When fat loss is the goal, some experts recommend avoiding fruit because of its sugar content. On the other hand, there are other experts who claim that fruit is in fact the carbohydrate of choice for anyone on a fat loss diet. There is a lot of heated debate out there on this controversial topic.
Let me give you a little background information before we set the record straight once and for all. Back in my competitive days, fruit was an absolute no-no. At that time, there was a stretch when I didn’t eat a single piece of fruit for over a year!
Why was this? Well for starters, it was what I was told to do by other successful physique competitors. The main rationale was that fruit contains sugar (natural sugar, but sugar nonetheless). For those of you who don’t know, the primary sugar found in fruit is fructose.
Fructose is a unique sugar. Unlike most other sugars, it doesn’t trigger a surge in insulin or a consequent decline in blood sugar levels an hour or so after it is eaten.
Additionally, many fruits have a low-glycemic index. Because of these facts, nutritionists often recommend quite a bit of fruit consumption, even for people on a fat loss diet.
Physique competitors figured out a long time that sugar intake can have a negative effect on their body fat levels. Since fruit contains sugar, it made sense that they would opt to cut it out.
They also learned that the carbs found in fruit are not the best source of carbs for replenishing their muscle glycogen stores. You see, after you train, your body wants to replenish the glycogen (stored carbohydrates) that you burned during your workout.
During this replenishment, dietary carbs are broken down into glucose to be used for “glycogenesis,” the manufacture of glycogen to restore the muscles and liver. Now here’s the interesting part: every cell in the body can metabolize glucose, but fructose MUST be metabolized by the liver.
In other words, fructose is excellent at restoring liver glycogen, but it’s really not the best choice for restoring muscle glycogen. Glucose, on the other hand, bypasses the liver and is transported by the bloodstream straight to the muscles you just trained.
So perhaps non-fruit sources of carbs do a better job at replenishing muscle glycogen after a workout, and the physique competitors were right about this point. BUT even if that is the case, I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to cut fruit out of your diet completely.
For starters, fresh fruit is healthy! It contains vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and a nice dose of anti-oxidants. It also plays an instrumental role in maintaining the alkalinity in your body.
Additionally, fruit tastes great and helps people satisfy their sweet tooth while on a diet. And last but not least, fruit is portable and incredibly convenient.
All of these benefits are coupled with the important fact that fruit will not contribute to gaining body fat, unless total calories are excessive.
So I do, in fact, suggest keeping fruit in your diet on a fat loss program. That being said, there are two circumstances when fruit consumption should be cut back. The first is if you have high triglycerides. The liver can easily convert fructose into a triglyceride, so if you have a propensity to manufacture too much triglyceride, this could be a problem.
And the second exception would be if you are a physique competitor who is approaching his or her contest date. For the couple weeks leading up to a competition, I always have my clients cut out their fruit.
Maybe this is an old habit that I can’t fully justify with science. However, I’ve had such great success with doing it that I see no reason to fix something that ain’t broken!
I would never want to take a risk on someone trusting me to get them in the best shape possible and then blow it for them. Plus, I don’t feel like there is any downside to cutting fruit out for just a couple of weeks.
Let’s briefly discuss the types of fruit that would be desirable while on a diet. I’ll keep this list a bit conservative, for those of you who still have trouble believing that fruit won’t contribute to body fat gains.
Although this list is far from exhaustive, it’s a great starting point. You now have many great options of fruit to fearlessly choose from. And believe me, these fruits will do nothing but good for you. When eaten in the proper quantity as part of a scientifically sound fat loss nutritional protocol, these fruits will not add one bit of fat to your body.
So my advice to you is simple: eat your fruit (and veggies too)!
Dedicated to your success,