Is Fruit a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Is there a more conflicting topic in dieting than if fruit is good for you or not?
Growing up, we get told to eat our fruit and veg. We're preached at because its healthy and good for you. But as adults, one scroll through Facebook and we can see someone telling us eating fruit is bad for us.
To say fruit is unhealthy - is ludacris. However too much fruit is another story.
When it comes to hitting the gym, is fruit a good pre-workout snack?
We’re going to delve into that topic in today’s article, by taking a look at:
- The importance of pre-workout nutrition
- The pro’s and cons of eating fruit before a workout
- Which fruits you should and shouldn’t eat before a workout
- When you should eat fruit before training
The Importance of Pre-Workout Nutrition
- Prevent a Low Blood Sugar Level- Known as hypoglycemia, which can cause light-headedness and fatigue, two unpleasant feelings that are not ideal during any physical activity.
- Absorbs Acid- Which can assist in settling your stomach while also keeping the hunger pangs at bay.
- Source of Energy- Replenish your glycogen stores and provide an immediate source of energy for working muscles.
- Increased Performance- When you exercise, your body breaks down glucose for energy. Glucose is absorbed from carbohydrates consumed by athletes and stored in their muscles as glycogen. If an athlete's muscle stores are depleted of glycogen during a workout, meaning there isn't enough fuel to burn, performance will suffer.
- Prevent Muscle Breakdown- When you lift weights, your muscles are damaged. The muscle gets bigger and stronger when it recovers after a workout by resting. Not when you're in the gym. To fuel the recovery from your workout, your body goes through a process called protein synthesis. This is why eating enough protein is required to both maintain and build muscle.
- Prevent Fatigue and Tiredness- Eating a good quality pre-workout meal will energise your body and mind, reducing how early you fatigue, and reducing tiredness throughout your workout.
How Nutrients Play a Role in Exercise
Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient that provides energy to the body. They break down into glucose, which is used to fuel your muscles and your brain.
Carbohydrates can be found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes; they are also found in milk products and protein sources such as meats and eggs.
Carbohydrates can be divided into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates include refined sugars like table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Complex carbohydrates include fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables.
The importance of carbohydrate intake before exercise has been well-studied over the last few decades. Many studies have shown that athletes perform better when they consume carbohydrates before exercise than when they do not eat any carbohydrates before exercise.
This is because exercise leads to a decrease in muscle glycogen stores, which results in decreased endurance performance if these stores aren’t replenished before starting an exercise session.
Protein consumed before a workout can improve athletic performance and muscle recovery, mass and strength.
It also helps you to stay fuller for longer and minimises the chance of getting hungry during a workout.
It's better to choose a low-fat pre workout snack, as fat takes longer to digest and can make you feel heavy.
Should You Eat Fruit Before a Workout?
Eating fruit before a workout, either as part of a pre-workout meal, or as a smaller pre-workout snack, can help provide the nutrients and energy your body needs for an intense workout. Such as weight lifting, resistance training or long cardio sessions.
How long you eat before a workout is also important. A large meal too close to working out can cause discomfort and sluggishness during exercise. If you’re looking for a quick snack before you work out, a piece of fruit can provide the nutrients and energy you need, without causing any fatigue or bloating.
Why Eat Fruit Before a Workout?
Fruit is a good pre-workout snack option because it contains a special blend of nutrients that assist in preparing your body for physical activity:
- Fruit is a source of carbohydrates, which are required to fuel your body with energy during exercise.
- Fruit also contains healthy fats, which help to keep you fuller for longer.
- Fruit can absorb excess acid, which aids in the relaxation of your stomach while suppressing your appetite.
- Eating fruit can allow you to replenish your muscular glycogen reserves while also providing immediate nourishment to your active muscles.
- Choosing fruit as a pre-workout snack can maintain blood sugar levels and reduce the chance of low blood sugar, which can often bring dizzy and light headed symptoms.
- Easy to grab on the go and eat as part of your busy day.
