Want to know how fruit fits into a healthy diet?
It’s a valid question! After all, it’s absolutely possible to lose weight eating fruit…and GAIN weight eating fruit!
This is an area of focus for our 1-on-1 Coaching clients, but we’re gonna tell you everything you need to know below too.
Today we’ll help you determine how much fruit, and what kind of fruit, you should be eating.
Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question, “Is eating Fruit healthy?”
- Is fruit good for you?
- Is the sugar in fruit bad for you?
- Is eating fruit good for weight loss?
- Is fruit juice healthy?
- Should I eat dried fruit?
- Is canned fruit healthy?
- Calorie content of the most popular fruit.
- Building a healthy plate (next steps).
If you’re curious about where fruits and other foods such as potatoes fall on the “healthy eating” spectrum, you should check out the Nerd Fitness Diet guide and cheat sheet. It’s a level up system designed for you to adopt new healthy habits that will stick, by slowly progressing you from a newbie to an expert.
You can check it out for free when you join the Rebellion!
- Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
- What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
- 3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
Eating fruit is great because it’s:
- Full of nutrients.
- Packed with fiber.
- A great snack option or it can be part of a protein-focused breakfast!
That’s why eating fruit is “universally promoted” as being good for you.
Which makes inquiries of “is fruit healthy?” perplexing.
What’s with the controversy?
For that, we need to talk about the calorie and sugar content of fruit.
If anyone tells you not to eat fruit, it’s most likely because they’re afraid of the sugar content of the produce.
With the rise of low-carb diets like Keto, many people are turning away from fruit entirely.
So what’s going on here?
A couple of things:
- There is A LOT of evidence that the excessive intake of added sugar is indeed harmful to human health. Study after study after study shows the adverse effects of added sugar into the diet. Fruit contains fructose, which is a sugar.
- Sugar is a carbohydrate. If you’re following the Keto Diet, the Paleo Diet, or any other low-carb plan, you need to limit the number of carbs you eat – which includes sugar.
If you’re not doing Keto, you don’t need to worry about that second point, because you aren’t eliminating carbs.
But how about the first one? Is the sugar in fruit harmful for us?
In one word: no.
Fruits are loaded with fiber and water, so it’s not strictly composed of fructose.
It also takes a decent amount of effort to chew an actual piece of fruit.
All of this slows down the absorption of fructose from the fruit.
According to Dr. Ludwig of Harvard Medical School, if you eat a whole fruit, it’s difficult to consume enough fructose to be harmful.
Notice that caveat “whole fruit.” This is critical and deserves its own section.
We’ve established that fruit is good for you.
That news shocks exactly no one.
But is fruit good for weight loss?
To answer that question, let’s consider two points:
#1) Fruit can be generally low in calories.
Here is 200 calories worth of an apple (thanks to WiseGEEK):
Compare that to 200 calories worth of a bagel:
#2) Fruit can be satiating.
Fruit can help kill hunger or scratch that “I WANT SUGAR” itch. When you eat 200 calories worth of an apple, it can help make you feel fairly full.
When you eat 200 calories worth of bread, you haven’t even finished a single bagel yet.
Studies done on the satiating power of different foods have shown fruit to be some of the most satisfying food studied. People feel more full from eating an apple or an orange than from eating beef or eggs.
In summary: Fruit can be high in nutrients, low in calories, and can help us feel full.
As we discuss in our Guide to Healthy Eating, this is a great recipe for successful weight loss.
So yes, fruit can indeed be part of a meal plan to lose weight.
We need to stop and make a point here: fruit, like every other food, obeys the laws of thermodynamics. Meaning the calories in fruit will still contribute to your total daily calorie goal.
Why does this matter?
Weight loss comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn.
Yes, there’s nuance, hormones messing with our hunger signals, and so on. But successful weight loss depends on consuming fewer calories than you expend consistently.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to establish calorie goals. Fruit can factor into those goals and the calories should be accounted for.
This means that even with all the nutrients and fiber, eating all of your meals along with 30 bananas a day will result in you wondering “Why can’t I lose weight?”
Save that for Donkey Kong:
Where fruit can really get you into trouble is if you start to move in the direction of “fruit-like.” We’ll jump to that with our next section.
First, if you are trying to lose weight and wondering where fruit fits into the equation, I want you to know you’re on the right track.
Lots of our coaching clients come to us with all sorts of different fitness questions, like what to eat and how to exercise, proving we all start from unique situations. The important thing is that you’re beginning to ask questions and looking for answers.
If you want help on your journey, we’re here for you. Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program partners busy people just like you with a coach who will get to know you better than you know yourself.
While fruit can 100% be part of a healthy diet, “fruit like things” don’t get our stamp of approval.
Without the fiber, water, and intact cell walls of the fruit, your body will absorb the fructose very quickly.
Let’s chat specifically about “drinkable” fruit first:
#1) Fruit juices (cranberry juice, orange juice, grape juice): these are high calorie, sugar-filled beverages.
For example, here are the calories in one 8 oz serving of:
- Apple Juice: 103 calories, 22 g of sugar
- Orange Juice: 103 calories, 18 g of sugar
- Grape Juice: 136 calories, 32 g of sugar
For reference, an 8 ounce glass of Coca-Cola would have about 26 grams of sugar.
2) Fruit Smoothies: Just because it’s a fruit smoothie doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat! Have you seen the calorie count and sugar content of smoothies and ‘green drinks’? Yikes.
- Green Machine Naked Juice (15.2 oz or 450 ml bottle): 270 calories, 53 g of sugar.
- Smoothie King Banana Boat (20 oz or 591 ml smoothie): 450 calories, 70 g of sugar.
