ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Avocados for Fitness Nutrition: A Perfect Match

Avocados for Fitness Nutrition: A Perfect Match

Reading Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2022-07-26


There are two ways to improve fitness: exercise and diet. Once exercise is covered with a well-devised workout plan, it’s time to take a look at the foods your client eats. 

A balanced diet generally includes a variety of vegetables and fruit. One fruit that can boost health and wellness while also supporting an active lifestyle is the avocado. (Yes, avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable. Who knew?)

Avocado’s Nutritional Makeup

Avocado provides a lot of the nutrients the body needs for healthy function. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shares that one avocado contains:

  • 4g of protein

  • 13.5g of fiber

  • 42.2 μg of vitamin K

  • 163 μg of folate

  • 975mg of potassium

  • 20.1mg of vitamin C

  • 58.3mg of magnesium

  • 105mg of phosphorus

Avocado also contains other vitamins and minerals. Among them are calcium, iron, zinc, fluoride, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and niacin. It is also low in sodium (only 14.1 milligrams per avocado) and low in sugar (1.33 grams).

But Don’t Avocados Have a Lot of Fat?

Some people avoid avocado because of its higher fat content. This is understandable since each fruit contains roughly 29.5 grams of total fat according to USDA data. Yet, it’s the type of fat that makes avocado a healthy option.

Most of the fat in avocado (19.7 grams) is monounsaturated fat. Another 3.65 grams are polyunsaturated fat. Only 4.27 grams fall into the saturated fat category. Additionally, there are no trans fatty acids or cholesterol in avocado. What does all of this mean?

Because most of the fat in avocado is unsaturated fat, it is considered a healthy fat food. Unsaturated fat is the keystone of many healthy diet plans. One is the Mediterranean Diet, which gets a lot of this type of fat in the green olives it includes.

The body does need some fat to function efficiently. Unsaturated fat is considered “good fat” because it promotes health versus harms it. This is different from saturated fat, which is a type of fat that has been known to raise your cholesterol level. More specifically, it increases your LDL cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol that elevates your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Health Benefits of Eating Avocado

Research has found that adding avocado into your diet can help improve health and wellness. For example, one 2016 analysis linked avocado consumption to lower total cholesterol. It also helps reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, specifically. This contributes to more healthy cholesterol levels overall.

Other pieces of research have connected avocado with increased nutrient absorption. A 2014 study states that eating avocado increases carotenoid absorption. This improves the body’s ability to convert this nutrient to vitamin A.

Still more studies note that avocado can reduce one’s risk of metabolic syndrome. A 2013 study suggests that this benefit is due, in part, to avocado consumers tending to eat more fruit and vegetables. Ultimately, this leads to a higher-quality diet. 

Benefits of Avocados for Fitness Nutrition

While all of these benefits are great, what makes this fruit so important in fitness? One reason is that it helps support healthy weight loss.

A 2019 study involved 51 overweight people who split into two groups. Both groups followed the same low-calorie diet. However, only one group’s eating plan included avocado. While each group experienced weight loss, the avocado group had more changes in their intestinal microbiome. This increases their odds of sustaining long-term changes in body composition.

In addition to weight loss, eating avocado can also improve sports performance. One study notes that this is especially true for athletes with certain genetic makeups. (Namely, those that have been linked with increased muscle fatigue and lengthier recovery times.) In cases such as this, avocado provides the nutrients their body needs to help overcome these issues.

Incorporating Avocado into a Healthy Diet Plan

You can find avocado in almost any grocery store. That makes it a highly accessible food option. And it is easy to incorporate it into daily meals and snacks.

One of the most common suggestions for a healthy breakfast in recent years is avocado toast. Just mash a ripe avocado and mix it with some salt, pepper, lime, and cilantro. Spread this on a piece of whole-wheat toast. It creates a satisfying morning meal that will leave you feeling full for hours.

At lunchtime, a few avocado slices on top of a turkey sandwich or chicken salad is a good way to add healthy fat to the meal. It also boosts your protein intake. Protein is necessary for building muscle. It also helps your body better recover after a grueling workout.

