Can I eat fruit and still achieve my goals?
This is one of the questions I get asked a lot of - 'What about the sugar in fruit?' 'I have diabetes - doesn't that mean I can't eat any fruit?' 'Is there a fruit that's better than others?' 'Could one have too much fruit?' This blog will answer all these important questions about fruit intake!
How does one lose weight?
Firstly, let's address the fact that no matter what fad diet you go on, it's the calorie deficit (energy in < energy out) that's the main cause of weight loss. I've previously written a blog series on weight management and can be found here.
It's not only about the amount of sugar in fruit, but also the context, such as amount you'd eat to get yourself full. For example, 1 medium mango, a fruit that's commonly perceived as 'sweet', contains about 28g of sugar (information from calorie king). Contrastly, a small 50g snack pack of m&ms contains 36g of sugar.
(These two foods have similar amount of sugar)
After finishing this pack of m&ms, you probably won't feel full, you might even want to have more. Not to mention that if you have a big share pack of m&ms, chances are you won't stop after 50 grams...
On the other hand, the mango will definitely get you fuller for longer, as it contains fibre and water to help with satiety (sustained fullness).
And this is a good segue to my next point!
Nutrient density vs calorie density
Rather than focusing on sugar only, we need to also look at other nutrients in foods.
Back to our previous example:
M&M contains nothing other than sugar, fat, sodium, and a very small amount of protein. 280 calories for a 50g pack.
Mango, on the other hand, contains vitamin A, C, potassium, fibre, and fluid. 120 calories for one whole mango.
As you can see, despite having the same amount of sugar, mango is the champion here in terms of satiety, nutrient density, AND calorie density.
Is there a fruit that is better than others?
Yes and no.
Different fruits do have varying levels of sugar and other micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Berries, apples and citrus fruits tend to have a lower sugar content compared to tropical fruits, such as mangoes and bananas.
However, the sugar levels don't differ enough to make a huge difference, especially if your main goal is weight loss.
Other than having diabetes, the only other reasons I would recommend one fruit over another is if you are having a strict diet regime for reasons such as body building, elite sports, or a medical reason (e.g. people with kidney disease needing to limit potassium intake).
What about people with diabetes?
People with diabetes have the same requirements as people without, so it is still important to consume fruit to meet your nutritional requirements that are essential for health and metabolism.
The only thing to be extra mindful of if you have diabetes, is blood sugar control from the carbohydrate in foods.
Most fruits are quite low in GI (glycaemic index), meaning that the carbs contained don't tend to cause a high spike in blood sugar levels after consumption. The only high GI fruits I would advise to steer away from are:
The quantity would also matter in this case, as an excessive amount will still cause a spike in blood glucose. For personalised guidance regarding diabetes management, you could schedule a discovery call with me with the details above!
Can one have too much fruit? How much is too much?
Depending on your goals (weight loss vs weight maintenance), the answer will change.
Typically, I would recommend 2 serves per day as per the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
Generally, an extra serve or two wouldn't be harmful, but it would be beneficial to think about whether there's any foods missed by having these extra serves. Could you have had an extra serve of veg (keeping in mind that 5 serves of veg daily is recommended)? Or protein, which is crucial for lean muscle mass gain?
If you are aiming for general weight loss, cutting out fruit or choosing 'low sugar fruits' will unlikely make any difference.
If anything, fruit is an excellent addition to your diet as it is a relatively low calorie, high nutrient, and filling snack.
For more personalised guidance regarding weight management, diet plans and more, you could schedule a discovery call with me with the details above!