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Does Fruit Have Too Much Sugar? The Truth About Fruit, Weight Loss, and Health.

Apple vs donut

Here's the truth: yes fruit has sugar. But when eaten in it's pure form, this kind of sugar is actually exceptionally good for your health.

To back up a bit, I’ve been getting these two questions a lot recently:

  1.  Doesn’t fruit have a lot of sugar?

  2.  Should I avoid fruit if I want to lose weight?


They echo a very misguided trend in the health and weight loss space that I wanted to address.

Fruit has natural sugar, as do most foods. For example, natural foods like plain rice, vegetables, pasta, beans, yogurt, and milk all have natural sugar. That's what the term "carbs" really means: sugar.

And in general, the reason sugar and carbs have been villainized is because they have a link to weight gain and conditions like diabetes. 

But from a nutrition professional standpoint, carbs and sugar are not all created equal and therefore should not be treated equally.

In fact, some carbs are actually helpful for weight loss.


The Sugar Buckets


For the most part you can divide these sugar sources into 2 categories or “buckets”:

  1. Foods that contain sugar that also have fiber and other nutrients.

  2. Foods that contain added or concentrated sugar.

Candy, soda, and foods like Chewy chocolate chip granola bars would fall into bucket 2. They are concentrated sources of added sugar with nothing in them to slow the rapid blood sugar spike.

Fruit on the other hand goes in bucket 1 because while it does contain natural sugar, it also has ample fiber to help lessen any blood sugar spike, it has natural vitamins, and lots of water to help you feel full after you eat it.

Unlike simple carbs and sugar, fruit can help with weight loss and overall health because it provides multiple layers of nutrition rather than just sugar. Like:

✅ Ample vitamins and antioxidants to bolster your immune system (especially during cold & flu season).

✅ Tons of fiber to keep both your gut and heart healthy…

✅ Water to give you glowing skin and hydration.

✅ Satisfying flavor.

Plus, you and your body have to work to eat fruit, starting from the moment it enters your mouth all the way to the complex process of digestion.

Now, I recognize that there are a handful of health conditions where fruit is ill-advised, like fructose intolerance, certain digestive problems, and a few autoimmune conditions and rare genetic disorders. I’ll even go a step further and say that if you have diabetes, you need to be mindful all sources of sugar, including fruit.

However, if we’re just talking health, wellness, and weight management, then fruit is your best friend.

To anyone who feels skeptical about that, I’ll leave you with this thought:

Show me someone who is overweight or diabetic from eating too much fruit and I’ll give you a lifetime of coaching for free.

Seriously, do you know anyone who gained excessive weight because they were addicted to bananas?

I didn’t think so.


Beware of the Fruit "Sugar Bomb."

Fruit juice


There is one form of fruit that I wholeheartedly recommend avoiding for weight and health: Juice.

And that includes the super expensive organic cold-pressed juices that advertise 101 health benefits.


Juice does indeed contain a concentrated form of some vitamins (vitamin C especially); however, in most cases it is essentially soda with vitamins.

That’s because when you juice a fruit or vegetable, you remove both the fiber and, more importantly, the work your body has to do to break down the food.

In other words, removing the fiber from fruits and vegetables turns them into a concentrated form of sugar. Juice still has the natural nutrients, sure, but now you’ve distilled the sugar into a super quick-digesting source…just like soda.

Just to hammer home the point, there are 66 grams of sugar in 16 ounces of Naked Juice Blue Machine (that’s 5.5 Tablespoons of sugar). In 16 ounces of Coke, there’s 65 grams of sugar.


When distilled down to the easy to digest liquid form, your body really can’t tell the difference between those two types of sugar.


While I recognize that you can get multiple “fruit servings” in a single serving of juice, which can make it an enticing option if you don’t eat much fruit on a day-to-day basis…

That’s exactly what makes it a bad option for weight loss and health.

You’re inadvertently and all too easily over-consuming sugar and the actual food itself…

I mean it can take up to FOURTEEN oranges to make one 12-oz glass of OJ. I know because I’ve squeezed my own before…not worth it.

And I don’t know about you, but I could never eat 14 oranges in one sitting.

The good news is that you really don’t need that many servings of fruit in a day to reap the health benefits.

Just 2-3 medium pieces of fruit (or ½ cup servings) most days will do it. 

I’d encourage you to save the $5-$10 you were thinking about spending on that 12-oz bottle of cold-pressed juice and instead, put that money towards an entire basket of different fun fruits that will fill you up instead of just spiking your blood sugar.

Just sayin.


How to Use Fruit to Lose Weight and Improve Health.


Fruit for healthy breakfast

As I mentioned, fruit really can be hugely helpful in weight loss and improving overall health for a number of reasons.

It’s a “health food” that actually tastes great and makes for excellent snacks and a fun addition to entrees. 

But just like any other food, it’s important to eat fruit mindfully. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because we should eat everything mindfully.

Here’s how I advise my clients to use fruit for weight loss and health optimization:

  1. Consistently eat 2-3 servings each day (1 servings = 1 medium fruit or ~1/2 cup). Use it as a substitute for other snacks you’re currently eating.

