I hate to do it…
but like your parents telling you that Santa Claus isn’t real, I feel obligated to give you a reality-check. When it comes to your diet, eating fruit to lose weight is probably doing more harm than good.
As a nutritionist, there are few topics that elicit a stronger emotional response than telling people to cut fruit out of their diet. But to understand why this is, we need to understand how fruit is processed in the body.
When you eat fruit, it gets broken down into glucose and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas then releases insulin which clears the glucose out of your blood and stories it in your muscles or liver as glycogen, or around your organs as body fat.
The higher the spike in blood glucose levels, the more insulin that is released, and the more glycogen/fat that is stored. If your diet is relatively high in carbohydrates, your glycogen stores are full most of the time, so any glucose you eat will get stored as fat.
Therefore, our concern is the spike in blood glucose (sugar).
To underline the significance a spike in blood sugar has on fat storage, a study came out in 2004 in which rats that were fed a diet of high-glycemic carbs (carbs that create a high spike in blood sugar) gained 71% more fat than rats fed a diet of low-glycemic (whole grain) carbs (1).
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with fruit?’ Well, depending on the type of fruit you eat and how you eat it, you’re most-likely spiking your blood sugar on a regular basis.
Let’s Get Educated On Fruits:
Tropical fruits like Bananas, Melons, Mangos, Papayas, and Pineapples have higher sugar content than most fruits.
Indulging in these fruits too frequently can have the same impact as eating too many candy bars.
Once in a while is okay, but don’t let 5 bananas and two pineapples a day become your sugar craving replacement for ice-cream.
Juice is by far the biggest culprit in weight gain.
Most dieters are completely unaware of the effect juice has on body composition. For starters:
- Juice removes the skin and pulp from fruit, which contain the most fiber and phytonutrients. Fiber also slows down the absorption rate of sugar, so by removing it from juice, your dramatically increasing that initial spike in blood sugar.
- Juice concentrates the volume of fruit that you’re consuming. You can easily fit 5 apples and a mango into one glass of juice, making it the likely culprit preventing you from losing weight.
If you’re drinking commercially produced juice, chances are you’re consuming a lot of food additives. The most dangerous of these is high-fructose corn syrup, which will add mass to your belly faster than you can say sweet apple pie.
Dried Fruit, much like juice, is just a calorie concentrated version of the original thing.
A cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories and 15 grams of sugar (2). A cup of dried blueberries has 540 calories and 50 grams of sugar.
While it still maintains the fiber content, the overall amount of sugar will out-weigh most of the benefits of fiber
Everything is lethal at a certain dose.
No matter how nutritious fruit may be, over-consumption is a common issue in the United States. We are not denying the research that regular fruit consumption is beneficial, but if weight loss is your goal, we recommend no more than 2-3 servings of fruit per day. Preferably consumed either right before or after you work out.
If eating fruit to lose weight makes up a large part of your diet, I would recommend cutting it out altogether and observing how your body changes over a two-week trial period.. You may be surprised with what you uncover.