The Keto Diet: “But What About Fruit?”

My husband loves anything chocolately, decadent and sweet, but his daily indulgence is fruit.

When my husband told me he wanted to slim down by his 30th birthday, six weeks away, I suggested the Ketogenic Diet.

For the last several years, I’ve lived primarily off a low-carb diet and go “full-keto” several times a year. I regularly enter ketosis, and love the way I my body and mind feel and perform in this (biochemical?) state.

So, though I am not a doctor (nor to I play one on the internet, go talk to your own physician), I felt that I was well versed enough from personal experience (and exhaustive research on the subject) to provide a topical introduction of the keto diet to my carb-loving, fruit-eating husband.

“I mean, even if I had a little closer to a six-pack, like I did a few years ago, I would be happy,” my husband lamented, as he bit into a juicy summer nectarine. At 6'3" and 205-ish pounds, it wouldn’t be difficult for him to reach that level of body fat by his late-August birthday. But, to achieve such rapid results without crash dieting or endless cardio, he’d have to cut the carbs…including the fruit.

It seems like every time I mention that I don’t eat fruit as a regular part of my diet, nor do I think fruit is conducive to lowering body fat percentage, I am met with the same questions. My husband is no exception.

“Isn’t fruit part of a balanced diet?” “But, the fiber!” “What about the vitamins, the minerals?” “But it’s GOOD sugar!”

It’s simple: If you are trying to maintain ketosis, or live a generally low-carb lifestyle, there is little to no room on your plate for fruit. This isn’t about restriction; this is about making a cost-benefit decision on what to put in your body. To me, fruit just simply doesn’t provide enough benefit for what it costs in terms of fat loss. Here’s why.

“Fruit is part of a balanced diet.” First of all, there is no consensus on what a “balanced diet” actually is. There is certainly no proof that fruit would have to be a part of a “balanced diet” if there ever was a definition for it. You might find this hard to believe, but there is no evidence supporting that your body even needs fruit to survive.

And then there’s the evolution of agriculture. Humans have been manipulating food plants forever to be bigger, more tolerant to stress, and tastier. Read: sweeter. Modern fruit is larger and very likely higher in sugars than the fruit our hunter/gatherer ancesters would have been foraging for. Fruit also used to be highly seasonal. Today, we can find beautiful fruits year-round at the market, but it wasn’t always like that. If you’re lineage is European, say, do you think they were snacking on this stuff in the dead of winter during the Renaissance? Probably not, and yet here you stand. Get it?

On to the fiber argument. While you’ll definitely need some amounts of fiber each day to keep things moving the way they should (I shoot for about 20–25g/day), no one has ever said this needs to come from fruit. In fact, most fruits don’t have a high enough fiber/carb ratio to make it an efficient food source for fiber. For example, one medium apple has 25 carbohydrates, about 5 of which come from fiber. The other 20 carbs? Sugar. You’ve just blown through your entire daily keto carb allowance with one apple.

An exception here, the keto diet allows for avocado, which is technically a fruit. But, aside from the healthy fats and a high calorie density (very necessary on keto), one cup of avocado has 12 carbohydrates, 10 of which are fiber. Go for avo!

Fruit as a source for vitamins and minerals. This one is particularly bothersome to me. On the keto diet, for every carb calorie that’s omitted, keto’ers should be replacing with a nutrient-dense fat, protein, or green vegetable. In fact, you have so much room on your plate after removing that giant serving of rice, that you’ll be shoveling more vegetables in your mouth than you probably have your entire life.

Freshies like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lettuces and peppers (especially hot ones!) are my go-to’s on the keto diet, and deliver power-packs of vitamins and minerals to my body every meal. Add a daily multi-vitamin to the mix, and you’ll never have to worry about deficiencies. (An important exception to the deficiencies argument might be those with pre-existing conditions that don’t process/absorb certain vitamins and minerals correctly. My husband is not in this group of people, and my guess is you’re not either. So just eat your salads. You’ll be fine.)

Last but not least, the “good sugar” argument. I’ll make this quick. There is no such thing as good sugar. Sugar is sugar, and no matter in what form it enters the blood stream, the body’s response is more or less the same: blood glucose levels spike, insulin levels are signaled to rise, and the body ceases to burn stored fats as fuel to deal instead with the food you’ve just ingested.

I’m sure there are people out there that think I’m dead wrong, but this I know: If you’re looking to maintain ketosis for weightloss or any other number of health benefits, there’s not enough room on your plate for fruits, and you might be better off for omitting them.