by the MoFi Staff
Part and parcel of a summer time competition day event: bottled water, sun screen, shade shelters, and copious bags of fruit stuffed into backpacks and coolers. Fruit is the staple of long-game day events like track and field, but which is the best game day fruit to have on hand?
The question begs further questions. What vitamins and minerals are most important for a competitor? In doing far more research than we wanted to, we determined that the needs of an athlete on competition day don’t just include a simple energy boost. Though the quick energy boost from natural sugar is OK for game day, a sustained energy source along with vitamins and minerals that provide for muscle health, healthy oxygen levels in the blood, and assist mental focus and clarity are the keys to the best competition day fruit snack.
Finding the Winner
We looked at dozens of fruits, literally, to find the best. What follows in the infographic are the top game day fruits. Based on the above requirements of energy and general athletic functions, each fruit was rated for the following game day energy important vitamins and nutrients:
- Natural sugars – which provide quick on demand energy.
- B Vitamins – the basis of sustained energy maintenance. Though all eight of the B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into fuel (glucose), we took the average daily value of six of the most important B vitamins for competition day energy. (Warning: naturally occurring B vitamins or a modest supplement are OK, but overdoing this energy rich vitamin can lead to stomach problems, sleep problems, and skin reactions.)
- Magnesium (Mg) – helps produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which transports chemical energy within cells.
- Iron (Fe)- helps carry oxygen through the bloodstream necessary for energy production.
- Potassium (K)- regulates fluid balance, controls electrical activity of the muscles, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
- And Complex Carbs – which are utilized by the body for energy after simple sugars are burned. For this article, Complex Carbs are the number of carbohydrates that are not simple sugars or counted as fiber.
Hold on to your sandwich bags… prunes! Though it is a bit of a cheat in that prunes are not a naturally occurring fruit (meaning, there are no prune trees – you do know they are dehydrated plums, right?) In a gram to gram comparison, prunes provide a powerful sugar punch for quick energy, have the highest complex carb rating of our fruit group analysis, contain the highest average daily recommended value of B Vitamins for more sustained energy, provide 30% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) of potassium, and are rich in iron and magnesium. Be careful though – lotsa calories.
Though our “pick off the tree” fruit winner, bananas stand in 2nd place overall with a high level of quick energy sugars, an excellent complex carb rating, and a very nice overall Vitamin B profile. However, in 3rd place, oranges may seem a better choice for some as they pack a powerful nutrient punch at 1/4th the calories of prunes and nearly 40% less than bananas at the same serving size.
The losers might be surprising. Though good for you, apples are simply not a great competition day fruit snack as it ranks on the lower range of B Vitamins and other key nutrients for an athlete and thus didn’t even make our list. On game day, apples amount to empty calories. Strawberries and apricots were also surprisingly low in these categories.
Fuel up and good luck!