By Sarah Gearhart
If you wanna pack on the pounds, drinking real fruit juice is the way to go.
Not only is juice rich in nutrients, it's also calorie-dense and loaded with carbs, so it's an instant boost to your diet.
"[Drinking juice] is a good idea for super lean athletes who truly need more lean mass and weight, as well as for athletes who tend to lose weight during season," says Amy Bragg, director of sports nutrition at Texas A&M University.
Before you start chugging, check out the nutrition label. Avoid "juice cocktails" and "juice drinks," which have added sugars [e.g., high fructose corn syrup] and are not ideal nutrients. Instead, opt for 100 percent juice. Topping the list: cranberry, blueberry, pomegranate, cherry, orange and concord grape juice, all of which are loaded with antioxidants, which, according to research in the Journal of Medicinal Food, help reduce oxidative stress. Blends like cran-grape and orange-pineapple-banana are also good, as they offer the most concentrated calories per serving.
Bragg suggests consuming juice twice a day12 to 16 ounces for male athletes and eight ounces for females, each time. Just add some to the recipes below for a perfect a.m. or post-workout smoothie:
1 packet strawberry instant breakfast mix
1C 100% orange juice
½C frozen strawberries
½C frozen peaches
½C frozen raspberries
½C frozen pineapple
Modifications: Add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed. You can also substitute the instant breakfast mix with two scoops of strawberry or vanilla soy protein powder.
Blueberry Monster [30 minutes post-workout]
2 scoops strawberry whey protein powder
1C 100% mixed berry juice [try Dole Berry Blend]
1C frozen blueberries
Modifications: Substitute vanilla whey protein powder if you don't like strawberry. You can also use casein protein powder, but whey is better post-workout because it's quickest to your muscles.
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