Pineapples seem to have been the new bananas! There was a time when all athletes consumed pre or post-training were bananas. Today, however, there has been a new entrant.
Pineapple is a tropical plant and its medicinal uses have been documented in various traditional systems of medicine that date back to ancient times. Scientific advancements have revealed that the therapeutic benefits of pineapple are attributed to the presence of Bromelain in them.
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes (proteases-enzymes that breakdown protein) present in Pineapple (mainly in the stem and fruit of the plant). It is a kind of a proteolytic (breaking down of proteins) enzyme that is involved in the dissolution of damaged components of skeletal muscles.
The relevancy of bromelain for athletes mainly lies in its properties that bring about recovery. It reduces the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (caused due to poor recovery/ over-training) and therefore exerts an anti-inflammatory effect.
There have been some studies on endurance athletes.
A 1000 mg/day dose of bromelain through 6 days of cycle racing did not diminish the markers of muscle damage but did bring about a reduction in perceived exertion in the cyclists. The athletes felt less fatigued!
Supplementation with Bromelain prior to and for four days after downhill running brought about a reduction in muscle soreness as compared to acute supplementation of bromelain for four days post damaging exercise.
Thus, bromelain may, in fact, help overcome injuries and help with recovery if taken pre-exercise than the post!
There are yet mixed reviews on bromelain as a supplement. Also, there are limited studies on pineapple as a fruit/ juice before or after training and its effects on muscle recovery.
However, as a general recommendation, consuming 3-4 pineapple rings pre/ Grabbing a glass of fresh juice immediately post-training may enhance recovery markers and get you ready for the next session!
Author: Mihira A R Khopkar
B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition
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