Does Fruit Make You Fat?

Photo credit: Caju Gomes

Photo credit: Caju Gomes

Does fruit make you fat?

There is so much drama in the diet and fitness world about sugar and carbohydrates. With keto and Paleo being the current diets-du-jour, pretty much any food containing the S- or C- word is treated like the black plague!

But fruit? FRUIT is making us fat? Eating apples is what caused you to become obese? Seriously?!?

Can I make a confession here? I was one of those carbo-phobes who taught other people to be carbo-phobes. During the thick of my low-carb dieting days (when I was bingeing on carbs and sugar in secret…but that’s a story for another day), I was telling people that fruit was bad. It would make you fat, or in the least, it would stall your weight loss.

To those whom I confused, my deepest apologies. Perhaps if I had allowed myself to eat a damn bowl of berries, I would have been able to think more clearly.

There are roughly 60 calories in an orange. You’d have to eat about 58 oranges to gain a pound. When was the last time you ate 58 oranges? Photo Credit: Mae Mue

There are roughly 60 calories in an orange. You’d have to eat about 58 oranges to gain a pound. When was the last time you ate 58 oranges? Photo Credit: Mae Mue

Does fruit make you fat? What does human history tell us?

From an historical standpoint, our ancestors likely did eat fruit during seasons of plenty to add extra fat to their bodies in preparation for seasons of scarcity. This is the same concept as a bear gorging on fish and berries in the fall in preparation for hibernation.

But even gorging on fruit never made our ancestors fat! Eating fruit is a pretty difficult way to put on weight! Have you ever tried to eat five apples, or ten oranges, or two pounds of cherries?

Modern humans have much better survival options. Oreos, brownies, Doritos, donuts, pizza, Pepsi, hot dogs, and french fries pack on the “winter weight” much more efficiently.

And we’re villainizing fruit!

Does fruit make you fat? Or have you been misinformed?

Why this newfound fear of fruit? Two reasons: We are being overwhelmed with conflicting information, and everyone wants a quick fix to their weight problem.

A sexy diet that includes all the drama of eliminating an entire food group – including foods that are healthy – sounds like just the ticket…especially when the promise is the loss of 44.9 pounds in 7 days.

Due to the current diet dogma causing an irrational fear of carbs, and because fruit contains both sugar and carbs, it ends up getting lumped into the same category as Poptarts and pizza. Which is 100% ridiculous.

Yes, fruit contains sugar and carbs, but the obesity problem was not caused by anyone overeating apples and grapes. I bet if you talk candidly with any overweight person, not a single one of them will tell you they gained the weight by eating too much fruit.

No. They’ll tell you that they gained the weight because they were eating loads of processed sugar and carbs…and almost zero fruits or vegetables!

If you are overweight, chances are good that it was from eating too much of  this …and too  little  fruit! Photo credit: Ashley Green

If you are overweight, chances are good that it was from eating too much of this…and too little fruit! Photo credit: Ashley Green

Does fruit make you fat? Or was it the super-sized burger, fries, and diet Coke?

Before you embark on some crazy fad diet that eliminates an entire food group and makes you fearful of those fat-forming apples, honestly assess why you’re overweight. Did eating too much fruit make you fat? Or was it something else?

If you haven’t been eating many (or any) fruits and vegetables, and if your diet consists mainly of processed crap, you don’t need to go on a crazy-strict diet like keto to lose weight and see health benefits! Eating more fruit could be your gateway to healthier eating and fat loss!

Here are 4 great reasons to eat more fruit

1. It won’t make you fat. In fact, eating more fruit might make you thinner. More than a few studies show that fruit-eaters weigh less on average. In case you need to read for yourself, you can check out this study and this study and this study and this study.

2. Fruit contains a lot of water and fiber. This slows digestion and keeps you fuller for longer…which is probably why those fruit studies found that fruit-eaters tend to be thinner.

3. Fruit is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. That means fruit contains the raw materials that improve skin health and fight cancer and disease.

4. It’s a “gateway” healthy food. Going from cheeseburgers to kale salads isn’t usually sustainable, but that’s what most people try to do when they decide it’s time to “lose weight and get healthy”. They go from one extreme to another…and it’s not long before they’re off the wagon. Fruit has many positive attributes, but possibly the best one is that fruit tastes good. For a person wishing to transition from hyper-palatable processed food to healthier options, eating healthy foods that actually taste good is extremely important. Fruit can be that gateway to better eating!

For more tips on how to get healthy without dieting, check out this post!

Does fruit make you fat? There are some fruits that have higher sugar content, but you’d need to eat unnaturally large quantities to gain weight. Photo Credit: Alice Young

Does fruit make you fat? There are some fruits that have higher sugar content, but you’d need to eat unnaturally large quantities to gain weight. Photo Credit: Alice Young

Are there any “fruits” that will make you fat?

Not all fruits are created equal, of course. Some fruits are naturally higher in sugar and calories. Bananas, mangoes, pineapple, dates, and figs are a few that come top of mind. However, you’d still need to eat unnaturally large quantities of these fruits to get fat from them. Thus far in my career I’ve never met anyone who ate three pineapples or binged on bananas. And eating a mango is hands down healthier and more natural than eating a burger or a “Paleo muffin”!

That said, there are some “fruits” that certainly will cause weight gain:

Fruit juice. Take a completely healthy whole fruit, remove all the fiber and most of the vitamins, and you have fruit juice. You might as well drink a Coke.

Dried fruit. Dehydrating a fruit makes it easier to carry and less prone to spoilage, but it also concentrates the sugar and makes it much easier to eat large quantities. I can only eat about 2 cups of cherries without feeling like I’m going to puke. But dried cherries? I can eat them all day long!

Fruit with added sugar. Check the labels on things like frozen berries and apple sauce. Sugar is often added!

Wine. Wine is made from grapes. Grapes are a fruit. Fruit is healthy. Therefore wine must be healthy. If only it were so. Sure, wine has some redeeming health qualities, but it’s high in sugar, and we all know that alcohol makes it more likely that we’ll overindulge in other foods. Unfortunately weight loss and wine don’t typically fit together.

Who might need to be careful about how much and what type of fruit they consume?

The only people who need to be careful about fruit are the people who are trying to attain extremely low (and extremely unhealthy) levels of body fat. That would include fitness models, fitness competitors, and body builders. But even most bodybuilders and fitness models will tell you that they eat fruit as a “treat” or to curb sweet cravings!

So unless you plan on winning Miss Olympia, you probably don’t need to curb your fruit consumption…but you may want to rethink that Double Chocolate Chip Starbucks Frappuccino if your goal includes health and weight loss.

Does fruit make you fat? If your goal is single-digit body fat percentage, you might need to be careful about how much fruit you eat. For the average Jane or Joe wanting to get to a normal and healthy weight, replacing junk foods with more fruit is probably a good strategy! Photo credit: Alora Griffiths

Does fruit make you fat? If your goal is single-digit body fat percentage, you might need to be careful about how much fruit you eat. For the average Jane or Joe wanting to get to a normal and healthy weight, replacing junk foods with more fruit is probably a good strategy! Photo credit: Alora Griffiths


What have you heard about weight loss and fruit? Are you fearful that eating too much fruit will make you gain weight? Leave a comment and tell me about your experience!


I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!

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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer

Learn more about the author here.