Between the middle of December and the beginning of January, I always take a break from blogging. While I love to write and do so for a living, stopping to reflect on the past and prognosticate about the future refreshes me. Ultimately, I begin the New Year energized, and with pertinent, timely news to share.
To that end, I thought I’d post some surprising information about the little blueberry. If you’re like most Americans, resolved to shed pounds and get fit this year, this powerful fruit should become your best friend.
Native Americans referred to blueberries as “star berries” because, at the bottom of each berry, the calyx forms a perfect, five-pointed star. Today, we believe berries are superstars, but not due to their shape; they’re a potent antioxidant shown to have many health benefits. Researchers are studying the effects blueberries can have on protecting your muscles during exercise, and results look promising.
The antioxidant found in blueberries called Anthocyanidin appears to decrease exercise-induced inflammation, or the damage to muscle cells after you lift weights, do aerobics or any other form of exercise. Of course, muscle degradation and subsequent repair are what builds muscle, so eating blueberries may be just what you need to get stronger and fitter. In addition, blueberries boost brain function for better mental and physical performance.
To build muscle and loose fat, you should try to exercise four to five times a week, but it’s also important to eat the right foods before and after working out; this will help you maximize your results. Since carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, most of your pre-workout snack should come from carbs. Berries — in a smoothie with yogurt and some protein powder — make the perfect pre-workout snack. Just limit your snack to 300 calories, and enjoy it about an hour before exercising.
Even if you’re diabetic, blueberries are a smart snack. They have a low carbohydrate density, are easy to digest and, you can safely enjoy about 3/4 cup pre-workout. As long as you choose good-quality fuel — particularly protein and carbs — your body will get that metabolism boost necessary to lose fat.
Eating blueberries as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan also reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as the accumulation of belly fat, so if it’s a flat stomach you want, blueberries are what you need!