Are oranges good for weight loss?

The amount of energy that you obtain from the food that you eat is measured in calories. The amount of calories in different foods varies greatly. For example 100 g of pecans contain 691 calories, whereas 100 g of lettuce contains just 15 calories. This is because the pecans contain a lot of fat and protein, whereas the lettuce contains a lot of water. In general, fruits and vegetables tend to have much fewer calories than other foods (although this is not always the case, e.g. the avocado).

In order to lose weight effectively you need to be in a calorie deficit. All this means is that you eat fewer calories on a daily basis than what your body uses for energy. The amount of calories you need to eat to lose weight depends on a number of factors such as your gender, age, height, current weight and activity levels. You can use the calculator on this page to determine how many calories you should be eating to lose weight.

For example, a 25 year old lady who weighs  75 kg (165 lbs), is 155 cm tall (5 feet 1 inch) and exercises 6 – 7 times a week will need to eat 2471 calories to maintain her weight, 1977 calories to lose weight at a normal pace and 1483 calories to lose weight fast.

So how do oranges fit into all of this? Well, they are a great food to add to a weight loss diet because they are not only delicious but also low in calories.

oranges_and_orange_juice

Nutritional information

100 grams of oranges (roughly the size of a small one) contains:

Calories 45
Fat 0.1
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Carbohydrates 11g
Fiber 2.3g
Sugar 9g
Protein 0.9g

A medium size orange has 62 calories and a large one has 87 calories.

How oranges can help with weight loss

oranges

Dietary fiber

From the table above, you will see that 100 g of oranges provide 2.3 g of dietary fiber. That translates to 3.1 g for a medium sized orange and 4.4 g for a large orange. It is recommended that men get at least 38 g of fiber a day, and women get 25 g.

Fiber comes in two forms, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to your stools, making it easier for you when you go to the bathroom. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel like consistency, which helps slow down digestion. This is good news especially for people who want to lose weight; the longer it takes for your food to digest, the longer you feel full and so you end up eating less.

Many people do not get the recommended amount of fiber daily, but by increasing your fiber intake, you can help your weight loss efforts. In this study, 240 overweight adults were asked to follow one of two diets. The first was the American Heart Association’s (AHA) diet for preventing heart disease, which meant they had to increase their intake of fruits, vegetables and lean lean meat whilst cutting back on alcohol, sugar and salt. The second diet simply required them to increase their fiber intake to 30 g or more per day.

After 12 months both groups lost weight, with the AHA group losing 2.7 kg and the high fiber group losing 2.1 kg. Even though the weight loss was a little less in the second group, the study showed that by simply increasing fiber intake, you can lose weight.

Water content

Fruits and vegetables are mainly made up of water and oranges are no exception; in fact, 87% of an orange is water. Water increases satiety, i.e. how full you feel.

Many people don’t realise that they regularly mistake thirst for hunger. Dehydration leads to fatigue, which leads people to think that they need to eat some food to restore their energy levels. What they don’t realise is that by increasing their water intake, the feeling of tiredness is likely to subside. Eating water dense foods such as oranges and cucumber increase your water intake, meaning you are less likely to suffer from dehydration.

Increased water consumption has been shown to help with weight loss. This study found that by drinking 500 ml of water, the metabolisms of 14 normal weight people was increased by 30%. Another study showed similar results, this time in overweight people; drinking 500 ml of water boosted their metabolism by 24%, for up to an hour.

And in this study, 48 adults were split into two groups. Both followed a calorie deficit diet but one of the groups also drank 500 ml of water before every meal. After 12 weeks, they ended up losing 44% more body weight than the group that didn’t drink water.

So the next time you need a snack, instead of reaching out for some cookies or crisps, snack on some water dense food like celery, watermelon or oranges – they will hydrate you and prevent you from over eating.

Sugar content

I have a sweet tooth and am no stranger to ice cream, cakes and chocolate. The only problem with these foods is that they are full of processed fat and sugar, both of which are bad for you, especially when you are trying to lose weight. For example, 100 g of chocolate ice cream on average contains 216 calories and 25 g of sugar. 100 g of oranges contain only 47 calories and 9 g of sugar.

There are many different types of sugar such as lactose, fructose, sucrose and glucose. Sugar obtained from food is broken down into glucose, which is a smaller unit compared to the others. After you eat sugary foods, your body releases insulin, a hormone that instructs cells in your body to absorb glucose from your blood stream. Refined sugar causes much more insulin to be released than natural sugars. This is why foods like ice cream never fill you up and leave you feeling hungry soon after you eat them. (Read our article on good and bad carbs)

Any glucose that is not used up by the body is stored as fat. The fiber in fruit slows down digestion meaning your body has more time to use up glucose in your blood stream. Ice cream on the other hand has no fiber, so any sugar that is not used up is stored directly as fat.

Fruits such as oranges and pineapples which contain a fair amount of sugar are therefore great options for people with sweet tooths and sugar cravings.

Vitamin C

Oranges take 16th place in our list of 140 healthiest foods for vitamin C content; they contain 53.2 mg per 100 g. Vitamin C is extremely important for the body – it helps heal wounds, increases iron absorption, maintains healthy connective tissue and prevents free radical damage to cells.

Vitamin C is also responsible for metabolizing fat. In this study, 22 individuals took part in a treadmill test.  15 of them had marginal levels of vitamin C, whilst 7 had adequate levels. The results showed that individuals with marginal vitamin C oxidized 25% less fat per kg of body weight. When individuals with depleted vitamin C increased their intake, their fat energy expenditure increased 4-fold.

This is a extremely useful to know because by being deficient in vitamin C you might not only be compromising your physical health but you may also be haltering your weight loss efforts. So start adding foods high in vitamin C like guavas, kale, kiwifruit and oranges to help you burn more fat while you exercise!

What about orange juice?

orange_juice

Who doesn’t like a glass of ice cold OJ? It goes especially well with breakfast. But is it any good when trying to lose weight? Well the answer is yes and no; it depends on they type of orange juice you drink.

One thing is for sure, you want to stay away from store bought versions of orange juice as they are loaded with added sugar, flavourings and preservatives which your body really does not need. Even the expensive brands should be avoided if possible.

That leaves you with home made orange juice; it’s made at home so it has to be healthy right? It certainly isn’t unhealthy but you should watch the number of calories you are consuming. When you make orange juice at home, you get rid of a lot of the fiber but retain most of the sugar. And more than likely, you are going to use more than one orange to make the juice. As mentioned previously, fiber helps you feel full faster. Since the orange juice contains very little fiber, you are more likely to drink much more than you should, thereby increasing your sugar intake.

So what’s the best option? In my opinion, it would be to make a  fruit and vegetable smoothie. Smoothies are great because they retain all of the fiber in the ingredients used. For example you can make a smoothie using an orange, 1 cup kale, 1 red apple, 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 cup mint leaves, 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup frozen pineapple and 1/2 cup of almond milk. The smoothie will contain much less sugar whilst retaining all of the fiber!

Conclusion

Oranges should definitely be a part of your weight loss diet. They are by no means a miracle food, but if you eat them together with other weight loss foods, stay in a calorie deficit, exercise regularly and follow the weight loss tips here, you will begin to notice significant changes in your body.

 

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