Enjoy Delicious Fruit Salad

Hey there Guys,

Damn, I get so bloody frustrated.

Today I was reading through the mail and I was sent the following question:

Hi there Dr George,

I have been reading through some of the low carb diet books, in particular The Zone Diet, and it was saying that eating fruit is one of the causes of getting fat. I know that you mentioned in one of your emails that the guidelines are to eat at least two serves of fruit a day.

I’m confused, is fruit going to make me fat?

Please don’t think I am frustrated at Dave who sent me this email, but I tell ya, if I ever meet these bloody diet “experts” who claim that fruit is what makes you fat I am going to scream!

You see the problem started around the time Robert Atkins introduced his diet.

When Atkins started he was sold on the belief that sugar was the root cause for obesity. Thus if you had foods with a high sugar content your insulin levels in your blood would go up and your body would start storing sugar as fat.

The natural conclusion is that fruit contains fructose, a natural form of sugar, therefore fruit will make you fat.

Sadly what is forgotten are two really important things:

1) While it’s true that fruit does contain sugar, it’s actual sugar content is very low.
An apple on average weighs about 150 grams, of which more then 80% of that is water. The rest is fiber and about 4-5 grams of sugar in the form of fructose. So gram for gram and volume for volume you are getting much lower amounts of sugar in fruit then say chocolate or pastry.

2) The combination of fiber and the sugar fructose are both associated with increased feelings of fullness and thus you are less likely to over eat on other potentially fattening foods. Don’t forget also that they are a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants that support your body in good health.

To try and give you a concrete example of what I mean let me talk about the fruit salad I made just yesterday. It’s pictured above.

To make this salad I had the following ingredients.

  • 2 red apples
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 bananas
  • one punnet of black berries
  • one punnet of strawberries
  • 2 kiwi fruits
  • 4 plums

All chopped up (which by the way only took 15 minutes), they were able to fill a 40cm mixing bowl to the top. The total weight was 1.5kg and there was about 12 servings we can enjoy throughout the next few days.

BTW each of these fruits are low GI which means that they are unlikely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels that could lead to weight gain.

Curious, I punched the nutrition information into a spread sheet to see exactly what the calories of the fruit salad were.

The grand total for the whole mixing bowl was 745 calories and a good size serve was about 67 calories.

To put that into context, there are less calories in this huge 1.5kg bowl of fruit salad than a Hungry Jacks™ Whopper with cheese that clocks in at 771 calories!
And people still say that fruit makes you fat? Give me a break!

But what does the research say?

Here is where it gets interesting.

If you read The Atkins Diet or The South Beach Diet, one of the first rules that mention when you start is that you are not to eat fruit. They claim that fruit is going to make the blood sugar spike and thus lead to an increase in fat creation.

Sadly this is not based on the facts that 1) fruit is generally low GI so does not lead to a spike in insulin and 2) even if there was a spike in insulin there is so little sugar that it can’t really change blood sugar or insulin levels.

Perhaps worse is that people on these diets then miss out on a fantastic source of dietary fiber, vitamins and important antioxidants.

Feeling in a research mood I hit the journals to see what the current research says about fruit and weight loss. Here are a few of the results.

  • Eating Behavior 2010: Increased fruit intake was associated with weight loss in overweight teens.
  • Eating Behavior 2010: Diets with high fruit and vegetable intake lead to significant weight loss in obese post menopausal women
  • Nutrition 2010: Increasing fruit intake was demonstrated to increase weight reduction in the obese and overweight.

There was a lot of support for fruit in the journals, surprisingly I was not able to find any studies that were able to say that increasing fruit intake was associated with weight gain.

So what is the bottom line?

Guys, go forth and enjoy fruit. Despite what the “diet guru’s” report says, there is little evidence that eating fruit is going to ruin your work to lose weight.

No matter what diet school you may believe in, it is a safe and sound choice.

Low calorie diet? Fruit is an excellent low calorie choice.

Low GI diet? Majority of fruits are low GI, even those that are in the medium GI range have so little sugar that they make almost no impact on blood sugar.

Low fat diet? There is no fat in fruit!

So guys, please feel free to enjoy an apple or two. You know what they say, an apple a day…well, you know the rest.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dr Simon Newman March 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Another excellent post Dr G

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