Does Fruit Sugar Cause Weight Gain?
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Does Sugar in Fruits Cause Weight Gain?

Fruits contain sugar in the form of fructose and glucose, in addition to essential minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins. Your body uses both fructose and glucose as an energy source, providing fuel for your daily activities and general body function.

Fructose is also found in table sugar. Since consumption of sugar is closely related to weight gain, many people wonder if fruits are on the approved list of weight loss foods. 

To figure this one out, we’ll take a step-by-step look at this.

Why do people believe that fruits make you fat?
Some people believe that the sugar content in fruits, in the form of fructose might cause weight gain or other health issues.  And they are not entirely incorrect in their beliefs about fructose, because according to research, fructose increases insulin resistance, blood cholesterol, abdominal fat gain, and raises the levels of hunger promoting hormone ghrelin. But the truth is fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

The amount of fructose in fruits is considerably lower than that found in beverages like soda and soft drinks. A study found that people who eat higher servings of fruits have lower BMI’s, even lower than people who consume more vegetables. Researchers believe that this might be because fruits tend to have fewer calories than other artificially sweetened foods besides being more nutritionally dense.

Eating fruits don’t make you fat. Excess calories cause weight gain. So if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. But newer studies show that consuming more produce (fruits and vegetables) in your diet is linked to lower abdominal and body fat percentage, while maintaining the same calorie intake. This clearly indicates that the quality of your calorie intake is key to weight loss and long term health.

So, how do fruits assist in weight loss or long term health?
Fresh fruits offer much more than just sugar –  water, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, etc.

  1. Increase satiety and fullness: The water and fiber content of fruits considerably increases levels of fullness. This leads to lower calorie intake through the day, assisting in weight loss and fat loss. Fruits cut out cravings for unhealthy foods.
  2. Lower sugar content: Fruits are great replacements to unhealthy sugar treats and high calorie foods. They contain considerably less sugar, a fraction of the calories, and provide higher satiety. This helps in controlling calorie intake and fat gain.
  3. Increases energy, endurance: A fruit before your workout can give you a huge energy boost. A study showed that bananas were more effective than sports drinks in boosting performance before an intense cycling session.  Eating a bananas may cause a boost in dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for improved mood and movement. Moreover, fruits contain vitamins and antioxidants which are not found in sports or energy drinks. With more energy and stamina, you will be more active through the day and during your workouts, helping you burn more calories.
  4. Improved Digestion: The high fiber content of fruits improves digestion, leading to better absorption of nutrients and improved health. Good digestion is even responsible for prevention of many other diseases.
  5. Fights Cancer: The vitamins, mineral and antioxidants in fruits fight cancer causing cells. For example, Mangoes have been shown to stop the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.
  6. Additional benefits: Fruit consumption improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, prevents skin damage from sun light and pollutants, makes you look younger and more attractive by imparting a natural skin glow and prevents and controls various metabolic diseases.

See Fitho’s Fruit Guide for detailed nutritional information on each individual fruit.

Do all fruits help in losing weight?
As we explained earlier, excess calories cause weight gain. So if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

There are a wide range of fruits available. To maximize benefits, consume a variety of fruits. Different fruits have different vitamins, calorie content, antioxidants and health benefits.

If you are trying to lose weight, try to choose fruits with low to medium glycemic index. If you are suffering from diabetes, consuming fruits with low glycemic index will help control blood glucose levels. But there some exceptions such as Guavas, which are great for health despite their high glycemic index, because of their high nutritional value.

The best way to control unhealthy fat gain is to follow a balanced, healthy diet. Health authorities like WHO, ICMR state that 3 servings of fruit are the daily recommendation for a healthy individual.

Find below some examples of fruits and their nutritional value.

To see the nutrition and calorie content of other fruits, use Fitho’s Calorie Counter.

Does this mean that even fruit juices assist in weight loss? 

Processed fruit juices are often loaded with processed sugar and other artificial additives to make them taste better and to increase shelf life. Fruit juices lack the essential fiber content of whole fruits. Also, fruit juices don’t have all the vitamins, mineral and antioxidants found in whole fruits, since they get reduced while being processed.

In fact, processed fruit juices can make you gain weight, since they contain high sugar and no fiber, spiking blood sugar levels and subsequent increasing unnecessary cravings for unhealthy food.

Fresh fruit juices are slightly better since they don’t have preservatives and might have more fiber, but eating whole fruits is recommended for maximum benefit.

- Articles, data, text, image or video content posted on this site is checked by the Fitho team of nutritionists & fitness experts, or by research/studies, and opinions are based on our wide experience in helping thousands of people get fit, lose weight & manage their health.
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