- Form of hydration which is key for helping general cardiovascular function.
Fruit After a Workout
Eating fruit after a workout can be great for your body, but there are a few rules to follow.
For example, bananas and melons should be eaten alone because they contain more sugar than other fruits. They also have a high glycemic index (GI), which means they can raise blood sugar levels quickly.
On the other hand, berries and citrus fruits are low in sugar, so they won't spike your blood sugar as much as bananas or melons.
Fruit is high in carbohydrates and it's important to consume them after exercise because they're digested quickly and replenish your depleted glycogen stores.
Fruit is also rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and potassium which help protect against muscle soreness or fatigue caused by intense exercise.
A more common post workout would be a shake containing simple carbohydrates with some protein.
Why Some Say Not to Eat Fruit Before a Workout
A common misconception about fruit is that it's not a good pre-workout food because it contains fructose, which is a type of sugar. While this may seem like a logical conclusion, there's no scientific evidence that shows eating fruit prior to exercise will cause poor performance or stomach upset.
In fact, most research shows that fructose is well tolerated by most people when consumed in moderate amounts.
Many people also believe that eating fruit before a workout will cause an insulin spike and make it harder for your body to burn fat during exercise.
This idea comes from the fact that insulin is released when you eat carbohydrates; however, very little glucose enters the bloodstream after eating fruit because most fruits contain very little starch or starch equivalents compared to other carbohydrate sources like breads and cereals.
Fruit doesn’t have a very high protein content, which is needed for muscle repair and feeling of satiety, so some people believe that fruit should be consumed alongside another high protein snack.
The Best Fruits to Eat Pre-Workout
Bananas are quick and easy to eat and contain carbohydrates and potassium, which supports muscle function. Carbs are the perfect fuel for workouts and these equate for 90% of a banana’s calories.
450 mg potassium
Apple Wedges and Peanut Butter
Apple slices alongside a small amount of peanut butter is not only delicious but it’s super easy to prepare.
The apple is filled with nutrients and peanut butter will provide you with protein. This would be a good option for around 30 minutes before a workout.
Apple is a source of slow digesting carbohydrate paired with protein and fat is a great combo to fuel your workout.
16g of fat
A handful of blueberries would be a sweet hit before your workout, and as they are a complex carbohydrate, helps provide sustained energy to fuel your gym session.
Macros for half cup serving:
Pears are a good workout snack option as they are full of fibre, polyphenols, and flavonoids, which all contribute to regulating your blood sugar. A pear will provide you with the energy you need and be effective in increasing your performance.
Oranges have a high vitamin C content which can give you a boost when working out, a great benefit for those wanting to bulk up. Consuming two oranges before your gym session will make sure you get enough carbohydrates.
Dates are a source of slow-release carbohydrates that send energy throughout your workout. They are high in sugar naturally but won’t spike your blood sugar dramatically. We would recommend consuming around 2-4 dates half an hour to an hour before you work out.
This teeny fruit, provides you with quick hit energy that won’t be too hard on the stomach during your session. Raisins would be good to consume around 30 minutes before your workout and would be perfectly paired with almonds to up your protein and healthy fat intake.
Macros of Urban Fruit Strawberries:
Blending fruit along with protein powder or peanut butter would be a great pre workout snack, providing you with energy through carbohydrates as well as glucose that acts very quickly.
Macros based on verywellfit’s Apple, Spinach, and Lime Smoothie:
small apple, chopped
1 tangerine, peeled
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup ice
How to Add Fruit into Your Pre-Workout Nutrition
Fruit is best consumed 30-60 minutes before exercise with your pre-workout meal or snack, as this will help fuel your body and give you energy during your workout.
It’s also important that it’s not too close to when you start exercising, as this could cause discomfort and bloating which could affect performance.
As fruit does not contain a large amount of protein, which is vital for your pre-workout nutrition, you could combine fruit with a protein source such as adding a banana to a protein shake, eating an apple with peanut butter, or add some berries to cottage cheese.