When preparing dinner, cook with avocado oil instead of olive oil. You still get all the benefits of a whole avocado, plus a few more. For example, one animal study found that avocado oil increases soluble collagen in the skin. This is thought to be because the oil contains portions of the avocado seed.

If you like the taste and texture of avocado, you can also eat it plain as a snack. One avocado contains roughly 322 calories. For fewer calories, cut it in half. You might also want to cut it in half if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake. One avocado contains 17.1 grams of carbs.

Avocado Smoothies for Better Fitness Nutrition

There’s a reason many fitness facilities offer their members smoothies. They’re fast, easy, and a great way to boost your nutrient intake. And they don’t involve spending hours in the kitchen.

You can make your smoothie even healthier by adding avocado. It also makes it smoother and creamier. It is a simple way to meet your recommended amounts of fiber and dietary fat. This does boost the smoothie’s calorie content, so keep that in mind when planning the rest of your diet.

If you want a drink that incorporates your protein powder, Chocolate Covered Katie has an avocado smoothie recipe to try. Out of 65 reviews, it has earned 4.86 stars. All you need is one-half of a large avocado, 1.5 cups milk, a scoop of protein powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and sugar or sweetener to taste.

Well Plated by Erin has another almost 5-star recipe, this one for a blueberry banana avocado smoothie. Blueberries are a high antioxidant food. As such, they help protect against damage caused by free radicals. Bananas are good for keeping your blood sugar stable. They also support better digestive health.

Want to learn more ways to bolster fitness nutrition? Earn your Nutrition Coach certification. This course teaches you how to create a dietary food plan that supports your clients’ health and fitness goals.


Featured Course

Nutritionist

By becoming an ISSA Nutritionist, you'll learn the foundations of how food fuels the body, plus step by step methods for implementing a healthy eating plan into clients' lifestyles.


References

Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. US Department of Agriculture. (2019). Retrieved 8 July 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171705/nutrients.

Peou, S., Milliard-Hasting, B., & Shah, S. (2016). Impact of avocado-enriched diets on plasma lipoproteins: A meta-analysis. Journal Of Clinical Lipidology, 10(1), 161-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacl.2015.10.011

Kopec, R., Cooperstone, J., Schweiggert, R., Young, G., Harrison, E., & Francis, D. et al. (2014). Avocado Consumption Enhances Human Postprandial Provitamin A Absorption and Conversion from a Novel High–β-Carotene Tomato Sauce and from Carrots. The Journal Of Nutrition, 144(8), 1158-1166. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.113.187674

Fulgoni, V., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition Journal, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-1

Henning, S., Yang, J., Woo, S., Lee, R., Huang, J., & Rasmusen, A. et al. (2019). Hass Avocado Inclusion in a Weight-Loss Diet Supported Weight Loss and Altered Gut Microbiota: A 12-Week Randomized, Parallel-Controlled Trial. Current Developments In Nutrition, 3(8). https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzz068

Sorrenti, V., Fortinguerra, S., Caudullo, G., & Buriani, A. (2020). Deciphering the Role of Polyphenols in Sports Performance: From Nutritional Genomics to the Gut Microbiota toward Phytonutritional Epigenomics. Nutrients, 12(5), 1265. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051265

Werman, M., Mokady, S., Ntmni, M., & Neeman, I. (1991). The Effect of Various Avocado Oils on Skin Collagen Metabolism. Connective Tissue Research, 26(1-2), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3109/03008209109152159

Katie, C. Avocado Smoothie - Just 5 Ingredients!. Chocolate Covered Katie. Retrieved 8 July 2022, from https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/avocado-smoothie-recipe/.

Clarke, E. (2022). Avocado Smoothie {With Blueberries} – WellPlated.com. Well Plated by Erin. Retrieved 8 July 2022, from https://www.wellplated.com/blueberry-avocado-banana-smoothie/.

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