Fruit can stall fat loss. I’ve seen this play out repeatedly with the physique competitors I train. After months of restricting calories their metabolisms inevitably slow down. When I have them cut back on or remove fruit from their diets in the weeks leading up to a show they’re able to break through the plateau, rev things up again, and drop those last few pounds. There’s a lesson to be learned here, even if you have no intention of ever stepping on stage. If you’ve got all the basics dialed in – you’ve cut out grain and sugar and your training program is in check – and you’re still not seeing the results you’re looking for, it might be time to take a closer look at your fruit intake.
I’m not anti-fruit. All fruit contains vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. When eaten whole, you also get some fiber and fruit is certainly less problematic from a health and physique standpoint than most other convenience foods. But fruit is often consumed in excess. The fructose it contains can lead to insulin resistance, elevated blood cholesterol levels, and increased weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region.
Modern fruit seems to have been designed to be sweeter and has less fiber, a thinner skin, and greater water content to make it juicier. In my experience, fruit also increases hunger. There’s a reason for this: fructose lowers the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas in response to meals. This then leads to lower circulating levels of leptin – a hormone that tells the brain you’ve had enough to eat – and increased levels of ghrelin, a hunger-promoting hormone. This situation can cause overeating and fat gain.
It’s true: sweetened beverages contain higher amounts of fructose than found in fruit and processed sugar certainly contributes more to weight gain. But natural or not, fruit does contain quite a bit of sugar and it needs to be accounted for in the diet, especially when you’re down to your final inches of belly fat.
You don’t need to avoid fruit completely. Here are some tips that will allow you to get the benefits while minimizing any potential risks:
- Eat fruit that is seasonal and local.
- Limit yourself to two servings per day; one if you are trying to lose weight or are insulin resistant.
- Opt for varieties with the lowest fructose composition, aiming to limit your total daily fructose intake to 10 grams or less (two grams of fructose is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar).
- Favor darker fruits. They have a lower glycemic load and they promote insulin sensitivity, meaning that they blunt the glucose response of the foods they are consumed with, making other carbs less likely to be stored as fat.
- Reserve high glycemic fruits like bananas for the post-workout window when glycogen stores are depleted.
- Avoid fruit juice entirely (unless you’re trying to gain weight!).
Low Fructose Fruits
Apricots, cantaloupe, raspberries, clementines, kiwi, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, and pineapple.
High Fructose Fruits
Mangoes, grapes, pears, watermelon, and apples.
Bonus tip # 1:
Fruits such as avocado, lemons, and limes are very low in sugar and do not have to restricted.
Bonus tip # 2:
Avoid dried fruit completely. The sugar in dried fruit is much more concentrated and it’s akin to candy.