Berries for Muscle and Health

I have been completely floored by the effects of berries on my health. I started adding blueberries to my oatmeal last summer and began noticing differences in my energy level and immune system within a few weeks. Simply being bored with oatmeal gave me insight into a food I’ve ignored all my life – a food that belongs in any clean eating lifestyle.

Obviously berries have been exalted for their copious anti-antioxidants, but for some reason many people ignore them. I snubbed them because I didn’t believe I’d really notice a difference in my health. Plus I thought I’d have to eat pounds of berries a day to reap any benefits. But in my experience, even a half cup a day or every other day can make a big difference in how you feel. Not only that, but berries add flavor to otherwise bland foods you may already be eating for energy or protein.

I add thawed blueberries to plain, 0% fat Greek yogurt for a high-protein snack or breakfast. Greek yogurt is sour, but when you add berries, a few drops of honey, and chopped walnuts it’s quite tasty. Plus I’m happy knowing I’m getting about 20 grams of protein in one sitting.

Shakin’ it Up with Berries

You couldn’t have a discussion about berries without talking about shakes. Ideally, if I have access to a blender, I’ll make a fruity protein shake before my workout. Here’s my current favorite, adapted from Oxygen magazine (January 2010):

1/3 cup frozen blueberries or blackberries
1/2 banana, cut into chunks (fresh or frozen)
2-3 large frozen or fresh strawberries
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

This makes about one large glass. You can substitute pineapple cubes for strawberries or add any other berries as you like!

Fresh berries are expensive unless on sale, so I buy frozen. Blueberries are now on the “dirty” list of foods as far as pesticides go, so I try to buy organic. However, the large 5-pound bags at Costco are so seductive that I usually just buy regular (though stores do sell frozen organic berries).

Don’t bypass berries in your quest for a hard body. Not only do they add flavor to your clean eating lifestyle, they are amazing health boosters!

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