Fruit is sweet and healthy, and the natural sugars keep unwanted cravings away. Fruit is also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s also high in fiber so it’s filling and keeps you satisfied for longer.
But can fruit actually help you lose weight?
And do you eat more fruit to lose weight, or cut your food intake in general but focus on fruit?
As you can see, it’s a little more complicated than asking if fruit helps you lose weight.
Fruit contains large amounts of simple sugars which are known to cause obesity.
Using that information, it would be reasonable to expect that fruit consumption should contribute to obesity rather than weight reduction.
However, research consistently shows that most types of fruit have anti-obesity effects.
Because they’re loaded with vitamins and mineral, health organizations encourage the consumption of fruit for weight reduction purposes.
So yes, we can count fruit and berries are weight-loss friends!
You see, there’s a big difference between a cube of sugar that you add to your coffee and a piece of fruit filled with fiber, antioxidants, water, and phytonutrients.
That fiber is critically important for how our body processes the natural sugar, so stick to fresh fruit, not juice or dried, which we’ll look at soon.
How fruit works with weight loss
To lose weight you need to take in less calories, but that doesn’t mean that you have to eat less.
That’s where fruit comes in. Fruits and berries add bulk to our diets without adding a lot of calories.
Fruit can be used as a substitute for high calorie foods in our diet, helping us feel full and satisfied.
If we add fruits like peaches, strawberries, and apple to our breakfast cereals, we can cut down the cereal portion size. That reduces overall calories, but we don’t have to starve ourselves.
Fruits can be also used as a substitute for high glycemic index foods in our diet and can help in weight loss.
You can make a salad much more appealing (if you’re not already a salad fan) by adding fruit and berries.
You should aim to eat five serving of fruits every day and opt for different colors. If you’re trying to lose weight, you might eat more fruit and berries, but it’s important to consider their sugar content and other properties.
Berries are low glycemic and have less sugar, so they’re a really great choice for your fruit. Plus they’re easy to add to yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and salads.
Scientists at Harvard University found that increasing the daily intake of fruit can prevent weight gain, even if you continue consuming the same amount of calories.
Researchers suggest that the benefits of eating fruit comes from the flavonoids they contain; flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables that impart color.
Some experts say the secret to losing weight are flavonoids. A CNN article titled, “The secret to maintaining and losing weight: Berries, onions and wine” said, “Flavonoids are natural compounds found in plants that, among other things, help the plant cells communicate and create the color so a plant is attractive to the bees, butterflies and birds that help with pollination. For humans, flavonoids seem to push the right biological buttons that keep bodies from gaining weight.”
The most effective type of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, are found in strawberries, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, radishes and blackcurrants.
Other studies have shown that flavonoids might increase energy expenditure while decreasing fat absorption.
Sugar content in fruit
But fruit is not created equal when it comes to the nutritional value. Some fruits are higher in fiber and pectin, both of which work as natural fat burners that can help boost your metabolism and aid weight loss.
That means that some fruits like mangos have more sugar but still help you lose weight due to their other properties. Other fruit have higher amounts of natural sugar, and we should consider that for overall calories.
The amount of sugar varies from fruit to fruit. Let’s look at how many grams of sugar there are in a cup of different fruits.
- 1 cup of avocado has 1 or less gram of sugar.
- 1 cup of raspberries has 5 grams of sugar.
- Strawberries, 7 grams.
- Blackberries, 7 grams.
- Watermelon, 9 grams.
- Cantaloupe, 9 grams.
- Peach or Apple, 13 grams.
- Grapefruit, 16 grams. (Who would have thought that?)
- Plums, 16 grams.
- Banana, 18 grams.
- Mango, 23 grams.
- Raisins, 86 grams.
Yikes! 86 grams of sugar in one cup is a lot. You can see that dried fruit is not the same as fresh.
This list shows you that some fruits are much lower in sugar content, so those work better for dieting.
While we’re talking about which fruits to avoid, it’s important to note that drinking juice and eating dried fruits can backfire if you’re hoping to lose weight.
