Are Dates Good For Bodybuilding? Before & After Workout?

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Dates are often praised for their rich nutritional profile, but you’re probably wondering how they fit into a bodybuilding diet, especially when considering individual goals (bulking or cutting) and meal timing (pre and post-workout nutrition). Let’s break it down.

Key Takeaways

  • Dates are good for bodybuilding as they have plenty of carbs (18 grams per 24-gram serving) to support your energy levels and gym performance. However, be mindful of your intake because the calories can add up and lead to unwanted weight gain if you’re in a cutting phase.
  • Dates are a good fiber source (6% of your daily intake per 24-gram serving) and can contribute to improved gut health, regular bowel movements, and satiety between meals.
  • Add some dates to your protein shake, along with milk and nut butter for a sustained energy release, plenty of essential nutrients, and a good number of calories to support healthy weight gain during a bulk.

Dates Overview: Calories, Macros, Nutrients

nutrition content of dates


Dates are energy-dense, with a single date providing 66 calories. 

They might be lifesavers for bodybuilders in a bulking phase, providing the necessary calories for muscle growth.

However, be aware of the caloric content while cutting to avoid surpassing your daily target. 


Like most other fruits, dates only have carbs, with no protein or fat. This can be good for bodybuilders since carbs are the primary energy source.

Having an adequate carb intake supports energy levels and workout performance. 

Besides their delicious caramel flavor, one benefit of dates is their high fiber content. A single date has 6% of the recommended daily intake of fiber

An optimal fiber intake allows for healthy bowel movements, reduces cholesterol, and promotes gut health.


Dates are high in potassium, copper, vitamin B6, magnesium, and manganese.

Here is a brief look at their functions:

  • Vitamin B6. One of the most important functions of vitamin B6 is its relationship with energy production. It is involved in breaking down nutrients from food into usable energy.
  • Potassium. It is one of the minerals necessary during exercise. It regulates the frequency and degree of muscle contraction, and low levels can impair muscle functions and lead to cramps.
  • Copper. It has crucial immune benefits. Boosting your immune system means you are less likely to get sick and be forced to take time off training.

Check out my complete guide on the Best Fruits For Bulking.

Pros of Eating Dates

pros of eating dates

1. Reduce the Risk of Muscle Cramps

Cramps usually occur when the muscle doesn’t relax adequately, which could result from a potassium or magnesium deficiency.

Dates are high in potassium and magnesium, reducing the risk of a deficiency and muscle cramps during the day, night, or training. 

Here’s some input from health writer Rachael Schultz:

“That’s why sports drinks contain potassium to help you rehydrate—but, at 47 mg, one date offers more of the mineral than a serving of Gatorade.”

2. Contribute to Muscle Recovery

Dates are high in antioxidants, which help decrease inflammation, supporting muscle recovery.

There is also evidence that antioxidants help reduce muscle soreness after training.  

Note: more research is still required to determine the amount of antioxidants needed for muscle recovery.

3. Contribute to Energy Levels and Well-Being

The vitamin B6, manganese, and copper found in dates can help regulate and manage energy metabolism, allowing your body to turn food into energy more efficiently.

This can contribute to well-being and help you feel more energized during the day and while training.

Plus, some research suggests that increasing your vitamin and mineral intake can fight fatigue and boost overall cognition, which also benefits bodybuilders looking to perform at their best.

4. Healthy Way to Add Calories and Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

As mentioned earlier, dates are calorie-dense and rich in carbs.

Given their naturally sweet and caramelly taste, you could snack on dates when craving something sweet instead of eating a candy bar or another processed food with zero nutritional value.

When bulking, you can add a handful of dates to protein shakes and smoothies for extra calories, micronutrients, and fiber.

Here’s a quick tip from Dr. Nikita Toshi:

“The high fructose content in dates provides a caramel-like sweetness in the fruit. Substituting white sugar with dates turned into a paste can make your meal sweet and healthy at the same time.”

Cons of Eating Dates

cons of eating dates

Might Lead to Unwanted Weight Gain 

Since dates are energy-dense, they might add more calories than you need. 

Although you need a caloric surplus to gain muscle mass, this must be controlled to avoid gaining too much fat.

With energy-dense foods (natural oils, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit), always measure and weigh the portion size to control your calorie intake. 

Can You Eat Dates Before Workouts?

Dates are a great pre-workout snack, offering the quick energy needed for an intense training session. 

Nonetheless, since they are high in fiber, they might produce bloating in certain people, so start with a smaller serving to see if you experience GI discomfort.

dates before workouts

I recommend having dates at least an hour before training to have enough time to digest them and avoid stomach discomfort that can affect your performance.

Add some healthy fats and protein for a steadier energy release. For example, you could do a protein shake with dates and almond butter––it’s fantastic.

Can You Eat Dates After Workouts?

Dates are a good post-workout snack. The carbs help you refuel your energy levels, and the high potassium and magnesium content helps replace the electrolytes lost through sweat. 

Finally, its antioxidant capacity helps reduce inflammation, which could help with recovery. However, it lacks protein and fat, which are essential for post-exercise.

dates after workouts

However, even if dates are fantastic, they lack protein––the top macronutrient to have post-exercise. It aids in muscle recovery and is the primary material for building muscle. 

Research recommends at least 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight for optimal post-workout recovery.

Add a protein shake, Greek yogurt, and dates to have a more balanced meal. You can also add coconut oil or nuts to add healthy fats.

Do Dates Help Muscle Growth?

Dates can be helpful for muscle growth. 

Given their energy density, dates can be ideal for people who have trouble adding calories to their daily diets without resorting to junk food like potato chips and candy bars.

They also give you the calories required for a surplus, leading to muscle growth. However, dates lack protein, the main macro for muscle building.

One option is to eat dates alongside protein (especially after training). 

Other Fruits For Bodybuilding

Check out my other fruit resources for bodybuilding: 


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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