Fruit usually has a bad reputation in the fitness world because it contains a type of sugar known as fructose, which your muscles can’t directly utilize. But as we all know, the staple of any healthy diet is the fruit and vegetable duo. So how do we include fruit in our diet without visualizing how all that fructose is going to look on our bellies after it’s turned into fat? It’s quite simple, really. You see, there are times when fruit is not only okay to eat, but actually helpful.

When to eat fruit

Knowing when to eat fruit is just as important as knowing which fruit is best for the muscles.

When you wake up: the best time to eat fruit is first thing in the morning, specialists say. That is because the liver is responsible for converting fructose into glycogen and it burns up through its glycogen stores while you sleep. You can eat an orange or a banana, or if you prefer it, one cup of diced pineapple. And don’t worry – at this time of day, fructose won’t be converted into fat.

Before working out: eating two cups of strawberries, an apple or a pear is perfectly fine 30-60 minutes before your training session, especially if you haven’t had a hard-carb meal in a several hours. Eating fruit at this time may help prevent the muscle fatigue caused by low muscle glycogen levels.

After working out: To replenish those glycogen levels in your muscles and liver you can eat one cup of either cherries or grapes, or a peach, or two cups of raspberries.

Potassium builds muscles

Potassium is a mineral that not only helps maintain electrolyte balance, but also promotes muscle growth. The recommended daily intake for potassium in adults is 4,700 mg. Cantaloupe, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, prunes and dried apricots are all rich in potassium, so make sure to eat them regularly in order to build both protein and muscle.

Antioxidants protect muscles

Strenuous exercise is known to cause chemical reactions that may damage cells, but antioxidants protects the cells from that damage. Vitamin C is one of the best known antioxidants and while most people would say orange is the richest in vitamin C, kiwi fruit actually contain more of this fat-trimming antioxidant. Other fruit that are packed full of antioxidants are mangoes, grapefruit, apples and berries – especially blueberries.

The best part about adding fruit to your diet is that it can not only be eaten as such, but also added to shakes, oatmeal and yoghurt. Choosing fruit as a snack can give you a serious edge over those who go without when it comes to working out.

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