The problem with juice is that you get all the fructose without the fiber. When eating in whole fruit, fructose is a good energy source, and the fiber helps us digest it without bad side effects.
Without the fiber, it’s akin to eating corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, which are causing an epidemic of obesity and disease in our society. Fruit juices are simply not a better option for weight control than sugar-sweetened beverages.
They can be a treat if you’re not dieting, but best to avoid them when looking to lose weight. Ounce for ounce, fruit juices are as high in sugar and calories as sugary sodas.
That even applies to juices 100% fruit juice with no added sugar. A Harvard School of Public Health study tracked the diet and lifestyle habits of 120,000 men and women for 20 years, and the study found that people who increased their intake of fruit juice gained more weight over time than people who drank less or none.
Mostly avoid dried fruit
Dried fruit is not as bad as juice, but remember that raisins had 86 grams of sugar per cup. Drying fruit concentrates the calories and sugar, making it easier to consume excess calories. Dried fruit is good in trail mix, for when you’re out hiking in hot weather and burning lots of calories.
That means that dried fruit does the opposite of what you want your fruit to do when losing weight. It won’t fill you up and provide hydration, or help you feel fuller for longer. Dried fruit is better than juice because it preserves the fruit’s cellular structure, so there might be a place for it in some diets.
Smoothies, weight loss friend or foe?
After reading about how destructive juice can be to our diet, you might think that smoothies are out too. But then again, everyone is proclaiming the health benefits of smoothies.
Here’s the difference between juice and smoothies: To make juice, we crush the fruit and take only the juice. We might get some pulp, but mostly we leave the fiber behind. To make a smoothie, we take the whole, fresh or frozen fruit and blend it up.
Making a smoothie is much like chewing up our fruit. Dr. Katz spoke about smoothies on Oprah.com in an article titled, “Does Blending Fruit Reduce its Fiber Content?” He said, remarkably, he couldn’t find any studies on what a blender does to the fiber content, but he pointed out that we chew up fruit and any food with fiber, and we still get the benefit from it.
So smoothies can offer health benefits and help us get more vitamins and minerals. Take heed, however. It’s much easier and faster to drink a smoothie, so you have to watch your calorie intake.
On top of that, we don’t register liquid calories the way we do food calories. Our brain doesn’t always understand that we’re getting calories. You can help on that front by not adding juice, sugar, or another sweetener to your smoothie.
And, in the end, a smoothie can be very healthy and help you lose weight, especially if you add dark green leafy vegetables and good fats into your drink.
Fruits that help you lose weight
We can see that the sugar content varies greatly from fruit to fruit. Here’s a few that are low calories and filling, and sure to help your weight loss! Watermelon, a summer favorite, only has 30 calories per 100 grams, and it keeps you hydrated.
Watermelon is also rich in amino acid arginine which helps in burning fat. Guava is rich in fiber, has a low glycemic index, and prevents constipation. Guava also boosts your metabolic rate which helps in weight loss.
Pears are a great source of Vitamin C and fiber, and they help keep your cholesterol levels in check. Oranges are nutrient-dense and low calorie with only 47 calories per 100 grams.
Oranges are even considered a negative calorie fruit because it takes more calories to burn than what you consume. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and boost your metabolic rate. Regular consumption is also known to reduce insulin resistance, hypertension, and cholesterol.
Strawberries help in the production of the fat burning hormones adiponectin and leptin, so this sweet berry gives you a higher metabolism.
Peaches are very filling because they’re 89% water. Being rich in fiber, they help in reducing hunger too.
Fruits can be enjoyed any time of the day and with every meal. In fact, that will help you cut down on higher calorie foods.
Avocado is actually a fruit, but without sugar. It can make a huge difference in losing weight and fighting disease. Another easy way to include fruits in your daily diet is to eat them in as a snack between meals, which helps you control cravings and prevent overeating.
Mix fruit and berries into yogurt or cereal, throw them in salads, or serve them with as a sweet accompaniment for dessert to curb your sweet tooth.