There is no doubt about it, fruit is good for you - it's low calorie, full of essential vitamins and micronutrients and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced and nutritious diet. However, eating too much fruit or at the wrong times can lead to fat gains. In order for me to explain this, you firstly need to understand how carbohydrates are metabolised within the body.
When you consume carbohydrates they are stored in 2 forms, as either 'muscle glycogen' or as 'liver glycogen'. Muscle glycogen is a product of starchy foods and liver glycogen is a product of fructose (the naturally occurring sugar from fruit.)
The thing people forget or just don't understand when it comes to food in general, let alone fruit, is that food is fuel and we should only eat what is required to fuel our daily energy requirements, especially when it comes to carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are an important energy source for us, they are important for brain function and important for muscle function and therefore should be eaten around specific times depending on your energy requirements.
For example, if you work at a desk all day, you are going to require fewer calories to fuel your daily energy requirements in comparison to someone working in manual labour. This also applies to people that exercise - you need to fuel both your workouts and recovery which require increased energy to fulfil and therefore more calories from food. What is most important is the food you're putting in and at what time.
A common misconception is that fruit post-exercise is good for you as it will replenish muscle glycogen; however, as previously mentioned, fruit will only replenish liver glycogen and not muscle glycogen. Glycogen is our muscle's fuel source and will be used during exercise and therefore needs to be replenished afterwards with starchy carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes.
So when should we eat fruit?
Fructose is a product from the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit, fructose is transported into the liver as liver glycogen.
We want to ensure that when we eat fruit we will maximise the energy we receive from it, but more importantly, ensure that the fructose is used by the body as an energy source and doesn't get converted and stored as body fat.
The liver in comparison to the body's muscular structure is tiny and can on average hold 2-3 glasses worth of orange juice or fructose equivalent. Therefore, the body is more forgiving when we eat starchy carbohydrates compared to fruits, as when our liver glycogen stores are full we will store that excess fructose as fat.
Therefore, the best times to eat fruit are first thing in the morning and 15 minutes before a workout as your body will use this readily available energy to fuel morning activity and then your exercise.
Fructose will become almost immediately available in the blood stream upon consuming fruit, so ensure you create a demand through exercise to supply and use that fructose as energy. Fructose can also promote an anabolic state, your liver glycogen stores will deplete extremely quickly during intense exercise and if liver glycogen levels are low, your body will be forced to produce alanine from your muscles, causing a catabolic effect and muscle breakdown. This is the last thing we want as the more lean muscle we have, the more efficient our bodies are at breaking down body fat due to an increased metabolic rate.
There is practically no limit as to how many calories the body can store as fat, hence why we have such a huge obesity crisis in today's society. People believe that fruit is good for you, and by all means, it is; however, people just aren't eating it at the right time and as a result, their body fat is increasing. Remember, food is fuel/energy and we only need to eat what our bodies need to maintain our energy expenditure!
Anytime you complete an intense workout, your muscle glycogen stores will be drained and then need to be replenished with quality nutrient dense starchy carbohydrates. It is important that glycogen stores are restored post workout to ensure you maximise your recovery and promote being ANABOLIC (an anabolic state will promote lean muscle growth).
Key facts about carbohydrates:
- Glucose will ONLY replenish muscle glycogen.
- Fructose will ONLY replenish liver glycogen.
- Starchy carbs ONLY post-workout.
- Fruit in the morning & 15 minutes pre-workout ONLY.
By Callum Melly.
Callum Melly, one of the UK's leading Personal Trainers, is set to un-leash BodyIn8 - personal training with a difference! You can find out more information on Callum by visiting his Official Website: http://bodyin8.com