Best bodybuilding fruit for every part of your day

Get the timing right, pick the right fruits, and you could actually speed along your gains.

Fruit—like anything else with sugar in it—gets a bad rap in the physique business. The prevailing thought behind this hysteria is that anything with sugar in it is going to end up planted jiggly on your waistline. But fruit has way more to offer than, say, that Cinnabon—however tasty and heavenly that cinnamon roll may be—you picked up at the mall yesterday.

Yes, we know—there is some science behind the popular aversion to fruit.

“Fruit provides valuable phytochemicals that benefit health, yet the fructose content is a concern for many because it is a type of sugar that cannot be directly utilized by the muscles,” admits M&F senior science editor Jim Stoppani Ph.D. “Only the liver has the capability of converting fructose into glycogen—the storage form of carbohydrates.”

The problem with fructose arises when the liver glycogen levels are full. At this point, fructose gets converted to fat and that helps to increase the size of the fat cells. Since we aren’t equipped with fuel gauges to tell us how full our livers are, many bodybuilders opt for avoiding fruit all together. But such extreme measures are not necessary. There are actually a few times when fruit is not only OK—it’s actually helpful.

Pineapple Slices

First Thing in the Morning

The best time to eat fruit is immediately upon waking. While you sleep, your liver burns up its glycogen to supply needed glucose to the brain during your nightly fast. When liver glycogen levels begin to dip a signal is sent to the brain to start breaking down muscle protein to convert amino acids into glucose for the brain. When you wake in the morning you are a muscle-burning machine. At this time of day you will not have to worry about fructose being converted to fat, so eat up. The fructose will be put to good use for restocking the liver glycogen levels and switching off the signal to burn muscle protein.

Best morning choices (pick 1 or 2):

  • Pineapple (1 cup diced)
  • Honeydew melon (1 wedge)
  • Orange (1 medium)
  • Banana (1 medium)


Another good time to eat fruit is about 30-60 minutes before a workout, particularly if you haven’t eaten a high-carb meal for several hours. The fructose will replace the liver glycogen that’s been used throughout the day, which will be used to steadily deliver glucose to the working muscles while you exercise and help to spare the glycogen in the muscle cells. This helps to prevent muscle fatigue that usually comes on strong as muscle glycogen levels begin to fall.

Best pre-workout choices (pick 1 or 2):

  • Pear (1 medium)
  • Watermelon (1 wedge)
  • Apple (1 medium)
  • Cantaloupe (1/2 melon)
  • Grapes (1 cup)
  • Strawberries (2 cups)
  • Raspberries (2 cups)



After a workout there is nothing wrong with eating some fruit to replenish your glycogen levels in both your muscles and your liver. Just remember that two servings of most fruits will only provide about 20-30 grams of carbs. For those who want to optimize muscular gains you’ll need to kick the carb grams up to at least 40-100 grams by also eating some white bread, potatoes, rice or oatmeal, or making sure the whey protein you’ll also need at this time contains at least 20 grams of carbs.

Best post-workout choices (pick 1 or 2):

  • Cherries (1 cup)
  • Peach (1 medium)
  • Apple (1 medium)
  • Cantaloupe (1/2 melon)
  • Grapes (1 cup)
  • Strawberries (2 cups)
  • Raspberries (2 cups)

Fruits for Supps

The value of fruit goes way beyond glycogen replenishment. Check out these little-known supplement-mimicking benefits of some popular produce:


Subjects who ate half of a grapefruit with meals or drank 8oz of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 4lbs (with some losing more than 10lbs) in 12 weeks without dieting.


The king of the citrus world is a great pre-workout snack because the vitamin C helps protect nitric oxide from being broken down by free radicals. It also helps to have one post-workout because of these same antioxidant effects.


Apples contain polyphenols which have been proven to increase strength and fat loss.


Grab a handful of cherries post-workout to reduce inflammation and enhance recovery. The wonder ingredient? Anthocyanins.


This citrulline-heavy melon helps you with blood flow and nutrient delivery since citrulline gets converted to arginine and NO.

It’s true what they say—no one ever got fat by eating plenty of fruit. Just make sure your fruit choices are well-timed and that you are relying on whole fruit for fuel—that pitcher of smoothie likely contains a veritable fruit horn’s worth of fructose and calories which is a bit much for a physique-minded individuals. It’s not to say that the occasional fruit smoothie will kill you—it’s certainly a better indulgence than a double cheeseburger—but like most things, you will need to moderate how often you have them. 

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