Evidence Based Muscle Summary: Researchers found that wild blueberry extract increased fat oxidation during moderate-intensity exercise. The wild blueberry extract consisted of 25g of freeze-dried powder containing 375g of anthocyanins; the blueberry extract equals one cup of fruit. Wild blueberries lowered lactate levels during exercise. Wild blueberries may increase performance when consumed daily.
SUMMARY OF BLUEBERRY HEALTH BENEFITS AND FAT METABOLISM
Researchers found that wild blueberry extract increased fat oxidation during moderate-intensity exercise. The wild blueberry extract consisted of 25g of freeze-dried powder containing 375g of anthocyanins; the blueberry extract equals one cup of fruit.
Wild blueberries lowered lactate levels during exercise.
Wild blueberries may increase performance when consumed daily.
ARE FROZEN BLUEBERRIES GOOD FOR YOU?
Blueberries are one of the powerhouse berries that offer powerful health benefits. Eating blueberries has been found to benefit heart health (i.e., reducing heart disease), blood vessel health, and those with type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins are the anti-oxidant compounds in blueberries responsible for their blue color. Fresh and frozen blueberries have their benefits and drawbacks. Fresh blueberries have a higher pesticide residue than many other fruits and vegetables.
1 CUP OF BLUEBERRY CALORIES
Frozen blueberries have less than half the pesticide residue of fresh blueberries, so they are maybe a healthier alternative. One cup of blueberries calories is fairly low (i.e., 80 calories), 1 gram of fat, and are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. One cup of unsweetened frozen blueberries contains vitamin C, B6, fiber, and manganese. Additionally, blueberries contain iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Wild blueberries are known for their high anti-oxidants (i.e., reduce free radical damage) and neuroprotective effects. In a prospective study of 16,000 women in the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, a greater intake of blueberries is associated with slowing cognition decline in older women by an estimated 2.5 years. (Devore et al., 2012) In another study of two US cohort studies that examined almost 150,000 people, lower Parkinson’s disease risk was associated with the highest consumption of anthocyanin and berry intake. (Gao et al., 2012)
For resistance exercise enthusiasts, please take a look at the article on Evidence Based Muscle about a creatine blueberry supplement improving performance. A previous study found that blueberries can lower muscle damage and have a faster recovery of muscle strength after intense exercise. (McLeay et al., 2012)
In addition to their potent health benefits, blueberries may have other benefits, such as increased fat burning during exercise. Scientists don’t know how blueberries and other anthocyanin-rich fruit can improve fat metabolism during exercise. Still, it may be due to reduced fat absorption, increased blood flow, or enhanced mitochondrial function, increasing fat release from cells. (Matsumoto et al., 2005; Rupasinghe et al., 2016)
Previous studies have found that 300 mg of New Zealand black currants for seven days increased fat oxidation by 27% (i.e., fat burning). (Cook et al., 2015) A follow-up study by the same research group found a small dose-dependent effect for a greater increase in fat metabolism with higher doses of New Zealand black currants. They found a 21.1% increase in fat oxidation with 600 mg of and a 24.1% with 900 mg of New Zealand black currants.
Wild blueberries contain a similar amount of anthocyanins as New Zealand Black Currants, so researchers wanted to examine if blueberries would have a similar effect on fat metabolism during exercise. Researchers had subjects consume a wild blueberry extract for 14 days. These were lean, healthy, aerobically trained athletes with 10% body fat.
They did a 40-minute exercise protocol at a moderate intensity exercise (i.e., 65% of their max aerobic capacity). They were instructed not to consume caffeine, tea, or anything else affecting fat metabolism. The Wild Blueberries were freeze-dried blueberry powder equivalent to one cup of blueberries, providing 375 mg of anthocyanins.
How many blueberries are in a cup? One cup is equal to 65 to 75 normal-sized fresh blueberries. So, you would need to consume a lot of blueberries to replicate this by using whole foods. A blueberry anthocyanin supplement makes this number of blueberries much easier to consume.
The blueberry supplement contained 101.5 kcals, 92 g CHO, 2.15 g protein, and 15.88 g fiber daily. Participants were also asked to consume the blueberry supplement in the mornings and evenings with a minimum of 8 h apart.
The researchers measured fat metabolism during exercise, lactate, and other blood markers. At the end of the study, blueberries increased fat metabolism, decreased carbohydrate use, and decreased lactate levels. (Pilolla et al., 2023) Although this study was not a performance study, these are all positive findings to occur to enhance performance.
Wild blueberry consumption resulted in increases in fat oxidation of 19.7%, 43.2%, and 31.1% at 20, 30, and 40 min, respectively, following two weeks of 25 g (375 mg of anthocyanins) of blueberry consumption. This suggests that having a few servings of blueberries daily can improve health and may increase fat use during exercise.
Cook, M. D., Myers, S. D., Blacker, S. D., & Willems, M. E. (2015). New Zealand blackcurrant extract improves cycling performance and fat oxidation in cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol, 115(11), 2357-2365. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3215-8
Devore, E. E., Kang, J. H., Breteler, M. M., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol, 72(1), 135-143. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.23594
Gao, X., Cassidy, A., Schwarzschild, M. A., Rimm, E. B., & Ascherio, A. (2012). Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology, 78(15), 1138-1145. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e31824f7fc4
Matsumoto, H., Takenami, E., Iwasaki-Kurashige, K., Osada, T., Katsumura, T., & Hamaoka, T. (2005). Effects of blackcurrant anthocyanin intake on peripheral muscle circulation during typing work in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 94(1), 36-45. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-004-1279-y
McLeay, Y., Barnes, M. J., Mundel, T., Hurst, S. M., Hurst, R. D., & Stannard, S. R. (2012). Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 9(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-19
Pilolla, K. D., Armendariz, J., Burrus, B. M., Baston, D. S., McCarthy, K. A., & Bloedon, T. K. (2023). Effects of Wild Blueberries on Fat Oxidation Rates in Aerobically Trained Males. Nutrients, 15(6), 1339. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/6/1339
Rupasinghe, H. P., Sekhon-Loodu, S., Mantso, T., & Panayiotidis, M. I. (2016). Phytochemicals in regulating fatty acid β-oxidation: Potential underlying mechanisms and their involvement in obesity and weight loss. Pharmacol Ther, 165, 153-163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2016.06.005