Is Eating Fruit Making You Fat?

By Mike Howard

2663-fruits.jpgIf you’ve read the most popular diet books for the past decade, then the answer is a resounding YES!

But is there scientific rationale for the demonization of something we’ve been told to eat daily?

Popular Diets’ Fruit Philosophies

  • The ever-popular Dukan diet shuns them – too high in carbs, says the good doctor.
  • And no surprise that the darling of low carb, Gary Taubes recommends eschewing fruits.
  • Ditto for Tim Ferris, author of “The 4-hour Body” who includes the avoidance of fruit as one of his “slow carb” diets 5 rules.
  • And another new kid on the diet book block, “The 17-Day Diet“, recommends not eating any fruit after 2:14pm, Eastern Standard Time (or something equally ridiculous).
  • And let’s not forget the scads of books based on the glycemic index scale – with a variety of fruits higher in glycemic index strictly verboten – the equivalent of drinking a blended snickers bar.

Does Research Agree?

Before looking at the data, we must apply context. Any category of food can be “fattening” in high enough amounts. Gorging on mangos, bananas and apples all day long will hinder any fat loss goal.

Also, having said fruit in the form of juice adds copious amounts of sugar and calories to the diet without yielding much in the way of nutrition – even though they count as “servings” of fruit.

While studies that examine strictly fruit intake and body composition are hard to come by, you know what’s impossible to come by? Studies that show fruit consumption CAUSES weight gain.

Here’s a study that showed a net fat loss with 3 apples or pears per day.

Add that to the multitude of studies showing vegetable and fruit consumption boosts health in many ways and you’d be hard-pressed to convince me to ditch my daily apple.

And if these authors are trying to play the “fruit-drives-insulin-and-insulin-makes-you-fat” card – wrong again! Doesn’t happen when calories are kept in check and protein is adequate.

Eating a variety of fruits will give you a broad range of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that serve to lower disease risk. There is absolutely no need to eliminate them from your diet, not eat them after 1:18pm during a crescent moon when the dew point reaches 2.780, or in any other situation. Just don’t go overboard.

Has fruit been part of your weight loss diet?

Image Credit: Flickr

58 Comments

  1. RealityCheck

    Fruit is damaging and potentially fattening,
    Read up on new studies on bacteria in the gut.
    It extracts more calories from fruit than originally thought.

    Reply
  2. anon

    I agree with you.

    I find it amazing people don’t regard other human behaviours which are not in nature (money, balancing checkbooks, working in offices with technology) as unnatural and thus we shouldn’t do it.

    The way our bodies are designed/evolved is for us to hunt animals or to forage. If you live in the woods, go hunting for berries and animals or fish (without a fishing rod), then counting calories is stupid. [Like born survivor thingy but for life]

    IF you buy your food from anywhere including the supermarket/farmer’s market/any other type of market, if you do actively engage in modern sedentary activities like taking a bus, working on a computer all day, sitting down in a classroom all day, maybe walking the occasional two steps before sitting down again, then counting calories is smart. You DO want to take care of your body, don’t you?

    The difference is this:
    In one scenario, there’s a limit on food and in order to get the food you must exercise. Furthermore, you may starve for several days so you’ll need an excess of calories just in case.

    In the other, there’s a shortage of exercise but abundance of food. Therefore you need to make sure that you get the correct exercise/food limits. The best way to do this is to count calories. It’s not stupid, it’s not obsessive, it’s smart.

    Also, as regards to the other person who didn’t believe your 3000kcal a day assertion. You mentioned you were a male. Males normally have to eat around 2500kcal to maintain their weight (some more, some less, all depending on weight and height). You aren’t trying to lose weight, you are maintaining your weight. You also mentioned you exercise a lot (I’m assuming more than 3x a day, considering the conversation above), therefore I would assume you burn around 500kcal [which isn’t that difficult]. Therefore it makes sense.

    Reply
  3. AnneM

    I don’t think fruits can make you fat because they have specific sugar that is beneficial for the body.

    But this post is really great. I enjoy reading it.

    Reply
  4. emedoutlet

    Whatever you eat, it should be in limit. Anything in limit will never be harmful to body.

    One thing you said is right. Your body will get used to low Calorie.

