Why You Should Eat Blueberries After A Workout

A good workout should be relatively challenging in order to improve fitness. That's because your body will only make the necessary adaptations when you incorporate a certain amount of overload and progression. In other words, if your goal is to run a 5K, you'll need to slowly increase your distance each week so your muscles, bones, tendons, and cardiovascular system can endure the distance. With weight training, you start with a weight that's challenging to you and add either reps or weights to continually tax the muscles. This is why people hate working out — it can hurt! 

It is also why nutrition is an important part of your exercise program. Certain foods can help clear the inflammation and oxidative stress while your body adapts to your challenging workouts. According to a 2022 article in Nutrients, polyphenols from fruit can stimulate your body's antioxidant response while also protecting red blood cells and vascular health. The polyphenols in blueberries make them a good choice for your post-workout recovery plan because they can improve blood flow and clear lactate from your body.

Blueberries' role in recovery

In a 2012 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10 physically active women consumed blueberry smoothies (or similar-calorie placebos) five and 10 hours before performing 300 single-leg extensions on an isokinetic machine. Additional smoothies were ingested immediately post-workout, as well as at 12 and 36 hours later. Researchers assessed recovery and body response, with the participants repeating the process a month later using the opposite leg and consuming placebos if they had initially taken blueberry smoothies. The study revealed that consumption of blueberry smoothies led to faster recovery and reduced exercise-induced oxidative stress.

If that sounds like eating too many blueberries for you, a 2023 article in Scientific Reports found that eating a cup of blueberries every day for 18 days might help as well. A group of non-exercisers consumed the blueberries and then completed a 90-minute cycling event. Compared to the placebo cyclists, the blueberry-eating cyclists saw fewer substances in their bodies that promote inflammation.

Blueberries in your post-workout strategy

How you fuel your body after each workout can make a huge difference, according to Healthline. Depending on the intensity of your workout, you'll need to replenish your muscles with the glycogen that was used to fuel your workout. You probably also broke down some of the proteins in your muscles as well. You'll need some carbs to help restore glycogen and protein to help rebuild the muscle. The ratio of carbs-to-protein varies according to your goals, but aim for about 3 grams of carbohydrate for each gram of protein within about 45 minutes of your workout.

Blueberries can be included in your post-workout nutrition strategy if you add a protein source. A cup of blueberries gives you 22 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber. If you add a 150-gram serving of nonfat strawberry Greek yogurt, you'll get a total of 40 grams of carbs and 12 grams of protein. While this might only be a post-workout snack, it's a great way to get in blueberries' anti-inflammatory power and kick-start your recovery until your next meal.