Is fruit bad for weight loss? Do you need to stop eating fruit if you’re trying to go on a diet? Do you need to be worrying about the sugars, and do you need to be on a super low carb diet to lose weight? We are going to cover all of that!
We’ll talk about blood sugar, insulin fat burning and give you advice on the best fruits that actually do support weight loss and overall health.
First, we need to look at the overall big picture of weight loss in general. On the nutrition side of things, we know that weight loss is driven primarily by our nutrition. Also, good sleep and exercise are really helpful.
If we want a well-rounded weight loss plan, nutrition is key because when we’re trying to lose weight, we’re trying to create a calorie deficit, meaning we are burning more calories than ingesting every single day.
During that deficit, when we’ve burned more than intaked, that is where weight loss is created. It is the laws of physics, laws of thermodynamics, and this is how things work.
This is also why you see people lose weight on a McDonald’s diet. They burn 2 500 calories per day and eat 3 600 calorie BigMacs. They’re in a calorie deficit, and they lose weight.
This is also why we see people lose weight on fruitarian diets, when there are people that legitimately eat 20 bananas a day, and they’re burning more calories than that, so they do lose weight. There are pure fruitarians that still lose weight.
So it almost like begs the question – what about the sugar? Well, the first thing we need to focus on is the calories matter tremendously in weight loss.
When it comes to losing weight, it’s a lot easier to eat cleaner and more nutritious foods to pull back the calorie intake than to exercise off the calories. And this is where fruit fits into the equation. Fruits are very nutrient-dense low-calorie food.
A whole pound of blackberries has only 200 calories. No one is getting fat, eating blackberries. People are getting fat eating processed foods, fast foods, drinking sugary sodas – that’s not the same thing as fruit.
S whole pound of watermelon is like 150 calories, so the point being is fruit, not a very high-calorie food.
When we’re looking at losing weight on just the calorie thing, obviously we’ve displayed that you’d have to eat basically like 10 pounds of fruit per day of blackberries to get over your calorie needs. So obviously if you’re eating the right kinds of fruits and it’s a part of a balanced, sensible approach, you can include fruit while still losing weight.
Now, let’s get into the sugar. A big objection to fruit is while fruit has sugar, it is going to spike the blood sugar, which will cause insulin to rise, and then the fat-burning will turn off. Again, the overall big picture here is that overall energy intake matters if you’re still burning more calories than you’re ingesting. Even if you do get a small blood sugar spike, you’re still going to be okay.
Again, look at the fruitarians – these are people that sometimes eat two 300 grams of sugar per day, and they lose weight. We do not suggest you do that because fruit obviously has a specific kind of macronutrient profile typically higher in carbohydrates, higher in fiber. We’re just making the point is that calories matter when it comes to weight loss, and fruit is a lower calorie food relative to the amount of it you can eat.
The thing is, we can’t just look at the calories themselves and the proteins, the carbs, the fats, the macronutrient aspect of food. We need to look at the micronutrients, and fruit is jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These things don’t show up on a nutrition label but have profound benefits on health.
For example, blueberries have special phytochemicals in them called proanthocyanidins that improve your memory, and help prevent Alzheimer’s, help fight cancer, lower LDL cholesterol. These are not things you’re going to find when looking at a basic nutrition label, but they’re in fruits in their natural state.
The overall story here with fruit is that it doesn’t have to be out of your diet to lose weight. You can have a balanced diet where you have some fruits in moderation on occasion, perhaps post-workout, and lose weight.
It’s about understanding the mathematics, we do need to have a sense of calories, we need to eat foods that make us feel good with energy to keep us full, and that’s actually sustainable over the long haul. So if you are someone who enjoys fruit, then maybe cutting it out completely is not the best idea.
The other thing you should know about fruits is the fructose aspect because it’s a sugar that’s naturally found in fruits. A lot of people are scared of it because they’ve heard that it can cause bad health effects like weight gain accumulation of fat in the liver, insulin resistance on the scale of pre-diabetes.
There’s a good reason that people are concerned about high fructose intakes, and that’s largely because, over the last 10-15 years, we’ve introduced high fructose corn syrup into our diets. This is a processed sugar that comes from corn and has a ton of fructose. We put this in our candies, in our sodas, and we found that fructose intakes have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, so has obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, etc.
