Power Your Training Diet and Boost Recovery With Blueberries

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STACK Image: Blueberries

Blueberries, the second most popular berry in the U.S. [strawberries rank first], are a healthy addition to your training diet—"an ideal fruit for athletes," says livestrong.com. Rich in carbs, the fruit also has more antioxidants than other foods. That's important for reducing inflammation and muscle soreness, says University of Nebraska director of sports nutrition Josh Hingst, who includes blueberries among his Seven Foods for Top Performance.

Besides providing a refreshing pick-me-up snack, blueberries can be incorporated into your pre- or post-training fuel routine. Check out the two recipes below.

Super Oatmeal
A good choice two hours before a workout or within an hour after, this simple but supercharged oatmeal recipe, recommended by Bob Seebohar, owner of Fuel4mance and one of the top sports dietitians in the country, can be prepared in just three minutes using a rice cooker or hot pot.

•    Rolled oats or instant oatmeal packet
•    Whey protein
•    Dark cocoa powder
•    Ground flax
•    Fresh or frozen blueberries
•    Miniature pack of raisins
•    Water or milk

Step 1: Pour water or milk into hot pot and bring to a boil.

Step 2: Add rolled oats or instant oatmeal packet. Stir in whey protein powder and small scoop of dark cocoa powder.

Step 3: Add ground flax followed by fresh or frozen blueberries and a miniature pack of raisins.

The ingredients are not only inexpensive and portable, they also offer a number of health benefits. Ground flax contains omega-3 fats, which deliver nutrients to muscles, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. Dark cocoa and blueberries contain antioxidants, which help support the body during intense training. Raisins provide added carbs along with iron and other vitamins and minerals.

Blueberry Monster Shake
Blueberries are a great ingredient for shakes. Amy Bragg, who advised the Crimson Tide football team last season as the University of Alabama's first full-time nutritionist, recommends the following smoothie, ideal for the a.m. or within 30 minutes after a workout.

•    2 scoops strawberry whey protein powder
•    1C 100% mixed berry juice [try Dole Berry Blend]
•    1C frozen blueberries
•    1C ice [or as much as needed for desired thickness]

Modifications: Substitute vanilla whey protein powder if you don't like strawberry. You can also use casein protein powder, but whey is a better option because muscles more quickly absorb it.

Photo:  Sarah Gearhart
Sources:  livestrong.com, whfoods.org

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock