Eating the right foods before a workout can maximize performance and speed up recovery. Fruit is a great pre-workout snack because it provides fast-acting carbohydrates for energy as well as important vitamins and minerals. However, not all fruits are created equal when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. This article compares the top fruits to eat before a workout and helps you determine which one is best for you.
Benefits of Eating Fruit Before Exercise
Here are some of the key benefits of eating fruit before exercise:
- Provides fast-acting carbs for energy – Fruits like bananas contain sugars like glucose and fructose that can be used quickly for energy during exercise.
- May boost performance – Eating carbs before training can improve endurance, strength, reaction time, and mental focus.
- Helps maintain blood sugar – The natural sugars in fruit help avoid drops in blood sugar during workouts.
- Supports hydration – Many fruits like melons and oranges contain high water content to help hydrate.
- Provides key micronutrients – Fruits supply antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
- Easy to digest – Fruit is generally low in fiber and digests quickly making it unlikely to cause GI issues.
- Tastes great – The sweet flavor and variety of fruits make them an easy, palatable pre-workout option.
While all fruits provide carbs, some supply more ideal nutrients than others for fueling exercise performance. Let’s compare some top fruits and see which might be best before a workout.
Bananas are one of the most popular pre-workout fruits because they provide:
- 25-30 grams of carbs
- Fast-acting glucose and sucrose
- Convenient, portable
- Decent fiber for prolonged energy (3 grams)
- Potassium for muscle function
- Vitamin B6 benefits energy metabolism
- Anti-inflammatory benefits from nutrients like dopamine and catechin
Overall, the carb content, convenience, and nutrients like potassium make bananas a solid choice. The main downside is the fiber content may cause digestive issues for some people.
Apples offer the following benefits:
- 25 grams carbs
- Antioxidants like quercetin
- Fiber for prolonged energy (4.4 grams)
- Crunchy texture is thirst quenching
- Portable and easy to pack
The fiber and antioxidant content give apples a slight edge nutrient-wise over bananas. However, apples may not digest quite as quickly due to the higher fiber amount. Still, apples are one of the tastiest ways to fuel up before a workout.
Oranges provide these advantages:
- 15 grams carbs
- Hydrating with 90% water content
- Vitamin C for immunity and nutrient absorption
- Potassium to support muscle function
- Folate helps metabolize carbs for energy
- Low glycemic index for sustained energy release
The hydration and nutrients in oranges make them ideal for promoting recovery. The lower glycemic index means they may not offer an immediate pre-workout energy boost like bananas. But oranges are still a great option if paired with a carb-heavy snack.
Here are the main benefits of grapes:
- 18 grams carbs per cup
- Contain glucose for quick energy
- Hydrating with 80% water content
- Rich in antioxidants like resveratrol
- Manganese supports metabolism
- Portable and easy to eat
The high water content makes grapes ideal for hydrating before or during exercise. Their antioxidants and carbohydrates make them a nutritious choice, though they offer less sustained energy than high-fiber fruits.
Some top advantages of cherries include:
- 19 grams carbs per cup
- Low glycemic index stabilizes blood sugar
- High in antioxidants like anthocyanins
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Melatonin may boost sleep and recovery
While cherries make a tasty treat, their lower glycemic index makes them less ideal for immediate pre-workout fuel. But, cherries still contain carb content to support exercise while providing unique benefits for inflammation and recovery.
Here are some of the advantages raisins offer:
- 35 grams carbs per quarter cup
- Small size makes them easy to pack
- High fiber sustains energy (1.5 grams per quarter cup)
- Potassium supports muscle and nerve function
- Boron aids hormone health
Raisins are unique in that their small size makes them convenient, yet they supply a large number of carbs and fiber. The boron content also helps support hormone health for better performance. Overall, raisins are a great highly-portable option.
Here are some of the benefits of figs:
- 24 grams carbs per 3 figs
- High in glucose for quick energy
- Fiber sustains energy (5 grams per 3 figs)
- Antioxidants like anthocyanins
- Potassium regulates nerve signals
Figs offer a substantial dose of carbs and fiber in a smaller serving. Their glucose and antioxidants make them favorable for pre-workout nutrition. One downside is that whole figs may be harder to digest than fruits like bananas.
Some top advantages of mango include:
- 28 grams carbs per cup diced
- Hydrating with 85% water content
- Vitamins A, C and B6
- Antioxidants like mangiferin
- Magnesium and potassium support muscle
Mango is lower on the glycemic index, so it may not offer an immediate energy boost. But the high water content hydrates, while the nutrients support energy, immunity, and muscle function. Mangos are best paired with a more carb-heavy fruit.
