Boost your recovery with blueberries
Intense exercise often leads to muscle damage together with localized oxidative stress and inflammation. This is the reason why your muscles feel sore, and your performance can be impaired hours and even days after a tough workout.
It is known that antioxidants that are naturally found in many fruits and vegetables can reduce excessive oxidative stress. Could these antioxidants also boost recovery from training?
To test this hypothesis a group of scientists investigated the effect of Blueberries, that are naturally rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, in relation to exercise (McAnulty et al).
The study participants consumed 250 grams of blueberries per day for 6 weeks and 375 grams before a 2.5 hour run at ∼72% maximal oxygen consumption. Blueberry consumption reduced the exercise induced oxidative stress and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines in comparison to a control group.
In another study (McLeay et al) the ingestion of a blueberry smoothie prior to strenuous eccentric exercise (known to cause a lot of muscle damage) was shown to lead to a faster muscle recovery.
Although the literature is divided as to the benefits of antioxidant supplements in affecting the initial muscle damage/inflammation and subsequent recovery of muscle function, these studies support the idea that blueberry consumption may induce cellular events that serve to accelerate muscle repair and boost recovery.
- McAnulty LS, Nieman DC, Dumke CL, Shooter LA, Henson DA, Utter AC, Milne G, McAnulty SR. Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Dec;36(6):976-84. Epub 2011 Nov 23
- McLeay Y, Barnes MJ, Mundel T, Hurst SM, Hurst RD, Stannard SR. Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jul 11;9(1):19
Are you interested in learning more about nutrition?
Check out the nutrition course at IPTA – International Personal Trainer Academy.