Mangos, grapes, and bananas are all great, but you may be wondering if these fruits – and other fruits – cause you to put on weight. While it’s true that fruits have a lot of sugar, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sugar will be converted into fat. Fruits are an integral part of the muscle-building process and they need to be a part of your balanced diet.
Data from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020 reveals that around 85% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of fruit they need, which varies between a cup and a half to two cups of fruit each day. As well as being full of fiber – a nutrient that many Americans lack – fruit is also full of potassium, phytochemicals, and important antioxidants that help to prevent chronic diseases and curb inflammation caused by visceral fat.
The truth about food is that no food is fattening by itself. It’s only through over-consumption that it becomes fattening. The fruit is no different. The difference is that you’d have to eat a lot of fruit in order to make it fattening.
While you may have heard that sugar causes insulin spikes – and insulin spikes are an issue – high insulin levels don’t necessarily translate into fat storage. As long as you have a healthy pancreas that is working properly, then it will burn the sugar as energy. Sugar becomes fat if it isn’t burned fast enough. The sugar from fruit is burned through so quickly that it doesn’t have the chance to become fat unless you consume a ridiculous amount.
The human body requires energy to do everything. It’s especially important if you plan on working out. Remember that sugar, by itself, can’t fatten you up unless you eat a caloric surplus. That basically means that it only makes you fat if you are eating too much of it. You can say that about literally any food.
How Does Fruit Benefit Workouts?
Fruit gives your body carbs that are easily absorbed and put to work by your body. It gives you the energy you need for your workout, whether you’re going with cardio training or strength training, according to Jim White, R.D.N, ACSM-certified exercise psychologist, and owner of the Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.
The sugar gives your body the energy necessary for a workout. You should combine the fruit with some kind of small protein, such as an egg, yogurt, or bit of cheese. Not only does this increase energy levels but it also improves muscle synthesis. You can also eat fruit after working out to get carbohydrates to replace the glycogen lost while exercising. This prevents energy crashes after a solid workout.
The fruit is also a good choice for anyone who likes to go to the gym first thing in the morning and doesn’t have the time for a full breakfast. If you eat fruit by itself as a pre-workout snack then you should eat it up to half an hour before exercising. If you’ve got an hour spare to digest food, then you should also have a small source of protein to reduce the risk of muscle injury.
Fruits are also rich in antioxidants. These can help to reduce oxidative stress caused by exercise. The 2017 literature review “Tart Chery Juice in Athletes: A Literature Review and Commentary” found that athletes who consumed tart cherry juice performed better and had faster recovery times.
Are Some Fruits Better for Working Out Than Others?
Fruits that are high in fiber, such as berries, may cause digestive issues before performing cardio exercises. However, fruits that have less fiber – such as bananas, pineapples, dried fruit, apples, oranges, and grapes – digest faster and therefore don’t cause the same kind of stomach upset or cramping while exercising. If you plan on lifting weights, then the fiber from the fruit might not cause the same gastrointestinal problems it does with running.
All kinds of fruit – from fresh, to dried, to juices – are primarily made up of carbs. That means that your body can use any and all fruits as energy. A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism in 2015 showed that runners who supplemented with purple grape juice lasted longer before getting exhausted, saw a potential reduction in inflammation, and had boosted antioxidant activity.
The bottom line is that fruit, any kind of fruit, can be included in part of a muscle-building diet when consumed in moderation. Go ahead and pick up your favorite fruit to power up your next workout or recover from it afterward.