Will Eating Fruit Hamper Weight Loss?

After yesterday’s post on the potential benefits of eating blueberries, some readers noted that one should not discount the calories in fruit. In addition, there appears to be a “myth” out there that because of the sugar in fruit, they should be considered a high-glycemic food and could therefore be counterproductive in weight-loss diets – especially for people trying a “low-carb” approach to weight loss.

On the other hand, dietary guidelines regularly recommend more fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy balanced diet.

So does eating fruit sabotage efforts to lose weight?

This question was addressed by Kerstin Schroder from the University of Utah in a study just published in Nutrition.

Schroder examined the effect of fruit consumption on body weight and weight loss in 77 overweight and obese dieters enrolled in a 6-month randomized controlled trial testing the effects of a computer-assisted dieting intervention program with the goal to decrease energy intake, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and maintain a balanced diet.

Overall weight loss during the intervention was rather modest (average weight loss of 3.23 lb).

Although vegetable consumption increased as a result of the intervention, fruit consumption did not.

However, after controlling for age, gender, physical activity, and daily macronutrient intake, higher fruit consumption was associated with a lower BMI both at the baseline and the end of the study.

Although overall fruit consumption did not increase, those participants, who did increase fruit consumption, lost more weight. Indeed, difference scores in fruit consumption (which varied from −1.50 to +2.86 servings per day) turned out to be the only significant predictor of weight loss among the nutrition variables, with an incremental contribution of 5.0% to 5.1% of the variance explained in weight loss and BMI change scores.

No such relationship was seen with changes in vegetable intake. Thus, increases in vegetable intake explained only 4% incremental variance in weight loss during the first 3 mo of the trial and explained none of the variance in weight loss over the entire 6-mo period.

The results not only suggest that fruit and vegetables may well have different effects on weight control, but also that eating more fruit by no means reduces the likelihood of weight loss.

Obviously, simply adding fruit to your diet is very unlikely to produce weight loss. Moreover, the study does not tell us if all fruit are equal or if different fruit vary in their ability to promote or sustain weight loss.

Certainly there appears nothing about fruit that warrants either damning them for hampering weight loss nor promoting them as “super foods” for achieving a healthy weight (whatever that may be).

They’re simply a healthy food that should be part of any balanced diet.

Edmonton, Alberta

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Hat tip to Sebely for pointing me to this article

Schroder KE (2010). Effects of fruit consumption on body mass index and weight loss in a sample of overweight and obese dieters enrolled in a weight-loss intervention trial. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 26 (7-8), 727-34 PMID: 20022464