Not long ago, I wrote a post for Blisstree (love Blisstree) entitled “Eight Things to Never Put in Your Smoothies.” I talked about sorbet (does this need to be in your breakfast?), soy protein and “too much fruit”. Regarding fruit I said, “sure, smoothies seem healthy, but the problem is that calories add up, even from fresh fruit. So avoid smoothies that are bigger than 16 ounces or are made with more than two cups of fruit.” Let’s just say people didn’t like me saying anything negative about their beloved fruit. I was told, “too much fruit, really? With all the things wrong with the American diet, too much fruit isn’t what I would hone in on.”
If we’re talking about eating habits of Americans, I’d agree. Processed food, pesticides, food dyes, hormones in our food and heavily sweetened and salted foods are all bigger problems than fruit. Most Americans, after all, eat too little fruit versus too much (unless we count juice, fruity pebbles and “fruit” snacks). However, if we’re talking about the ideal diet or what to eat in order to lose weight, I’m sorry folks it is possible to overfruit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fruit and think fruit is a part of any balanced diet providing fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Weight Watchers’ new points system allows unlimited fruit. While this may work for someone switching from the standard American diet (fast food, processed food, lots of food) to a healthier one or for someone with a significant amount of weight to lose, I think it’s a mistake for those with less to shed.
My reasoning is based on a few criteria. First, what would be a weight-related post without mentioning calories? Between breakfast, smoothies and snacks I see many new clients consuming over 400 calories from fruit. Second, this amount of fruit would contain over 70 grams of sugar or over 16 teaspoons. In case you’re shouting “but it’s fruit sugar silly” that’s part of the problem. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that fructose consumption reduces circulating levels of leptin (the hormone that inhibits appetite). “the combined effects of lowered circulating leptin and insulin in individuals who consume diets that are high in dietary fructose could therefore increase the likelihood of weight gain and its associated metabolic sequelae.” Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics had this to say, “the metabolic problems that result from sugar intake are mostly due to the fructose content. Less is better for health. Fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose.” Dr Nestle’s comments happened to be about soda and not fruit but fructose is fruit sugar. Speaking of sugar, the most alarming, must-read sugar article I’ve read recently was by Gary Taube’s in the NYT magazine.
If you’re just starting to make weight loss efforts or you’re losing weight and results have slowed try reducing your fruit intake. I would suggest two cups of fruit a day which is still four servings according to the USDA. If this is your current intake reduce further to 1 cup (or 2 small pieces) of fruit a day. The intention is not to eliminate fruit but just not to overdo it. And to be more
of a buzz kill specific, stick to fresh or frozen fruit and skip dried fruit or fruit juice.
Do you think fruit plays a role in weight loss? How much fruit do you eat a day? Is it possible to overdo anything we eat? What is your favorite fruit?