Pineapple: A Perfect Post-Workout Snack
Though most people associate the sweet, yellow fruit with the tropics, pineapple is good for a lot more than making piña coladas and Hawaiian-style pig roasts. Research suggests, in fact, that pineapple has properties that make it an excellent pre- and post-workout snack – and we should be eating more of it.
Connecting the Benefits of Pineapple to Performance
It’s no secret that pineapple packs a punch when it comes to sugar content, which is perhaps why many people shy away from it. But there’s one great time to consume these carbohydrates: before or after a workout. This is because carbs are the main source of fuel for the body during a workout, and without sufficient carbs, you’ll likely start to feel fatigued. Pineapple delivers about 22 grams of carbohydrates that your body can easily metabolize to give you an energy boost before you hit the gym. Afterwards, the body is in need of carbs to replenish its glycogen stores so you can recover from your workout. This is also a great time to consume pineapple.
Pineapple is somewhat of a powerhouse of micronutrients, too. It’s rich in vitamin C, which plays an important role in tissue growth and healing and in protecting the immune system. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that vitamin C helps reduce muscle soreness and oxidative stress from exercise. It has a good amount of dietary fiber and is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which the body requires in small amounts but is not commonly found in food today.
Perhaps the most notable feature of pineapple is that is contains bromelain, which is an enzyme that aids in the digestion of protein. That is, it helps the body digest protein more efficiently. It’s been found to reduce inflammation (swelling) in the body and may have a positive impact on relieving the pain of aching muscles after exercise.
Three Easy Ways to Eat Pineapple After Your Workout
Throw it in a smoothie. This is probably the easiest way to get your daily dose of pineapple after your workout. To balance out the carbs, add a few tablespoons of hemp seeds for protein and a bit of coconut oil for good fats. Blend with milk or your favorite milk substitute (almond, cashew, or coconut milk would work well).
Eat with cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is a great source of protein and pairs well with a sweet fruit like pineapple. Make sure you cut your pineapple pieces small enough to be bite size, and top it with a little honey and chopped nuts if you wish.
Complement your meal. If you’re eating a full meal after your workout, you can incorporate pineapple by grilling it and throwing it on a salad with chicken, or even including a slice on a homemade burger. Shish kabobs are another great way to get some extra pineapple, as the fruit pairs nicely with onions, bell peppers, and beef.
What to Look for When Purchasing Pineapple
When you’re buying fresh pineapple, be sure to pick it up and smell it. An underripe fruit won’t have a smell, while an overripe one will smell vinegar-y or fermented. A ripe pineapple fruit should smell sweet and the flesh should be firm with just a bit of give if you squeeze it. You can also pluck one of the leaves out near the center. If it comes out fairly easily, the fruit is ready. If it takes a lot of effort, it isn’t ripe yet.
Pineapple isn’t on the ‘dirty dozen’ list of fruits you should always buy organic. With that said, conventional pineapples are generally laden with pesticides that are harmful to both the environment and humans. Some retailers and supermarkets sell pineapples that are certified fair trade and organic, which means that workers receive a fair wage and farmers practice more environmentally friendly farming methods. Look for these whenever possible.