Is Eating Fruit a Bad Idea When You’re Trying to Lose Weight?
I see many people coming to see me for help with obesity and weight related health problems who proudly tell me they’ve stopped eating fruit. I politely ask…WHY?
Fruit gets a bad reputation and stigma because it contains sugar, and sugar causes weight gain – RIGHT?
Well, it’s not that simple. Yes, highly processed foods that are composed mostly of refined sugar tend to be high in calories, and low in fibre and protein, which are the two main nutritional components that help keep us feeling full.
Therefore, if we’re consuming a lot of refined carbs, which are high in sugar and low in fibre – we tend to eat higher quantities of it. Think doughnuts, pastries, cakes, muffins, sodas, juices, etc. Lot’s of sugar, little fibre, high calories, and the processing tends to result in little nutritional content remaining.
Fruit on the other hand, while containing natural, unprocessed sugar ADDITIONALLY contains numerous health-promoting vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fibre not present in processed sugary foods. Fruit as a whole food source contains fewer calories than most processed food, and is more satiating.
Think about it…it’s pretty difficult to OVEREAT apples, strawberries, or oranges. In fact, in my practice I’ve never seen it. I HAVE seen plenty of overeating of refined carbs, pizza, pasta, juices, and sweet treats.
In the words of Dr. David Ludwig, Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health: "In fact, we haven't found evidence that fruit does anything but promote health, helping keep blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and heart disease in check."
I CRINGE every time I hear someone tell me they have given up fruit as part of their weight loss strategy and instead of apple with a little almond butter as a mid-morning snack (around 100-125 calories) they are having a protein or granola bar (Read: highly processed, sugar laden, calorie bomb).
However, a little nutritional education and planning can quickly fix this type of weight stalling frustration and get things moving in the right direction.
I almost always encourage my weight loss clients to consume MORE fruit, and more whole foods in general. In fact, a dietary pattern comprising of 90% plus whole unprocessed foods is one of 10 key shifts I help people implement in my weight management system. Fruit can be a key component of this.
Until next time..
Dr. Sheldon Bjorgaard, BSc., ND