Is there such a thing as consuming too much fruit? They are natural sugars right? So what happens if you’re trying to lose weight especially with summer just around the corner? I know you’re grazing at those unlimited fruit themed salads, smoothies and desserts.
Fruit and nutrition is a complex topic but the bottom line is, fruit is good for you, on the other hand it may impact your waist line if you don’t watch portion size. You can eat too much of a good thing, but here are some tips on how to avoid that and still get all of your necessary nutrients -
Get the smallest size. Bigger is better? Think again. We live in a world where everything is supersized, even our fruits! Buying the largest apple or banana can affect your weight loss. Fruits are great snacks that serve vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but also carbohydrates, sugar, and calories. Sugar and calories contribute to weight gain if you don’t monitor calories. I recommend always buying the smallest fruit available to help keep portions in check. So if you see a medium apple and a large apple of the same kind, pick up the medium one. If your banana is larger than your cellphone (most are), you’re probably consuming two servings in one sitting. Your day should consist of about 2-4 servings of fruit a day, depending on your activity level and other factors that we will not discuss here. So if you’re sitting at a desk all day, you should most likely aim for 2-3 servings. Oops, did you have that 11 inch banana?
Find your fruit a protein friend. Fruit is great and all until you finish the whole thing and are hungry again within the hour. Eating sugar alone (even with all the fiber which slows absorption) leads to other cravings, such as high fat foods. The body does this since the fruit alone gave it a little sugar and insulin spike. To avoid this, try pairing your favorite fruit with protein. My favorite sources are definitely almonds, but other nuts and seeds are great too. I definitely love a banana dipped in almond butter. Here are some great pairings:
6 strawberries and 12 almonds
1 TBS chia seed pudding with 1/2 cup blueberries
Kite Hill almond yogurt with 1 kiwi
Break up with dried fruit. Simply put, they do not equal whole fruit. Fruit that is dried is usually naturally higher in sugar. These fruits also lack the water component which helps to keep you full. You can snack on them for hours, consume triple or even quadruple the calories and still feel hungry! To visualize this better, one cup of apricot has about 20 grams of natural sugar and about 80 calories, however one cup of dried apricot contains 81 grams of natural sugar and 315 calories (I know)! If you must consume dried fruit, always check the label for added sugars and make sure there is none, and only consume one portion.
Check your season. Have you ever paid 8 bucks for a box of strawberries just because it was winter? Well, it’s actually best to eat a variety of seasonal fruit and save yourself the extra bucks. This allows for a variety of nutrients throughout the year. So what should you have this summer?
Blackberries (3/4 cup)
Strawberries (6 whole)
Pineapple (3/4 cup)
Raspberries (3/4 cup)
Kiwi (1 medium)
Cherries (12 cherries)
Peaches (1 medium)
Watermelon (1 1/4 cup cubes)
Check the time. Carbohydrates fuel cells. When you eat more fruit (carbohydrate) than you burn, the extra calories will be stored as fat (duh). Your body uses carbohydrates efficiently during the day when you are most active. This allows carbohydrates to be used as fuel instead of feeding your waistline. Aim to have your fruit in the morning, between lunch or dinner and before a workout or any activity that requires movement. Having fruit at night gets tricky. It is much better to have fruit for dessert than a cheesecake but if your goal is strictly weight loss than set a rule of no fruit after dinner.
Bottom line: Fruits are a perfectly sweet and healthy snack that you can enjoy while watching your weight, just make sure you also watch the portion size and frequency of enjoyment.