From Charles Poliquin Live
Eat blueberries and similar antioxidant-rich foods to recover faster from hard training. Research shows that drinking blueberry juice after performing an intense eccentric workout will decrease biomarkers of inflammation and speed recovery of strength.
Researchers had participants do 300 eccentric leg extensions and then drank a placebo or a blueberry juice drink before, immediately after exercise, and at 12- and 36-hours post-exercise. Results showed that the blueberry drink accelerated recovery as measured by maximal strength tests.
The antioxidants in the blueberries were thought to have neutralized oxidative stress markers. We know that blueberries don’t directly enhance protein synthesis, but the extremely high level of antioxidants in this fruit will speed the removal of oxidative stress markers that impede protein synthesis.
Basically, the antioxidants help remove the waste products or “garbage” produced during hard training. Once the waste products are gone, the body is better able repair tissue.
Many people are skeptical about the health benefits of antioxidants since no health or recovery benefits have been shown from the classic ones vitamin E and A. It’s true that vitamin A and E taken in large quantities may cause health problems.
The difference with antioxidant-rich foods is that they provide numerous naturally occurring compounds (called names such as polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and sterols) that will enhance the body’s internal antioxidant system to eliminate oxidative stress markers. It’s those same antioxidants that improve the body’s immune system and help you fight of infections.
Avoid eating blueberries with milk because previous studies have suggested that the proteins in milk inhibited the antioxidant activity in the body. Therefore, if you take whey protein after training, do so first, and then eat your berries later, once the whey has digested.
Similar antioxidant-rich foods that have performed well in human studies include olive oil, dark chocolate, coffee, green tea, pomegranates, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries. Dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, and collards are also high in antioxidants and can be eaten with abundance.
McReay, Y., Barnes, M., et al. Effect of New Zealand Blueberry Consumption on Recovery from Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.2012. 9(19).