Blueberries have many benefits for athletes and bodybuilders. Of the four nutrients needed for optimal recovery, protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and antioxidants, blueberries provide 2 out of the four. Blueberries are eaten, or they can be added to a blender with protein powder and consumed via liquid beverage. However, consuming whole blueberries blended with protein powder may not be an option for some people; therefore, it can be useful to add to protein drinks. This article will describe the benefits of blueberry powder with a focus on sports nutrition, and what to look for to make sure one buys the highest quality on the market.
Blueberries contain many nutrients to support overall health. There are two types of blueberries, conventional and wild. The wild blueberries, also known as bilberries and are said to be higher quality than conventionally farmed blueberries. This study showed that bilberries contain much more anthocyanins than cultivated blueberries.
If one wishes to see the nutrient breakdown of blueberries go to the government’s database here
What is Blueberry Powder?
Blueberry powder is blueberries that are processed into powder form, which is otherwise known as dehydration or dried. There are several ways this can be done. Each process is critical to understand because, during the drying process, nutrients can be reduced, damaged, or lost.
Hot Air Drying
Hot air drying is the most primitive form of drying fresh fruit. Because of the high heat and long time needed to produce the powdered fruit, this results in the lowest quality. Nutrients are lost, the taste is compromised, and the texture changes. If one were to supplement with blueberry powder, I would not recommend using this form.
Microwave drying (MW) seems to be one of the most popular methods to dry fruit. This method does not use as much heat as hot air drying. It was developed because of its ability to decrease the time it takes to produce the powder. Microwave drying has disadvantages in that it can sometimes damage the nutrients because of uneven heat applied to the fruit.
Freeze Dried Blueberry Powder
Freeze drying is a popular but one of the most expensive and time-consuming way to manufacture blueberry powder. First, the blueberries or the blueberry juice is frozen. After that, the moisture turns into vapor. The blueberries or the juice is then put through a screen mesh size of choice and make into a powder. Freeze drying is one of the best ways to make the powder because it maintains most of the nutrients. A research study here showed that in some cases, freeze-drying results in a higher concentration of vitamin C. But that was dependant on the type of fruit. But overall, freeze-drying is one of the best types of powders to consume when supplementing with it.
One of the most technologically advanced techniques to dry blueberries into a powder is infrared drying. This process is patented by a company called Powderpure. According to their website, the process does not rely on vacuum or heat to produce the powder, therefore, leaving the nutrients intact. The infrared process interacts with the water molecules and drys out the blueberries. The result is a powder that maintains 100% of the vitamin C content of the blueberry powder compared to freeze-drying 88%, spray-dried 5-15%, drum dried 42%, and hot air 28%.
Blueberry powder extracts.
Some manufacturers, to supply all of the nutrients that eating blueberries would supply, have created extracts. These powdered blueberry extracts contain the same polyphenolic compounds, and amounts are fresh blueberries. One extract is called Vitablue made by a company called Futureceuticals.
Another interesting extract is produced by a company called BBG. They make a product called MyrtiPRO™ Bilberry Extract. The product is about 30% anthocyanins.
Benefits Of Blueberry Powder To Athletes and Sport
Blueberries contain nutrients called anthocyanins. These nutrients have been shown in studies to increase lean muscle and decrease fat. Anthocyanins doe this by increasing insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone. Supplementing with it can help one control their own insulin levels. Consuming blueberries pre or post-workout with protein is a beneficial practice. Here is the study related to the above.
Blueberries improve one’s memory.
A study found showed that consuming blueberry juice daily could improve memory. The memory improvement was contributed to the anthocyanins found in the blueberries. Keep in mind that this was fresh blueberry juice and not the powder. Improved memory can benefits athletes when it comes to many sports that required the memorization of plays and opponents, such as football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and even chess.
Improved Recovery from Workout Damage
Lifting weights and working out essentially damages and inflames the musc.e The muscle repairs itself and gets larger to protect itself from more predictable damage. Eating blueberries or, in this case, drinking them in a shake improved recovery time. This study below from New Zealand proved it. Additionally, another study involving eating about 300 grams of blueberries per day and about 400 grams pre-workout benefited runners. The results indeed proved just that.
