Are dates fattening or good for weight loss?
Because of their extremely sweet taste, dates are considered to be nature’s candy.
Dates promote digestion, boost energy and might even be able to improve heart health.
In fact, this study even claimed that dates may be considered as an almost ideal food because of their nutritional profile & health benefits, and are the food of the future.
But what about when you are watching your weight? Should dates be eaten or avoided?
Dates come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours. Some popular ones include Medjool, Safawi, Deglet Noor and Ajwa dates. The table below shows nutritional information for Medjool and Deglet Noor dates:
|Medjool (1 date, 24 g)||Deglet Noor (3 dates, 21 g)|
|Carbohydrates||18 g||15 g|
|Fibre||2 g||3 g|
|Sugar||16 g||12 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g|
Other types of dates will have similar nutritional profiles, when compared weight for weight.
The first thing you will probably notice is that dates are quite high in calories.
Using our healthy food finder tool, you can see that dried fruits such as raisins (299 kcal / 100 g), dates (282 kcal / 100 g) and prunes (240 kcal / 100 g) are the most calorie dense and even have a higher energy density than avocados (160 kcal / 100 g), which are made up of mostly fat.
Keeping an eye on calories is important when you are trying to effectively manage your weight. Consuming too many calories on a regular basis can quickly result in weight gain.
The formula calories in – calories out will give you an indication on whether you are ingesting too many or two few calories.
‘Calories in’ represents the number of calories that you get in a day from food.
‘Calories out’ represents the number of calories that you burn naturally throughout the day, and when you exercise.
If calories in – calories out is a negative number (a calorie deficit), it means you are eating fewer calories than you use up in a day.
In the long run, this will result in weight loss, because your body will have to use its fat stores as a source of energy.
On the other hand, a positive number (a calorie surplus) means that you are consuming more calories than you burn. In this case, the opposite happens; your body stores the excess calories as fat.
The number of calories that a person should consume will depend on their age, gender, height, weight, how active they are and their overall goals.
You can use the calculator below to determine how many 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 35 year old lady who weighs 80 kg, is 160 cm tall and exercises 2 times a week will need to consume approximately 2000 calories to maintain her weight, 1600 calories to lose weight and 1200 calories to lose weight fast.
This means that provided they are enjoyed in moderation, dates are fine to eat when trying to lose weight.
On a 1600 calorie diet, one Medjool date will contribute to 4% of total daily calories, which is not a significant amount.
Can dates be fattening?
Any food, if eaten in abundance, will lead to weight gain. However some foods are far more calorie dense than others and so their intake should be monitored more closely.
For example, 100 g of watermelon only has around 10% of the calories that 100 g of dates has. This is because watermelon is made up of more than 90% water (which has 0 calories), whereas dates are made up of 75% carbohydrate (which has 4 calories per g).
Because of their high sugar content, dates can be addictive and it is easy to end up overindulging.
Having one Medjool date after lunch and dinner is perfectly fine. On the other hand, eating 10 of them in a go is not a great idea because you will likely go overboard on calories. Your blood sugar will also skyrocket, which should be avoided both when you are trying to lose weight and for your overall health.
The lesson here is portion control; continue enjoying dates but try not to overindulge.
Can dates help you lose weight?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, dates are considered to be nature’s candy. This comes in handy because they are able to satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthy manner.
Eating a date after a meal is going to be a much better option than having a store bought dessert, many of which contain large amounts of fat & refined sugar and provide very little nutritional value.
Studies have shown that increasing fiber intake can assist with weight loss, the recommended amount being 30 g of fiber per day. Although there are many sources of fiber available, dates help to increase your overall intake.
Dates don’t always need to be eaten on their own. For example, you can use them in smoothies or make your own healthy nut & date “chocolate bars” at home:
To make these, you will need 1 and a 1/2 cups of dates, 1 cup of mixed nuts, 4 tablespoons of cacao powder, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
Simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until everything is chopped up and mixed well.
Pour the mixture into a tray that has been lined with some parchment paper, flatten everything out and freeze for around 2 hours. Then cut the frozen mixture into small rectangular bars.
These taste delicious and are great to have after a meal. But again, it is important not to over indulge as the calories can add up quickly!
Dates are fairly high in calories, however as long as they are eaten in moderation, they can be part of a weight loss diet. Aim to eat no more than 2 or 3 large dates per day.