5 Myths About Fruit and Weight Loss to Stop Believing
There's a lot of information (and misinformation) out there when it comes to losing weight through diet. Depending on what you've read, fruit is either your best friend or worst enemy if you're trying to lose weight.
There's no shortage of words about how you should consume fruit, what time of day you should eat it, and which fruits you should avoid entirely. But what is true and what is not?
Here are the top myths about fruit and weight loss, and what to believe, according to nutritionists.
Myth 1: You Shouldn't Eat Fruit Because It's High in Sugar
One of the biggest misconceptions about fruit is that because it's sweet, it's high in sugar and therefore “bad” for you.
However, Carolina Margolis, registered dietitian at Lifeway Foods, tells LIVESTRONG.com that there is a difference between the natural sugar in fruit (fructose) and foods with added sugar.
“Fructose is only harmful when consumed in large amounts, and it's difficult to get too much of its natural form from fruit,” Margolis said. “For most people, the sugar content in the fruit is safe to consume.”
Fruit is also one of the most nutritious foods and provides other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Plus, they're high in water, which means they can help control appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer, says registered dietitian and nutritionist Reema Patel.
“While fruit does contain sugar, all the other nutrients it contains, especially fiber, help promote satiety while slowing digestion, which reduces overall food intake – an important factor in weight loss ,” Patel said.
How to do: Even though fruit contains natural sugars, you should include it in your daily diet, especially because of its nutritional value.
If you have a sweet tooth, instead of a candy bar, sweetened granola bar or a piece of cake, try eating some fruit—the perfect snack or natural dessert on your weight loss journey, says Margolis.
Myth 2: Fruit will make you fat because it's high in carbohydrates
Yes, fruits contain carbs, but they're healthy carbs that come primarily from dietary fiber, Roxana Ehsani, RD, LDN, a board-certified sports nutritionist and registered dietitian in Miami, Florida, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Dietary fiber helps support a healthy gut microbiome, keeps you fuller for longer, promotes regular bowel movements, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable, she adds.
“The more fiber in your diet, the better your weight loss, and fruit is a natural source of fiber,” says Ehsani.
There's also no need to avoid carbohydrates, as they fuel your brain and body and support physical function and any physical activity.
How to do: There is no need to turn away fruit just because it contains carbohydrates. Eating fruit can help you feel fuller, which is better for your weight loss and gives you more energy during physical activity, says Ehsani.
If you're trying to lose weight, remember to watch your serving sizes, especially since some fruits may count as two servings if they're bulky. Adults should eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Myth 3: Avocados make you fat
When someone is trying to lose weight, the fruit that is often left out is the avocado. Patel says this is because avocados are relatively high in fat.
You may think you need to lose fat to lose weight, but Patel says that's a myth. In fact, according to research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, research shows that regular consumption of healthy fats, such as those in avocados, can help control appetite, keeping us fuller for longer and more satisfied.
That means “we're likely to snack less and eat less overall,” says Patel, which can help with weight loss.
How to do: Cutting out fat entirely can leave people feeling deprived and unsatisfied, which can lead them to buy more processed foods with added salt and sugar (think: potato chips and ice cream), Patel said.
Patel encourages including healthy sources of fat with each meal, which include avocados. Combining avocado with some lean protein, whole grains and vegetables for a balanced, nutritious and filling meal can help you lose weight and keep it off, she says.
Myth 4: Mixing fruits destroys fiber and reduces nutrients
If you'd rather sip a smoothie than munch on an apple, don't worry: Blending fruit won't break down the fiber or change its nutritional profile, says Margolis.
Mixing fruits does expose them to an oxidative environment, and when foods are exposed to oxygen like that, nutrients can be lost, she said. But it takes time (about an hour) for the nutrition to be affected. So if you're stirring and then sipping, no need to worry.
How to do:Blending fruit into a smoothie is a great way to get more fruit and fiber into your daily diet. (Remember: Margolis says the fiber in fruit has many benefits, especially for those trying to lose weight.)
She notes that smoothies may not be as filling as eating whole fruit, and some people may consume a smoothie too quickly because of the lack of chewing. However, you can make up for this by going slower and adding protein powder for extra flavor, body, and satiety.
Misunderstanding 5: Fruits should not be eaten on an empty stomach
Another myth about fruit is that eating fruit on an empty stomach allows it to sit and rot in the stomach, which can slow down the digestion of other foods and lead to gas, bloating and digestive problems, says Margolis.
“‘Rotting away in the stomach' is completely untrue. Our stomachs naturally prevent overgrowth due to acidity, and most microbes don't stand a chance,” she said.
Fruits that contain soluble fiber, such as apples and citrus fruits, absorb water in the gut and form a gel that slows digestion. But that's not a bad thing, Margolis said. In fact: “The fiber in fruit helps people feel full and prevents spikes in blood sugar after meals, which can help control appetite and weight,” she says.
How to do:If fruit is the first thing you eat, it doesn't just “sit and rot” in your stomach. The nutritional value and benefits of the fruit do not change regardless of when it is eaten.
To further boost satiety, pair fruit with protein like Greek yogurt, peanut butter or cheese and crackers, says Margolis. “These foods also further stabilize blood sugar, and the probiotics in yogurt may help further stabilize blood sugar as well as produce hunger and weight-loss regulating hormones.”