athletic performance and recovery.
Jase Kraft: [00:00:36] Let's get into.
Jase Kraft: [00:00:41] You're listening to the Science of Sports Recovery podcast. Each week, we explore how to recover more efficiently from training so you can work out harder and realize your full potential. This is the Science of Sports Recovery podcast.
Jase Kraft: [00:01:10] Hey, Tom, it's great to have you on the show.
Tom Clifford: [00:01:13] Hi, Jase. So nice to see you.
Jase Kraft: [00:01:16] So there's a brief intro on your background and stuff, but we just run down your education. You have a bachelor's degree in sport and exercise science, then a master's degree and sport performance from the University of Portsmouth. And if I'm correct in saying you also were a boxer and a football, is that American football? Is that soccer that you playing at the University of Brighton.
Tom Clifford: [00:01:47] Oh, wow, where have you dug this out from, so, Yes, so,
Tom Clifford: [00:01:53] In my undergraduate in sport science, I've always been football, soccer. So, you know, Americans soccer. That was always my main sport. I did try and take up boxing. I really enjoyed it. It wasn't very good.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:08] It's really good fun.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:10] But that was, you know, I stuck mainly to soccer when I realized that boxing.
Jase Kraft: [00:02:15] Yeah, sweet, do play all of three or four years that you were there.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:20] Yeah. So we did four years.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:21] So the first year I still played for my home club, so I used to travel back then I decided to play for the university for the second.
Jase Kraft: [00:02:30] Cool, cool, after university, did you, did you play any more club or do you currently do the any of that kind of stuff now.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:40] Yeah. So not so much.
Tom Clifford: [00:02:41] So I carried on playing for a few more years and then I stopped, I started to move around a lot for work and I decided to bring back kind of my Saturday afternoons and my Tuesday. It was the evenings instead of training. So I just stopped playing over there and, you know, kind of local five aside, things like that.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:01] And now now I'm a runner, a very, very distinctly average runner a few races a year to keep me motivated.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:12] So I don't really play soccer.
Jase Kraft: [00:03:13] OK, running like long-distance or.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:18] Yeah, attempting. So I do, I suppose I've done a few 10k half marathons, so I normally run due to a free each year.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:25] So that's pretty mundane exercise.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:28] Like I said, I'm not, I'm no athlete would say.
Jase Kraft: [00:03:33] So, your master's degree in sport performance, what is that entail? Because I don't know if we have that specific title in the States here.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:45] Yeah, good question.
Tom Clifford: [00:03:47] I mean, you know, in the States, a lot of sports science as well as kinesiologists. Sometimes I think that basically the same it's just kind of, you know, different wordings. But the school's performance degree was very much, I suppose like sports science would be still containing the main part. So it still had physiology, biomechanics, and psychology. I was just full of kind of teaching was really at sports performance. So I don't know what it's like in the States. In the UK, when you do a sports science degree, you can do more clinical kind of physiology, clinical psychology, work. But most of the stuff was very sports focused. And then as it went on, you got to choose dissertations and bigger projects. And that's when I probably did a lot more nutrition work.
Jase Kraft: [00:04:32] Ok, OK, so then that's when you got into the nutrition realm. I believe you got a doctorate, as well from Northumbria University and then you started working with rugby teams, soccer football teams, and if I'm not mistaken, Paralymic, Paralympic swimming teams as well.
Tom Clifford: [00:04:56] Yeah. So, yeah.
Tom Clifford: [00:04:57] So this was, oh God, six years ago now. I did my doctorate, so I finished in twenty seventeen Northumbria University right in the north of the UK. And it was actually just after I finished my doctor, I got a job at Newcastle University literally just across the road from and we had we got a freight partnership with Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club. So you have a PhD student. So the environment is part of the package. I would help with their nutrition. And then in terms of my applied work, I've worked with some Premier League soccer clubs, a lot of exceptionally well researched focus. But my work with rugby union problem is it is very much consultancy based. So I've never, I've never, I suppose, work full or part-time on a regular basis for any teams or clubs. It's mostly just consultancy work, which is quite common in the UK. We still have a lot of sports to do on the top level that doesn't employ any type of nutritionism. So I don't know if that's similar in the US, but I know that they sometimes have sports scientists end up having to try and be an all-rounder, and I think part of the problem is still that sports nutrition is not, say, a legally protected title here in the U.K. so a lot of people get away with it. So there's a lot of clubs that will have, say, consultants help them specific areas. But yeah, there's still quite a few you don't actually employ part, or full time, at all.
Jase Kraft: [00:06:32] Ok, so what's kind of the reason they bring in someone like you? What are you trying to help them with?
Tom Clifford: [00:06:39] Yeah, absolutely. So the stuff that I did with swimming was around cooking and meal preparation for athletes. So quite a big part of the organization to look after Olympic athletes UK, sport is to do work on things like cooking skills and training camps. Things like that obviously develop activity quite independent. So that's some of the work I did with, with rugby a lot more the work with the academy. So it was trying to, I suppose, educate them really good nutrition. I mean, we're trying to catch them when they're between 14 to 18 year olds. So, you know, they get good habits when they actually turn professinal things is possibly do. So that's a lot of workshops. Got a little cooking class and things, a lot of just one on one consultations, making small programs for the athletes as well. So various things like that.
