As avocados have become popular within the health food space in recent years, I’m often asked by bodybuilders whether they would benefit from incorporating them into their everyday diet too.
Hi, I’m Laura ‒ A nutritionist who helps people use nutrition to assist them in achieving their fitness goals, such as bulking and cutting.
So, are avocados good or bad for bodybuilding?
Avocados are good for bodybuilding because they contain fat and fibre, which helps you to feel satiated and increase your ability to stick to your diet. Since avocados are high in fat, ensure your other meals contain lean protein. Daily fat should be 30-35% of your total calories.
In this article, I will provide:
- The general health benefits and macronutrient breakdown for avocados
- 3 pros and cons of eating avocados for bodybuilding
- How much and when to consume avocado pre- and post-workout
- An avocado recipe for pre- and post-workout that is macro-friendly for bodybuilders
Eating Avocados for Bodybuilding: Overview
Before we dive into this topic, it’s important to first understand the nutritional information of an avocado.
Per 100g, avocados contain 167 calories, 2g of protein, 9g of carbs and 15g of fat.
For context, when I cut a large avocado in half and scoop out the flesh, it usually measures around 100g.
Avocados are also high in nutrients such as:
- Potassium: A diet high in potassium has been shown to preserve muscle mass in older adults.
- Vitamin C: Including vitamin c in your diet has been shown to reduce muscle loss that occurs as we age.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K provides many benefits to your overall cardiovascular health, which can improve your overall cardiac output during exercise.
- Vitamin B: Vitamin B, specifically B-12, is important for building muscle as it is a key factor in muscle protein synthesis.
Pro Tip: Another way to get vitamin C in your diet is to drink lemon water.
3 Pros of Eating Avocados For Bodybuilding
In order to determine whether avocado is good for bodybuilders, let’s consider the goals of bodybuilding.
Primarily bodybuilders are looking to optimize their physique by (1) building muscle and (2) losing fat.
Let’s dive into how avocado can help with these goals.
1. Avocados Can Make It Easier to Lose Weight
Avocados are a rich source of fat and fibre. Both fat and fibre slow down digestion, this means you will feel full and satisfied longer after eating.
This can be extremely beneficial when looking to lose weight. As anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, one of the biggest roadblocks can be high-calorie foods and treats.
I don’t know about you but I’m much less likely to raid the cupboards when I’m full and satisfied compared to when I’m hungry. The more full and satisfied you can feel after each meal, the easier it will be to stick to a lower-calorie diet long-term.
Therefore, incorporating avocado into your diet can assist with weight loss by making it easier to stick with a lower-calorie, something that is beneficial for bodybuilders.
2. Avocados Can Improve Digestion
Bodybuilders generally eat a diet rich in protein and moderate in carbs. However, it’s important to remember that the timing of carbohydrates is generally concentrated pre-and post-workout. Carbs eaten around a workout are generally lower in fibre. So while this is beneficial for workout performance, it can result in some slower digestion.
This is where avocados can help…
Avocados are a rich source of fibre providing 7g of fibre per 100g. General fibre recommendations are between 25 – 30g of fibre daily, meaning 100g of avocado will provide 28% of your daily fibre.
By incorporating avocados into your diet when bodybuilding, you can improve your digestive system regularly.
This is important for overall health as this is how your body disposes of waste and toxins. Additionally, it can help improve your overall mood as poor digestive health is often linked to a reduction in mental health.
3. Avocados Are Rich in Omega 3s That Help Reduce Inflammation
Avocados are also rich in omega-3s, which play a role in nervous system, heart, bone and joint support, as well as to balance your omega profile.
What do I mean by balancing your omega profile?
There are omega 3s and omega 6s, and humans should generally be operating with a balanced 1-to-1 omega 3:6 ratio. However, in western society, our profile ends up being a little more like 20:1.
This can be problematic as omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory. Consuming avocados can help to bring you closer to the more optimal balance and reduce overall inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal part of weight training and allows for our bodies to adapt and recover.
However, if inflammation is too high you will notice a reduction in performance as your body is never able to fully recover. Consuming omega-3s can increase your body’s ability to fight inflammation ensuring you are properly recovering after each workout.
- Want to learn more about high protein foods? Check out our article Bulking Foods For Bodybuilding.
