In summer, it's easier to embrace lighter fare, including seasonal fruit—an ideal training choice, as fruit is hydrating and high in workout-fueling carbs. The most perfect for athletes just might be the blueberry.
In summer, as our routines change, so does our nutrition. Some of us kick it and treat it like a vacation (guilty); others are hard at work building the base for next season.
Intense exercise leads to soreness and fatigue, caused by inflammation and oxidative stress in the muscles. The phytochemicals in blueberries are a potent source of antioxidants, which can reduce the damage at the molecular level reducing soreness and accelerating recovery.
A new study is shedding light on how blueberries may help improve recovery rates in athletes. The study, led by Steve Stannard, Ph.D., from the Massey School of Sport and Exercise, found that athletes given blueberry smoothies before and after exercise had a greater decrease in peak muscle contraction and lower oxidative stress after their workouts.
Other blueberry bonuses? They're low in sugar and high in fiber (great for balancing insulin), and pack plenty of nutrition and hydration in a small (low-calorie) package.
If blueberries have never been your thing, try buying frozen wild blueberries—the smaller, intensely juicy berries have a sweeter taste and less pulpy texture than their domestic counterparts and are thought to be more powerful detoxifiers.
Here's how to add more blueberries to your summer routine:
- Toss into a salad of baby spinach, toasted pecans, feta, red onion and spritz with balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette
- Warm frozen wild blueberries and add to plain greek yogurt and granola for breakfast
- Simmer with lemon juice and sugar to make a sweet sauce for ice cream or fro-yo
- Blend with vanilla whey protein powder and ice for a sweet post-workout smoothie
- Sip a blueberry-based cocktail—blend store-bought bottled blueberry juice with lemonade and vodka and pour over ice in a tumbler.
- Give up the guilt with a blueberry-centered dessert. Try this outstanding blueberry coffee cake recipe created just for high altitude.