Most of us believe that fruits are a healthy addition to any meal because that’s what we’ve been thought right from grade school.
We are told every day that fruits and vegetables are the gold standards in healthy eating.
However, some people believe that fruits are unhealthy in some circumstances. And some radical expects even believe that we should avoid eating fruits altogether because they are poisonous to our bodies.
One such group of people are extreme low-carb dieters, who believe that adding fruit to a low-carb diet is very bad.
We keep coming across discussions about low-carb diets and fruit, so we put together this article to try and answer the question – are fruits good on a low-carb diet?
Any low-carb diet aims to cut back significantly on carb intake.
A low-carb menu involves taking out high-carb ingredients like sugar-sweetened foods, sugar, refined-grain foods like bread and pasta, high-carb vegetables like potatoes, and replacing them with low-carb ingredients like meat and low-carb vegetables.
What most people forget about is that the primary ingredient in most fruits is carbohydrate in the form of sugars like fructose and glucose.
The table below compares the carb content of various fruits (we only list the net carbs (which is total carb minus the fiber content)):
Most fruits contain more carbs than low-carb vegetables, but they also contain considerably fewer carbs than high-carb foods like pasta.
There are many forms of low-carb diets, which involves different levels of carbs intake. We don’t have just one set of rules that define what should be included in a low-carb diet.
Several factors determine if you should add fruits to your diet or not. The main factors are your goals, the state of your metabolic health, your activity level, your current weight, and your preferences.
The typical 100 to 150 grams of carbs a day low-carb diet allows plenty of room to include fruits and not raise the carb content.
On the contrary, if you are on a low-carb diet that limits your consumption of carbs to 50 grams per day, then you don’t have a lot of room for fruits. Diets that typically limit carbs to this amount include the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet.
The truth is, most people following a strict low-carb diet won’t be able to add a lot of fruits to their menu. You should rather plan to include plenty of low-carb vegetables. The vegetables contain more beneficial nutrients and tend to be lower in calories than fruits.
Fructose is the worst component of sugar, and most fruits are high in fructose.
New studies show that eating excess fructose may cause a host of health issues like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity (a).
However, this is not the whole story. Fructose is bad, but it is only as bad as your lifestyle.
People who eat plenty of junk food and have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to suffer health complications from eating too much fructose.
On the other hand, healthy and active people can eat some amount of fructose without suffering health setbacks. This is because the fructose is used as energy instead of being converted and stored as fat.
People who eat a healthy meal high in protein and fat can afford to eat plenty of fruit without increasing the risk of disease.
In addition, eating fructose from fruit is not the same as eating fructose from refined sugar. Fruits contain plenty of water, fiber, and several beneficial nutrients. It is almost impossible to eat too much fructose from fruits alone.
Also, the research indicates that the fructose from fruit is not as harmful as fructose from refined sugar, which is bad for you.
Please know that this only applies to whole fruits and not the fruit juice sold in boxes at the supermarket. Fruit juice is stripped of all the fiber and tends to contain as much sugar as soda.
You get the full benefits of a low-carb diet when you get your body into ketosis. The best way to achieve this is to limit your daily carbs intake (including fruits) to less than 50 grams.
Whether you want to eat that way or not depends on your goals. Some people do it to help them lose weight, manage diabetes, or relieve the symptoms of epilepsy. Some also do it because it makes them feel good about themselves.
You shouldn’t be concerned when people avoid eating fruit on a low-carb diet. Their meals are healthy as long as they include plenty of vegetables, which contain almost every nutrient a fruit can provide.
However, the rest of us should not worry about the carb content of fruits because fruits are healthy in general. They provide us with vital nutrients, fiber, and water. They are also quite satiating, which can help us reduce our calorie intakes.
We encourage you to incorporate as many whole fruits as you possibly can into your diet. Eat them in place of junk foods that will only cause health complications.
It is perfectly okay for people on extreme low-carb diet plans to avoid eating fruits because they tend to be high in carbs.
However, the rest of us can enjoy all the whole fruits we want without worrying about the carb content.