“Eat your fruit each day” should be a common sense statement when we care about our nutrition when losing weight. Yet, dieters can really make a mess of this. The inspiration for this article is questions we have received about weight loss stalls despite fruit being added to the diet. You would think adding fruit to your diet is simple common sense, but some can really mess this up.
There is no doubt, fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. In fact, diets high in fruit are associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a decreased risk of many diseases. Eating fruit provides us with good vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium and folate, of which many people don’t get enough. Fruits are loaded with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that can damage cells. Eating a diet high in antioxidants may help slow aging and reduce our risk of disease.
Eating your fruit will help you with weight loss! Because fruits are high in nutrients and low in calories, they are the perfect choice for those trying to lose weight. Fruits are high in water and fiber, which help you feel satiated. Because of this, you can typically eat fruit until you’re satisfied. Apples and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are among the most filling. And, they will satisfy a craving for sweets. You really should aim to consume two to four servings of fruit each day. Most people do really good with this, but there are some who really mess this up.
How does one mess up when eating fruit?
Dieters will often misconstrue this most basic of practical nutrition by bending the rules to their favor. When a dieter begins expanding the defining premise of a nutritional recommendation, they often derail themselves. They can and will derail themselves, even with fruit!
But “how” are they messing up when we say to “eat your fruit”?
The recommendation to eat your fruit is that you eat whole fruits. Fruits that have been pureed, or juiced are not whole fruits. The pulp and skins of fruit are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber plays a larger role than just promoting regular bowel movements. When you eat a fruit whole, the dietary fiber in the pulp binds to the natural sugar in the fruit as it travels through your gastrointestinal tract. This binding action makes it take longer for your body to absorb the sugar. As a result, the fruit’s sugar accumulates in your blood at a lower and slower rate if you eat the fruit whole.
- Pureed fruit is not nutritionally equivalent to the same fruit left whole. Puree’s are created with ultra-high heat to process fruits, which are then finely strained to remove pulp, stems, and peels from the liquid. That high level of heat kills much of the vitamins and enzymes that give fruits their nutritional value.
- When you drink fruit juice, your body uses the sugar as a direct energy source which leads to a spike in blood sugar. When your body senses that you have more sugar than you need, your body quickly releases insulin. This leads to a large amount of the sugar in your blood being converted to fat and glycogen. Because of this, the blood sugar spike leads to a blood sugar dip unless more food is eaten. This internal action will leave you hungry again. Being hungry makes you eat more. In this way, drinking pure fruit juice leads to poorer regulation of blood sugar and increased calorie consumption, when compared to eating whole fruits.
What about canned fruits?
Canned foods can be a nutritious option when fresh foods aren’t available. Salt, sugar, or preservatives are sometimes added to canned foods to improve their flavor, texture, and appearance. Canned fruits are also often packed in syrup which adds far too much sugar to a healthy diet. Other canned fruits are packed in water or natural juices. Again, those juices have no fiber component to slow down the spike in blood sugar when you drink it.
Can a person eat too much fruit?
The answer is yes you can eat too much fruit, especially if you want to lose weight and eat a balanced diet. All of the food groups are important. If you go overboard on one kind of food you’ll miss out on the valuable properties of other healthy foods.
No matter what, you cannot change the laws of thermodynamics when it comes to weight loss. If you consume more calories in a day than your body requires, you are not going to lose weight. Some popular weight loss programs allow you to eat as much fruit as you desire. The problem with this lies in many of their clients not being able to lose weight.
Know your Basal Metabolic Rate
Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. It is also known as your body’s metabolism; therefore, any increase to your metabolic weight, such as exercise, will increase your BMR.
If your basal metabolic rate (BMR) requires that you consume 1800 calories per day to maintain your current weight, that is all you can eat. When you eat more than what your BMR requires, you are going to gain weight, even if those extra calories are from fruit. If you have consumed your daily needs in calories, you need to be done eating for the day. You cannot think that because your diet plan does not count fruit that you can still continue to eat them once you have reached your caloric needs.
Let’s say that you weigh 150 pounds, that you typically eat 2,000 calories per day, and that your goal is to get to that 500-calorie deficit by burning 200 calories through exercise and cutting 300 calories from your diet each day. That makes 1,700 calories your daily limit for what you can consume.
Fruit is about 80–100 calories per serving. A serving is one cup of fresh fruit or a half cup of canned fruit. If you are eating about 7-1/2 servings of fruit per day, at an average of 90 calories per serving, that’s 630 calories from fruit alone!
Eat your fruit, but eat them whole. Do not assume you can change the laws of thermodynamics. Calories in vs calories burned are critical when it comes to weight loss and weight management.
Here is an excellent article from Brenda Sue why you might have troubles with losing weight.