The new, new miracle berry


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


At spring training last year, Jeff Blair blogged about Blue Jays first-baseman Lyle Overbay peddling a supplement called MonaVie to his teammates — apparently with great success.

“Had a glass this morning and felt like running to the ballpark,” John McDonald said, winking.

MonaVie relies on the purported antioxidant powers of the açaí berry (that’s acai with assorted diacritical marks, in case it doesn’t display in your browser), joining a long list of antioxidants from obscure plants grown in the farthest corners of the globe. No one doubts that they have antioxidants in them — much like, say, apples. But the other miraculous claims — removing wrinkles, extending life, making shortstops run to work — don’t necessarily follow. Abby Ellin of the New York Times does a nice job checking out the (lack of) research behind the latest supplement craze in today’s paper.