We all know that fruit is a must for a fitness-fueling diet. But some fruits contain the specific natural vitamins and minerals that you need to shred fat and gain muscle when you’re training hard.
What you put into your body is just as important as what you put your body through when you’re reaching for optimal workout results, and any food that can give you an edge should be placed at the top of the menu.
But before you start slicing and dicing your post-training fruit medley, check out the top five summer fruits that you should include if you’re planning to train like a pro.
Containing more than 90% water, watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods you can eat. It also contains potassium, a crucial electrolyte lost through sweat, which together with its high water content, makes it a perfect post-workout snack — particularly if you’re training outdoors.
However, a big plus of consuming wedges of watermelon if you’re working out like crazy is its high content of L-citrulline. This amino acid helps to improve blood flow through your body and according to a Spanish study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, can decrease muscle soreness in athletes.
Some studies also suggest that L-citrulline can improve overall athletic performance (though this tends to be in fitness first-timers, not well-trained pros).
Avocados are an all-around superfood, and should be a regular addition to any athlete who is eager to work out like a winner. High in fiber, they’re also one of the best sources of potassium. One half of a medium-sized avocado meets 14% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium, while one serving of a banana meets only 10% RDA.
Related: Avocado – The Good Kind of Fat
But the top reason that avocados are a go-to fruit for those intending to 10-times their training this summer? Its high magnesium, folate, vitamin K, and antioxidant content make it a strong anti-inflammatory food. This means that if you’re building muscle mass, a few slices of this fruit can help your body recover better by quickly healing those small muscle tissue tears that intense exercise tends to trigger.
Most of us like our tomatoes red and juicy. But if you really want muscle growth, reach for the green next time you’re in the supermarket. Researchers from Iowa University recently discovered that green tomatoes contain higher levels of the compound tomatidine, which not only helps stop muscle atrophy in aging but also plays a role in muscle protein synthesis.
The truth is, you can build muscle size and mass at any age — just ask any of the older Spartans you’re likely to meet on any race course around the globe. But muscle loss does accelerate once you hit middle age. So, if this is the summer you want to train harder with fewer injuries, then add green tomatoes to your menu.
Vitamin C is also needed to help vegetarian or vegan athletes absorb iron from plant-based food, something that’s particularly significant for female athletes who are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency.
Oranges pack a powerful potassium punch — yet another reason to add them into your grocery rotation. Potassium can help prevent water retention and a bloated belly, but is also needed to regulate muscle contractions and, as part of that, prevent cramps and boost muscle regeneration.
The fifth fruit that you need to eat to help you train like a pro is the exotic-looking star fruit. One of the best sources of healthy plant compounds, star fruit contains quercetin and gallic acid — both known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
The other ace up its sleeve is epicatechin, a further compound that research has shown to significantly aid muscle growth and exercise capacity.
However, people with certain conditions, particularly kidney problems, should limit or forgo eating this sweet little fruit altogether, as it has been shown to have a negative effect on those with abnormal renal function.