There’s no shortage of hacks and pre-workout supplements for gym-goers looking to hit that much-wanted “muscle pump.”

Social media is bursting with recommendations, especially the hashtags #FitTok and #GymTok on TikTok.

What we commonly refer to as “the muscle pump” is technically known as cellular swelling. During intense exercise, there is an excess of blood and fluid that floods the muscle through a process called vasodilation. This excess of blood gives us an increase in muscle size.

My fellow athletes recently referred me to a particularly interesting and worth investigating trend: the pomegranate pump. Some TikTok accounts with many followers promote eating fresh pomegranates before strength training at the gym to improve the pump. Does it work?


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Pomegranate: Superfruit galore

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants. They have an inedible bright red exterior and an inner core packed with crunchy pink seeds called arils.

Some research suggests that it is these seeds that the punch pomegranates are known for. They can also reduce arteriosclerosis or plaque buildup in the arteries.

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This is where it gets interesting. Pomegranates also contain nitrates converted to nitric oxide when consumed through a complex pathway called the enterosalivary nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide (NO) pathway.

Let me break down the key steps in this process:

Nitrate-rich pomegranate is eaten and absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Circulating nitrate is taken up by the salivary glands and secreted into the saliva. Nitrate is converted to nitrite through the mouth. Nitrite is ingested and converted to nitric oxide in the stomach. Converted to NO in the blood and tissue

And here’s the most important step: NO promotes vasodilation and blood flow – key factors for a muscle pump, as mentioned above.

Nitric Oxide: The Secret of the Pomegranate Revealed

We can draw a straight line connecting the effects of nitrate-rich pomegranate with the muscle pump. The key is NO; it relaxes the smooth muscles of blood vessels, causing vasodilation and increased blood flow. In addition, the enhanced oxygen delivery to hard-working muscles through increased blood flow has been shown to improve cardiovascular performance in athletes.

Pomegranate is just one of many sources of dietary nitrates. Others are:

Green leafy vegetables (arugula, kale, lettuce, spinach) Beetroot (Beetroot) Bok choy Radish

How much pomegranate do I need?

So how much pomegranate do you need for your workout? In my research, I found several recommendations. About 6-8 ounces of pomegranate juice — or about 1 cup of seeds — seems to be the consensus. I mix pomegranate juice with 12-16 ounces of sparkling water.

Try to consume the pomegranate about 30 minutes before exercise.

The other benefit of pomegranate is that it offers many advantages compared to other fruit options on a calorie-by-calorie basis.

Bottom Line: Pomegranate is a healthy, natural way to boost your muscle pump and cardiovascular performance before exercising.

Michael Daignault, MD, is a board-certified ER physician in Los Angeles. He studied Global Health at Georgetown University and received a medical degree from Ben-Gurion University. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at Lincoln Medical Center in the South Bronx. He is also a former United States Peace Corps volunteer. Find him on Instagram @dr.daignault.


I have been blogging since August 2011. I have had over 10,000 visitors to my blog! My goal is to help people, and I have the knowledge and the passion to do this. I love to travel, dance, and play volleyball. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and family. I started writing my blogs when I lived in California. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write something while listening to music and looking at the ocean. When I moved to Texas, I found a new place to write. I would sit in my backyard while everyone else was at work, and I could write all day.