There are several fruits that bodybuilders can consume to optimize performance and recovery. Apples are one option, which we’ll be exploring in more detail.
So, are apples good or bad for bodybuilding?
Yes, apples are good for bodybuilding. They are ideal to have before a workout since they provide fast-acting energy for optimal performance. Apples also contain nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin D, which are all essential micronutrients to have good health and muscle recovery.
In this article, I’ll talk about:
- The nutritional content found in an apple.
- Pros and cons of eating apples for bodybuilding.
- Whether it is best to have an apple before or after a workout.
- How many apples can you eat to achieve your goals.
- One delicious recipe to include apples before or after training.
Apples For Bodybuilding: Overview
Nutrition Content of An Apple
One large raw apple (242 g) has the following nutritional content (1).
- Calories: 126
- Carbs: 33.4 g
- Fiber: 5.8
- Fats: 0.4 g
- Protein: 0.6 g
The calories found in an apple vary depending on its size. A small apple has approximately 85 kcal, while a large apple has 126 kcal.
If you are in a bulking phase, the large size could probably help you increase your overall daily caloric intake. At the same time, a small one would be beneficial for someone in a cutting phase.
To know the exact calories in an apple, you can weigh it using a food scale in combination with using a calorie-counting app (like MacroFactor).
Apples are a simple carb source, which means that they are easy to digest and provide fast energy to the body. It does not contain enough protein or fat to be a significant source.
Its carb content could go from 22.8 g (a small apple) to 33.4 g for a large apple. This variety in sizes makes it easy to include in your daily macros.
Apples are a good source of fiber since it has almost 6 grams, and this means that it provides more than 20% of the daily recommended value for fiber. Having a high fiber diet is beneficial for gut and heart health.
However, apples do not offer any of the other macronutrients. To balance it out, it is important to add a source of healthy fat (nut butter or avocado) and protein (eggs, cottage cheese, or protein powder).
- Related Article: 17 Best low calorie high fiber foods.
Apples, being in the fruit family, are high in micronutrients. The most common nutrients found are vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. They provide more than 5% of the daily recommended value.
There should be a balance between your macronutrients intake and your micronutrient intake. Without adequate micronutrients, your body won’t recover properly, and you will be more likely to get sick, affecting your workout.
Focusing on natural sources to feel up for macros will help you have that balance.
Here is an explanation of why each nutrient found in apples is essential to have.
- Vitamin C: a potent antioxidant and boosts immune function.
- Potassium: regulates fluid balance and muscle contraction.
- Vitamin B6: helps boost immune function.
- Vitamin K: helps with bone growth.
Check out my complete guide on the Best Fruits For Muscle Gain.
Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?
3 Pros Of Eating Apples For Bodybuilding
Apples provide energy, are easy to take in your gym bag, and are versatile, making them an option to combine with other macro sources. However, here is a list of other reasons you should include apples if you are a bodybuilder.
1. Improves Muscle Recovery
Since it is a potent antioxidant, it also helps decrease inflammation, leading to muscle recovery. Muscle recovery leads to muscle gain, which is the main goal for a bodybuilder.
2. Promotes Weight Loss
Fiber takes longer to digest, which leads to increased satiety levels. If you are fuller for longer, it means you are less likely to add more food.
This is an indirect way to have a caloric deficit during a cutting phase. Apples are very high in fiber which makes them a very filling food. If you’re feeling full for longer, then you aren’t likely to eat as much throughout the day.
For a bodybuilder in a cutting phase and needs to have low-calorie foods but high in nutrients, apples are the way to go.
3. Boost Immune Function
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an essential nutrient, and it helps boost immune function (3). With a strong immune system, it is less likely that you will get sick.
Having a strong immune system is an essential quality for a bodybuilder. If you get sick, it means you are less likely to train, which means bed rest. Depending on how many days you are on bed rest, your muscle mass could be affected, leading to a decrease.
Apples are high in vitamin C, and it has 17% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C. That is the reason why apples do, in fact, keep the doctor away.
Pro Tip: Each color fruit has a different nutrient and benefit. Include a variety of colors in your meals. I always like to tell my clients to eat the rainbow if they like apples, have them in various colors, and include other fruits and veggies of different colors.
2 Cons of Eating Apples For Bodybuilding
It is known that apples don’t contain enough protein for a bodybuilder since they are primarily carbs. That is the main con of eating apples for bodybuilding.
Here I present a couple of unknown cons of including apples in a bodybuilding plan.
1. Pesticide Exposure
Apples are in the “Dirty List,” which means that they are high in pesticides. The World Health Organization has stated that some pesticides could lead to toxicity and potentially cause harm.
Suppose you are into a more natural and organic approach. In that case, apples probably aren’t the way to go unless you buy them organic.
Most of the pesticides are located in the apple’s skin. Although a solution would be to remove the skin, I never recommend my clients do this since most of the fiber and nutrients are there.
