Is fruit fattening or good for weight loss?
Fruits are some of the healthiest and most delicious foods on the planet. They are a source of natural sugars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other powerful substances. Eating fruits brings with them many health benefits.
If you are trying to lose weight, you may be wondering whether eating fruit is a good idea. The short answer is yes. So long as fruit is eaten in reasonable amounts, it is perfectly fine and may actually assist with your weight loss efforts.
Can fruit cause weight gain?
Weight management can be summed up by a short and simple equation: calories in – calories out. ‘Calories in’ represents the energy that you introduce into your body via the food that you eat. ‘Calories out’ represents the energy that your body uses naturally throughout the day, and when you exercise.
Consuming more calories than you burn is what leads to weight gain. This is because the excess calories are stored as fat around the body. The opposite is also true; when you consume fewer calories than you burn, fat stores around your body are used as a source of energy.
The number of calories that a person should aim to consume will depend on their age, gender, weight, height, activity levels and overall goals. Since there are so many factors that come into play, the calorie requirements of two people may differ greatly.
You can use the tool below to calculate an estimate of your calorie requirements.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 30 year old lady who weighs 70 kg (154 lb), is 170 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week should aim to consume approximately 2250 calories to maintain her weight, 1800 calories to lose weight and 1350 calories to lose weight fast.
Most fleshy fruits are generally low in calories. For example, a cup of watermelon has 47 calories, a medium sized apple has 95 calories and a medium sized banana has 105 calories.
Below is the calorie information for popular fruits.
1 passion fruit: 17 calories
1 cup of grapes: 62 calories
1 guava: 38 calories
1 kiwifruit: 42 calories
1 cup of mango: 99 calories
1 medium sized pear: 102 calories
1 cup of blueberries: 85 calories
1 medium tangerine: 47 calories
1 cup of pineapple: 82 calories
1 cup of cherries: 77 calories
1 apricot: 17 calories
1 medium sized orange: 62 calories
1 plum: 30 calories
For this reason, fruit can be included as part of a weight loss diet, even if the diet is very low in calories. For example, on a 1350 calorie diet, a cup of grapes and a tangerine would only account for 8% of total calories.
It is generally advised that adults who exercise 30 minutes or less a day should eat around 2 cups of fruit per day. Those who lead active lives can eat even more.
The key here is portion control. So long as fruit is eaten in moderate amounts, it will not cause weight gain. As a general guideline, aim to eat 2 – 3 cups of fleshy fruit per day, depending on how active you are.
Dried fruits such as dates, prunes and raisins are much higher in calories. 50 raisins have 78 calories and 1 pitted medjool date has 66 calories. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be enjoyed. Just make sure that their sweet taste doesn’t cause you to eat more than you should.
If you are diabetic or very obese, it is important to speak to your doctor so that he or she can advise you on how much fruit you should be eating.
How fruit can be beneficial for weight loss
Fruit can help with weight loss efforts thanks to some of its properties.
Because of its high sugar content, fruit is very sweet. This can be handy, especially if you have a sweet tooth. Fruit is a better option than many desserts that have been artificially sweetened with sugar.
For example, half a cup of ice cream has 137 calories, 7 g of fat and 14 g of sugar, whereas half cup of mango has 50 calories, almost no fat and 12 g of sugar. The mango also provides many more vitamins and minerals than the ice cream.
Because of its fiber content, the sugar from the mango will be absorbed at a much steadier pace than the sugar from the ice cream.
Fruit can be used to prepare a number of healthy homemade desserts that you can enjoy after a meal. An example is this ‘ice cream’ made from ripe bananas.
Its fiber content
Fruit is also a rich source of dietary fiber. Studies such as this have found that making one change and getting more fiber in your diet can help with weight loss.
When you eat fiber, it combines with water and swells in your stomach. This can increase feelings of fullness and keep you satisfied for longer.
Eating fruits such as raspberries, guavas, cranberries and pears can increase your overall intake of fiber.
What about fruit juice?
Unfortunately, the weight loss benefits that ordinary fruit has does not apply to fruit juice; studies have found strong links between sugar sweetened beverages and weight gain.
When you eat an orange, the act of chewing it and the bulk that it adds to your stomach tells your brain that you have eaten and should feel less hungry.
This process doesn’t work as efficiently when you drink a glass of orange juice because the calories obtained from it are not well compensated for. The orange juice contains much more sugar than the orange, but a lot less fiber. As a result it doesn’t satisfy your hunger well, and you are likely to end up consuming more calories than you should later on.
Many ‘fruit juices’ that you buy in store are actually just a mixture of water, concentrate and sugar. But even real fruit juice should generally be avoided if you are watching your weight.
Your best option would be to eat solid fruit. As an alternative, you can use fruit in smoothies, since this retains all of the fiber.
Fruit has lots of health benefits and can definitely be part of a weight loss diet, so long as it is eaten in moderation. On average, aim to eat 2 – 3 cups of fruit per day.