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The Truth About Fruit and Fat Loss

The Truth About Fruit and Fat Loss

The Truth About Fruit and Fat Loss

We’re not quite sure how we got here, but there is a certain subset of individuals (alleged “experts”, “gurus”, and “coaches”) that promote the idea that fruit is “bad” and that it hinders fat loss.

 

It may be due to the fact that fruit contains sugar (albeit natural sugar that’s enveloped in a fiber matrix).

 

Nevertheless, the overly reductionist segment of the health and fitness population has seen fit to equate bananas, fruits, and vegetables with candy bars, sports drinks, and soda merely on the basis that they both contain sugar.

 

But, we can probably all agree that a handful of blueberries (or even a bowlful) is vastly different than a tub of sugary soda.

 

Today, we’re giving you the truth about fruit and fat loss.

 

Does Eating Fruit Stop Fat Loss?

 

Before we get to mired down in the minutiae concerning fruit and fat loss, let’s make two points very clear:

 

  1. There is no such thing as a ‘fat-loss food’. All foods (even perceived “negative calorie” foods like celery) contain calories and contribute to your daily total, which also no single food removes calories from your total daily intake.
  2. No one single food can be classified as ‘fattening food’. If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight regardless of the food you eat.

 

Now, the reason a lot of individuals fret about fruit in their fat loss diet is because it contains sugar, more specifically a particular type of sugar known as fructose.

 

However, fructose is not the only form of sugar present in fruit. Glucose (the primary energy source for our cells) is also naturally occurring in fruit as is sucrose (table sugar).

 

The reason for perceived alarm concerning fructose is based on the fear of high-fructose corn syrup that is used as a commercial sweetener in beverages and packaged goods.

 

Furthermore, fructose is metabolized differently in the body than glucose is. Specifically, instead of going into the bloodstream after entering the intestines (like glucose dose), fructose makes a pitstop in the liver.

 

Many believe that the liver converts fructose directly to fat, but that's overly reductive.

 

If you’re burning a lot of calories each day and maintaining high levels of physical activity, the body will convert that fructose to glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrate) to be used when blood sugar gets low (such as during an overnight fast when you’re sleeping).

 

However, if you’re a largely sedentary individual that consumes an excessive amount of calories, the liver will convert fructose to fat.

 

So, should you run and toss all of your bananas, apples, and berries in the trash and avoid them like the plague?

 

No, not in the least.

 

You see, research shows quite strongly that there is “no good human evidence that fructose, when consumed in isocaloric amounts, causes more liver fat accumulation than other energy-dense nutrients.”[1]

 

In other words, it’s not fructose causing fatty liver disease, liver damage, or metabolic syndrome -- it is the excessive intake of calories from hyper-palatable, low satiety foods.

 

So, while fruit does contain fructose, it is enveloped in fiber matrix, which slows down the digestion, provides a steady release of sugar into the bloodstream, and increases satiety. Fruit also has a high water content, which combined with fiber, helps keep us full.

 

Moreover, fruit is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, which are known to support health.[2,3]

 

Additionally, in order to consume enough fructose from fruit to match what can be ingested from guzzling several super-sized sodas would necessitate an individual consuming pounds and pounds of fruits, not the daily apple or bowl of blueberries you may have for breakfast.

 

Lastly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends individuals consume a minimum of 400g (a little less than a pound) of fruits and vegetables per day to capitalize on the health benefits associated with their consumption.

 

400g of fruits and vegetables contains a whopping 150-200 kcals -- that’s hardly enough to classify fruits as being “bad” or “harmful” for fat loss.

 

Again, it’s the calories at the end of the day that dictate fat loss or fat gain.

 

While fruit may not be a “free food” as some weight loss programs proclaim, it contains very little calories, and the benefits to consuming it (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, water, etc) far outweigh any potential concerns about the low levels of fructose in it.

 

Simply put, fruit is delicious, nutritious, indulgent, and it helps to keep you feeling full. There is simply no logical reason to avoid it or think that it could harm your transformation challenge results.