3 Cons of Eating Avocados For Bodybuilding
Overall, while I’ll discuss a few downsides to avocados, these can be mitigated by considering the quantity of avocado being consumed.
1. Avocados Do Not Provide Sufficient Protein to Build Muscle
To build muscle, the most important factor is consuming sufficient protein so your muscles have what they need to repair and recover after a workout.
Research suggests that to build muscle, a protein intake of 2.4g per kg of body weight should be consumed. For example, this means a 200lb individual (~90kg) would require approximately 206g of protein per day.
Avocados only contain 2g of protein per 100g, making it not a significant source. Protein would need to be consumed from other sources throughout the day.
2. Avocados Do Not Have the Recommended Protein to Fat Ratio for Optimal Body Composition
In addition to getting sufficient protein, it’s also important to consider the ratio of protein to fat. If you are getting sufficient protein but the ratio to fat is too high, your overall daily calories will be above what they need to be and you will gain fat.
To optimize body composition, research shows that a ratio of 5g of protein to 1g of fat is most optimal. This will ensure you are eating the minimum amount of fat required for healthy hormones while also consuming enough protein to maximize muscle building.
Avocados, per 100g, contain 2g of protein and 15g of fat. This is a ratio of 1g of protein to 7.5g of fat, quite a bit off from the recommended range.
While this doesn’t mean avocado is bad for bodybuilders, it does show that when the avocado is eaten it’s important to also consume a lean source of protein, such as chicken, to increase the ratio back to the recommended 5:1.
3. Avocados Are Calorically Dense
As most foods are high in fat, avocados are calorically dense. This means that the physical volume of the food is much lower than food high in carbs or protein. This can be problematic if you are not careful in considering your portion size as you can easily eat a high volume of calories without realizing it.
Additionally, low-volume foods don’t leave you feeling as physically full after consuming. This can result in eating a very high-calorie portion size while trying to feel physically full. For bodybuilders who are looking to maintain a lean physique, these can present challenges.
Check out other fat sources for bodybuilding:
Can You Eat Avocado Before Workouts?
Pre-workout nutrition is important for bodybuilders as it can help maximize your gym performance. A meal high in carbs and low in fat is best to provide a quick source of energy.
So can you eat avocados before a workout? Yes, you can consume avocados before a workout however limit them to 60g or less, 2-3 hours before a workout so your body is still able to utilize carbs consumed as a quick energy source. The amount of avocado should be reduced if any other fat sources are consumed pre-workout.
Is Avocado Good or Bad to Eat Before Workouts?
Before a workout, your focus should be on consuming a meal high in carbs. Carbs can be quickly broken down by your body and used for energy during your workout. Both fat and fibre slow down this digestion process, delaying the breakdown of the carbs eaten and reducing the energy available.
Since we want to maximize the energy you have available during your workout, it’s important to limit the fat in your pre-workout meal and allow our body to get its energy from the carbs consumed. A good general range I recommend is 15-20% of a meal’s calories.
Avocados are a rich source of healthy fats, which while important for a healthy diet, are not the best source of energy pre-workout. While they do contain carbs, it is primarily from the fibre. However, like most foods, the quantity consumed is also an important consideration.
How Much Avocado Should You Eat Before Workouts?
Avocado can be consumed before a workout, if in a small enough quantity that the total fat in your pre-workout meal does not exceed 15-20% of your meal total calories. In practice, this is often a range of 10-15g.
In order to keep the fat in your pre-workout meal low, I recommend consuming no more than 60g of avocado before a workout. This will provide you with 10g of fat. When determining the amount of avocado you are eating, ensure you are considering what else you are eating pre-workout. If other fat sources are consumed, I recommend reducing the amount of avocado eaten.
We asked Registered Dietician, Breda Paralta, her thoughts on when to eat avocados in relation to your workout. She said:
“I recommend you can incorporate avocados before a workout if you are doing a low-intensity activity. For a higher intensity workout, wait at least 2-3 hours before the exercise”
Can You Eat Avocado After Workouts?
Post-workout nutrition is often overlooked, but for bodybuilders that are looking to get as much muscle growth as possible, it should be a key consideration. Consuming a high carb and high protein meal will provide your body with what it needs to adequately recover and build muscle.