Jase Kraft: [00:07:32] So so it sounds like that.
Jase Kraft: [00:07:35] And you're trying to develop habits more with the nutrition rather than specific. Eat this after work out or that. But overall, how do you set up your meals for that? What were some of the challenges of people not being able to get into the habit that was healthy for them?
Tom Clifford: [00:07:55] Yeah, now it's a good point. And I think that's one of the trickiest bits. I think most people in rugby are pretty good. They kind of have a good idea about nutrition. Generally, I find that a lot of individuals struggle with breakfast, particularly in rugby. They struggle to when they're younger, they often struggle to put on the body mass required to be a professional rugby player. And it's quite difficult to get to 90 to 100 kilos to 15, 16. But the way the game's going, it's very much possibly even required to get to that level. So I found that around school in the academy, that's probably one of the biggest challenges when they're trying to get sufficient breakfast, sufficient foods and the healthy foods to have actually during school as well. I found that probably most difficult and also particularly in that age group. A lot of these foods are made by their parents or carers. So it's quite hard to get them to be independent. And you have to really kind of get the parents involved in what you're trying to sell. So we would do so we do presentations where it would be the players, but also the parents, so we can try and get some of the messages across because they need to buy into it as well as in the shop and most of the. So, yeah, in the academy, I find that probably the most challenging.
Jase Kraft: [00:09:16] Ok, yeah, I know what you mean by you need the buy-in from the parents or the people that are providing the food to because I in high school so that 12 to 16 kind of age I, I took the, my nutrition into my own hands for a while at my own home and decided to cut out like a lot of processed stuff, all sugars, no candy, anything like that. But the temptations are always there because my family ate that and that was hard. Like that was really hard. I felt myself slipping up a lot of times. Then I had to just set hard, fast rules and to like, OK, not even a little bit, because if I get a little bit,
Tom Clifford: [00:10:04] I get it.
Jase Kraft: [00:10:06] Yeah. So were you able to like, work with the parents directly or did you have to like, help your athletes communicate with the parents?
Jase Kraft: [00:10:17] And how if I if there was an athlete that said, hey, I want to do this, how should I communicate with my parents to make this happen?
Tom Clifford: [00:10:27] Yeah. Yeah, good question. So, yeah, I didn't do too much direct with the parents of them when we had kind of group workshops. We wanted to try and I suppose teach the class themselves to have our own economy. So I did want to try and encourage them to actually yes, their parents can cook for them, but can they cook for themselves? And I think that's something that's really important to try to get them to do that, even if their parents do things like weekends, etc.. We do try and encourage that. And we did do cooking camps and things like that, whether we go away and practice making snacks, different things like that. But I suppose in terms of athlete in the parents communication, I always found the parents generally on board. I don't think that's probably too much friction there, so I think that for athletes or academy individuals coming up, we want to make sure they get the nutrition, optimize it the best they can. And like most things, it's just being really open in terms of communication. So whoever is in charge making the products that you're consuming, that is just being honest about the times, but also learning about what you need and then actually getting in the kitchen doing that yourself. I think that's a really nice way. And I think that if you maybe come from a background of parents and carers who aren't into the nutrition moms and don't necessarily know all the types of food that they make are really congruent with your goals or perhaps what nutritionist is telling you, then I think that's a really good opportunity for you then to have the stuff with your parents. I mean, encase you get, you know, 14, 15, 16 and older like that. I think these conversations are really beneficial to have and perhaps you can be the one to start to educate them and start to take them a little bit when you actually when it comes to, say, cooking meals for the family.
Jase Kraft: [00:12:18] Yeah, yeah. That's been my experience. Sometimes it's just as simple as having that conversation, although it might be like intimidating because of the power hierarchy or whatever. But just having that real conversation with that.
Jase Kraft: [00:12:35] Yeah. So that's great. The topics today I want to discuss specifically with you because I know there's been a lot of research in the past and some couple hot topics is tart cherry juice and beet juice and how that affects recovery and performance and stuff.
Jase Kraft: [00:12:53] And I know you've been kind of on the forefront of a lot of that research in and dug into that a lot.
Jase Kraft: [00:13:00] So I want to start with tart cherry juice. I've actually tried this myself, so I'm curious to know if there is actually any benefit to it. But before we get into the actual research and what it actually does, I want you to help explain what the hypothesis,
Jase Kraft: [00:13:20] why would there be such a hot topic and what is it supposed to do in the body?
