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.
Test apples with and without the skin. For some, leaving the skin on is too fibrous, leading to cramps and gastrointestinal issues during the workout.
-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.
-Similar fruits: cantaloupe, honeydew melon
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