Are cherries fattening or good for weight loss?
Cherries are both delicious and healthy. They are a source of various nutrients such as vitamin C & potassium and studies have shown that they can be beneficial for heart health, reducing inflammation and improving one’s sleep cycle. Cherries are also very versatile and can be incorporated into all sorts of recipes, including smoothies, salads and sorbets.
Despite this, you may be wondering whether you should be eating cherries when you’re trying to lose weight. The short answer is yes; provided you eat them in moderation, cherries will not cause weight gain and are perfectly fine to include in your diet. In fact, they may actually help with your weight loss efforts.
What causes weight gain?
Weight management is a complex subject, but it can be summarised by a short equation: calories in – calories out.
The first number in the equation represents the energy that an individual introduces into their body, via the food that they eat. The number of calories in foods can vary significantly, depending on what they are made of. Foods that are mainly made up of fat (like nuts and seeds) tend to be high in calories, whereas those mainly made up of water and fiber (like fruits and vegetables) tend to be low in calories.
The second number in the equation represents the energy that an individual uses up, naturally throughout the day and during exercise. The more active the individual, the more calories he or she will burn.
If the result of the equation is a positive number, it means that excess calories are being consumed. The body stores these calories as fat, which leads to weight gain over time. If on the other hand the result is a negative number, it means that not enough calories are being consumed. As a result, fat stores from all around the body are used as an energy source, which results in weight loss.
The number of calories that an individual should aim to consume will depend on age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. You can use the tool below to calculate an estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming.
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 160 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week should aim to consume 2150 calories to maintain her weight and 1700 calories to lose weight.
So how does all of this relate to cherries? Well, a cup of raw cherries without pits has around 97 calories; even on a 1700 calorie diet, the cherries would only account for roughly 6% of total calories, which is very little. Because of this, eating cherries in reasonable quantities when trying to lose weight is perfectly fine.
Can cherries help with weight loss?
Cherries do have some properties that can be beneficial for weight loss.
Because of their high sugar content (20 g per cup), cherries are very sweet. This comes in handy, especially if you have a sweet tooth, because you can opt for cherries instead of fat and calorie rich desserts. For example, a cup of vanilla ice cream has 274 calories, 28 g of sugar, 14 g of fat and very few vitamins & minerals. A cup of cherries only has a third of the calories, no fat and is packed full of vitamins & minerals. Additionally, if you wanted to eat a dessert that resembled ice cream, you could make your own sorbet at home by freezing the cherries and then blending them up.
Their fiber content
Studies like this have found that making one simple change and increasing fiber intake can help with weight loss. When you eat fiber, it absorbs water and forms a thick gel that slowly moves through your digestive system. This keeps you feeling satisfied for longer periods and may help you to eat less food overall. Whilst cherries are by no means the best source of fiber out there, they do have 3 g per cup, which helps to increase your overall intake.
Can cherries cause weight gain?
Technically, any food if eaten in large enough quantities will cause weight gain. However, because cherries have less than 100 calories per cup, you would have to eat quite a large quantity for them to cause weight gain. Most people are likely to only eat one cup, which is not cause for concern.
However, as mentioned previously, cherries contain quite a bit of sugar, so you should take care not to overindulge. Sticking to one (or maybe two) cups of cherries per day at most is a good idea.
Finally, you want to be wary of what you eat the cherries with. Eating them with full fat cream will cause the calorie numbers to go shooting through the roof, and will not do your waistline any favours. A better option would be to eat the cherries on their own, or with something like fat free yogurt or cottage cheese.