  2. Branch out and include a variety of colors of fruit in your diet because each color represents a different set of beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

  3. Pair it with a source of fat or protein to make it a complete, satisfying snack. Because fruit is primarily made up of carbs, it will break down in the body fairly quickly. Oftentimes, eating fruit by itself leaves you pretty hungry shortly after finishing. Instead of fruit on its own, try this: pair a piece of fruit with 1/4 cup of nuts, a cheese stick, Greek yogurt, or a Tbsp of nut butter. 

  4. Eat fruit in servings, don't graze. In other words, even though fruit is healthy, treat it just like any other food that can be over-consumed. Instead of sitting down with a big bowl of grapes and mindlessly eating the whole bowl, dole out a serving for yourself and stick to that. You'll feel more in control and conscious of how much you've eaten. If you're still hungry after finishing your serving, drink some water and wait 10 minutes before you go back for more.

  5. Use it to kill your sugar addictions: If you're accustomed to eating dessert or sweets in the evening, substitute them out for a small apple or orange. The natural sugar and fiber will keep you satisfied and curb that sweet tooth. If fruit doesn't sound good to you but you still want dessert, that's a good sign you're simply experiencing a sugar craving or time-related sugar addiction. Consistently eating a piece of fruit at that time will help wean you away from the habit.


Remove the Barriers.


In general, getting 2-3 servings of fruit daily is not that difficult, but if you don’t love it or aren’t used to incorporating it regularly, the biggest tip I have for you is this:

You must make fruits (and vegetables) as easily accessible as your go-to pantry snacks.

Chopping fruit

The reality is that when you’re hungry, it’s often too late to make smart nutrition decisions.

So, help the future ‘hangry’ you out by purposely turning produce into easy grab-and-go items.

The simple act of making fruit (and really all healthy foods) more accessible will actually help rewire your brain.

Instead of automatically grabbing the convenient bag of chips or granola bar, you’ll start to pause and consider the fruit instead of the junk food.

A perfect example of this: I buy grapes every week but most of the time my husband won’t touch them. He’ll generally go for chips and salsa as a snack instead.

Because I was throwing a lot of deflated grapes away, I decided to put in about 30 seconds more effort towards making them easier to grab by pulling the grapes off the stems or cutting them into small bunches. Then I put them into an open bowl in the fridge.

That small change – just making them easy to grab in a pinch between meetings – increased my husband’s fruit consumption by at least 100% (no joke...he calls grapes not in a bowl "inedible").

This trick works for all fruit and even some vegetables by the way (anything that’s easy to grab and go like carrot or celery sticks).


Creativity is the Spice of Nutrition (Life?)


Consistently eating the recommended 2-3 servings of fruit per day is absolutely within reach for you and if you’re picky and need additional creative ideas, I’ve listed some below.

Here’s a thought I’ll end with if you’re still skeptical about the fruit situation: If you commit to getting in 2-3 servings of fruit each day for at least 3 weeks (especially by substituting some of your other snacks or meal components with fruit), I can almost guarantee you’ll notice a drastic difference in your energy, focus, and digestion.

Just give it a try! By the end of 3 weeks if you decide you hate it, then quit. But something tells me that’s unlikely (maybe it’s my 10+ years of experience in the nutrition space…I don’t know).

In any case, I wanted to leave you with just a few simple ways to make fruit more accessible, fun, and exciting to eat. I believe fruit is an important part of any healthy diet and I want to encourage you to make it a part of your every day life. Cheers!

🍓 Use frozen blueberries as a "syrup" for pancakes by microwaving for 1-2 minutes while your pancakes cook. Heat until the skins break, and they form a thick liquid. 

🍓 Pair fruit with a yogurt dip

🍓 Lightly sauté banana slices in a pan on medium-low heat until soft. Serve over plain yogurt, in oatmeal, or on a peanut butter sandwich.

🍓 Make a smoothie using several types of fruits, greens, and unsweetened cocoa powder.

🍓 Grill stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, and plums and add to a salad (best on arugula with burrata or mozzarella and a balsamic drizzle).

🍓 Bake half an apple in the oven with a little cinnamon until soft, then top with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Nutritious smoothie bowl

🍓 Create a “smoothie bowl.” Make a smoothie with various fruits and greens, then pour it into a bowl and top with additional fruit, cereal, nuts, or low sugar granola. This tends to be more physically and mentally satisfying than a smoothie because instead of slurping it down quickly, you sit and eat the bowl at a slower pace.

🍓 Slice fruits like strawberries, apples, melon, and pineapple into bite-size pieces that can be enjoyed by themselves, in yogurt, or in oatmeal.

🍓 Slice apples and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin spice seasoning (add lemon juice to slow the browning process). Optional addition: serve with peanut butter or almond butter.

🍓 Cut oranges into wedges instead of leaving them whole (remember childhood soccer games??)

🍓 Enjoy berries with a bit of whipped cream.

🍓 Drizzle berries with a thin layer of extra dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater). Put them in the fridge to set and then place them in a bowl in the fridge for a great healthier dessert.


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