Time and time again, we’ve all heard the good, old-fashioned, generic gym mantras around carbs. Simple sugars are bad. Brown rice is always the way to go. Only have carbs if you are in a weight-gain phase. If you eat carbs, don’t have them past 10pm at night. This shit is driving me crazy!
One particular debate around carbohydrates revolves around whether or not we should include fruits in our diet. I’ve noticed more and more that bodybuilders tend to omit this critical piece from their diets because they believe that the carbohydrates in most fruits will cover up their muscles with an insulin-induced layer of fat. But there is a time and a place for including fruits in your diet; it’s about time that we give fruits a chance!
I enjoy having fruits before/after my workouts (my go-tos are bananas and blueberries). Why? It’s because they have plenty of simple sugars and offer a great, immediate source of energy (on top of boosting your body’s insulin response when it matters the most – helping you to build lean muscle mass). Many bodybuilders, despite this reality, avoid fruits because of their perceived fructose content (fructose is a form of simple sugar).
In essence, fructose is basically evil. It’s extremely easy for your body to store fructose as body fat. Once fructose travels to the liver, it gets converted to glycogen, and when liver glycogen levels get filled to capacity, the simple sugar is converted into fat. However, fruits do not contain as much fructose as many bodybuilders believe, and having a few apples a day will certainly not cause your liver to exceed its glycogen storing capacity. When you are about to go into a workout or coming out of one, you can even put this glycogen and insulin to good use!
Next logical question, why do we need this glycogen to begin with, right? Simple sugars (fructose, dextrose, glucose, etc.) are converted into glycogen, which serves as a carbohydrate source in your muscles. This glycogen helps your body to recover, grow, and perform at high levels.
Icing On The Cake
I’m going to keep this short, sweet (no pun intended), and simple.
Fruits give your body the muscle-growing phytochemicals (nutrients) that it needs to burn fat and build muscle!
And fruits have plenty of fiber in them; this fiber helps to slow down the rate of protein digestion so you can realize a steady release of amino acids throughout the day.
Remember, life is all about balance. Fitness is no different. As such, while there are numerous benefits to including fruits in your diet, don’t overdo it! There is such a thing as having too much fruit, and consuming too much fruit can attribute to fat gain. Stick to having a few pieces of fruit every day, try to time this intake around your workouts, and be sure to mix it up (don’t always have the same fruit every day).
If you leverage fruits properly in the construction of your diet, they can help you in reaching your fitness and health goals.