 

How Much Sugar is in Fruit

 

Different fruits contain differing amounts of sugar, fiber, and calories.

 

Here’s a list of some common fruits and their associated sugar content:

 

Fruit

Serving Size

Calories

Carbohydrate

Fiber

Apple (1 large)

242g (~8oz)

130

34

5

Banana (1 medium)

126g (4.5oz)

110

30

3

Strawberries (1cup)

140g

50

11

2

Blueberries

140g

70

21

4

Grapes

126g

90

23

1

Orange Juice

1 cup (8oz)

112

26

0.5

Raisins (1 small box)

43g (1.5oz)

129

34

1.6

 

How to Eat Fruit and Still Get Results

 

Any diet program or “guru” that tells you to ditch fruits and all the wonderful nutrients, polyphenols, and fiber they contain that eschews plants and the polyphenols, nutrients, and fiber they contain, even for the sake of a diet, is a melon head with peach pits for brains.

 

Simply put, there are too many benefits to fruit to exclude them from your diet.

 

Here’s how you can have your cake (or fruit, rather) and eat it too:

 

#1 Don’t focus on the fructose content, be mindful of calorie intake

 

As we mentioned above, in an otherwise isocaloric diet, fructose isn’t the fat-gaining, metabolism-breaking ne’er-do-well it has been made out to be. In the presence of physical inactivity, excessive body fat, and excessive calorie intake, it may be a concern.

 

However, for you, the fitness-minded, physically active individual the fructose content of fruit is not something about which you need to be concerned.

 

Be mindful of the total calories you’re consuming each day as that will ultimately dictate whether you lose weight or not.

 

And, if you really want to be on the lookout for your sugar intake, opt for the low sugar fruits, such as:

 

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

  

#2 Avoid dried fruits

 

Dried fruits are made by dehydrating fresh fruits.

 

For instance, raisins are made by drying grapes.

 

This means that dried fruits do not contain water, which means they aren’t as filling per gram (or serving) as fresh fruit.

 

Moreover, depending on the particular method of drying they may also be lacking key vitamins and minerals.

 

For instance, you could probably easily crush several boxes of raisins or apple chips, but how many bunches of grapes or whole apples could you eat before you get tired of chewing and start feeling full?

 

#3 Just Say NO to Fruit Juice

 

There’s really no other way to say it...fruit is glorified sugar water.

 

It’s absent the fiber content (and depending on the processing method) and micronutrient content, too.

 

This means that fruit juices are woefully lacking in micronutrition and satiety.

 

You could easily drink the equivalent of 8-10 servings of fruit, yet not ever once feel full, but you’ve consumed enough calories to rival that of a super-sized soda.

  

#4 Limit yourself to 2 to 3 servings per day

 

If you find that it’s hard to keep your fruit intake in check (2-3 servings per day) and constantly end up overeating, it may be helpful to assess your overall diet.

 

Perhaps, include a few more servings of vegetables instead of those extra servings of fruit. But, if we’re being honest, there’s probably other foods in your diet causing you to overshoot your calorie needs than plain, whole, fresh fruit.

 

The Bottom Line of Fruit and Fat Loss

 

If you’ve been led to believe that fruit can somehow impede fat loss, it’s time to take a good hard look at the outlets you turn to for fitness and nutrition information.

 

Fruit is low in calories, high in micronutrients, and a solid inclusion in every diet -- be it for fat loss, muscle gain, performance, or body recomposition.

 

There are simply too many benefits to consuming fruit, plain and simple.

 

The fructose content of fruit has been massively overblown and is something with which you needn’t be concerned, especially if you’re physically active.

 

Suffice it to say, we’re fans of fruit and the many benefits it offers. It can and should have a place in your diet plan.

 

References

  1. Ter Horst KW, Serlie MJ. Fructose Consumption, Lipogenesis, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):981. Published 2017 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/nu9090981
  2. Dreher ML. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1833. Published 2018 Nov 28. doi:10.3390/nu10121833
  3. Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(4):506-516. Published 2012 Jul 1. doi:10.3945/an.112.002154

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