An Apple a Day is Not Always the Answer

Jiu jitsu

Attention Combat Athletes!! Think fruit is good for you all the time? Think again!! Knowing what types of carbs to put into your body and when can be all the difference in the world between Gold and Silver. Check out this article on.

Recently, I had a well-known UFC Lightweight Fighter come down to our training center to do his camp for an upcoming fight. I noticed that during the intense 2 a day sessions, he was struggling with recovery. I inquired about his diet and supplementation regimen and he told me his diet 2 to 3 weeks out from the fight was almost 100% fruit. He was taught that fruit would assist him in staying light and assisting him in cutting weight to make the 155-weight class. He was caught in the adage of “fruit is good for you because it is natural”.  For a fighter burning thousands of calories a day in training sessions and abusing his body, he couldn’t have been more wrong. A fruit heavy diet for a combat athlete is not optimal.

Athletes and trainers need to understand the difference between fructose and glucose forms of carbohydrates and the effects each has on your body. An athlete needs to have a better grasp on what carbohydrates are and what the differences are between carbohydrates, their timing of ingestion and what your goals are.

Fructose is a form of carbohydrate found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables, and processed foods. I want to for this article address fructose as it applies to fruits and share some insight as to how the use of fruits and their timing of intake can greatly effect your training, energy, weight cutting and overall recuperation capacity.

Yup, too much fruit can increase your weight and your hinder your ability to use it

Fructose has limited capacity for storage in your body. If you put too much fructose in your body and surpass its capacity to store it, fructose will turn into triglycerides, be released into your blood stream and increase your weight. Yup, too much fruit can increase your weight and your hinder your ability to use it.

After you workout, your body, whether it’s a heavy grappling session, weight training or cardio session, your muscles need carbohydrates to recover, but the right kind. Remember that the window to carbohydrate replenishment post workout should be administered within 30 to 5 minutes of the end of the workout. Better yet, the athlete should be sipping a carbohydrate, BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and glutamine combination “shake” while they are working out. Your BCAA’s and glutamine are the first amino acids that you go catabolic for during anaerobic training. Meaning they burn off first and look to be replaced first. So if your body does not have them present in a supplement, your muscles will start eating themselves to replenish. All that hard work…right out the door.

The right carbohydrates post workout, repair muscle and accelerate recovery allowing you to be ready for your next training session

Fructose as a recovery carbohydrate is not a great choice. It is directed toward the liver where it is processed and will not go into the muscle tissues. The right carbohydrates post workout, repair muscle and accelerate recovery allowing you to be ready for your next training session. Fructose based carbohydrates, do not. That was why the UFC Fighter who visited us for his camp was always low on energy, poorly recuperated from his previous training sessions and could not push his limits during sessions.

…you would have to eat an apple orchard to get all the carbohydrates a fighter needs.

Now, I am not throwing fructose under the bus, as it has value. Fructose when ingested does not enter the bloodstream, therefore it causes a slow rise in blood glucose and very little insulin response. An athlete needs to have their glucose / glycogen levels in optimal balance in order to be ready for their next training session. But, fruit is not calorically dense and you would have to eat an apple orchard to get all the carbohydrates a fighter needs.  Fructose though is a carbohydrate that will tell your body whether it is in a catabolic or an anabolic state. Depending where you are in your training schedule, you want your body to believe it is in an anabolic state, or muscle building state, so it is a good idea to have some fructose in your system.

Fructose also can be a pacifier to keeping those weight cutting hunger pains at bay. It helps signal the body that it is in a “full and fed” state, which helps the athlete as they cut weight those last few days or weeks. So a piece of fruit here and there can be a great help. Knowing the difference between the carbohydrates and which to ingest directly after a training session, fructose or glucose, makes all the difference in the world to the recovery and building process of damaged muscles.

Joe Mullings is the owner of The Armory, BJJ and MMA Team based in Jupiter Florida. He has been the Strength & Conditioning Coach for UFC Fighters Edson Barboza, Luiz Cane, Kurt Pellegrino, Hermes Franca and Matt Wiman in addition to other athletes in the Bellator and Strikeforce Organizations. Joe also holds a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

 

 

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