Grapefruit juice: the ultimate drink for athletes!

Drinking grapefruit juice before or after exercise could have significant effects on athletic performance and muscle gain. It contains various compounds that delay fatigue and accelerate recovery.

For instance, grapefruit juice is one of the richest foods in vitamin C and lycopene, while being an excellent natural source of B vitamins, electrolytes, and other essential minerals.

Benefits of drinking grapefruit juice before a workout

One of the best times of the day to drink grapefruit juice is before exercise. It’s packed with compounds that help endurance athletes run for longer and bodybuilders or other fitness enthusiasts perform harder resistance training sessions.

Provides energy to the muscles


Firstly, drinking a cup of grapefruit juice before the gym is good for you because it’s rich in sugar.

Grapefruit juice has 9 grams of sugar per 100 mL or 22 grams of sugar per cup.[1]

Most noteworthy, grapefruit juice can fuel up working muscles for a long time because it has a medium glycemic index of 60.[2]

The high antioxidant content of grapefruit juice prevents spikes in blood sugar levels. Moreover, it’s rich in fructose; a type of sugar that isn’t instantly stored as muscle glycogen. It has to be metabolized in the liver.

In fact, grapefruit juice is one of the best fruit juices, that an athlete who works out for a lean body can drink. It has significantly less sugar than other favorite fruit juices.

sugar (g)
grape juice14.2
tart cherry juice12.2
cranberry juice12.1
apple juice10.1
pineapple juice10
grapefruit juice9.1
orange juice8.2
Sugar content of favorite unsweetened fruit juices.

Avoid consuming foods high in added sugar like candy or sweetened fruit juices before exercising. High amounts of added sugar cause instant rise and drop in blood sugar levels. In the middle of a race or a training session, you may run out of energy!


Moreover, drinking grapefruit juice before the gym is good for athletes because it contains decent amounts of magnesium. It provides 7% of the Daily Value per cup.

High magnesium status might improve sports performance by enhancing glucose availability in the brain, muscle and blood. In addition, magnesium may delay lactate accumulation in the muscle or reduce concentrations.

Grapefruit juice: the ultimate post-workout drink.Pin

Also, healthy magnesium levels may protect from muscle damage! Especially, during demanding efforts.[3]

Magnesium is involved in anabolic and catabolic processes that affect muscular performance during exercise.

B vitamins for high energy levels

Furthermore, drinking grapefruit juice before intense exercise could improve athletic performance because it’s rich in B vitamins. This group of water-soluble vitamins plays a crucial role in energy metabolism.

Besides energy production, B vitamins enhance the absorption and transport of iron as well as blood cell production.[4]

A cup of grapefruit juice provides:

  • pantothenic acid, 9% DV
  • vitamin B6, 8% DV
  • thiamine, 8% DV
  • folate, 6% DV
  • riboflavin, 4% DV

Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of glucose and regulates its usage.

Besides its critical role in energy metabolism, normal thiamine levels are necessary for muscle growth. Also, thiamine may decrease lactate concentration in the muscles during intense exercise and delay fatigue.[5]

Moreover, folate protects the cardiovascular system of athletes during exhaustive exercise.[6]

Last, but not least, high riboflavin intakes before or during prolonged running might reduce muscle pain and soreness.[7]

It’s one of the richest foods in vitamin C

Just a serving of grapefruit juice provides more vitamin C than the Daily Value! Actually, grapefruit juice is one of the richest foods in vitamin C that an athlete can consume daily.

Getting high amounts of vitamin C before a workout is good for you because it enhances iron absorption. Iron plays a crucial role in oxygen transport and energy metabolism.

Despite its importance in physical performance, many athletes are deficient in iron. Especially female endurance athletes.

Grapefruit juice contains some iron (3% DV per cup). But, you could boost your iron intake by drinking grapefruit juice with other juices containing iron, like prune juice, which is one of the richest fruit juices in iron. A serving provides 16% of the Daily Value. Also, prune juice has huge benefits for athletes, as it’s particularly rich in antioxidants and electrolytes.

