We all know fruit is healthy, but the question is – can eating fruit lead to weight gain? After all, Weight Watchers allows UNLIMITED fruit in their weight loss plans. So do the calories in fruit count the same as calories in other foods – or are they “free”?
I decided to write this post today because I’ve been seeing a lot of “fruit confusion” in my practice. Many of my clients don’t eat enough fruit partly in fear of the sugar causing weight gain (or raising blood sugar in the case of diabetics). On the other hand, some people MAY be eating too much fruit when it comes to weight control. The mentality here is that fruit is healthy – so how many calories can it really have?
Let me start by saying that I doubt that eating too much fresh fruit is the cause of weight gain for 90% of the population! If we do have blame “fruit”, fruit juice or dried fruit would be more of a culprit. Pretty easy to chug down a 16 oz carton of orange juice. This is the equivalent to eating 4 oranges! Compare what 15 grapes and 15 raisins look like. They contain the same amount of calories. That being said, if you are having trouble losing weight despite eating a very healthy diet (and exercising of course!), it may be time to take a look at your fruit consumption.
Fruit serving Calories/carb grams
Apple, medium — 90/18
Apple, dried, 10 rings — 155/42
Apricots, dried, 10 halves — 83/22
Banana, medium — 110/27
Prunes, dried, 5 — 100/26
Dates, dried, 5 — 114/30
Raisins, 1 1/2 oz box — 130/33
Orange, medium — 60/15
Grapes, 1 cup — 65/16
Cherries, 15 — 75/17
Grapefruit, 1/2 medium — 41/10
Cantaloupe, 1 cup cubed — 55/13
Honeydew, 1 cup cubed — 64/16
Peach, large — 60/15
Clementines, 2 — 70/18
Pear, medium — 95/25
Blueberries, 1 cup — 85/21
Strawberries, 1 cup — 45/11
My thoughts on fruit:
1. Fruit is a healthy food and should be part of your diet. The general recommendation is for us to consume at least 1 ½ – 2 cups of fruit a day. However the exact amount will depend upon your caloric needs, medical issues and what the rest of your diet is like. See ChooseMyPlate.gov
2. Fruit is a preferred snack to processed snacks for several reasons: 1. it contains more nutrients 2. the water and fiber in fruit can fill you up more 3. it is more difficult to store natural foods into fat as compared to processed foods. Read my previous post that explains how processed foods are stored more easily as fat. (pic credit: www.bidorbuy.co.za )
3. When it comes to weight loss, some people CAN eat unlimited fruit and still lose weight (probably because they are substituting fruit for the junk food they used to eat!). However the majority of people will have to account for the calories. They are not “free” like many vegetables.
4. If you are having difficulty losing weight and are a big fruit eater, you may want to take a more detailed look at how much fruit you are eating. It’s possible you’re eating more calories than you think from fruit. You may also want to focus more on the fruits where you get “the biggest bang for your buck”. One half a banana is the caloric equivalent to 1 1/2 cups of strawberries.
5 .If you are watching your weight or need to watch carb intake for diabetes or pre-diabetes, be careful with your intake of juice and dried fruit. The calories and carbs add up quickly!
6. If you have trouble controlling your intake of fruits such as grapes and cherries, try putting a large handful into a bowl and put the bag away. Or try freezing grapes – a refreshing treat for hot summer days … it will also slow down your rate of eating! You do freeze other fruits such as sliced mango or peaches – great for smoothies too.
7. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, this does NOT mean you have to avoid fruit. However you just need to pay attention to the amount of fruit you are eating as well as the portion sizes. I would recommend that you meet with a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator to discuss your intake of fruit.
*To take the fruit issue a step further, we could talk about the glycemic index and glycemic load – however since I am trying to shorten my posts, I will discuss this in an upcoming post!
Lastly, if any of you have medical issues that may warrant a limitation on fruit (such as diabetes or prediabetes) and are still confused, you are welcome to contact me to set up a nutrition consultation session. I am a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and can educate you on carb counting and help you plan sample meals. My website is www.marthamckittricknutrition.com and phone number is (212) 879-5167
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what if eating breakfast makes you HUNGRIER than if you ate nothing? You try to do the right thing and pour yourself a bowl of healthy cereal topped with a banana but an hour later you are ravenous! Why does eating breakfast make some people hungry and what can you do about it?
I frequently hear my clients tell me that the reason why they avoid breakfast is that once they eat something, they are hungry for the rest of the day. Obviously this is a problem if you are trying to watch your weight. I’ve blogged in the past about the benefits of breakfast (increased energy, speeding metabolism, lowering body fat, improving mental concentration, etc). Read my previous posts: Breakfast helps you lose weight
Top 8 Reasons to Eat Breakfast
Why can eating breakfast make you hungry?
What you eat for breakfast can determine how it affects your hunger. For many people, eating processed carbs for breakfast will increase hunger. This is because these foods rapidly break down into sugar, which cause insulin levels to shoot up and then plummet … leading to more hunger. Examples: bagels, jumbo muffins, refined or sugary cereals. The problem is that most breakfast foods are full of carbs! Even a healthy breakfast of a whole grain cereal, fruit and milk may be too carb heavy for some people. The result: increased hunger.
Hunger taming breakfast ideas
Your best bet is to add protein, fat and fiber to breakfast as they won’t trigger the insulin response like processed carbs and will keep you feeling full longer. If you feel having the bread triggers you, find another carb that doesn’t increase hunger (i.e. high fiber cracker or low glycemic fruit) Or some people may find that all carbs in the morning trigger more hunger. In that case, just have the protein/fat – but don’t load up on saturated fat “Atkins style!” Suggestions:
2. Egg white omelet with veggies a sprinkle of cheese or a few avocado slices and some fruit (protein in egg whites, fat in cheese or avocado, fiber in berries)
pic credit: momlogic.com
3. 2% Greek yogurt, with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseeds and berries (protein/fat in yogurt, fat in seeds, fiber in fruit)
4. 2% Greek yogurt with ½ cup whole grain cereal and berries (protein/fat in yogurt, fiber in cereal and fruit)
5. Egg in a mug from Hungry Girl. Fun recipes and you don’t even have to dirty a pan! (protein and little fat)
6. 2 tablespoons nut butter on a whole wheat English muffin or an apple (protein/fat in nut butter, fiber in bread or apple)
7. 1 oz cheese, 1 slice of avocado and a slice tomato on a Flatout wrap – melted (protein/fat in the cheese and avocado and fiber in the bread)
8. 8 oz Container of 1% cottage cheese with berries added in (protein in the cottage cheese and fiber in the berries)
You will need to pay attention to how various breakfast foods make you feel as some foods may trigger hunger while other food do not.
What kind of breakfast helps keep you feeling full?