Want to know how fruit fits into a healthy diet?
It’s a valid question! After all, it’s absolutely possible to lose weight eating fruit…and GAIN weight eating fruit!
Today we’ll help you determine how much fruit, and what kind of fruit, you should be eating.
Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question, “Is eating Fruit healthy?”
If you’re curious about where fruits and other foods such as potatoes fall on the “healthy eating” spectrum, you should check out the Nerd Fitness Diet guide and cheat sheet. It’s a level-up system designed for you to adopt new healthy habits that will stick, by slowly progressing you from a newbie to an expert.
You can check it out for free when you join the Rebellion!
That’s why eating fruit is “universally promoted” as being good for you.
Which makes inquiries of “is fruit healthy?” perplexing.
What’s with the controversy?
For that, we need to talk about the calorie and sugar content of fruit.
If anyone tells you not to eat fruit, it’s most likely because they’re afraid of the sugar content of the produce.
What’s going on here?
A couple of things:
If you’re not doing Keto, you don’t need to worry about that second point, because you aren’t eliminating carbs.
But how about the first one? Is the sugar in fruit harmful to us?
In one word: no.
Fruits are loaded with fiber and water, so it’s not strictly composed of fructose.
It also takes a decent amount of effort to chew an actual piece of fruit.
All of this slows down the absorption of fructose from the fruit.
According to Dr. Ludwig of Harvard Medical School, if you eat whole fruit, it’s difficult to consume enough fructose to be harmful.
Notice that caveat “whole fruit.” This is critical and deserves its own section.
We’ve established that fruit is good for you.
That news shocks exactly no one.
But is fruit good for weight loss?
To answer that question, let’s consider two points:
Compare that to 200 calories worth of a bagel:
Fruit can help kill hunger or scratch that “I WANT SUGAR” itch. When you eat 200 calories worth of an apple, it can help make you feel fairly full.
When you eat 200 calories worth of bread, you haven’t even finished a single bagel yet.
Studies done on the satiating power of different foods have shown fruit to be some of the most satisfying food studied. People feel more full from eating an apple or an orange than from eating beef or eggs.
In summary: Fruit can be high in nutrients, low in calories, and can help us feel full.
So yes, fruit can indeed be part of a meal plan to lose weight.
Why does this matter?
Weight loss comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to establish calorie goals. Fruit can factor into those goals and the calories should be accounted for.
Save that for Donkey Kong:
Where fruit can really get you into trouble is if you start to move in the direction of “fruit-like.” We’ll jump to that with our next section.
First, if you are trying to lose weight and wondering where fruit fits into the equation, I want you to know you’re on the right track.
Lots of our coaching clients come to us with all sorts of different fitness questions, like what to eat and how to exercise, proving we all start from unique situations. The important thing is that you’re beginning to ask questions and looking for answers.
While fruit can 100% be part of a healthy diet, “fruit like things” don’t quite get our stamp of approval.
Without the fiber, water, and intact cell walls of the fruit, your body will absorb the fructose very quickly.
Let’s chat specifically about “drinkable” fruit first:
#1) Fruit juices (cranberry juice, orange juice, grape juice): these are high-calorie, sugar-filled beverages.
For example, here are the calories in one 8 oz serving of:
For reference, an 8-ounce glass of Coca-Cola would have about 26 grams of sugar.
2) Fruit Smoothies: Just because it’s a fruit smoothie doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat! Have you seen the calorie count and sugar content of smoothies and ‘green drinks’? Yikes.
Yeah…which is why we made this:
Another “fruit-like thing” we need to talk about is dried fruit.
Dried fruits are notoriously easy to overeat because they are so small. Since the water has been taken out, all that’s left is the sugar and fiber.
Here’s 1 serving of raisins, which is 108 calories and 21 g of sugar:
If you are saying “oh man, I eat 5x that many raisins when I eat them…” then multiply those calorie and sugar numbers by 5!
Per weight, all dried fruit will be higher in calories and sugar than its “whole fruit” counterpart.
The other thing to consider is that sugar is often ADDED to dried fruit to make it even sweeter.
Consider these banana chips:
Second ingredient after dried banana? “Organic sugar.”
An ounce of these banana chips is going to run you about 147 calories and 10 grams of sugar (17g for total carbs).
For comparison, an ounce of a regular banana is about 25 calories.
You really have to be careful with dried fruit because it’s so easy to overeat.
However, this isn’t the only place where sugar is added to fruit.
The big concern with canned fruit is the syrup that is often included with it.
What’s in the syrup? Sugar. Of course it’s sugar.
Let’s take a look at Del Monte’s canned peaches:
The syrup here is composed of “high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar.”
Let’s compare the canned fruit to a normal peach you’d pick from a tree:
Del Monte’s Canned Peaches (in heavy syrup):
Extra Large Peach
When you package peaches this way you DOUBLE the calories and the sugar content.
To summarize the last few sections: fruit is healthy, provided you stick to fresh or frozen and not fruit-like food, dried fruit, or canned fruit packed in syrup.
If you enjoy a small glass of orange juice occasionally, or you pack a serving of raisins in your lunch and it makes life worth living, by all means!
Just don’t chug OJ by the gallon, drink a 64 oz “real fruit smoothie,” and eat raisins by the handful and then wonder why you’re not losing weight.
The best way to paint a picture of sugar and calorie content of fruit is with some actual serving sizes.
So let’s do that.
If you’re targeting 2,500 calories a day, and your meals are bringing you up to about 2,300 calories, you know you can fit in a couple of bananas for a snack.
Like anything else, Nerd Fitness recommends fresh fruit in moderation.
Except for awesomeness.
You can have as much of that as you want.
Back to fruit!
We recommend eating a healthy combination of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.
Your “healthy carb” could 100% be a serving of fruit.
Of any type of fruit!
The different colors of fruit will correspond to different nutrients, so go wild! Try different fruits and experiment with new kinds. Keep rotating to ensure you give lots of different vitamins and minerals.
You got this!
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