Refueling: The Fruits of Your Labor

Outside magazine, July 1994


Refueling: The Fruits of Your Labor
By Ken McAlpine


Fruit is nature's PowerBar: Much of it is low in fat, high in carbohydrates, and filled iwth fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The only thing that's missing is the sticky foil wrapper.

Athletes should incorporate fruit into at least three meals a day--that is, before, during, and after the workout. Following is a guide tothe best produce for that plan.

PRE-WORKOUT

Avacado
It's a fruit, and an unjustly maligned one at that. The fat in an avocado is mostly monounsaturated--the type that's been shown to lower blood-cholesterol levels. Avocados are also a terrific source of minerals: Ounce for ounce, they contain nearly twice as much potassium as bananas.

Sweet Potato OK, so we snuck in a vegetable, but sweet potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates--about 30 percent more than in white potatoes--making them an ideal dish for the pasta-weary. They're also high in vitamin C, calcium, and iron, among other things.

ON THE GO

Dried Fruit
Those shriveled apricots, prunes, dates, and figs offer a concentrated and convenient carbohydrate snack. A couple of caveats: Most dried fruit is treated with preservatives to stave off mold, but you might want to dunk it in boiling water and then store it in the refrigerator to fend off lingering bacteria. Second, because it's so high in sugar, dried fruit makes its way through some people's systems with a vengeance.

Orange Juice
Six ounces provides you with your daily requirement of vitamin C, plenty of carbohydrates, and all the potassium you might have lost in a workout. Fruit juice is about 10 percent carbohydrate--too high a concentration for your body to efficiently absorb--so mix it in your bottle with an equal amount of water.

Banana
A champion of fiber, carbohydrates, and potassium. And remember, a banana's ripeness has nothing to do with its energy potential. Eat it in any degree of yellowness.

POST-WORKOUT

Cantaloupe
A wedge is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, antioxidants that are believed to fight the bad air you suck in. Pineapple
Jack Kahn, a chiropractor in Hollywood, Florida, has been practicing "pineapple therapy" since the late 1960s. "Cleans out the joints and helps heal injuries," he says. It's not some--ahem--fruitcake claim. Bromelain, a pineapple-derived enzyme, reportedly reduces muscular swelling.

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