Will Eating Fruit Help You Lose Weight?
With so many different diet plans floating around the Internet, there seems to be some confusion about fruit and its place in a healthy diet for those wanting to lose weight. Some diets say fruit is okay, while others say it can prevent you from losing weight or even make you fatter.
At Exercise Inc, we’ve helped our clients lose more than 24,000 pounds in the past six years through our Simple 9 nutritional program. Rather than focusing on a diet, we coach our clients to adopt simple habits they can live with for life. Number two on our list of healthy habits is “Eat 2 to 3 Servings of Fruit A Day.” Every once in a while, I get pushback from someone who argues that fruit has too much sugar, and we shouldn’t be telling people to eat it if they want to lose weight. I even had a doctor tell me that eating 2 or 3 servings a day will “make people diabetic.”
I recently ran across a review study that analyzed the results of all the available studies published on the relationship between fruit consumption and weight loss. Sixteen published studies were reviewed (three intervention studies, eight observational studies, and five cross-sectional studies). Eleven of the 16 studies found fruit consumption was associated with weight loss or the prevention of obesity.
Many of the studies referenced the satisfying benefits of eating fruit.
- high in water content,
- full of fiber,
- and have low amounts of sugar relative to other foods.
Most servings of fruit contain 13 to 19 grams of sugar. That’s roughly 50 to 75 calories per serving. For a snack, that’s actually not bad when you realize a regular-size bag of Peanut M&Ms has 240 calories. If you visit your local convenience store, you will see that all the candy at the front of the store is king size. A king size serving of Peanut M&Ms contains 480 calories. Why is this so important? Because 93% of the U.S. population eats Peanut M&Ms on a regular basis. At the same time, only 13% of Americans eat 1 ½ cups of fruit a day. I don’t think the fruit is making us fat.
The great thing about fruit is it’s so convenient. No, it’s not found in abundance at every check out line in America. If it were, we might be able cut our obesity epidemic in half. Fruit, however, comes with its own edible or biodegradable packaging, and it doesn’t need to be cooked to taste good. You can throw a piece of fruit in your purse or computer bag and have a great snack to enjoy later in the day. So, when you get hungry, you won’t make a mad dash for the office vending machine.
At Exercise Inc, one of the first habits we ask our clients to adopt is eating 2 or 3 servings of fruit a day because fruit has a greater impact on our eating habits than most of us realize. A study in 2001 found that adding fruits and vegetables to the diet is a better weight loss strategy than reducing servings of added fat and sugar. The study involved having one group of families increase fruit intake to 2 fruits per day and vegetables to 3 per day, while another group of families reduced fat and sugar servings to less than 10 per week. The group that increased fruit and vegetable intake had the greatest reduction in weight. Additionally, families who increased fruit and vegetable intake also instinctively lowered their fat and sugar intake, whereas families who reduced fat and sugar intake did not increase intake of fruit and vegetables. Eating fruit can and will reduce your craving for sugar.
Yes, fruit does contain fructose, which is nature’s sweetest sugar. However, the fructose in fruit is tightly bound to a fiber matrix that takes some time and work for your gut to get it to your blood. Also, the amount of fiber and water in fruit will help you feel full on 15% of the calories found in a king size serving of candy. We feel full and stop eating because of the volume of food we eat, not the number of calories.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, having a couple of servings of fruit a day will help you get many of the vitamins and minerals that are important for your health. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating 2 or 3 servings of fruit a day will help you make better choices throughout your day.
So get to the store, stock up on fruit, and eat it before it goes bad.