    Reply
  5. RichReWil

    These people who think fruit is “bad for your” truly don’t know what they talk of.

    It’s like those who say saturated fat or butter etc… is bad for you yet these were staples of people’s diet long before the diabetes and obesity epidemic broke out.

    This severe obesity epidemic is partlybecause people have far more disposable income to eat chemical ridden “taste-good” foods laced with refined carbs. It is caused by self indulgence of un-natural foods engineered to appease the senses, in combination with ever dependence on the car and a systematic reduction in the levels of exercise we do.

    It is definitely not genetic in cause, as some believe, because genetic changes like that do not occur in the space of a couple of generations.

    Good old staple foods like butter and fruit etc… are not the villains but things like candy, cookies, ice cream, fast food are.

    Reply
  6. Silver Angel

    I am in agreeance with you Ryan, have you checked out Jack Kruse’s site? He is a Neuro Surgeon, and gives you, via the forums, all the info about how leptin resistance works. He also gives you the leptin re-set eating plan. You only have to do it for 6 – 8 weeks, then introduce the foods you aren’t eating gradually. Great reading.
    I did it for 4 – 5 days, after being fructose (almost) free for 12 months, and lost another 3 kilos, on top of the already 14 I had already lost.
    Another book to add to your collection is Sweet Poison, and Sweet Poison:The Quit Plan, by David Gillespie.
    This man changed my life. I am no longer hungry, after 40 odd years of never feeling full. My appetite control has finally returned, and I feel great. A lot of my little ailments have disappeared, and, I Feel Great!!
    this book advocates eating 2 pieces of fruit per day, but to limit the higher fructose ones, like, apples, pears & bananas. Never drink fruit juice or eat dried fruit, which are both concentrated fructose, and omit honey, as it is 58% fructose. Instead of all those sticky sugary sweet things, try Rice Malt Syrup, very nice on porridge, and in cake baking, (using dextrose powder in place of sugar). See the forum for recipes, or better still, buy the book.

    Happy eating everyone

    Silver Angel

    Spread the Love

    Reply
  7. Meow

    So, you can’t overeat fruit??
    So why am I constantly overeating it, why does it make my sugar cravings unbearable? I used to be losing weight on a balanced diet with a good amount of protein (all healthy foods, of course). Then I tried the low-fat raw vegan diet, which means I was basically eating fruit … and vegetables and vegetable juices.
    I must admit my skin had never looked better and at times, I felt excellent. But it also triggered uncontrollable binging on food (especially forbidden refined sweets), and I felt hungry almost all the time. =/
    It just didn’t seem like fruit filled me up for long. It’s almost unbearable to be on such a diet.
    So what do you think went wrong ? Should I just eat a bit less fruit?

    Reply
    • RealityCheck

      Because fructose is not satiating. (google it)
      Sorry for your problems

      Reply
    • Andria

      Wow, you really don’t comprehend well do you?? What you describe is a ridiculous raw vegan diet which in and of itself is probably what was causing the cravings and bingeing and not fruit alone. Your body was likely lacking nutrients which is why you had your cravings and never felt full. I would want to eat anything I could get my hands on if I tried to subsist on fruit, juices and raw(poorly digested) veg.

      Try a HEALTHY balanced diet that includes fruit. It’s no likely you would have the same problems

      Reply
  8. Heather

    Oh boy. There are as many unfounded myths and fears about fruit consumption as there are about cholesterol and saturated fat. I decided to get to the bottom of some of this Fruit Phobia, and what I found, when I traced it all the way back to its source, is a fundamental confusion between FRUCTOSE and FRESH FRUIT. The Fruit Phobes assume that they are one and the same, and since there are so many studies linking fructose to health problems, they feel well-justified in their admonishments to the rest of us to severely restrict fresh fruit.

    However, fructose (as in high fructose corn syrup) is NOT the same thing as fresh, ripe, whole fruit. Fructose is a fractured, refined substance, not even a food. Sure, fresh fruit contains fructose, but it also contains FIBER, whose function is to slow down the absorption of fructose to a level the body can easily handle.

    One thing I’ve learned over the years, is that anytime you encounter a health guru who tells you to stay away from fresh fruit, that person is most certainly a ninkempoop.