Tom Clifford: [00:13:27] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think what's actually useful and probably relevant both to tart and tart cherry juice, and the beetroot juice, probably say what we mean by kind of saying muscle damage and recovery and then help you understand the mechanisms for how it might work. But I suppose the way recovery works in terms of what these the context these products might work be thinking about recovery from what we would call muscle damage, which sounds quite, quite bad. And it sounds like something that you want to avoid. But that's just the term. I mean, when we do any kind of exercise, we do damage our muscle slightly and they do repair regrow. So it's not necessarily something that's negative. But what we're specifically talking about here is, is damage that elicits some kind of reactions. So the main symptoms that we get from strenuous exercise and these can last for several days tend to be an increase in muscle soreness. So delayed onset of muscle storms, which most people know. And even if you're somebody who goes to the gym quite frequently, you'll know a lot about what consist and even the elite athlete level. We what we're primarily players, soccer players, various other sports, people report being so even at the league level. So that's one aspect you want to try and recover from, that can be quite a problem when you're trying to train every day. And then the other big major issue is often a detriment in muscle function. So your ability to produce force your ability to use power, we typically measure this by, say, jumping, sprinting like that.
Tom Clifford: [00:15:03] So all of these activities take a while to recover when you're suffering muscle. So these are the two things that we really want to try and modulate in some way. So we want to try and get some muscle function back pre-exercise as quickly as possible. And the same with muscle sore want to try and find them, what normally accompanies these two symptoms. Inflammation and the production of free radicals seem so also linked to inflammation. Now, all of the research in terms of the causes of muscle soreness and the cause of it, that suggests that inflamation and free radicals might exacerbate them or they're at least hindering the recovery process. So the whole point when it comes to polyphenol-rich drinks like tart cherry juice is to try and focus on this inflammation and free radical aspect, tart cherry juice trying to target those main areas. And it does this at least presumably this is our best understanding by some of the polyphenols it contains. So tart cherry Juice is particularly rich in some polyphenols called anthocyanins and these are just small chemical compounds when we consume them, what we presume is that these anthocyanins, because they've been shown in studies to do this or anti-inflammatory, which they've done from this inflammatory response, and they're also antioxidants, which, again, we assume is reducing this buildup of free radicals. So if we can reduce both of these, then potentially we can enhance that recovery process. So you can see less so and then perhaps we can jump higher a few days after suffering from muscle.
Jase Kraft: [00:16:39] Okay.Yeah, so in theory, you damage your muscles after a hard workout by and you get the effects by soreness and then a lack of like I could bench one today but only one sixty tomorrow.
Jase Kraft: [00:16:54] The idea is inflammations free radicals. That's what's causing that lack of performance and the soreness and then through these different chemicals in tart chery juice that's supposed to reduce those two things and help with that. OK, so what is the research actually showing with that? Is that hold true through research or is it finding something else?
Tom Clifford: [00:17:19] Yeah, so it depends on a lot of the early research in cherry juice, which is probably about a decade ago, it really started.
Tom Clifford: [00:17:27] My PHD supervisor, Professor Hawatson, did a lot of it and they showed quite consistently that changes can improve recovery. And they first showed this after a marathon race, as you can imagine, after a marathon. A lot of individuals, even if you are well trained, you can be sore for the next few days, you have inflammation, et cetera. So they found that when you consume these cherries, it reduced inflammation. It also helps restore essentially the muscle function restored quicker to the exercise. And then they showed the same with cycling exercise as well. So quite it was about two hour long, very high intensity sessions, which again, with the soreness.
Jase Kraft: [00:18:10] Cycling?
Tom Clifford: [00:18:10] Yes, cycling. Yeah. So this can cause soreness, decrements, and muscle function as well. Again, again, shown to reduce inflammation and to restore function. And they showed it in various different models and into in them. And then other researchers also supported. But then I suppose, on the other hand, in more recent years, some of the work I've done and some of the others have done, I've not quite seen these effects. And the problem at the moment and the problem of a lot of sports nutrition research generally, and we have to make inferences about is that a lot of this work that Professor Hawatson is doing and others is in what we, the participants say subtly official recreation activities, what we normally describe them said research. And this means that some of them can be pretty good. Their training, quite frankly, they're not unfit individuals. But there not elite athletes and elite athletes are very different, you know, was freakishly different because they're so well adapted and well trained. So a couple of the studies that I've done encourages with elite soccer players. And elite rugby's, we weren't able to see the same effects that were shown in a lab setting. And a few others have also shown those two. There's a study and I believe it's in kayaking again, elite level kayakers where they control these recovery benefits.
Jase Kraft: [00:19:30] And do you know, how long of about the kayaking was? Was it not that like two hour mark, like the marathon is shorter?
Tom Clifford: [00:19:40] No, it wasn't.
Tom Clifford: [00:19:41] And again, I think that's that's sort of the biggest context of this. You've got on the one hand, the elite level athletes might not get the same benefits as somebody athletes and linked to that. The main reason is probably going to be the extent of most of the damage they experience. So I think with these drinks and beverages, they're probably going to be beneficial if you experience quite severe symptoms and some of these athletes will experience more severe symptoms. But then also, if you do say, two hours of cycling compared to, say, one kayak or something shorter than, again, you're probably going to experience greater. So I think so. I think the research if you look at it closely, the pattern, the more damage there is and the less you are in terms of risk status, the more beneficial this is going to be for you.