There are a couple of ways you can remove pesticides from apples.
- Soak them in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water for 10-15 minutes.
- Soak them in a solution of 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in 2 cups of water for 10-15 minutes.
- Soak them in a solution of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of water for 10-15 minutes.
2. Decreased Performance Due to Bloating
Due to its high fiber content, not all people tolerate that amount, which leads to bloating. Feeling bloated could affect performance.
If you are not used to eating that much fiber in one mealtime, you can try removing half of the apple’s skin. When you feel that your stomach tolerates it, try eating the entire apple.
Remember that fiber needs water to function properly. Always drink enough water throughout the day.
Can You Eat Apples Before Workouts?
Yes, apples are a great pre-workout snack. They are high in simple carbs, meaning they will give you that energy boost you need before training. Have it 30-60 minutes before a workout if you are feeling low in energy.
Having a simple carb before your workout will offer the energy you need to have a long and strong training. If your training is efficient, this leads to more muscle rupture, which means more gains.
An apple is more than enough if you are thinking of just a snack 30-60 minutes pre-workout. However, an apple might not be enough if there is more time between your snack and your training session.
Suppose you are thinking of having a snack 2-3 hours prior to training. In that case, you need to add other macronutrients to have a slower energy release. Add some Greek yogurt (protein) and peanut butter (healthy fats) to have a steadier energy release.
If you are in a bulking phase and are looking for a quick energy boost, a large apple (33 g of carbs) is more than enough. On the other hand, if you are in a cutting phase and need a snack before a workout, a small apple (22 g of carbs) is more than enough.
Can You Eat Apples After Workouts?
Apples are a great post-workout snack since it offers the glucose needed to replenish the energy lost during training. However, since it is only a carb source, it might not be enough as a snack. Add some protein (protein shake) and healthy fat (almonds) to have all the macros needed for optimal muscle recovery.
Apples are rich in vitamins and minerals, which makes them a perfect post-workout snack. Since they are high in potassium, it helps replenish some electrolytes restoring physical strength.
If you’re doing an intermittent fasting diet, apples can be a great way to re-introduce food into your diet because they’re high in electrolytes. I discuss this more in my article on Refeeding After A 3 Day Fast.
Carbs are essential to help replenish the energy lost during the workout. Without enough carb, proteins are used as an energy source instead of for muscle mass. That is why apples are very important post-workout.
However, after a workout, you need some protein sources. After training, you need 0.3-0.5 g/kg of bodyweight or protein, and apples contain less than 1g of protein (4). Add a protein source along the apple to make it complete. For example, add a protein shake, Greek yogurt, or even chicken (yes, like a chicken apple salad).
A bodybuilder in a bulking phase might want to have 2 large apples after training. In contrast, a bodybuilder in a cutting phase might want to have just one large apple.
Do Apples Help Muscle Growth?
Apples can help you grow muscle by adding calories and carbs to your diet. It also has a component named Ursolic acid that has been studied to increase muscle mass. However, on its own, it won’t help with muscle building since it lacks the other two essential macros (proteins and fats).
For muscle increase, we know that we need a calorie surplus and enough protein. Apples can help you increase calories, but it lacks the protein needed. That is why on their own, apples are not going to increase your muscle mass. You need to add a protein source to make it the ultimate muscle-building food.
A compound found in apples named Ursolic acid has been studied for muscle mass increase. This compound can increase muscle mass and boost endurance (5). This means that apples can indeed help increase muscle mass.
Apple Recipe For Bodybuilding
Nothing better than apple pie! However, it might be a little too high in calories, which might jeopardize your goals. This recipe has all the macros you need without adding too many extra calories.
Have it as a post-workout snack for optimal muscle recovery and gains.
Apple Oatmeal Crumble
- Calories: 645
- Carbs: 95.6 g
- Fats: 13.3 g
- Protein: 43 g
- 1 large apple sliced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ rolled oats
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tablespoon nut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To learn more about oatmeal, check out my other article on Is Oatmeal Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Put the slices of apple in a bowl along with the brown sugar and half the cinnamon. Stir to coat.
- Place the apples in a baking dish.
- In another bowl, combine the oats, protein powder, nut butter, the other half of cinnamon, and honey. Mix well.
- Spoon the mixture on top of the apples in the baking dish.
- Bake the apples for 15-20 minutes.
- When the apple crisp is done, allow it to cool, and then add the Greek yogurt mixed with the vanilla extract on top.
- If you are looking to have it as a pre-workout snack you can avoid the protein powder and just have the Greek yogurt.
- If you are in a cutting phase, avoid brown sugar and honey and use sugar-free alternatives.
- Instead of the nut butter, you can replace it with almonds or walnuts.
Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?
Other Fruits For Bodybuilding
Check out my other fruit resources:
- Are Grapes Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Are Bananas Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Are Grapefruits Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Mango Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.