No, eating fruit won’t make you fat. No, eating dried fruit won’t make you fat either, though it is more calorically dense.
Many of my teammates and loved ones have asked me about dried fruit and its contribution to their higher body fat. These questions have come up more often through the recent years, as misinformation proliferates across the internet. Many of them have attempted to drastically reduce or cut out their intake of fruits, particularly of the dried variety. This is simply an exercise in futility. From builtlean.com:
Many people who believe fruit makes you fat adhere to the principles of “broscience,” which Urban Dictionary accurately defines as “the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.” In this case, while hearing what others have to say is generally a good thing, it’s important to understand that genetically gifted or “assisted” individuals often look the way they do in spite of their approach, not because of it.
The other day, I chatted with a 19 year old bodybuilder at the gym. I asked him what he has been gleaning from his training and reading. He essentially told me how he learned the importance of carbohydrate consumption after a workout. He continued to preemptively excuse the fruit consumption portion of the chat. He wanted me to know that he’d cut it out prior to competition so it wouldn’t keep him flabby.
Others believe the fructose (a type of sugar found in fruit) causes fat gain. Some studies suggest that fructose ingestion leads to insulin resistance, elevated blood cholesterol levels and increased fat gain, especially in the abdominal area. Additionally, fructose lowers the amount of insulin released in response to meals. This in turn lowers the circulating levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for increasing feelings of fullness and raises the hunger-promoting hormone ghrelin. This scenario can lead to excess calorie consumption, which can cause fat gain.
Several studies show an association between beverages containing fructose (or high fructose corn syrup, which is not found in nature) and weight gain. However, there is good research that suggests it is the calories from the sugar and not the particular type of sugar that is responsible for the weight gain.
Additionally, fruit contains relatively low levels of fructose compared to sweetened beverages. For example, a medium apple contains around 13 grams of fructose and 90 calories. A 20-ounce Coke has 65 grams of sugar, about half of which is fructose, and 240 calories. (And, yes, the calories should be 260, due to 4 calories per gram of sugar. I couldn’t find an explanation for this discrepancy.)
The truth is, if you’re consuming more calories than you burn on a regular basis, you’ll gain weight. The mistake folks make is combining the goodness of say, dried figs, with pastas and Gatorades and muffins. They then say, “Well, those figs are pretty calorie dense, maybe they’re making me fat.” They cut out the most nutrient rich part of their options. From sfgate.com:
Fresh or dried, figs are a significant source of both types of dietary fiber. Their soluble fiber contributes to satiety and promotes healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while their insoluble fiber supports efficient digestion…
More than 60 percent of a fig’s water content is removed by the drying process. As a result, dried figs are a more concentrated source of calories, nutrients and fiber than the fresh variety. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 1/2-cup serving of dried figs — or about nine fruits — supplies just under 190 calories, about 2.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 48 grams of carbohydrates. A 1/2 cup of dried figs also delivers 29 percent of the daily value for dietary fiber, 14 percent each of the daily values for vitamin K and potassium, 12 percent each of the daily values for calcium and magnesium and 8 percent of the daily value for iron.
And yet dried fruit has become evil. I’d love to conduct a study with the folks who tout this bullshit propaganda:
You’re better off eating candy than dried fruit, if you’re looking at the sugar content. Okay, we’re NOT saying go eat a candy bar, but you should know that one bag of M&Ms or a Milky Way bar has 30g of sugar, which is less than what’s in about a cup of dried papaya or figs.
I’d suggest that they survive on a diet of only animal flesh, veggies and dried figs for one year. I’d bet the house that that person would do two things:
- Not overeat the dried figs.
- Get leaner
We vilify specific foods, making them the culprit responsible for our dissatisfaction with our physical selves rather than examining the other 14 detrimental lifestyle choices happening. Suppose you stay up all night and deprive yourself of fluids for the morning, then have a turkey sandwich for lunch. It ain’t the tryptophan in the turkey that made you tired.