Jase Kraft: [00:20:32] Ok, so maybe like part of those teenage years that haven't quite hit college or university age, they're not training at that extreme high level, but they have maybe a very intense race.
Jase Kraft: [00:20:47] So something you would expect based on the research that would help those types of athletes?
Tom Clifford: [00:20:53] Yeah, I would suggest so. And I think that the other things to consider, I suppose, is anyone who does kind of novel exercise. So if you are an athlete who is doing something new and it leaves you conscious or and damaged, so you've got a new program, perhaps. Perhaps pre-season is starting new types of exercise and your muscles are still trying to recover, all of these could be aspects to introduce myself. And then I suppose the biggest one is the kind of tournament scenario. So particularly in team sports, you might have to recover pretty quickly. Some of them have one, two, three days between competitions. Then again, if you can use cherry juice, even if it just has minimal effects, then it could be beneficial in these scenarios as well.
Jase Kraft: [00:21:36] Ok, yeah. So when you're playing games, back to back days are multiple.
Jase Kraft: [00:21:41] And one day now and I, my research on this topic, preparing for this conversation, that's kind of how I found two.
Jase Kraft: [00:21:53] But there is maybe a little debate and maybe you can clear some of this up on when to take that. So say I have a tournament on on a weekend. Do I start taking cherry juice that weekend?
Jase Kraft: [00:22:07] How how much prior to afterwards? I mean, how would I prepare for something like that?
Tom Clifford: [00:22:14] Yeah, absolutely. And again, there's a general pattern that suggests if you have it for a few days before it might be more beneficial. So, for example, let's say you had something on a Sunday morning if you were to take it four or five days before. So start taking it morning and evening on a Wednesday for the rest of the days and then wants you perform that competition on Sunday. If you keep taking it for a couple of days, more is supposedly going to be more beneficial than if you just take it, say, the morning of the event and then the next couple of days. So it's this whole kind of preloading and really there is much research or any of that is directly compared with a preload versus just having it on the day and afterwards does have differential effects. Just seems that a lot of the studies that use a freeload have resulted in more benefits. And I think the reasons for why this isn't entirely clear.
Jase Kraft: [00:23:10] OK. So just the research has been saying, hey, we've been testing preload, but they haven't said, well, we don't know if you'd have the same effects if you just did it that day.
Tom Clifford: [00:23:21] Yeah, that that would be my interpretation. And I think the preload the main rationale was that there's a hope that when you consume cherry juice, do some of these anthocyanins that have these biological facts is that there might be some kind of tissue accumulation so that forestalls and you can use it when you need it or it might actually have some kind of adaptations. Polyphenols do have different adaptations or potentially anyway. Again, that would be the theory, but it's probably not backed up by science.
Jase Kraft: [00:23:55] Ok, so what about there's and I don't know if this has any validity to it, but I've seen some studies testing like anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, Tylenol over the counter type of drugs that might inhibit muscle growth or muscle adaptation after a strenuous workout implying that maybe the inflammation free radicals are needed for the muscle growth instead of inhibiting it would.
Jase Kraft: [00:24:28] Has there been any research with tart cherry juice produce? If you're taking it through your hard work at that, there might be less muscle growth?
Tom Clifford: [00:24:38] Yeah, absolutely. And it's a really good question. And the honest answer is there hasn't been any specifically with Cherrie's at all. There's been some of the polyphenols and I've just been doing some work on this. Generally, the results are inconclusive. So it doesn't seem to necessarily benefit long term adaptations or blood adaptations or things like muscle growth, aerobic capacity. Now, the theory again is, is that if you consume these anthocyanins and cherry juice and they're going to scavenge these free radicals, they're going to dump an inflammatory pathways a little bit like UNSENSIBLE. So on several organs inflammatory. But I suppose the issue really is if you look at the chemistry, they work quite differently. So there's been a bit of a shift in thinking now with polyphenols like is that when we consume them, our gut will actually destroy most.
Jase Kraft: [00:25:31] When you consume the cherries or the.
Tom Clifford: [00:25:36] Yeah, the cherries.
Tom Clifford: [00:25:38] So when we consume the cherries, most of the nutrients inside it that might have these antioxidants, inflammatory effects are actually destroyed by the gut. So we probably only get maybe zero point two percent of the goodness in this cherry juice inside our body now because that's such a small amount, it's very unlikely that they're going to directly reduce inflammation and have some effects like, something like nonsteroidal. So the difference. This is probably that, again its the theorize, in this really good kind of cell research, animal research, this is that these polyphenols and cherries, various other products like it, actually regulate our endogenous system that helps us fight antioxidants and helps us fight. And so our body has its own programmed responses and the theory is at the moment that this is how they work. Now, if that's the case, they should actually have divergent effects. So something might set up. The issue of the moment is, again, the research doesn't quite go up. So this is a theory.
Jase Kraft: [00:26:46] Ok, so if I'm understanding right, the theory is basically that cherry juice helps your body naturally fight inflammation, whereas the anti-inflammatory over the counter drugs is more of like a blunting at the source in the cell.