Keep One From Getting Sick
Athletes train hard, and when athletes train hard, their immune systems are weakened. Researchers studied the effects of a protein shake containing blueberries. They came to the conclusion that a protein shake with blueberries can protect against virus infections. Keep in mind that the protein shake was made with soy protein. Soy protein is horrible to use for athletic supplementation. Instead, a whey protein should have been used. Whey also has immune-enhancing properties. I would theorize that adding blueberries to wey protein would further increase its anti-viral benefits.
Supplementing With Blueberry Powder
Which one…Wild or Conventional?
Because there are two types of blueberry powder, one must decide whether to use wild or cultivated. It is a fact that wild blueberries have more nutrients than regular blueberries. But can one just consume more regular blueberry powder to match the amount that wild blueberries have? Wild blueberry powder is more expensive than regular blueberry powder. Wild is approximately $80 to $100 per pound, compared to regular powder, which is about $35.00 per pound. One would need double the amount of regular blueberry powder to get the same amount of nutrients as wild blueberry powder. Therefore the price is pretty much the same. It does not matter if one uses regular or wild powder.
Blueberry and Blueberry powder usage
The best time to use blueberry powder for sports nutrition would be pre or post-training. The studies I showed above in this article prove that blueberry usage can help muscle recovery. Making a blueberry protein powder recovery drink is a very good idea. For example:
Post Workout Recovery Shake
16 oz of vanilla-flavored almond milk
Two tbs of Proteinfactoy.com Honey Muscle
1/4 cup of Proteinfactory.com native whey protein concentrate
1/2 cup blueberries or 2 -4 tbs of blueberry powder
1-2 tbs of almond butter
This makes a very powerful and nutritious post-workout drink.
Weight Gainer Blueberry protein powder drink
16 oz of whole milk
Two scoops of Blue Bunny VAnilla ice cream
Three tbs of flax oil
Three tbs of sunflower oil
1/2 cup of blueberries
2-3 tbs of chocolate syrup
Two tbs of peanut butter
1 tsp of Proteinfactory Creapure creatine
Lean Gainer Blueberry Protein Powder Shake
16 oz of unflavored almond milk or nut milk
3/4 cup of Blueberries or 4-5 tbs of blueberry powder
1/4 cup of Proteinfactory Lean Pro Peptides
Two packets of stevia
One tbs of flax oil
Buying Blueberry Powder
I recommend purchasing freeze-dried or infrared dried blueberry powder. There numerous companies that sell freeze-dried. However, I could not find any companies that sold infrared dried.
In conclusion, without question, blueberries, wild blueberries, and blueberry powder are great additions to one’s sports nutrition diet. When looking to improve muscle mass and reduce body fat, athletes and people looking to improve their appearance should not look to synthetic supplements and the “magic pill.” Instead, they should look to the little blue fruit called blueberries, as they are proven to be a powerful sports nutrition food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which is better, wild or regular?
Answer: Wild technically, because it contains more nutrients.
Question: Can’t I eat just blueberries instead of using the powder?
Answer: Of course you can. Whole food blueberries should always be your first choice. Only use the powder, when you can’t blend up blueberries.
Question: How much of the powder should I use?
Answer: I would try to get at least 10 to 20 grams per serving
Question: Can I use blueberry extracts? And do you recommend them over the powder?
Answer: You can use the extracts, but I do not see any advantage over eating or blending up blueberries. Remember do not complicate things, just try to consume them every.
What is the best brand of the powder?
Answer: As of February 23rd, I do not have an answer. Freeze-dried is freeze-dried. Until I find a company that sells the infrared than freeze-dried is the best. As far as the brand goes, look to go organic and make sure it has the official USDA organic seal on the package. I would not use blueberry powder made in China. I recommend calling the company that is selling the powder and ask them their source. If they do not tell you there is a strong sign the powder is made in China. China is absolutely horrible when it comes to being honest with powder supplements. They will sell you raspberry powder for pomegranate powder because it is the same color. Look for the powder being made in Canada or Europe.