When you think of what to eat when you're trying to build muscle, fruits may not be the first food that comes to mind. But fruits are just as important as any other food. Their potassium helps make and build muscle, the carbs spare your body from burning your muscle for fuel and the antioxidants protect the muscles from oxidative damage.
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Potassium Builds Muscle
You may think of potassium as a mineral that helps maintain electrolyte balance, not one that promotes muscle growth. But you need enough potassium in your diet to help build both protein and muscle. Adults need 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Any fruit can help you meet your daily potassium needs, but be sure to include those that are especially good sources, such as cantaloupe, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, prunes and dried apricots.
Carbs Spare Protein
Carbs provide your body with energy, and if you don't get enough, your body might burn your muscle for energy instead. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that if you're strength training a minimum of twice a week, at least half your calories should come from carbs. Carbs are the major macronutrient in fruit and make a healthy choice on your muscle-growing diet. Healthy, high-carb fruits include grapes, pears, cherries, pineapple and dates.
Antioxidants Protect Muscles
Strenuous exercise causes chemical reactions that may damage cells, and this may lead you to consider adding antioxidant supplements to your daily routine. But when it comes to antioxidants and health, it's always better to get them from food. Fruits are rich in a number of antioxidants, including vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids. Load up on antioxidants to protect your muscles by filling your diet with mangoes, grapefruit, apples and berries.
How to Add Fruit
There are a number of ways you can add fruit to your muscle-building diet to get all the nutritional benefits. Start by making fruit the sweet ending to your meals. Fruit also makes a good carb choice for your post-workout snack. Blend it up with Greek yogurt or protein powder to get the nutrients your body needs for building and replenishing. Fruit also makes an easy and convenient snack choice.
- MedlinePlus: Potassium
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Strength Building and Muscle Mass
- Antioxidants in Athlete’s Basic Nutrition: Considerations Towards a Guideline for the Intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin E; O. Neubauer and C. Yfanti
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- Harvard School of Public Health: Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
- Best Health: 40 Foods High in Antioxidants
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition for the Athlete