This trend is taking over the internet, but can celery juice boost your performance?
Remember when people drank exclusively juice for three to five days in the name of “cleansing” their bodies? Yeah, that was dumb. Thankfully, the latest juice craze—which simply involves adding celery juice to your usual diet—is much more balanced. But what’s the deal and can it actually help you perform at your peak?
First, some background: Celery juice exploded on Instagram recently, with celebs and health “influencers” posting pics of their (not so visually appealing) juice in the name of reducing inflammation and improving their overall health.
Some people are even taking a “celery juice challenge,” in which they drink 16 ounces of celery juice every morning for at least a week.
It’s not the worst idea—especially for athletes: “Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is important for both normal blood clotting and bone metabolism,” says Taylor Wallace, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University. “It also has reasonable amounts potassium, a shortfall nutrient in the American diet that helps prevent muscle cramping in runners.”
Wallace also says that celery has flavonoids that help increase blood flow (a potential perk for endurance athletes) and protect the body from exercise-induced inflammation. “Inflammation is normal and healthy after exercise, but these antioxidants help your body recover from an inflammatory state more quickly.”
This all sounds great, but could a daily dose of celery juice help you PR your next race? Probably not. Wallace says the levels of flavonoids aren’t high enough to work miracles, and carb-y foods and electrolytes are still your best bet when it comes to running fuel. (Note: Research does show that a form a vitamin K—vitamin K2—increases endurance performance, but it’s mostly found in animal products, not celery.)
“It’s always good to have carbohydrates before a run, particularly if you’re looking to maximize performance, but the amount of simple carbohydrates in celery juice isn’t enough to sustain you for a long run, or to help you fully recover afterward,” Wallace says. “A small carb-rich meal would be better.”
Plus, if you’re looking to up your intake of antioxidants and vitamin K—still a good idea if you’re going for an overall healthy diet—there are other (arguably more delicious) ways to do it. “Blueberries, chocolate, and most fruits and vegetables are good sources of flavonoids,” Wallace says. “And you’ll find more vitamin K in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.”
So, while you can absolutely drink celery juice if you like it (keep the pulp for an extra dose of fiber), there’s no reason to choke it down in the name of a miracle: “It’s no magic pill,” Wallace says. Now where’s that flavonoid-rich chocolate?