Can fruit make you fat?

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Debunking myths

Fruits contain one of the highest nutritional values food can offer, however, since it also contains high amounts of sugar it is among forbidden “fruits” list when our aim is losing fat or weight.

Today, many people strongly believe they will gain weight if they eat fruit, even those who are already overweight. This has been mainly caused by those nutritional myths that abound on the Internet and by those so-called “experts” that state fruits possess special properties that induce our body to store fat (one of them is Dr. Robert H. Lustig).

What does science have to say?

Let’s start with fructose, a simple carbohydrate that together with glucose forms sucrose (sugar). It is true that ingesting a high amount of refined sugar (this includes fructose) may cause health damage. In fact, sugar may have addictive properties that may induce anxiety, cravings and withdrawal symptoms if we remove it from our diet.

Research conducted on fructose consumption has demonstrated that it can play an important role in the emergence of illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, if you read closely, the amounts of fructose required to produce these negative effects are very high, even over-the-top, almost unachievable when we are talking about eating fruit.

One study proved that after following a diet high in fructose for 7 days the fat stored in the liver and muscle augmented. What alarmist magazine articles do not say is that in order to reach those results we would have to eat around 80 cups of strawberries or 45 bananas, or 26 apples. And, well, I still have to meet someone who can consume that amount of fruit!

Can fruit make you gain weight?

No. In fact, this statement is not even supported by evidence found in research. One study, which reassessed 31 previous studies, found out that fruit fructose does not produce weight gain if not ingested in high amounts.

But what are the benefits of eating fruit?

  • One fruit portion can reduce risk of heart disease by 7%.
  • A diet with higher fruit amounts may be related to lower body weight.
  • Thanks to its content in fiber, fruit regulates blood sugar levels in and insulin response.
  • Fruit promotes satiety, varying on the type of fruit and its content on fiber.
  • Fruit contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals, many of them with antioxidant properties.

Are whole fruit or fruit juice the same?

No, they will never be the same. In fact, it is a fruit’s content in fiber that promotes satiety and controls body weight. And fiber is dramatically reduced when prepared as juice.

When it is liquefied with a blender and all fiber is eliminated, fruit may produce insulin peaks affecting the microbiota, thus increasing the risk of diabetes.

In addition, to obtain a 200 ml glass of orange juice we need much more than one orange, usually 3-4. This makes up a total of 210-270 calories instead of 60 contained in one single orange.

Therefore, if losing weight is among our goals, we better reduce juice intake.

All in all, a healthy diet should always include a few portions of fruit because besides its countless benefits it will make your diet tastier and more colorful.

There’s nothing sweeter than fruit, so make room for it in your diet and life!