Although fruit is healthy, remain vigilant with portion control and remember to count the calories and not keeping track of this could be detrimental to your calorie deficit.
If you are following a low carbohydrate or keto diet, utilise low carbohydrate fruits such as berries. Berries are low in calories but high in antioxidants and vitamins C and K, which help improve athletic performance by reducing muscle inflammation.
Blueberries are particularly beneficial because they contain anthocyanins, which help reduce blood sugar levels after eating them.
Are Grapes a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Grapes are popular choice for runners as a pre-workout snack. Although grapes contain sugar (fructose), they also have low GI carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy and help improve performance while running. They’re loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and are easy to digest.
Are Oranges a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Though few in calories, most citrus fruits are ideal pre-workout snacks because they contain high amounts of water and vitamin C. Try Navel Oranges, Tangerines, Honey bells or any other variety.
Are Apples a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Apples are a great pre-workout snack. They're mostly made of water, which can help keep you hydrated and give you energy and they contain simple sugars such as glucose and fructose.
Are Blueberries a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Blueberries are a good pre-workout snack option as they have high antioxidant levels which help to prevent respiratory tract infections as well as fuelling your body with nutrients, increasing brain function and overall performance.
Are Dates a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Though dates are naturally high in sugar, the carbs they contain act more slowly than simple sugars, so you'll get a steady stream of energy to fuel your workout. Try having 2-4 dates 30-60 minutes before exercise.
Are Raisins a Good Pre-Workout Snack?
Raisins are a quick, easy way to give you an energy boost. They contain antioxidants that help your body use oxygen and improve exercise results. You could try and mix a handful of raisins with almonds, which have a high protein content as well as unsaturated fat that is healthy for the heart.
Dry Fruits Vs Fresh Fruits
The biggest difference between dry fruits and fresh fruits is the nutrition level.
Fresh fruits have a higher water content than dry fruits. Dry fruits are rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre, making them highly nutritious. They contain more calories than fresh fruits because they have a high starch content. Another benefit is that they can be stored for longer periods of time without spoiling compared to fresh fruits.
Top Health Benefits of Dried Fruit:
- Source of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, catechins and phenols.
- Source of micronutrients as they are a more concentrated source of minerals and vitamins.
- Large fibre content.
- Can support bone health with their vitamin k content.
- Free from fat and cholesterol but they may have more sodium than fresh fruits due to added salt during the drying process.
Dried fruits are high in natural sugars and therefore should be eaten sparingly, as eating these every day could contribute to weight gain.
In order to receive the maximum health benefits of dry fruits, it is suggested that you eat them early in the morning. They can also be eaten at pre-lunch and post-lunch snacks as a boost of energy, keeping you feeling full throughout the day.
Although fresh fruits have long been considered the best option, dried fruits contain many of the same benefits. Whether it's fresh or dried, fruit is nutritious as both are packed with vitamins and minerals.
What Else Can I Eat as a Pre-Workout Snack?
Protein bars are one of the quickest and easiest snacks to grab and enjoy before your gym session. bars contain a large amount of protein to fuel your workout and boost your energy levels.
Protein balls are bite-sized pops of protein that are light on the stomach, high in fibre and keep your hunger in check.
If you’re on the go, rushing to the gym in the morning before you start your day or straight from work, a ready to drink protein shake would be a great pre-workout option. Your protein shake choice should include plenty of nutrients for fuel and a large protein content, you can get all you need in one bottle.
If you are an early riser and prefer to get your workout out of the way on a morning, porridge is a brilliant pre-workout breakfast. Porridge includes complex carbs, which is not only a source of fibre but also digests slowly. To up your protein levels, you could add a scoop of your favourite protein powder.
If you don’t have much time to prep, you could always grab a porridge pot, add water and you are ready to go.
Fruit is a great option for a pre-workout snack, easy to grab on the go, widely available and low cost.
However, if you are looking for a fruit alternative or would like a high protein snack to accompany your fruit, reach for a protein bar, shake or porridge pot.