Weight loss: Fruits to eat and avoid if you want to lose weight naturally
If you're looking to cut back on sugar to lose weight, you should probably limit or stay away from certain fruits. While there are varieties you should avoid, according to dietitians, other fruits can actually assist in losing weight. Find out the best and the worst fruits for weight loss.
Fruit is not the enemy when it comes to weight loss. Kolkata-based dietician Anupam Dey says that eating fruit is actually a great choice for those looking to lose weight. "Since fresh fruit is low in calories and high in fibre, it can keep you satiated and satisfy a sweet tooth. It also contains water to keep you hydrated," he says. Dey says you should be eating an average of two cups of fruit per day — recommendations vary depending on age and gender. Mumbai-based dietician and clinical nutritionist Geetanjali Shah even suggested you aim for at least four servings of fruit per day, but no more than five. "While the sugar from fruit is different in that it brings along fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too much sugar in any form can cause a steep rise in blood sugar levels that is then followed by a steep crash," she says. However, if you're watching your sugar intake, you should choose low-sugar fruits, says Shah.
Can I really eat as much fresh fruit as I want and still lose weight?
Unfortunately, no. Fresh fruit is a healthy choice and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants; however fruit still contains calories and carbohydrates. Shah says these are two things that can stop your weight-loss progress in its tracks, if left unchecked. "Eating fruits for weight loss can be a double-edged sword. While fruit is a very nutritious food that should be included in a balanced diet, there may come a time when you might need to reduce fruit from your diet due to its sugar content," says Shah.
Why you should keep fruit in your weight loss diet
The carbohydrates in fruit do not have a huge impact on your blood sugar levels, as most fruits have a low glycemic load. "Fruits can also supply a significant dose of fibre to your diet, which will slow digestion and make you feel fuller. For example, just one medium-sized pear contains about 20 per cent of your daily recommended fibre intake," says Dey. Fruits like blueberries and pomegranate are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help lower your blood pressure, fight off stress, and may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, he says, adding, "Raspberries have the highest fibre content of any fruit.”
Can dried fruits help you lose weight?
"Although small amounts of dried fruit make an excellent snack when combined with a healthy source of fat and protein, eating too much can cause weight gain," Dey says. "Dried fruit is more caloric than whole, fresh fruit and contains more sugar per serving because it is in a condensed, dried form." Since whole fruit contains water, which will keep you feeling full and hydrated, it's always better to eat whole fruit over its dried counterpart, says Dey.
Are smoothies good for weight loss?
Yes, it's possible to drink smoothies and still lose weight, but you have to be mindful of the type of smoothie you're making. If it's all fruit or a premade bottled version from a store, it could be a sugar bomb. "Premade fruit smoothies sold at grocery and convenience stores are usually loaded with sugar. Drinking one or two of these smoothies per day could sabotage your weight-loss efforts," Shah says. "To avoid the sugar shock, make your own smoothie at home. Stick to one cup of fruit then add in greens and a protein source like protein powder, and mix with skimmed milk for a nutritious and delicious meal or snack," Shah adds.
Fruit has multiple health benefits; but what about its supposed dark side?
Fruit is high in the simple sugar fructose, which is the main reason why many people trying to lose weight or reduce their sugar intake remove it from their diet, says Dey. Unlike glucose, the most common simple sugar that's sent to your muscles, brain, and other organs for them to use as energy, fructose is only processed by your liver. Why is that bad? "If your liver already has ample energy, there is a higher likelihood that your liver will repackage the excess fructose as fat, saving it for use at a later time. While this is a biochemical truth, it impacts your waistline," says Dey.
More relevant reasons why fruit should not be given the 'eat as much as you want' label: "When you're trying to lose weight, calories and carbohydrates matter. One banana contains 100 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrates. One apple can contain as much as 115 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates. Limiting carbohydrate intake is a common target for people using a moderately carbohydrate-restricted approach to weight loss," says Dey. He explains it’s easy to eat almost all your carbohydrate intake for the entire day from fruit alone, and if you're treating them as if they have no caloric value, you will unknowingly be eating hundreds of extra calories per day.
Simple tips to enjoy fruit and still lose weight
1. Focus on berries, fibrous, and small fruits. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, plums, and small apples are the kinds of fruits you should reach for first, says Shah. "Try oranges, which are rich in fibre and water and can help curb cravings. Grapefruit boasts naringin, a compound that research suggests may lower blood sugar and promote weight loss. Despite their sweetness, even peaches are relatively low in sugar, and have been shown to fight back against obesity," says Shah.
2. Enjoy fruits in moderation but focus on eating more vegetables. "Fruits are good, but vegetables, especially green leafy or fibrous vegetables, should be a focus on your plan," says Shah.
3. If you need to cut carbs/calories from your diet, start with grains and starchy carbs and then move onto fruits. "There comes a time in everyone's diet when they need to eat less. Always remove the most carbohydrate-dense foods first, as they will be the most calorie-dense of your carbohydrates as well. You'll find that as the carbs and calories in your diet get lower when you're really starting to hone in on losing stubborn fat, your fruit intake will be decreased as a function of how you have progressively removed foods from your diet," says Shah.