When we think of building muscle, eating fruit usually is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet fruit is a key menu item on a muscle building diet. Why? Fruit contains essential nutrients, such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C and other minerals that sustain life. The antioxidants in fruit are essential for a healthy immune system, and fruit is also a great source of fibre, which helps to keep our digestive track moving.
Eating fruit to build and maintain muscle mass is all about timing. “Fruit provides valuable phytochemicals that benefit health, yet the fructose content is a concern for many,” says Muscle and Fitness Senior Science Editor Jim Stoppani PhD says, adding that the sugar, or fructose, in fruit, “cannot be directly utilized by the muscles. Only the liver has the capability of converting fructose into glycogen – the storage form of carbohydrates.”
When liver glycogen levels are full, sugar (fructose) is converted to fat, which means that the optimum time to eat fruit is on an empty stomach.
Try incorporating these fruits to your muscle building diet, for breakfast or as a pre or post-workout snack.
Instead of taking a nitric oxide supplement (familiar to most bodybuilders), eat an orange about 30 minutes before your workout to blast free radicals and toxins. The Vitamin C in an orange guards the nitric oxide in your system from being depleted. Nitric oxide supports blood flow, delivering oxygen to muscle groups, helping to build and maintain muscle mass.
These small gems are loaded with explosive nutrients and powerful antioxidants. Opt for a handful of sweet red cherries after a workout to boost muscle recovery time and reduce inflammation. The soluble glycoside pigments (anthocyanins) that make cherries red, along with phytosetrols (plant steroids), will keep you looking and feeling great.
Whether you choose pink or red grapefruit, you will definitely see and feel the difference in your physique. One study showed that people who consumed grapefruit (juice or whole fruit) for breakfast tended to be thinner and leaner than their non-grapefruit-eating counterparts.
Besides being yummy and a summertime favorite, watermelon is loaded with citrulline, an amino-acid that is converted to arginine, which increases blood circulation, aiding in the development and maintenance of muscle mass.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but any serious body builder knows that an apple a day will help you to stay lean and fit. Apples contain polyphenols – micronutrients that enhance cardiovascular behavior and cell function. Eat one pre-workout for best results.
A cup of diced pineapple in the morning is a great start to any day. Pineapples are a member of the bromeliad family, a plant family that is known for their antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and vitamins. Eat a cup of diced pineapple after your workout to boost muscle recovery and overall health.
Melons are a summertime favorite and easy accessible this time of year. A fast digesting carbohydrate, cantaloupe is enough to tantalize any taste bud. Besides being sweet and succulent, cantaloupe is a great muscle building fruit. Eat cantaloupe on an empty stomach after a good night’s sleep, or eat several slices of melon after a workout.
A good choice for a muscle building breakfast (on an empty stomach), bananas are loaded with power-packed potassium that is essential to muscle formation and maintenance. Bananas help to keep glycogen levels stable, preventing muscle breakdown. Bananas are a healthy ‘fast-food’ because they are portable and easy to toss into your gym bag.
Great as an ingredient in a pre-workout smoothie, strawberries have flavonoids that are good for you. Strawberries are a healthy snack that will help to sustain muscle mass while keeping you satiated. Make a trip to a you-pick-patch for a healthy, organic muscle building treat.
Like strawberries, raspberries make a great smoothie ingredient, but they are also loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants, and yummy micro-nutrients that sustain muscle health. Add raspberries to your muscle building fruit list to keep strong and fit.
Nutritionists agree that the best time to eat fruit is on an empty stomach, just after you wake up or as a snack throughout the day. Fructose that you consume in the morning will not be converted to fat (if you eat only fruit). As with most foods, moderation is beneficial. Consult with a certified nutritionist to establish your nutritional needs. Staying fit is not just about bench lifts and barbells; it’s about eating right and creating a healthy environment for your internal organs.