How much time before a training session can I drink grapefruit juice?

Grapefruit juice is easily digested. A cup has less than 1% of the recommended daily intake of fiber.

Above all, avoid consuming foods rich in fiber before exercise. It can cause serious adverse effects like bloating that could have detrimental effects on athletic performance.

Why should athletes drink grapefruit juice after exercise?Pin

The digestion rate of grapefruit juice can vary from person to person. On average, it takes about 30 minutes to 2 hours for grapefruit juice to pass through the stomach and enter the small intestine.

Hence, you should drink reasonable amounts of grapefruit at least half an hour before going to the gym. If you have a sensitive stomach better to drink grapefruit juice at least a couple of hours before a race.

Why should athletes drink grapefruit juice after exercise?

Grapefruit juice can be a great post-workout beverage as well. It fights exercise-induced oxidative stress, helping athletes perform more demanding workouts in the season.

Accelerates recovery

Grapefruit accelerates recovery because it’s packed with antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals in the body of athletes after exhaustive training sessions, including flavonoids, lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.


Flavonoids in grapefruit juice (up to 84 mg per 100 mL) appear to improve recovery of muscular strength and reduce muscle soreness after hard exercise, as they exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[8]

In addition, flavonoids can stimulate nitric oxide production. This is vital for endurance performance. Among other health benefits, nitric oxide improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to the working muscles!

Thus, a diet rich in foods that enhance the synthesis of nitric oxide could play a huge role in sports performance.


Moreover, pink grapefruit is one of the richest foods in lycopene. A cup provides about 1,750 mcg of lycopene.

This carotenoid has potent antioxidant effects. It helps the body deal with free radicals that intense exercise produces.

Other common foods rich in lycopene are tomato, guava, papaya, and watermelon. Most people get high amounts of lycopene from tomato products, though.

Vitamin C

In addition, grapefruit juice supports muscle recovery due to its excellent vitamin C content.

Vitamin C has also powerful antioxidant properties that reduce recovery time between workouts.

Hard-working athletes require more vitamin C than the recommended intake. But, not too much. Extremely high amounts from supplements may impair muscle gain!

Furthermore, vitamin C regenerates other antioxidants within the body, including vitamin E.

Vitamin E prevents exercise-induced oxidative damage. Especially among endurance athletes.

A cup of grapefruit juice contains some vitamin E (3.5% DV) as well.

B vitamins also support recovery

All B vitamins help the body rejuvenate after demanding workouts. Thiamine in particular helps accelerate recovery after a race.

Riboflavin may also enhance early functional recovery after exercise. It protects muscle tissue from oxidative damage and supports cell repair.

The key role of Copper

Moreover, grapefruit juice is an excellent post-workout drink, as it’s rich in copper. A cup provides 9% of the Daily Value.

Exhaustive exercise depletes copper stores. Hence, hard-working athletes are at a higher risk of copper deficiency,

Among others, copper is implicated in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. It modulates energy usage.[9]

Also, copper enhances iron absorption, helps build red blood cells and collagen, and maintains healthy connective tissue. It’s abundant in bones and muscle tissue. It may increase the serum bioavailability of nitric oxide as well.[10]

Provides quick body hydration

Another key reason why athletes should drink grapefruit juice after exercise is because it replenishes both lost fluids and electrolytes.

Drinking tap water without replenishing lost electrolytes can cause serious adverse effects, such as leg cramps.

Grapefruit juice is rich in two of the most essential electrolytes: potassium (11% DV) and magnesium (7% DV). It also contains some calcium (2% DV).

What’s the best time to drink grapefruit juice for athletes?Pin

Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body! It’s important for nerve functions as well. There is no wonder why it plays such a key role in sports performance.[11]

But, potassium deficiency is pretty common among the general population as long as athletes.[12]

We should consume more plant-based foods, such as seeds, nuts, fruits, beans, and vegetables, as they’re the richest natural sources of potassium.

Additionally, most adults fail to consume the recommended daily dose of magnesium. It’s estimated that 60% of adults in the United States don’t consume enough magnesium. Keep in mind that athletes require higher dosages of magnesium than the general population.