Tom Clifford: [00:27:06] Yeah. So I think the, the drugs, like you say, they're are they're trying to blunt mean, specifically ibuprofen, for example, things like that. They would target the cycle of oxygenates pathway so they become a specific pathway is what we're thinking with polyphenols is that they're not necessarily blunting these pathways. They're actually having effects. So they're signaling other pathways that how body respond to these. So the endogenous kind of antioxidant system, we already have, the cellular phone systems, we already have to try and combat information, combat free radicals. We think that actually of these anthocyanins are going to be augmenting us.
Jase Kraft: [00:27:50] Ok, cool. Yeah.
Jase Kraft: [00:27:53] So basically the last thing on tart cherry juice before I get to beetroot juice in your experience, do I know you said like novel exercises is probably best.
Jase Kraft: [00:28:08] Is there any other type of sport that you would say might have greater effects than like endurance or speed or contact sports?
Tom Clifford: [00:28:20] Yeah, I mean, I would actually probably look at it from a sports.
Tom Clifford: [00:28:24] I think it could probably benefit all of them depending on the exercise and whatever symptoms I like. And I think if you're an athlete who maybe feels that you don't recover as well as you should, maybe whatever you're doing, sometimes you feel more sore off about a specific workout or you feel more tired after another work. I think that you might be an individual. We could benefit from it. And I think that is a good way to look at it instead of looking at maybe other sports is to think about the workouts you doing and also perhaps the time of the season as well. Because another thing that's always important to remember our research is that people often have, say, 10 individuals in a study. And what we're talking about when we say it works or doesn't work is the mean or the average effect of that group, which probably means for free people. It didn't work for seven, it did. So it's also highly individual. So I would say that if somebody feels you don't recover as quick as you can, whatever your sport is, then it's definitely worth a try to see if it might actually help,
Jase Kraft: [00:29:22] OK. And just to, to get this clear to if it's not likely that there would be any negative effects of tart cherry juice, if you were to take it just to say, well, it might or might not work for me, but I'm going to take it just in case there's probably no negative effects, correct?
Tom Clifford: [00:29:43] Well, that's the thing at the moment, I. I can't see any negative effects. There's no research that I know of to suggest any negative effects, so I wouldn't have thought so.
Jase Kraft: [00:29:56] Ok, cool, cool. So there you have it for tart jerry juice. So let's move on to the beetroot juice.
Jase Kraft: [00:30:03] Just I know there's been a lot of claims, especially in my world, the endurance running in the beetroot as far as just performance having it.
Jase Kraft: [00:30:14] So again, let's get into assuming we keep the same as far as recovery, muscle damage has free radicals, inflammation and then lack of contraction. How should beetroot to affect is it different or is it the same?
Tom Clifford: [00:30:32] Probably the same. But then we have a unique bit about beetroot juice is that it contains nitrate as well, I suppose, before we go into the nitrate aspect of the reason. So I did my PhD and do some recovery. So that was the main part of my thesis. And the argument I was always trying to make was that beetroot actually contains so everyone knew it from the endurace probably endurance that contains nothing. But actually, it also contains betalanes and various other polyphenols which have been shown to have biological effects similar. So there's anthocyanins that I mention for cherry juice. So the argument we have was always that we were investigating essentially a drink that could be similar to tart cherries and should work on the same mechanisms over anyone. But then the nitrate and beetroot complicate things. So actually, if anything, you should look beetroot from a recovery standpoint and say, were great, it's got these nutrients that might have on substance, as an anti-inflammatory effects and that it's also got the nitrate as well. And the good thing about nitrate is when I mentioned about when you consumed cherry juice, a lot of the goodness is kind of destroyed in the gut. So only a small percentage goes through. Nitrate is almost 100 percent bioavailable. So once you consume it, you can almost guarantee that it is going to increase as a result.
Jase Kraft: [00:31:55] When you say bioavailable, you mean your body uptakes it 100 percent rather than.
Tom Clifford: [00:32:00] Sorry. Yeah. So bioavailability is essentially the amount of that nutrient that is in circulation for cells to use so with nitrate. The good thing is that it will get into the system, so we'll get into your body, you know. Well, so, therefore, there's got better potential for having some kind of biological effects. But yeah, from a recovery standpoint, it's probably very similar to probably tart cherries, because, again, the only difference of nitrate that it might have in recovery is that nitrate might increase bood flow. However enhancing blood flow to enhance recovery is, again, a little bit of a tricky one. And we're not too sure about no one's looked into of detail about.
Jase Kraft: [00:32:44] OK,
Tom Clifford: [00:32:45] But that's one way that I think Beetroot could be more beneficial than of supplements like tart cherries, because it does contain nitrate, which is gets into the system and also has additional.
Jase Kraft: [00:32:59] Ok, OK. And then as far as the what the research is showing, from what you've done with that, is there is that pretty similar with tart cherry juice as far as recovery or is there something different? And the research that you're saying?