Here are some of pineapple’s advantages:
- 21 grams carbs per cup
- Bromelain aids digestion
- Manganese boosts metabolism
- Vitamin C aids immunity and nutrient absorption
- Low glycemic index helps regulate energy
While lower on the glycemic index, pineapple contains carbohydrates for fuel along with hydration and nutrients that promote absorption and metabolism. Its enzymes also make it easy to digest before activity.
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Berries offer these benefits:
- 12 grams carbs per cup
- Antioxidants and polyphenols combat inflammation
- Fiber sustains energy
- Vitamin C for immunity
- Manganese involved in metabolism
While lower in carbs than most fruits, berries provide key antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Their nutrients support immunity and recovery. For a pre-workout boost, pair berries with higher carb fruits or foods.
Fruit Comparison Table
Here is a table summarizing and comparing the key nutrients in different fruits:
|Fruit||Serving Size||Total Carbs||Fiber||Sugars||Glycemic Index||Key Nutrients|
|Bananas||1 medium||27 grams||3 grams||14 grams||55 (medium)||Potassium|
|Apples||1 medium||25 grams||4 grams||19 grams||39||Antioxidants like quercetin|
|Oranges||1 medium||15 grams||3 grams||12 grams||43||Vitamin C|
|Grapes||1 cup||18 grams||1 gram||16 grams||53||Hydrating|
|Cherries||1 cup||19 grams||3 grams||16 grams||22||Anthocyanins|
|Raisins||.25 cup||34 grams||1 gram||28 grams||64||Boron|
|Figs||3 figs||24 grams||5 grams||20 grams||61||Fiber|
|Mango||1 cup diced||28 grams||3 grams||24 grams||51||Vitamins A, C, magnesium|
|Pineapple||1 cup chunks||21 grams||2 grams||16 grams||66||Bromelain|
|Berries||1 cup||12 grams||5 grams||5 grams||Low||Antioxidants|
How to Choose the Best Pre-Workout Fruit
Here are some tips for selecting the optimal pre-workout fruit based on your needs:
- For quick energy, choose fruits higher on the glycemic index like bananas, grapes, and pineapple.
- For sustained energy, pick fruits higher in fiber like apples, oranges, and figs.
- For hydration, opt for high-water fruits like oranges, grapes, mango, and pineapple.
- For muscle support, look for potassium in bananas, oranges, and mangos.
- For immunity and recovery, berries and cherries provide antioxidants.
- For convenience, bananas, apples, grapes, and raisins are easy to grab and go.
- Combine fruits to get a blend of nutrients and glycogen to fuel your workout.
In general, the best pre-workout fruits will provide about 30-60 grams of fast-acting carbs at least 30 minutes before exercise. Focus on fruits that offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fluid to meet your personal needs.
Pre-Workout Fruit Recipes
You can combine fruits in smoothies, salads, or other recipes for a more complete pre-workout fuel source. Here are some tasty fruit-based recipes to try before your next gym session:
Tropical Fruit Smoothie
- 1 banana
- .5 cup pineapple chunks
- .5 cup mango chunks
- .5 cup orange juice
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup spinach or kale
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. The combination of fruits provides carbs, hydration, and key nutrients to fuel your muscles.
Apple Berry Parfait
- 1 apple, diced
- .5 cup Greek yogurt
- .5 cup mixed berries
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup granola
Layer ingredients in a parfait glass starting with yogurt, then fruit, granola, and repeat. The protein and fiber provide sustained energy.
Fruit Salad with Cottage Cheese
- 1 orange, peeled and segmented
- .5 cup pineapple chunks
- .5 cup strawberries, sliced
- .5 banana, diced
- .5 cup grapes
- .5 cup cottage cheese
Mix all fruit together and top with cottage cheese for protein. The cheese adds sustaining power to the fruit carbs.
Sample Pre-Workout Fruit Schedule
Here is a sample fruit schedule for what to eat before different types of workouts:
|Workout Type||Time Before||Fruit|
|Short high-intensity (HIIT)||30 minutes||Banana|
|Medium-distance run||1 hour||Apple with peanut butter|
|Long-distance run||2 hours||Apple with string cheese|
|Weight training||30 minutes||Grapes with Greek yogurt|
|Yoga or pilates||1 hour||Berries and cottage cheese|
Tailor your fruit choice and timing to your personal workout needs. Pay attention to how different fruits impact your energy, stomach comfort, hydration, and performance.
Top 5 Best Fruits Before Workouts
Here is a quick recap of some of the top fruits to eat before exercise:
- Bananas – Convenient, portable, and provide carbs for quick energy.
- Apples – Crunchy, hydrating, and supply sustained energy from