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Why Vegans Have More Muscle Than You Do

Vegan bodybuilding fruit diet nutrition

Fear of fruit has caused many gym rats to exclude a high intake of fruit in their diet fearing it will make them gain weight. The downside of that is that they lose out on greater endurance, strength and shorter recovery times. Perhaps you can learn a thing or two from that vegan bodybuilder in the gym.


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Fructose Confusion

Thanks to the food industry many athletes are confused by the necessity of fructose in their training. They negatively associate fructose with fruit, which is correct, but erroneously believe that fruit causes weight gain. As a result, they tend to avoid high amounts of fruit in their diet or instead eat a high protein diet thinking it will help them to build muscle.

The reality of that line of thinking is far different than that limited belief. It is a fact, that if you lived on a diet of strict protein and no carbohydrates you would starve and likely die. What is more, the results of this type of starving are short-lived and will ultimately result in the body craving carbohydrates.

Don’t be Carb Shy

Your body runs on carbohydrates -- your brain, your muscles, and your nervous system require quality carbohydrates to run efficiently, specifically those carbs, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that come from fruit (and vegetables). Carbs from fruit help to significantly shorten recovery time at the gym and increase stamina and strength so you can train harder. This is in contrast to eating high amounts of fat from animal protein, which can ultimately slow liver function and cause you to gain weight.

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What Fructose Is

Fructose, or fruit sugar, is the simplest form of carbohydrate, which is found in many plant foods such as fruit and vegetables. It is the easiest form of sugar to digest. Fructose is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose. Fructose is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.

"While blood sugar rises fairly rapidly after you eat fruit, muscle glycogen supplies are slower to replenish. Eating fruit during long training sessions and directly after exercise, accelerates the replenishment of muscle" according to Douglas Graham, Author of the NY Times Best Selling Book The 80-10-10 Diet.

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The natural sodium, potassium, and glucose that fruits and vegetables provide are critical for the proper functioning of the body, and for anyone wanting to build muscle. To illustrate, in athletics, muscle and liver glycogen content is critical to endurance. A review published in the the journal Sports Medicine looked at the paramount importance of muscle glycogen during prolonged, intense exercise. The research was conducted in an attempt to design the best regimen to elevate the muscle's glycogen stores prior to competition and to determine the most effective means of rapidly replenishing the muscle glycogen stores after exercise.

The study concluded that for optimal training performance, muscle glycogen stores must be replenished on a daily basis. For the average endurance athlete, a daily carbohydrate consumption of 500 to 600g is required.

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How You Consume Fructose Matters

Consuming glucose with fructose at the same time accelerates the absorption of fructose. This is one of the reasons that many sports drinks contain a mixture of sugars and should be avoided.

When it comes to fructose, its source matters. It’s highly unlikely that consuming whole, unprocessed, fresh fruits will promote energy imbalances cause you to gain weight. However, it’s guaranteed that the regular consumption of manufactured high fructose-rich fruit juices, sweeteners and processed foods that contain these sweeteners will cause you to gain weight.

Eat More Fruit

Clinical data shows that individuals who consume a diet rich in fruits (and vegetables) are leaner, stay leaner, are stronger and have better health than those who do not.

Researchers have also concluded: “The intake of naturally occurring fructose from an unprocessed, whole food diet is low and unlikely to contribute to any negative metabolic consequences.”

What is more, a review published in the journal Nutrients, that looked at the anti-obesity effects of fruit and insists there is no worry about gaining body fat from over-eating whole fruit. “Clearly, fruit has beneficial effects on health through its anti-obesity effects. Many clinical studies have shown that increasing the daily consumption of fruit is inversely correlated with weight gain.”

If you’re concerned about your health, muscle strength endurance, go hard on the fresh fruit for replenishment but think twice about drinking processed juices or worse, sports drinks or soda, as these are the harmful forms of fructose that should be avoided.