Tom Clifford: [00:33:14] Yeah, well it was was quite a pattern really emerged. And I do the same again, where the more kind of damage you are in, the more soreness you experience, the more beneficial it seems to be. We never did, we never did any work with elite athletes. So we didn't find any or we haven't looked into that to find any differences. But we did do some work with individuals who were untrained and it worked really well for the recovery. So these are people we did exercise that had never done before. They didn't exercise that much generally. OK, but when we looked at for recovery after Marathon, I think they had an average of around 10 marathons each or something like that. We didn't see any benefits. Now, part of this could be simply that it didn't work in that context. It doesn't work. But we also gave lower doses than what studies are cherry juice is given. So we only have beetroot juice reduced post exercise navigating for us. That was partly because of the way we have to design the research, because research would be reduced to showing that if you consume a pre exercise performance, you couldn't give it free exercise because otherwise it might mean they do more work and actually end up more damage when we're giving it off. So we couldn't do it for that reason. So in terms of whether it helps having it pre and post, we're not really sure.
Jase Kraft: [00:34:40] Ok, so you, you couldn't load the system essentially like, like you could and the tart cherry juice on a research level, you could still individually somebody could if they wanted to try that with us.
Tom Clifford: [00:34:55] And I mean, we probably could actually if we were more clever about the way that we timed it. So if we had a seven day preload, as long as we didn't have it first thing in the morning, then perhaps as a way that we that's an idea for the future.
Tom Clifford: [00:35:08] I'll see what time I've got.
Jase Kraft: [00:35:13] As far as intake levels and I don't know if we actually touch base on this on tart cherry juice, but what intake levels for tart cherry juice and beetroot juice is like that has been studied and shown effective.
Tom Clifford: [00:35:30] Yeah. So so we've talked cherrie's the products and normally about because it's a concentrate on them. You said you tried it, so it's quite concentrated normally mix it with water. There's different ones available, but that's the most common. And normally it's having a morning and an evening class or however you're doing it gel. It's only about 30 milliliters whereas the beetroot juice varies hugely depending on the product. So we have over here a product that is very concentrated. So you only have to have a small amount. You must just have a shot of beetroot juice. You'll get the required amounts, but then you can get the kind of costings where you'll have to have a lot more. So normally it depends on I mean, from a recovery perspective, we didn't do too much dose response studies, if that makes sense. We didn't say look at two hundred and fifty milligrams versus 500 versus 750. So we don't necessarily know the total amount. The amounts that we used were equivalent to around two hundred and fifty milliliters, which was, I believe, about four hundred milligrams. So the optimal amounts for free exercise, which has been studied a little bit more detail, is around eight millimoles of nitrate or again around four hundred, four hundred and fifty milligrams. And if you do get hold of any kind of beetroot supplements, if you take a look around, it should have the information about milligrams of nitrate or millimoles of nitrates.
Jase Kraft: [00:37:06] Ok, and then for those that I use that the ounce system,, 30 milliliters is right around one ounce for 50 is right around that 15, 16 ounces.
Tom Clifford: [00:37:18] I forget about that. We don't use ounces. So sorry,
Jase Kraft: [00:37:23] I had to look on my computer quick and it's like the milliliters to ounce.
Tom Clifford: [00:37:27] Did very well.
Jase Kraft: [00:37:30] Ok, so let's talk then. Is there any other thing that you want to touch on about post-exercise that be reduced before we talk about the pre-workout?
Tom Clifford: [00:37:44] Oh no. I think I think what's interesting is that I recently tried to do a review looking at all the studies that have looked to reduce and recovery. And I think the first one I did was published in two thousand and sixteen, and I could only hope to find one of a research group that looked at that. So reduce the recovery. So it seems that not many people are doing that much research. So in terms of comparisons, there's probably four or five studies and be reducing probably 20 in cherry juice the moment. I think that we beetroot juice, we don't know quite enough. There's not enough massive data to tell us it's really going to be a beneficial recovery. I don't know whether it's the performance of the sales of the store.
Jase Kraft: [00:38:30] Yeah, OK, so the theory is there at least that there needs to be more research on that, though.
Jase Kraft: [00:38:37] Let's talk about performance.
Jase Kraft: [00:38:40] And I don't did have you done any research on performance would be reduce or have you just been looking at other people.
Tom Clifford: [00:38:49] Yeah, mostly other people. So I've only I've tried to stay in my lane of recovery.
Tom Clifford: [00:38:55] So, yeah, I only know the performance nitrites from reading as opposed to actually doing the work myself.
Jase Kraft: [00:39:02] Ok, so talk us through kind of what that research that you've been reading about performance and how that affecting and what athletes and what kind of sports does it affect or not.
Tom Clifford: [00:39:18] Yeah, so there's been lots and lots of studies.
Tom Clifford: [00:39:20] And I think if you really want to know what benefits it might have in what sports, you can get hold of online some systematic reviews and metronomes. And essentially all these studies do is they were grouped together all the studies and give you a one kind of score at the end saying, does it affect it doesn't know if it's if you look at them look online, you can often see, say, a list of 20 studies are being done in a specific area. Yeah. And if we look at this data, Generally, is always favorable. So across all the studies, it's just being reduced, does have a performance and endurance. And I suppose when you nail it down, I think what people start to do is actually look more specifically what types of exercise they might benefit from. So there's not been too much and long duration stuff. That's what's quite interesting. So not many people have tried to look over an hour or two hours or things like that still to a lot more research. And I think one thing that may help is perhaps most dosing as well. So this will be shops having them on your bike or something like that, perhaps not an issue. I mean, this is me kind of hypothesizing in the research that's done it, but I think that's that's a possibility now from a mechanistic point of view.
