Can you eat too much fruit?
Updated: Aug 26, 2018
PICK OF THE WEEK (scroll down for the full scoop on fruit!)
What makes this great? I love these BluApple produce extenders because they do just what they say: extend the life of your produce (and reduce spoilage). Just toss one of the "apples" in your produce drawer and you'll find that your fruits and veggies stay fresh longer. The refillable packet inside the apple is designed to absorb ethylene gas, thereby prolonging freshness. I've been using these for years and have found that they definitely help. Of course, you'll all need to store produce at the proper temperature and humidity levels, and minimize excess moisture (which may build up in produce bags). If you try this, let me know what you think!
CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH FRUIT?
I’ve worked with people who freak out about the sugar and carbs in fruit as well as those on the other end of the spectrum who eat multiple servings a day. What’s the deal with fruit? Should you be mindful of fruit consumption? As you may have guessed, I encourage fruit (and enjoy it myself), but I do think you can overdo it (like anything else!). Here’s what you need to know.
The sugar situation
Fruit does contain natural sugar called fructose, and some fruits are higher than others. I’m not worried about the sugar in fruit, including foods like grapes, watermelon, and bananas, which tend to be on the higher end of the spectrum. The sugar in fruit is VERY different from the added sugars in other foods for one very important reason: it’s coming from a whole food, which means that this form of sugar is packaged with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other protective substances, such as fiber. Fiber is important, because it slows down the absorption of the sugar in the bloodstream, and it’s also one of the nutrients that helps fill you up. This important difference puts the natural sugar in fruit in a completely different category than the sugar that’s added to other foods, including healthful ones, like yogurts, salad dressings, whole grain breads and cereals, and more. I suggest capping added sugar.
What is too much?
This really depends on your needs and goals. Most adults need between two and four servings per day. If your clothes are snug or you’re an above-40 female who’s not participating in tough workouts, you’re at the lower end of the range; if you’re a man, a younger woman, or a 40+ female who’s participating in intense pursuits, such as running, spinning, or interval training, you’re probably in the middle to upper end of the range. But note that it may change depending on what your day looks like. If you’re traveling for business and skipping a week’s worth of workouts, you may need to adjust your eating habits to avoid gaining weight, even if we’re only talking fruit.
However, in my experience, people aren’t typically snacking on fruit too often. Where they may run into trouble is in juices, smoothies, and smoothie bowls, which may have multiple servings in one drink (or bowl).
What about juice?
I favor whole foods over juices because when you drink juice, you’re getting many pieces of fruit in one glass without all of the fiber that’s packaged in a whole piece of fruit. This means that juices are higher in sugar and carbs, and while these are from a natural source, they aren’t as good as filling you up. Plus, they’re easily absorbed in your bloodstream, which could spell trouble. Think about it: When was the last time you sat down and ate four or more oranges? Yet, you’d get that amount in a small glass of juice.
Blending the right amount of fruit (say, 1 to ½ cups) into smoothies is a better way to go, especially if you’re adding protein, which I recommend at breakfast, as well as throughout the day.
What if you’re snacking on fruit instead of something less healthy?
Naturally, fruit is a better choice than a cookie or ice cream, so in this case, stick with the fruit, even if you aren’t within range. This is always going to be a healthier decision, and eating well is about consistently making better choices so I’d applaud the decision to snack on fruit over most other things. And if you’re reaching for a fruit snack, pairing it with a protein source, like a cheese stick, some pumpkin seeds, or some nut butter, will make it especially satisfying (and enjoyable!)
But don’t be fooled by fruit leathers and other fruity snacks. Even if the package lists a whole serving of fruit, it doesn’t count as the real deal. They’re better than candy (like jelly beans or red licorice), but because of all the processing, you don’t get the bundle of nutrients available in whole fruit form.
What happens if you eat too much fruit?
Many people I work with are interested in fitting in their clothes more comfortably or offsetting the weight gain that can happen as we get north of 35 or 40. In this case, too much fruit could interfere with your goals. This is assuming you've already addressed more obvious factors. Also, excess fructose (the form of sugar in fruit) can cause bloating and trigger GI distress so if you experience frequent gas, bloating, or stomach discomfort, it could be that too much fruit is to blame.