    I wrote a whole post on the subject of Fruit Phobia as part of a blogging project on my website this summer:

    Thank you for helping to clear up more of the nonsense and misinformation surrounding fruit consumption…

    Reply
    • RealityCheck

      Lol, where does the word fructose arise from ?
      Berries are cool, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tomato and avocado too.
      But pass on other fruits unless you treat them like forbidden fruit for dessert only

      Reply
      • Andria

        @realitycheck I am sorry for your sad life devoid of all the many other fruits out there. I am sorry you can not understand consuming HFCS in nutrient poor, fiber free foods is COMPLETELY different than consuming fructose packaged inside of delicious fruit

        Reply
    • Andria

      I agree. Very smart comment.

      I find I give humans too much credit and assume there is no way they are confusing HFCS with the fructose in fruit. But, alas, they are. It’s really pathetic that these ignorant people are writing blogs that more ignorant people read and now fruit phobia abounds!

      Reply
  9. Jennifer

    Everyone is different. I could never be a nutrition counselor because I would NEVER recommend a single diet plan to anyone unless it was medically necessary to do so (via allergies or genetic condition). No textbook diet fits one person. Everyone’s nutritional needs vary – from vitamins and amount of protein needed to maintain muscle mass for your activity level, to number of calories to sustain yourself to ounces of water to prevent dehydration. We all vary – and it all varies even to lose weight.

    Like myself, I have salicylate sensitivity and an allergy to aspirin – so I kinda put myself on the Feingold program. Oh look, a lot of the foods very high in salicylic acids are the ones recommended only in the low carb diets, and the ones lower in salicylic acid are the ones often higher in natural sugars and “should be eaten in moderation”. At this point I have no choice to eat those fruits instead and avoid the rest like the plague if I don’t want to swell up like a balloon or have massive stomach and intestinal cramping and balance the rest of my diet around those fruits to prevent weight gain or achieve weight loss because of the sugars from those fruits… because I LIKE the nutritional gains from those fruits! As for the fruits I’m missing out on… (and nuts, and spices – google “foods high in salicylic acid” and you’ll find a LIVESTRONG article with a general list) I can get their benefits from elsewhere in the wide, wide nutritional world if I play it safe in the moderation world. Thankfully I live in an international hub here in the US, so I have easy access to a wide array of items, cultivars, and heirlooms, should I feel the need.

    I’ll stick to eating a (red delicious) apple and small lower-calorie meals throughout the day, having lots of water, eating grilled chicken at night over a bed of nice homemade pasta I learned to make in culinary school for an early dinner. 🙂 I don’t fear my carbs, and I also enjoy my size three pants and 45 pound net weight loss since the start of the year.

    Reply
  10. T. Kallmyer

    “this article is pretty ridiculous” aaah wasn’t that the point of the article? Mike concluded that you can eat fruit and lose weight. I think you read the title and made an assumption as to what the article was about. Just saying 🙂

    Reply
  11. munke18

    this article is pretty ridiculous.. I’ve switched my diet to eating only fruit for lunches until i’m no longer hungry and have immediately seen results. I’ve lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks, thats 5 lbs a week WITH NO EXERCISE! I’m just now adding in the exercise to build up my endurance again

    Reply
  12. Alexie

    The idea of cutting out fruit is crazy talk. Even if you want to lose weight – especially if you want to lose weight – food still needs to be enjoyable and healthy and fruit is both of those things. Also, it’s hard to overeat fruit. There’s something about it that’s very satiating.

    Reply
  13. Dan

    Spectra’s comments about processed foods has just given me an ah ha moment. Maybe it is *processed* fats and carbs that are particularly fattening, not the naturally occuring varieties of these. The fat in fast food and fried foods had often made me fat. It is because these contain a lot of trans fats. Frying food often hydrogenates the fats. But nuts which contain only healthy fats don’t seem to fatten me. Similarly the naturally occuring sugar in fruit seems a lot less fattening than in refined sweet products which are also combined with other ingredients devoid of nutrition. Many processed sweets are full of trans fats as well. So maybe one reason I personally find I don’t need to be either particularly low fat or low carb is that I have really decreased my consumption of the processed varieties of these.

    Reply