Yeah…which is why we made this:
Another “fruit like thing” we need to talk about is dried fruit.
Dried fruits are notoriously easy to overeat because they are so small. Since the water has been taken out, all that’s left is the sugar and fiber.
Here’s 1 serving of raisins, which is 108 calories and 21 g of sugar:
If you are saying “oh man, I eat 5x that many raisins when I eat them…” then multiply those calorie and sugar numbers by 5!
Per weight, all dried fruit will be higher in calories and sugar than its “whole fruit” counterpart.
The other thing to consider is that sugar is often ADDED to dried fruit to make it even sweeter.
Consider these banana chips:
Second ingredient after dried banana? “Organic sugar.”
An ounce of these banana chips is going to run you about 147 calories and 10 grams of sugar (17g for total carbs).
For comparison, an ounce of a regular banana is about 25 calories.
You really have to be careful with dried fruit because it’s so easy to overeat.
However, this isn’t the only place where sugar is added to fruit.
The big concern with canned fruit is the syrup that is often included with it.
What’s in the syrup? Sugar. Of course it’s sugar.
Let’s take a look at Del Monte’s canned peaches:
The syrup here is composed of “high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar.”
Let’s compare the canned fruit to a normal peach you’d pick from a tree:
Del Monte’s Canned Peaches (in heavy syrup):
- Serving size: 256g
- Calories: 200
- Total Sugar: 42g
- Total Carbohydrates: 50g
Extra Large Peach
- Serving size: 224g
- Calories: 88
- Total Sugar: 19g
- Total Carbohydrates: 21g
When you package peaches this way you DOUBLE the calories and the sugar content.
This is why you should always read the nutrition label when purchasing canned fruit (although it’s a good habit in general).
To summarize the last few sections: fruit is healthy, provided you stick to fresh or frozen and not fruit-like food, dried fruit, or canned fruit packed in syrup.
If you enjoy a small glass of orange juice occasionally, or you pack a serving of raisins in your lunch and it makes life worth living, by all means!
Just don’t chug OJ by the gallon, drink a 64 oz “real fruit smoothie,” and eat raisins by the handful and then wonder why you’re not losing weight.
The best way to paint a picture of sugar and calorie content of fruit is with some actual serving sizes.
So let’s do that.
We’ll also share carb content and fiber content, in case you are following a ketogenic or low-carb diet.
- Serving size: 1 medium-size apple (182g)
- Calories: 95
- Protein: .5g
- Total Carbohydrates: 25g
- Dietary Fiber: 4.4g
- Sugar: 19g
- Net Carbs 20.6g
- Serving size: 1 medium-size banana (118g)
- Calories: 105
- Protein: 1.3g
- Total Carbohydrates: 27g
- Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
- Sugar: 14g
- Net Carbs 23.9g
- Serving size: 1 cup (148g)
- Calories: 85
- Protein: 1.1g
- Total Carbohydrates: 21g
- Dietary Fiber: 3.6g
- Sugar: 15g
- Net Carbs 17.4g
- Serving size: 1 cup (92g)
- Calories: 62
- Protein: .6g
- Total Carbohydrates: 16g
- Dietary Fiber: .8g
- Sugar: 15g
- Net Carbs 15.2g
- Serving size: 1 small orange (96g)
- Calories: 45
- Protein: .9g
- Total Carbohydrates: 11g
- Dietary Fiber: 2.3g
- Sugar: 9g
- Net Carbs 8.7g
- Serving size: 1 cup (123g)
- Calories: 65
- Protein: 1.5g
- Total Carbohydrates: 15g
- Dietary Fiber: 8g
- Sugar: 5g
- Net Carbs: 7g
- Serving size: 280g
- Calories: 85
- Protein: 1.7g
- Total Carbohydrates: 21g
- Dietary Fiber: 1.1g
- Sugar: 17g
- Net Carbs: 20.9g
As we mentioned earlier, understanding how many calories you’re consuming is a key component of weight loss.
If you’re targeting 2,500 calories a day, and your meals are bringing you up to about 2,300 calories, you know you can fit in a couple of bananas for a snack.
If you’re following a low-carb diet, and you have about 10 net carbs left in your daily allowance, you know you can eat a handful of raspberries and still meet your goals.
Like anything else, Nerd Fitness recommends fresh fruit in moderation.
Except for awesomeness.
You can have as much of that as you want.
Back to fruit! We recommend eating a healthy combination of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.
It ends up looking like this Healthy Plate (taken from our Healthy Eating guide):
Your “healthy carb” could 100% be a serving of fruit.
Of any type of fruit!
The different colors of fruit will correspond to different nutrients, so go wild! Try different fruits and experiment with new kinds. Keep rotating to ensure you give lots of different vitamins and minerals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, just remember to watch your overall calorie intake (fruit included).
You got this!
Still here? Want some more help starting your fitness journey?
Alright, I’ll give you my favorite next steps. But only caused you asked nicely.
#1) Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.
You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:
#2) The Nerd Fitness Academy – This self-paced online course has helped 50,000 people get results permanently.
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#3) Join The Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so.
I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:
Okay enough about me, let’s talk about you:
- Do you LOVE fruit?
- How do you compose a healthy plate?
- Any great snack or recipe ideas?
For the Rebellion!
PS: Make sure you read our Full Guide on Healthy Eating if you are just starting to level up your nutrition game.
Photo source: Fruit Ninja, Mandarin, Berry Hard Work, Watermelon Dude, Juice Boxes, Raspberry Harvesting Squad, Breakfast Fruit Plate, Watermelon, Raspberries, Oranges, Grapes, Blueberries, Bananas, Apple, Raisins, Dried Mango Spears, Banana Chips, Canned Peaches, Plate of Peaches.