Tom Clifford: [00:40:37] So if we look at the mechanisms, how it work, it's shown that it might work better for sure. High-intensity bursts of exercise. Interesting. So this is partly to do with the fact that we think nitrate preferentially help fast twitch fibres so fast twitch muscle fibres are what we often use when we do really high intensity explosive bursts of activity. So if we, if we think of the types of exercise, then then it could be short sprints active. So anything on the site, 10 minutes of sprint activity, it could be intermittent sprints as well. So looking again at team sports, soccer, rugby, hockey, and also it could be beneficial in these types of sports. There has been some work in cycling and running the event 10K 16K around that type of activity. There's also been some benefit showing for resistance exercise as well. Again, probably linking to explosive type activity. You know, if you're going to go perform bench press or squats or whatever it might be, this is all activities that we reduce could theoretically help because it's using in response to explosive muscle fibers, which it might help to benefit.
Jase Kraft: [00:41:49] Okay. cool, that, that was more than I thought.
Jase Kraft: [00:41:55] I, I like coming from the endurance world. I was like, wow, it's for endurance because the blood circulation has to be, be better than that.
Jase Kraft: [00:42:06] But is this just like a one-time thing or are they like loading up three days before or is it just directly before the performance or workout?
Tom Clifford: [00:42:17] Yeah, it's a good question. And talking to Dr. Steven Bailey, do you know he's a real expert on this. I'm lucky enough to have colleague here in UK. He talks about how what they found was a lot of the research is that if you give doses for, say, five or six days before you load up a little bit, it seems to have more of a beneficial effect than just if you have one single dose in the morning. So if you do tend to look at the research, it does seem to be that a few days loading before would be more than that.
Jase Kraft: [00:42:51] I always get excited when something is like there's a lot of research in the positive direction.
Jase Kraft: [00:42:56] And the next question is beetroot juice is disgusting, which isn't really a question, but how on earth do you get athletes to take this?
Tom Clifford: [00:43:10] you know, it's a really good question. So I'm fine with athletes.
Tom Clifford: [00:43:16] Generally, they will consume if they think, you know, if it's going to make them go faster, if that's what they think and they'll consume anything, then they don't mind. Again, here in the UK, they do beetroot shop form, so I believe maybe 80 to 100 milliliters. So it's really concentrated. You don't have to drink too much of it to get the effects. You kind of just throw that down instead of having a drink, say, you know, get it right size possible.
Jase Kraft: [00:43:41] Yeah.
Tom Clifford: [00:43:42] So that's probably something that really helps the athletes here anyway. But yeah, I think that is it is a big issue in terms of how can you get them to consume. I mean that is there is things like gels is well available. I think there's not been development enough maybe of a nitrate which nitrate being the main ingredient that might have benefits nitrate rich foods. So things like rhubarb is potentially rich red spinach and red carpet and things like this. The problem, again, is I think manufacturing vegetables into drinks and gels is is quite a challenge compared to fruits.
Jase Kraft: [00:44:21] Yeah.
Tom Clifford: [00:44:22] So, yeah. Other than convincing them that it will help them, it's, it's hard to get people to have it because I do agree. I don't, I'm not a huge fan of the taste of it.
Jase Kraft: [00:44:32] Yeah. It's just like a compilation of a video of people taking to shots and their expressions afterwards because that would take.
Tom Clifford: [00:44:42] Absolutely. That would be fun to watch.
Jase Kraft: [00:44:46] Ok, so what about I have seen some companies come out with like beetroot juice in pill form and led supposed to be still bioavailable for you, do I guess. Has there been any research on the pill form or is that what are your thoughts on that.
Tom Clifford: [00:45:10] Yeah, no, as far as I know there's been research and I think the big problem with the pill form is the volume effects. So if you need say four hundred milligrams of nitrate, that could be quite a lot else. So what I would advise to anyone looking at the pill form is to just check the concentrations and see what it does to crosscheck whether it's actually those pills contain enough to actually give you the effects that you're looking at.
Jase Kraft: [00:45:37] Ok, so to wrap up the beat, reduce four hundred milligrams to 450 milliliters or milligrams, of.
Tom Clifford: [00:45:47] Yeah, it should be of nitrate. Yeah. So that's where it gets a little bit confusing with the nitrate because a lot of research reports is millimoles.
Tom Clifford: [00:45:56] But again, millimoles is not something that the general public wants particullarly to know about. I don't wanna know about the research converting to me, so you can convert that milligrams, based on what the weight of nitrate is and then that the millimoles, the milliliters, sorry, or ounces, the drink that can vary massively is not just about that nitrate concentration. So I would definitely make sure that you have a look at any product that you're having and check that it's got those requisite amounts, which is if they display an milligrams, then hopefully anything above four hundred milligrams beneficial. If it's a millimoles, I don't know if they do that, six to eight millimoles.
