Reversing the Fight on Fruit: Athletes Changing Dietary Perceptions

reversing_the_fight_on_fruit_athlete_changing_dietary_perceptions_picFruit has long been heralded as one of the most nutrient-dense sources of energy available—high in fiber, easily-digestible, and packed full of vitamins—yet in recent years a stigma has come about, and fruit has been getting a bad rap.

Due largely in part to the low-carbohydrate trend perpetuated by diets like Atkins and Paleo, fruit has been cast into the same category as refined bread and candy. I have been hearing things like “Fruit makes you fat,” or “Fruit is full of sugar and carbs,” and the Paleo assertion that “Our ancestors didn’t eat fruit, so neither should we.” Well something just seems sketch to me about emulating a Flintstones diet, and I don’t think I’m seeing these droves of obese fruitarians I have been warned about, but you don’t have to take it from me; there are plenty of world class athletes and nutritionists weighing in on the subject.

While endurance athletes have traditionally embraced fruit as pre-competition fuel,  many high-profile, strength-based athletes are now saying that not only does fruit have an important place in any healthy diet, but that a diet based upon fruits and vegetables is optimal for intensive training as well.

Mac Danzig, winner of season six of the Ultimate Fighter reality TV series, and devout vegan since 2004, has long touted the benefits of a high-carbohydrate, plant-based diet, but has recently tweeted that he is now exclusively eating almost 100% fresh fruit and vegetables. While he has always maintained a consistently healthy, plant-based diet, Danzig has still gone through his share of rigorous reversing_the_fight_on_fruit_picweight-cuts, but says that since adopting this fruit-central diet he is now in the best shape of his life, and making weight easier than ever.{1}

Mike Dolce, founder of the Dolce Diet, and premier mixed martial arts nutritionist—whose clients include the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort, among others—has been very vocal about advocating a high-carbohydrate, fruit-dense diet for all of his athletes.

While Dolce is an omnivore, he makes it very clear that plant-based nutrition still makes up the bulk of his diet plan. Dolce is a huge proponent of fresh fruit—the primary carbohydrate source for himself, his family, and his athletes, and is growing frustrated with the notion that such a diet is unhealthy, saying, “All that garbage that comes from bodybuilders…‘Fruit is going to make you fat’—that is just garbage…I suggest more fruits and carbohydrates, because we have to realize that is what our body, brain, and heart use as fuel.”{2}

But even the bodybuilder diet Dolce is rallying against is being redefined by the success of plant-based athletes achieving massive success on carbohydrate and fruit-dense diets. Chad Byers, a recent gold medalist at the Naturally Fit Bodybuilding and Fitness Expo, bolsters an immense frame at 6’4, 220 pounds, and less than 5% body fat, and fuels himself daily with over 5,000 calories comprised entirely of green smoothies, fresh salads, and copious amounts of fruit—the guy eats over thirty athletes_change_dietary_perceptions_imagebananas a day, and seems to have no issues with “getting fat from fruit.” {3}

While marketing campaigns may want you to believe otherwise, you can rest assured that eating a diet based upon whole foods, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is always going to warrant positive results, and that perhaps our society’s perceptions of sports nutrition may soon be changing with the proven results of world-class athletes thriving on fruit-dense diets.


{1} Danzig, Mac. http://twitter.com/macdanzigmma. Posted 23 Jul 2013. Web. 11 Sept 2013.
{2} Curreri, Frank. “Mike Dolce: Belfot Kicks ‘Body-Builder’ Diet to Curb.” UFC.com. 6 Sept, 2012. Web. 11 Sept 2013.
{3} Byers Chad. http://facebook.com/veganchad. Posted 4 Sept 2013. Web. 16 Sept 2013.

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