Fruit seems to be the golden-child of the fitness world. How many times have you seen ads, blog posts, Instagram pictures and just about every health advocate promoting the importance of fruit?
Before I dive into this post, A) I’m specifically talking about whole fruit and NOT juicing (which is another story on its own) and B) read the whole post before coming to a conclusion.
When I initially lost all my weight and started on this journey of an optimal life, I did so doing precisely the opposite to the recommend approach. I was told to eat 5 meals a day and snack frequently—instead, I unknowingly did intermittent fasting by eating one or two primary meals and felt awesome. I was told to eat low-fat food to avoid cholesterol, which was considered extremely bad—instead, I ate eggs with the yolk daily and consumed saturated fat as I pleased. I was told to eat fruit everyday for antioxidants and my metabolism—instead, I stuck to Slow Carb vegetables, nuts and salad. The net result of not following the majority? I lost over 30kg and I can honestly say I haven’t been sick in over 2 years.
The Main Enemy: Fructose
I would argue that fruit isn’t as beneficial as it may seem. Tim Ferriss researched and wrote about this years before the paleo and ketogenic diets became as mainstream as they are today in The 4-Hour Body. Fruit, specifically the main enemy fructose, is stored as fat more efficiently than any other carbohydrate. I’m going to repeat that in case you missed it: “FRUIT is stored as fat more efficiently than any other carbohydrate.” This happens due to glycerol phosphate getting converted to triglycerides via the liver which then leads to fat storage. That alone has got to ring alarm bells on your head as to why fruit might not be optimal.
In addition to fat storage, fructose also effortlessly links to proteins and fats which creates toxic advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which leads to accelerated aging. So when you are eating fruit you are getting fat and aging faster...false advertising?
When should you consume fruit
You shouldn’t be consuming fruit frequently, unless: A) you’re a world class athlete that trains more than 6 hours a day or B) you’ve got what Charles Poliquin calls “penis skin on your abs”—in other words, you are sub-10% body fat and you can see every row of your abdominal muscles.
If you are totally going to ignore this advice and think fruit still forms and integral part in a healthy diet, then I would suggest consuming fruit with a low glycemic index and preferably post-workout or at night. Consuming loads of fruit for breakfast is a simple way to prevent you from losing weight while simultaneously creating a roller-coaster day of crashes and pick-me-ups.
How much fruit should I eat?
Ideally, you want to stay under 25g a day. Even this could be less. In fact, I would rather have fruit during a re-feed or “cheat day,” and the rest of the days stay well clear. The reason for this, I find, is that our habitual nature as humans takes over. I find I will just have a small cup of fruit one night and next thing you know I’m on a 7-day fruit bender that was fueled simply by force of habit.
What Fruit to Eat
Fruit is natures dessert. Blueberries and raspberries are my go-to fruits which I will usually mix in with coconut cream to make an easy post-workout paleo ice cream.
Other than that, the best options are:
What Fruit to Avoid
You should definitely be avoiding any fruit that may cause your blood sugar to take off like one of Elon’s rockets.
Try and avoid the following fruits:
I’m certainly not condemning fruit as a whole (especially because avocados are fruit and I love avocados), all I’m suggesting is that you change your paradigm about fruit. Having fruit once or twice a week, ideally on cheat day, is a great way to restore those depleted batteries and will-power. The only time I will indulge is on cheat day and sometimes mid-week to restore the glycogen in my muscles after a heavy workout. Other than that, there really is no valid reason to be eating large servings of fruit everyday if you are tying to maintain/lose weight.
Fruit certainly wasn’t available to our primal ancestors year round. I would like to think meat from wild animals was our primary source of nutrients and because these animals grazed on natural pastures and weren’t shoved full of growth hormones and antibiotics, the meat was packed with omega-3, CLA and essential vitamins—satiating nutrients that are very hard, if not extremely impossible, to get from a plant-based diet primarily revolving around fruit.
I often hear people quoting the 'anti-aging' benefits of fruit: “But it’s high in anti-oxidants, fibre, blah-blah-blah.” Stressing about these trivial “benefits” while eating a high-inflammatory diet is like rocking up to a cricket match with golf clubs—you are bound to look stupid and most likely be laughed at. The first thing a person needs to do if he/she wants to live an optimal life, is to reduce inflammation. You can achieve this by following The Bulletproof Diet, regular exercise and optimizing your sleep. Once you get these fundamentals in check, then you start experimenting with fruit, micros and supplements.
The basics are the basics and it's hard to beat them.