Jase Kraft: [00:46:39] Second, more than some of that.
Tom Clifford: [00:46:42] I mean I do hope I know some do you do hope whatever products available in the US that they do have some kind of information like that that you can even check online and then hopefully some links to research about the amounts? Because I think that's one of the big problems at the moment with the beetroot, is that people are doing powders and tablets and things like that, but they're not thinking about the amounts that you need to have these effects, which, as far as I know, you can only really get them for informal food form.
Jase Kraft: [00:47:11] OK. Yeah, I'd hate to have somebody go through the misery of drinking or something and not get the effects that suck.
Tom Clifford: [00:47:21] That would.
Jase Kraft: [00:47:23] Ok, so as far as what Tom Clifford is up to these days, any other research on the on the docket for you or what, what are you excited about when it comes to recovery in sports?
Tom Clifford: [00:47:36] Yeah, so so recovery.
Tom Clifford: [00:47:39] I think that's still that's still a long way to go. And I think one thing that needs to be done is the research needs to be a little bit stronger. So we need to do better research designs. We need to do more dietary controls during the exercise. We need to recruit elite athletes and things like that. So I think that's still a lot of work to be done in the nutrition and recovery. And then and then one of the bigger ones that I'm hopefully going to look at a bit more in the next year is some of the mechanisms. So when I've described it about this theory that these rich beverages like cherry juice, they have these nutrients that might actually improve our cellular sense and this is what helps our recovery. I want to try to look at a bit more detail about that as well, because we can understand that, well, we might be able to tailor what we can see a little bit better because it could be that you're using cherry at the moment. But perhaps green tea is more beneficial to humans, obviously quite big at the moment. Perhaps that's more beneficial as well. So if we can tease out some of these mechanisms really important for our recovery. And I think one one place of the research we let ourselves down a little bit at the moment is that when we do research on these recovery products, we always think of independence. So you get into a lab, you do exercise and we give you cherry juice. Essentially, you've got nothing in it. But the reality is, if you're an athlete, then probably always have some kind of protein. So maybe in a shape, you might also have fish oils alongside it, various other supplements, too, and then you might have food, etc.. So really, we need to try and tease out do we need combinations? Is it going to be better of a better and maybe some of them cancel each other out? We don't know. So I think there's still a lot of practical questions I'd say like this that needs to be done in the research.
Jase Kraft: [00:49:34] Yeah, that could be one of the reasons why elite athletes don't get as much benefit from tart cherry juice because they already are taking something else or getting better sleep or taking care of the body a little bit more.
Jase Kraft: [00:49:48] That doesn't have as much of effect.
Tom Clifford: [00:49:50] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that's that's another key aspect is we don't know how good how if you have a diet that's really rich in fruits and vegetables, maybe that's sufficient. If you have a poor diet, particularly, say, younger individuals, or if you're someone you know, you do not have a very good diet. How does that affect your recovery? You don't quite know yet.
Jase Kraft: [00:50:11] Ok, so somebody listens to this interview and says, I need, I need more Tom Clifford in my life or can I follow you or can they just keep up to date with your research and what is got going on.
Tom Clifford: [00:50:27] Yeah, for sure. So I work at Loughborough University in the UK, so not the easiest to spell or say. We get people all sorts of funny names if you're not from the UK, but if Loughborough University, if you type in to google, then you should be able to find me on there, Mr. Tom Clifford, if you type that in, I'm a lecturer then physiology, nutrition that my online profile is part of the university will have a link to all of my research. So I got my contact details. So my email address, if you want to get in touch, would also be on that. I'm also on Twitter. I'm not usually active but I'm on there. Anything interesting in the field, but also any research that I've done, my handles @tomclifford7 if anyone wants to take a look as well.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:18] Well, good. And I'll have a link to your profile.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:22] Loughborough, they do.
Tom Clifford: [00:51:25] See, a lot easy to do.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:29] Yeah, well, it's spelled like Loughborough.
Tom Clifford: [00:51:32] Yeah, we got that. Apparently, someone said, logaboroga before.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:37] Logabaroga.
Tom Clifford: [00:51:39] A good one.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:40] Great.
Jase Kraft: [00:51:42] All right. Well, I definitely appreciate your time. I know the listeners do as well. So tart cherry juice,beetroot juice. Now we know we know the scoop from Tom Clifford. So thanks so much for being on this show.
Tom Clifford[00:51:58] Thanks for having me Jase
Jase Kraft[00:52:01] All right. Episode's over. If you found value in this episode, please consider giving us a review on iTunes. And if you haven't already yet, subscribe do so now. So you don't miss any important topics in the coming week. If you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please send them my way. I am most responsive on Instagram.
[00:52:22] That's @ J Cheese. J A E. Cheese. Like the food or email me directly at Jase, Jase@scienceofsportsrecovery.com talk soon.