Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
In bodybuilder circles fruit often gets a bad rap. That’s because many trainers consider any food with high amounts of sugar ought to be treated as if it were sprinkled with Agent Orange. However, the following fresh choices can provide the physique-minded person with a serious edge over those who go without.
As bananas are among the most carbohydrate-dense fruits, eat them with your breakfast to help restock muscle glycogen level and put a halt to muscle breakdown. Or blend one into your post-training protein shake to help replenish muscle energy stores. Bananas are also a fabulous source of potassium, an electrolyte necessary for proper muscular contraction.
Food scientists at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) found wild blueberries pack a huge antioxidant payload. Harvested at peak ripeness, frozen blueberries are flash-frozen after picking to lock in those antioxidants. Many supermarkets stock subzero wild blueberries in their frozen-food section. Add them to shakes, oatmeal and yogurt.
Ask 10 bodybuilders which fruit packs in the most vitamin C, and the majority will name the orange. In fact, kiwi fruit possesses higher levels of this potent antioxidant, which could help you trim fat off your frame. Scientists at Arizona State University (Mesa) found poor vitamin C status can hinder fat burning during exercise because vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of carnitine, a molecule required for the proper oxidation of fatty acids.
An apple a day may keep Buddha-belly at bay. Preliminary research data suggests a compound in apple peel called ursolic acid can rev up fat burning as well as increase skeletal muscle mass. With a lower glycemic index than many other fruits an apple is ideal before a workout. Consider splurging for organic if you’re noshing on the peel. The Environmental Working Group found apples harbor more pesticide residues than other fruit.
This fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is packed with dietary fiber — a whopping 13 grams per avocado. Bodybuilders on a high-protein diet may be coming up short in the fiber department, but seeing as a high-fiber diet has been shown to help whittle the middle (likely by reducing spikes in blood sugar and discouraging fat storage), adding fiber where you can is key. Avocado is also a leading source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Spread avocado on rye crackers or add slices to your dinner salads.
Watermelon is a good source of citrulline and amino acid involved in the production of nitric oxide (NO). Bodybuilders rave about NO since it improves blood flow to muscles, allowing for a greater delivery of recovery nutrients and anabolic compounds. Want to ignite some fireworks in your love life? Research suggests citrulline can also relax and dilate blood vessels, much as the little blue pill does.
You may want to take some time and research other fruits that contain other sources of nutrients that’s great for you muscles. Also, there are a number of great supplements out there that are packed with these and other nutrients as well.