- Fruit is considered part of the carbohydrate macro group, which is a macro that has a notorious stereotype for weight gain and adding bulkiness, though you can get lean eating fruit.
- Lean bodybuilding is the task of building muscle mass while staying away from potential bulkiness.
- Any muscle with a low amount of fat around it is a lean muscle.
Two watermelons walk into a bar. One turns to the other and says, “Your round.” The second watermelon looks his friend up and down and says, “So are you, you fat b*stard.”
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Now, granted, the watermelons may have had excess fat mass, but this wouldn’t only be from being fruits. Weight gain and fat gain are not independent of eating specific foods.
So you can eat fruit to obtain a lean build, although there are certain variables to consider. Whether you’re a fruit lover, bodybuilder, or neither, you could benefit from the information in this article.
Lean Bodybuilding vs Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding is a sport that involves intense exercise with the goal of attaining large muscle mass. Lean bodybuilding is just that, with the goal of looking more defined with a focus on aesthetics rather than size.
A bodybuilder is Arnold, and a lean bodybuilder is someone like Thor.
A bulking phase is what a bodybuilder goes through to gain as much muscle mass as possible. A cutting phase is what is done to get as lean as possible by losing fat mass and retaining as much of that muscle mass. These cycles continue for years on end — that’s literally all that bodybuilding is.
Bodybuilding doesn’t focus on strength and performance like other sports (i.e., mixed martial arts and soccer) but rather on the sole goal of muscle growth and decreasing body fat for physical appearance.
It’s important to note that staying lean doesn’t necessarily = healthy. In fact, there are potential risks to this extreme approach, even when not considering the “super supplements.”
This is important to understand because being lean and having muscle isn’t the definition of health. Being free from illness and injury is.
Eat the Damn Fruit
With the amount of misinformation that’s flying around online, you may feel like you’re Harry Potter in the Sorcerer’s Stone looking for the key… but the wrong ones just keep flying around your head.
The key you’re looking for is moderation.
Fruit should be part of a well-balanced diet, and it’s almost impossible to eat too much of it. Though, this doesn’t mean we should pig out like the emperors of Rome and have 1,000 grapes dangled above our mouths per day.
Fruit contains sugars called fructose, sucrose, and glucose. These are considered simple carbohydrates, as they absorb into the bloodstream quicker than complex carbs. It’s been shown in a meta-analysis that people tend to only see adverse effects on metabolic markers and body fat after eating over 100 grams of fructose per day.
To give you an idea, one medium-sized banana (around 100 grams) is made up of 5.7 grams of fructose, 5.9 grams of glucose, and 2.8 grams of sucrose. You’d need to eat at least 7 bananas a day, without decent training, to see adverse effects from the sugar content.
Considering bananas contain around 30 grams of carbs each, and the average 2,000-calorie diet for people who are training contains around 230-300 grams of carbs, this wouldn’t even be your full carb intake.
Weight gain and fat gain are not independent of eating specific foods but rather how much of them you eat. With absolutely anything, the dose makes the poison. So in the case of trying to attain lean body mass, excessive carbohydrate, and fat intake is the poison.
Take note of the word excessive.
Carbs and fats are not inherently bad, but in excess, they have the potential to cause unwanted weight gain. So yes, you can eat fruit if that’s what you desire. However, it’d be wise to account for how much of it you’re eating (total calories) and what category of carbohydrate it fits into.
How Should I Eat for Lean Bodybuilding?
Everything we eat is made up of calories. Those calories can be put into the macronutrient and micronutrient categories. Our macros consist of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Protein = 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
- Fat = 9 calories per gram
Protein plays the largest role in muscle growth out of all the macros. Protein’s role is to build, repair, and create new cells.
Protein and fiber are the most satiating (filling) foods and have great benefits. Fiber is usually filled with tons of micronutrients and has very few calories. These are foods like whole vegetables and grains. More protein = more muscle.
Good recommendations for protein are:
- 1g per pound of body weight to gain weight.
- 1.2g per pound of body weight for weight loss.
While protein provides the enablement of growth and muscle recovery, carbohydrate intake provides energy. And timing the consumption of carbs can actually benefit the bodybuilding and athletic lifestyle.
Carbohydrates are converted into glucose and used as energy by the body. Some of that glucose is stored as glycogen so that it can later be reconverted into glucose and used as energy again.
Thus, simple carbs — like sweets, honey, syrup, glucose gels, fruits, and sugary drinks, like fruit juice — will be used as energy before other carbohydrate types. That’s especially true if we have them just before an intense workout.
The other types of carbs are starches and fibers, which are both known as complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbs are absorbed slower than simple carbs. This means that they increase blood glucose levels slower because they digest slower.
