For the study, researchers recruited seven men and had them complete a cycling routine on three different days. On two of the days, they were instructed to drink watermelon juice an hour before working out. On the third day, they had a pink-colored placebo drink prior to hitting the gym.
Twenty-four hours after the exercises, many of the participants reported having sore muscles—but they said they felt significantly less achy on the days after they had consumed the watermelon juice.
How does watermelon juice reduce soreness? It contains an amino acid called L-citrulline, which boosts blood flow—so drinking it may help your muscles get more oxygen, which means they can repair themselves faster, says study author Encarna Aguayo, PhD, associate professor of food technology at the Technical University of Cartagena.
Thirsty yet? Throw watermelon chunks into a blender to create a DIY juice, or add some to your go-to smoothie. For best results, aim to get a little more than two cups of watermelon juice before your most intense workouts (that’s how much the study participants drank).