Is Eating Fruit Bad for Weight Loss?

By: Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N.  |  September/October 2017

Some diets have been demonizing fruit for its sugar, riling up people to ask: is fruit bad for weight loss? But the short answer is: no!

Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in lots of foods like milk, honey, some vegetables and fruit. Yes, fruit contains several kinds of sugars and roughly half of them come from fructose. Fructose also makes up about half the carbohydrates in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Because fructose-laden sweets have been linked to weight gain, some diet books—including The 4-Hour Body and Why We Get Fat—make the leap that the fructose from fruit is problematic too. But, that's hardly the case.

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Overwhelmingly, research finds that people who eat fruit tend to be slimmer than those who don't. In one study published in the journal Metabolism, 107 overweight and obese volunteers followed one of two equal-calorie weight-loss plans for six weeks: one containing less than 20 daily grams of fructose from fruit and the other with 50 to 70 grams of fructose a day from fruit. The results: the high-fruit eaters lost an average of 48 percent more weight than the low-fructose group (about three pounds more).

Why the difference? First of all, fruit is more than just fructose. It's rich in fiber, which encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, and magnesium, which helps our bodies use insulin more efficiently. Plus, it doesn't cause fat-promoting blood sugar spikes the same way processed foods that contain fructose do. Then there's the simple issue of calories. While it's easy to quickly down a giant soda, we rarely overload on fruit. In fact, most of us aren't consuming nearly enough, with 38 percent of Americans eating less than one serving a day—a far cry from the recommended 2 cups per day.

Bottom Line: If you're watching your weight, or just want to eat healthier and get more nutrients, enjoy fruit. Sweet news!

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