As I’ve said before, my goal for the Muscle Food series is to provide you with foods you may not typically associate with building lean muscle. Although they definitely can’t take the place of foundational foods like eggs or chicken breast, they are equally important if you look at the bigger picture. If you’re neglecting vegetables, fruits, carbohydrate sources, and healthy fats while only focusing on protein and supplementation, you’re greatly hurting and limiting your muscle growth. Here are 5 fruits that can help you lose bodyfat, stay healthy, and build muscles.
In the world of athletes, bodybuilders, and healthy eaters, watermelon isn’t just a favorite summertime food. Instead, it’s understood as a solid source of the amino acid citrulline. First, Citrulline is converted inside the body to arginine, another amino acid that is revered for its direct influence on nitric oxide (NO) levels. Nitric oxide is a gas that then works to dilate blood vessels, thus producing the coveted “pump” that generally occurs as a result of lifting weights. In addition, the expanded size of blood vessels allows for nutrients to be more quickly transported to muscle cells in need of replenishment and recovery. Watermelon and citrulline can play a crucial role in jumpstarting this process.
Tip: To take advantage of this, aim to eat the faster-digesting watermelon postworkout when your body is most deprived of nutrients. This well help hasten the transportation of nutrients like protein to your muscle cells. Also, there is a good amount of citrulline in the rind of watermelon, so make sure to eat all the way down to the white rind of the fruit.
We owe Johnny Appleseed a big thank you, because the common apple is no longer just a tasty fruit to use as bribery for teachers. Unlike the faster-digesting watermelon, the strong fiber content in apples makes it a slower-digesting fruit. Like any fruit, apples are a carbohydrate source, but its lower glycemic index rating (slow-digesting) has linked the fruit to increases in muscular strength. Apple polyphenols, which are found in the skin of apples, have been shown to be another primary agent for increases in strength while also playing a role in fighting bodyfat.
Tip: As a slow-digesting fruit, apple is best eaten preworkout to help provide your muscles with a steady supply of carbohydrates. In addition, don’t cut away the apple skin and lose the valuable apple polyphenols.
Although blueberries can be fairly expensive, you do get what you pay for. Blueberries are known for their extremely potent antioxidants, but have you ever considered how antioxidants actually support an environment for muscle building and fat loss? Antioxidants don’t only help keep your immune system healthy so that you don’t miss time in the gym, but they help speed up recovery and fight in defense of body tissue by working against free radicals.
Tip: Start your day off right and keep your immunity system in check by adding blueberries to a morning bowl of oatmeal. You can also eat blueberries after your workout or blend blueberries into a postworkout shake to help speed recovery.
Most of us like oranges and know that the fruit is particularly loaded with Vitamin C. Similar to the antioxidant properties of blueberries, the Vitamin C in oranges helps to lessen the oxidative damage to our tissues that comes with strenuous exercise. The Vitamin C in oranges also works to counter the excessive breakdown of muscle tissue by reducing the natural but unwanted release of cortisol, a catabolic hormone responsible for this. In addition, symptoms of muscle weakness and excessive tiredness can usually be linked to Vitamin C deficiency.
Tip: Eat one to two oranges preworkout provide Vitamin C to your body before your intense exercise. This allows the body to have the Vitamin C available before you even finish your workout, consequently speeding up your recovery.
Last, but certainly not least, is the banana. Not only is the banana arguably the most convenient fruit on this list, but it’s definitely a muscle food for numerous reasons. Bananas are loaded with fiber so they are slow-digesting, once again making them a great choice for that extra preworkout umph. Just as Vitamin C is almost synonymous with oranges, potassium is equally known as the common mineral in bananas. Potassium is every athlete and bodybuilder’s best friend. For one, it is a major mineral that works synergistically with sodium to help promote fluid balance. In other words, it helps prevent painful muscle cramps. As the main electrolyte within muscle cells, potassium ushers water into cells to increase volume and, as a result, stimulate recovery and new muscle growth. Additionally, potassium is essential for muscle contractions.
Tip: Peel open a banana and eat it preworkout to prepare your body with potassium and a steady supply of carbohydrates. If you know you’re going to have an incredibly strenuous day of cardio, it’s also a good idea to keep a banana with you to munch on over the course of the workout.
Hopefully this Muscle Food series is providing you with solid information so that you can make better choices about the foods you eat. Building a lean, muscular body requires of you to work out hard, get adequate rest for recovery, and continuously feed your body via a complete, whole-foods diet. See you soon, my friends!
Brown, Jordana. “The Usual Suspects”. Muscle and Fitness Magazine. April 2009.