Can you eat fruit while trying to lose weight?
Losing weight requires a well-balanced diet, exercise, and dedication. It would be a waste of time and effort to train hard but to incorporate the wrong things in your diet resulting in losing weight at a slower pace than possible. One of the items of which many people do not know if it fits well in a weight-loss diet is fruit. On one hand fruit is healthy and a good source of vitamins, but on the other hand fruits are sweet and staying away from sugar makes losing weight easier.
It is true that fruit can contain a lot of vitamins. The actual amount of vitamins depends on the type of fruit and how ripe the fruit is but a possible shortage of vitamins is easy to avoid by taking a multivitamin tablet each day. What is more important is that fruit also contains phytochemicals which have anti-oxidant properties. Phytochemicals can be found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains, and are often associated with stimulating cells in the human body that fight potentially dangerous molecules — oxidants — and diminish inflammations. There is some evidence that phytochemicals even reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases.
But this is not reason enough to incorporate fruits in your diet as you can also get your daily dose of phytochemicals by eating enough vegetables, beans, and grains.
So how about avoiding sugar while you try to lose weight and the sugar content of fruit? It is true that sugar often tastes sweet but the sweetness comes from fructose. Fructose is also a sugar but your body reacts to it different than to normal sugar or simple carbohydrates. When fructose enters the bloodstream it will not trigger an increase in your insulin levels meaning there will be no subsequent feeling of being tired and hungry shortly after eating fruit unlike what happens when you eat normal sugary products. The negative after-effects are therefore limited compared to normal sugar.
Fruit also contains fibers meaning it will take your body longer to digest than products containing normal sugar. A slower digestion will give your body more time to actually use the energy stored in fruit instead of first storing as fatty tissue in your body. But you have to be careful here: when you squeeze fruit or pulp it many of the fibers will go lost meaning digesting it will go quicker. It is therefore recommended to eat your fruit as completely as possible (including the skin if eatable) and not squeeze it first.
Finally, the content of fructose in fruit is often relatively low as fruit mostly consists of water and fibers. Even when it may taste sweet the actual level of fructose can still be relatively low.
Eating fruit is mostly recommended as part of your breakfast as you can use the energy to start your metabolism and can use the energy right away. Or you can eat right before your training for extra energy during your training or right after your training as your body will be craving for the energy at that time so it can start recovering from the training.
In conclusion we can say that eating fruit has a lot of advantages over eating other sources of simple carbohydrates. But be careful to not eat too much fruit as the calories still add up and as always: when you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight.
Disclaimer: this article only focuses on fructose coming directly from eating fruit. The theory discussed here does not apply to consumption of large amount of processed fructose as can be found in many sweetened drinks. Be very careful with consuming drinks that have been sweetened with fructose syrup.