Starches include foods like pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes. Meanwhile, fiber includes foods like whole vegetables, beans, and grains. Both have immense benefits in a balanced diet.
Fats play a key role in a healthy immune system as they help the body absorb vitamins like A, D & E. They also provide energy to the body and brain and support cell growth. Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids promote the release of nitric oxide, thus increasing blood flow.
The amount of calories per gram is more than double in fats than it is in proteins and carbs. So these should be the lesser percentage of anyone’s diet, although they definitely play a vital role in a healthy & balanced diet.
Our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), or how many calories we burn in a day, is made up of several variables. Depending on our goals, we can either eat over or under our TDEE to gain or lose weight. Or we could eat around the exact amount to sustain our weight.
Want to give it a go? Try this TDEE Calculator. If you need to gain weight, eat 150 – 250 above your maintenance. If you need to lose weight, eat 150 – 250 below your maintenance.
Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they did work on it every day. It takes time.
Muscle building is a gradual process. Progressive overload training is the tool that enhances that process. This means that if our goal is gaining muscle, we need to gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of reps in our weight training programs to continually force our bodies to adapt to a new stimulus over time.
Part of our TDEE is our exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) — which only accounts for 5% of our TDEE. This means while we’re training to gain muscle and burn body fat, we’re only adding 5% into the equation.
Regardless of it accounting for only 5%, to build muscle and get shredded, we still need to train hard with progressive overload and hit our daily protein target.
One way to do this is by using autoregulation.
A great way to autoregulate your training is by using a scale called the RPE scale, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. This scale is completely subjective to each individual and has the ability to help manage load, volume, and intensity to avoid getting overfatigued.
RPE 1 is the lowest number on the scale. This is barely exertion and can’t even be considered a cakewalk. RPE 10 is the highest number on the scale, which is when you literally fail due to muscular fatigue and can’t push out even one more rep.
Your training should be a mix of as close to failure as you can get and a healthy amount of 7/10 RPE to retain muscle mass. 2-3 reps shy of failure has the potential to produce just as many benefits for muscle growth without as many downsides (i.e., high fatigue).
Training below an RPE level 5 barely has any merit besides in a de-load week.
Forcing our bodies to adapt to a new stimulus is called progressive overload. This is resistance training with weights that gradually gets harder and harder. We also know that doing more volume and more load has been shown to increase gains.
Gradually lifting heavier, doing more volume (reps), or both throughout your training program will induce hypertrophy (the enlargement of skeletal muscle).
Sleep Like a Baby? No, Sleep Like an Adult
Where do baby fruits sleep? In apri-cots.
Alright, that’s the last one.
As much as we use the phrase “sleep like a baby” due to how deeply they sleep, we still don’t account for how much of a lack of routine babies have in their sleeping patterns.
Instead, aim to sleep like an adult.
Rest is important. If you’re stressing your body out due to lack of sleep, it can lead to unwanted weight gain, a dip in performance, and even injuries.
Muscle soreness does not equate to muscle gain. So we need to learn the difference between muscular failure and muscle soreness — or “the burn.”
Muscle recovery depends on how much rest and recovery we allow them to get. So a de-load week should be added into every regular training program where a person is training all year round. You can do this by decreasing the overall volume, load, and intensity of your workouts to avoid overtraining while recovering from decreased energy levels and performance stagnation.
To reap the full rewards of sleep, we need to travel to its deepest stages. Now, you may feel like Harry Potter in The Chamber of Secrets. This is otherwise known as rapid eye movement sleep, or REM sleep, which only lasts between 70-100 minutes.
When you’re in this stage of sleep, you’re at your most relaxed due to an increase in blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient uptake in the muscles, which helps regenerate cells.
The pituitary gland also releases growth hormones in this stage of sleep. When we aren’t sleeping enough, the pituitary gland’s secretion of this hormone dramatically declines, which can — in turn — make it a longer recovery process for your muscles.
In a world full of babies, sleep and recover like an adult.
Can You Eat Fruit For Lean Bodybuilding?
Yes, yes you can. But you can’t be a fruitarian. You have to get adequate protein to build muscle, and you won’t get it from fruit alone.
So, to eat fruit while getting lean:
- Find your TDEE and the macro split that works for you.
- Eat lots of protein.
- Train like a gladiator … rest like an emperor.
- Eat fruit somewhere within all of that (a variety, if you can).
- Party Rock.
As mentioned earlier: everything in moderation. Fruits grant you the ability to move carbs around with no packaging and no preparation needed. Whether you agree or not, fruits have so many benefits they should be a part of your diet — but not all of it.