Helps replenish muscle glycogen

Also, sugar in grapefruit juice plays a key role in muscle recovery after strenuous exercise. Actually, the best time of the day to consume your favorite sugar-rich snack or candy is after the gym.

Supports muscle gain

Vitamin B6 in grapefruit juice also enhances muscle growth, as it’s involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism. It promotes muscle hypertrophy and repair.[13]

How should bodybuilders drink it?

Athletes of bodybuilding should drink grapefruit juice with any food rich in protein. A post-workout meal should be rich in easily digested carbs like sugar and highly bioabsorbable protein.

Even endurance athletes should consume high doses of protein after a long race. A recommended ratio is approximately 4 parts carbohydrates to 1 part protein.

How much for optimum athletic performance?

A cup of unsweetened grapefruit juice has fewer than 100 calories! It has approximately 94 calories.

However, most people shouldn’t drink more than a cup a day because grapefruit juice is rich in sugar (22 grams).

The sugar naturally found in fruit juices counts as added sugar. The maximum safe daily intake of added sugar for the general population is 25 grams.

Hence, athletes with high energy needs could drink 2 cups of grapefruit juice a day. If you want to lose weight better stick to a cup, though.

Grapefruit juice helps athletes maintain a lean body

In fact, reasonable amounts of grapefruit juice as part of a balanced diet have beneficial effects on weight loss. It helps burn belly fat and inhibits the synthesis of new fat tissue.

What’s the best time for athletes to drink grapefruit juice?

The best time to drink grapefruit juice is after strenuous exercise. It accelerates recovery time, supports a lean body, and improves immunity.

If you don’t have a sensitive stomach, you could drink it before the gym as well. Sugar and certain compounds in grapefruit give energy to the muscles during exercise, delay fatigue, reduce muscle soreness, and might protect against muscle injuries.

Also, you could drink it while working out in the gym for an extra boost of energy. Sugar and B vitamins in the juice could significantly improve physical performance.

Another great time to enjoy grapefruit juice is at breakfast as part of a healthy meal rich in fiber and protein. Firstly, antioxidant compounds in grapefruit juice protect the eyes and skin from oxidative stress due to environmental issues (e.g. air pollution, sunlight).

Moreover, it keeps us energized and focused for hours, as it has a medium glycemic index.

How to drink grapefruit juice for muscle hypertrophy?

The post-workout meal should be rich both in sugar and protein. Here are 7 creative ideas for incorporating grapefruit juice into your post-workout diet routine:

  • Grapefruit Smoothie: Blend grapefruit juice with plain Greek yogurt, banana, and a scoop of protein powder for a nutritious and protein-rich smoothie.
  • Fruit Parfait: Layer grapefruit segments, Greek yogurt, and granola for a protein-packed post-workout parfait.
  • Grapefruit Ice Pops: Freeze grapefruit juice into ice pops for a cool and hydrating post-workout treat. Kids love it as well. Grapefruit juice has huge benefits for the whole family!
  • Grapefruit Iced Tea: Mix grapefruit juice with iced tea and a touch of honey for a refreshing beverage to sip during workouts.
  • Grapefruit Ice Cubes: Freeze grapefruit juice into ice cubes and add them to your water bottle to enjoy as they melt during your workout.
  • Grapefruit Salad Dressing: Create a zesty salad dressing by mixing grapefruit juice with olive oil, honey, and a dash of salt to drizzle over your post-workout salad.
  • Grapefruit Mocktail: Make a grapefruit mocktail with soda water, a splash of lime juice, and a sprig of mint for a refreshing post-workout drink.

Can all athletes drink grapefruit juice?

Healthy athletes with no known citrus allergies can drink grapefruit juice.

However, grapefruit juice can interact with various medications, affecting their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions.[14]

Moreover, some people may experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort, heartburn or other adverse effects, due to its acidity.

You should consult your healthcare provider before changing your eating routine.

For athletes, grapefruit juice offers advantages in recovery, sports performance, and muscle growth. InfographicsPin

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