We do have an idea that fructose intakes may cause bad things to our health, and this is because fructose is unique sugar, it processed in the liver and can be converted into fat.
The problem is when fat accumulates in the liver that turns into something called fatty liver disease. The liver is essential for your metabolism and a whole bunch of other functions, so when the liver gets gunked up with that, we have a lot of problems like insulin resistance and other bad stuff we want to avoid.
But what’s the deal with fruit? Is that the same thing as high fructose corn syrup? Well, it turns out it’s not the case. When we’re getting high fructose corn syrup from like a two-liter bottle of soda, we’re getting like maybe 40 to 80 grams of fructose. A lot of fructose basically devoid of any other nutrition besides the sugar in it. That’s a much different thing than getting a smaller fructose dose from fruit mixed in with fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc. It’s a different experience for the body.
This is why we consider a healthy sugar in fruit, it’s still the fructose molecule that’s in the soda, but it’s coming in the concert of all the other great nutrition in the fruit that makes it a different experience for the body.
This is essential. The fructose intake that you will get from having a couple of pieces of fruit per day, maybe 5-10-15 grams, but that’s substantially different than maybe the 80 to 100 grams you might get from drinking a lot of sodas or having a lot of candies.
Equating fruit to and being very concerned about the minimal amount of fructose in fruit relative to what you might get in a lot of processed foods is something we all need to start to get away from.
We need to understand that fruit, even though it has some fructose can be healthy, our body is totally built, and we can handle fructose in small amounts. In fact, there are even health benefits to having fructose in small amounts, because it helps refill glycogen stores in the liver.
If you are still concerned about fructose, there are different varieties of fruits that have different levels of fructose. Some fruits like persimmons and bananas have higher fructose levels than things like blueberries, lemons, grapefruits, or kiwis or lower fructose fruits.
This is why we can get lower fructose fruits. Getting a little bit of fructose, it’s not going to be a problem for our bodies, it’s not the same thing as drinking soda. In fact, they actually just recently had a study where they took two groups, and these were healthy men in their 30s. They put them on matched diets for calories, the same amount of calories and one group got 150 grams of fructose per day, and the other group had a normal amount of fructose in a diet, somewhere under 30-50 grams of fructose.
150 grams of fructose is equivalent to eating 20+ bananas. It’s a lot of bananas way more fructose than most people get. They measured those groups over eight weeks of a tightly controlled diet balanced for calories, and at the end, they measured metabolic markers, how did their cholesterol, insulin resistance markers, and weight change. It turned out their weight didn’t change at all, and there was no difference in their metabolic markers. This is not to say that high fructose intakes like that are healthy. It’s just that they’re not as harmful as a lot of us believe.
So we don’t need to be as worried about you having 5-10 grams of fructose from your favorite piece of fruit., but fructose is not good, especially in high fructose corn syrup.
When it comes to the best kinds of fruits, there is a hierarchy when it comes to losing weight and health benefits. All kinds of berries are fantastic! We mention blackberries a couple of times because they’re low in calories relative to how much you can eat. They’re full of fiber and full of phytochemicals. Blueberries are amazing!
Kiwi fruit has many benefits and has a lot of great research on it for all sorts of things like hair, skin, nails, memory, anti-cancer effects – another very great fruit. You want to actually eat the skin with that because that actually has health benefits a lot of the fiber of that.
The apples are really great. They have a unique kind of fiber in them called pectin that feeds your gut bacteria, and they actually don’t raise your blood sugar spikes that that much. The old saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away there’s wisdom in that.
Melons are wonderful! You can have melons and the calorie load of 150 calories for like a pound of melons.
Overall, find fruits you love, and enjoy them in moderation. That’s pretty much the thing here. They can be in your diet when it comes to weight loss. It’s almost always a good idea to buy organic fruit when possible. There can be pesticides on these fruits, especially non-organic ones, and with things like berries that have a very thin skin they can seep into the fruit, and have documented bad health effects.
If you’re on a budget to buy organic but organic by and large is going to be a better way to get your fruit.