Can you eat avocados after workouts? Yes, you can consume avocados after workouts as the high omega-3 content is a beneficial anti-inflammatory. However, limit it to 100g or less in order to maximize recovery. The amount of avocado should be reduced if any other fat sources are consumed post-workout.
Is Avocado Good or Bad to Eat After Workouts?
Similar to before a workout, carbs are also important to consume after a workout. This will help replenish your body’s stored energy that is depleted over the duration of your workout.
In addition to carbs, it’s also important to include protein post-workout. Research shows consuming protein within the first two hours post-workout has a significant positive impact on muscle protein synthesis, otherwise known as the process of repairing and rebuilding muscle. This process of repair and recovery is what will lead to strength and muscle growth, a key goal of bodybuilding.
Fat slows down the overall digestion process, delaying our body’s ability to break down the carbs and protein and use them for recovery. Therefore, reducing the fat in your pre-workout meal should also be a priority.
Avocados are low in carbs and protein and high in fat, meaning they don’t provide the optimal macronutrient ratio that we want in a post-workout meal.
However, we also want to consider the other benefits avocados provide to our bodies post-workout. Brenda Paralta, Registered Dietitian noted that:
“Due to its high content in omega-3, an anti-inflammatory compound, it helps improve recovery”
Research shows that consumption of omega-3 post-workout reduces muscle soreness from high-intensity exercise. As avocados are high in omega-3s, incorporating them into a post-workout meal is a great way to get some of the recommended omega-3.
Therefore, avocado is beneficial to eat post-workout, but the overall quantity should be considered so as to not interfere with your body’s recovery process.
- Avocado is on our list of high calorie, low sugar foods (click to read more food choices that fit this category)
How Much Avocado Should You Eat After a Workout?
Avocados are beneficial to be consumed after a workout, as long as the quantity is small enough that the total fat in your post-workout meal does not exceed the recommended range of 20-25% of your total calories. This often translates to about 15-20g.
In order to keep the fat in your post-workout meal low, I recommend consuming no more than 100g of avocado after a workout, which is about half a large avocado.
This will provide you with 15g of fat. When determining the amount of avocado you are eating, ensure you are considering what else you are eating post-workout. If other fat sources are consumed, I recommend reducing the amount of avocado eaten.
Also, there is no amount of time I recommend waiting after you have done your workout to consume avocado. So long as the quantity is within the recommended range, avocados can be consumed anytime.
Avocado Recipe for Bodybuilders
Pre-Workout Avocado Recipe
A turkey avocado sandwich is a great pre-workout meal as it’s high in carbs and low in fat to provide you with immediate energy for your workout. Including both slow-digesting carbs (sourdough) and fast-digesting carbs (apple) will give you a quick burst of energy at the beginning as well as sustained energy throughout.
- 2 slices sourdough (approximately 80g)
- 80g deli turkey
- 50g avocado (½ small)
- ½ small tomato
- 100g apple (½ small)
- Toast sourdough bread if desired and slice the avocado and tomato into thin slices. You can substitute the bread with a bagel if desired.
- Assemble the sandwich using turkey, slices avocado and turkey. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with apple slices on the side.
This recipe makes 1 serving with 450 calories, 26g protein (25%), 61g carbs (58%), 9g fat (17%). For a higher calorie option increase the amount of bread and apple.
Post-Workout Avocado Recipe
This chocolate banana smoothie is a great post-workout meal as it’s high in carbs and protein to provide optimal recovery. The avocado in the smoothie makes it not only creamy, but also provides a punch of omega-3s, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that helps to improve recovery.
- ¼ cup oats (20g)
- 100g banana (1 small)
- 60g avocado
- 1 scoop chocolate whey isolate
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If the consistency is too thick, add additional almond milk.
- Pour into glass and serve.
This recipe makes 1 serving with 410 calories, 33g protein (32%), 48g carbs (47%), 13g fat (28%). For a higher calorie option, increase the amount of whey protein, banana and oats.
Overall, the health benefits of avocados outweigh the cons and therefore I recommend bodybuilders consume avocado.
As with most foods high in fat, the most important factor to consider is the portion size. This is particularly true before or after a workout where consuming a small quantity is necessary to optimize performance.
About The Author
Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.