Fruit is good for you, yes. And because fruit is quick to digest and can be eaten on the go, it’s a great pre-workout snack.
However, some options are better than others. Rich in vitamins and nutrients, the best pre-workout fruits provide you with energy and blood regulation. And because fruit is quick to digest and can be eaten on the go, it’s a great pre-workout snack.
Why Have a Pre-Workout Snack?
Pre-workout snacks serve a number of purposes:
- Prevents hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness and general fatigue—all of which can make even the easiest run unpleasant.
- Absorbs some acid, which helps settle your stomach while curbing hunger.
- Allows you to top off your muscle glycogen stores and also contribute direct fuel for your working muscles.
The time frame between snacking and working out is a matter of personal experimentation. A general rule of thumb: the closer to the workout you are, the smaller and simpler your snack should be.
Why Choose Fruit?
Fruits are considered simple carbohydrates, meaning they provide fuel to muscles faster than slower-digesting complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads and pasta. Carbohydrates are the major fuel source for muscles, making fruit an excellent pre-workout snack.
Still, the fiber in fruit slows digestion enough that you don’t experience a sugar spike followed by a crash.
Which is why you should wash and eat your fruit with skin on!
Fruit juices and dried fruits are much more concentrated sources of sugar, calories and carbohydrates and may lead to blood sugar spikes if not consumed with complex carbohydrates or a protein source.
Many fruits have high water content as well, which means they can help meet your workout hydration needs. Here are some of the best fruits to choose from;
These are a staple fruit for many athletes. They’re a portable, relatively inexpensive, available year-round, and easy to digested. What’s more, bananas are an energy-dense fruit, providing roughly 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrate.
Bananas are best known for their potassium content. Potassium is lost through sweat during extended workouts or when exercising in extreme heat. Consuming potassium-rich foods before and after these types of workouts can offset some of those loses and help prevent cramping.
-Similar fruits: mangoes, papayas
Though oranges are lower in carbohydrate and calorie content than some other options, their high water content is a valuable contribution to your workout. Additionally, oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation and aids in the absorption of iron from plant foods.
Orange juice is a highly concentrated source of calories—nearly four oranges go into one 8-ounce glass. And, because it lacks fiber, it’s digested quicker than a whole orange, and can cause a blood sugar spike. Choose a whole orange whenever possible, or drink a small serving of juice and pair it with a complex carbohydrate or protein source to help slow the carbohydrate release.
-Similar fruits: grapefruit, tangerines and mandarin oranges
Apples provide about 20 grams of carbs per serving, and like bananas, they’re portable and available all year. Research has shown that the polyphenols and flavonoids found in apples can help regulate blood sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes. Similar research found the apple’s ability to decrease the risk of asthma symptoms thanks to a number of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
-Similar fruits: pears
Recipe: Warm Ginger Raisin Apples
Like oranges, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. It also helps prevent infections and illness—avoiding these is a crucial part of any performance plan. Strawberries are also high in a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. These nutrients impart important cardiovascular benefits and help control blood sugar.
-Similar fruits: raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
Fresh watermelon is available in the summer and serves as a tasty and refreshing pre-workout snack. Watermelon scores high in the nutrient department and is a good source of vitamin C, carbohydrates and water. It’s also high in the phytonutrient lycopene, important for cardiovascular and bone health.