The information we receive about fruit and their effects on our weight can be very confusing. A lot of people have been known to try and completely avoid fruit in an effort to avoid weight gain and lose fat. But why do they do this? What is their reasoning, and are they correct?
Does Fruit Make You Fat?
Over the years, there has been increasing evidence that added sugars can be harmful and can affect our weight significantly. When I say sugar this includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, which are both about half glucose, half fructose and found in common things like fizzy drinks and sweets. Fructose is a type of sugar that is also found in many fruits. Eating fructose can lead to insulin resistance, elevated blood cholesterol levels and increased fat gain, especially in the abdominal area.
Furthermore, fructose lowers the amount of insulin released in response to meals. This in turn lowers the circulating blood levels of the hormone leptin, which is a hormone responsible for increasing feelings of fullness. Also, the blood level of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for increasing the feelings of hunger, is increased. This scenario can lead to excessive calorie consumption due to our increased feelings of hunger, which can cause fat gain.
Consequently, this would lead us to believe we should avoid fructose and the fruit that contain fructose. However, it must be known that whilst fructose does have this effect on our bodies, it is only when consumed consistently in large quantities does fructose have a significant effect on our weight.
Fruit on the other hand has very small amounts of fructose per gram compared to things like sweets, fizzy drinks, etc, and so makes it very hard to eat large levels of fructose through fruit alone. From this we can take that despite containing fructose, fruit ALONE does not have the capacity to be a significant cause of weight gain.
Does It Help With Fat Loss?
I must stress that whilst fruit has a vast array of benefits and adds great variety to your diet, there is a time and place for fruit if the aim of your mission is fat loss and not merely just maintaining weight. For example, if you find yourself starting out a new lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise and similarly if you have a body fat around 40%, then it is crucial to AVOID CARBOHYDRATES IN ANY FORM (except green vegetables).
This means for the first two weeks avoiding things like pasta, rice, bread, porridge, and fruit and replacing them with smart fats such as fish oil, coconut oil, avocados, raw nuts, butter, etc. Remember this is not a low-calorie diet, but a low-carb, whole foods diet. The aim of these two weeks is to get your body used to using fat as a fuel source rather than the glucose from the carbohydrates you consume. This process is vitally important and slip-ups can set you right back to the beginning.
Once this process has been completed, then you may find yourself able to try and slowly introduce complex, low-glycaemic carbohydrates such as certain fruits (listed above) and other vegetables (e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips) back into your diet. These types of foods will then offer you a further array of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the body needs to thrive and function optimally, whilst helping maintain hormonal balance that will help us to remain as lean as possible.
The best way to introduce these foods is as a post-workout meal, as this is when the muscles most require carbohydrates to help it recover from the stresses and strains of a tough workout. Or you could introduce them into a once a week high-carb, low-fat dinner at the end of the day, which will help to keep our thyroid revved up which is very important for maintaining a high metabolism. If thyroid function becomes slowed, then our metabolism suffers, body temperature drops and fat loss will halt. However, if body fat is still high (>35%) following those initial 2 weeks, then I would recommend that you remain clear of fruit as much as possible to maintain your fat loss progress.
But remember, the leaner you get then the more often you will be able get away with extra carbohydrates in your diet. So it will all be worth it in the end.
So What Are Fruits Good For?
Fruits in fact are an extremely healthy source of nutrients and antioxidants that can help improve our health a lot. In particular, fruit contains a lot of fibre and can be extremely filling.
This means that fruit takes time to be digested causing the fructose in the fruit to reach the liver very slowly. The slow digestion leaves us feeling fuller for longer and so giving us less desire to eat more food. This can obviously help with our fat loss goals, by helping to reduce the amount of food we eat each day. Furthermore, the fibre can help to reduce our level of blood cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Many fruits also contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help improve our digestion and health. For example, blueberries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds of all the fruits on the planet. This can help protect us from certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
But remember, fruit is an entire food group in itself and so there are dozens of fruits with a variety of different nutrient compositions between each fruit. Consequently, eating a variety of fruits to get the best of what fruits will give you a variety of benefits and will do your body the world of good to have a complete blast of different nutrients on offer..
Good fruits to try:
- Red Grapes
The take home message from all this is that, despite much previous confusion about whether fruits are good for you or not, fruits are in fact very good for you and your body.
On the other hand, if you are on a course to lose fat and quickly, then there is a time and place for you to have fruit. The time and place for it is when you have past the first two weeks of ZERO CARBS, of which then you can start to drip feed fruit back into your diet and finally reap the massive health benefits fruit has to offer.