Thursday, November 21, 2013

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Fruit can get a bad rap.
Too much sugar?
Not good for weight loss?
Not so fast.
There's a way to navigate the fruit section of your supermarket with your sanity intact.

Let's start with the lowest sugar options of the bunch: berries.
Berries arguably pack the most bang for your buck when it comes to fruit consumption. For one, they're an excellent source of fiber. Two, they're great sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries would be the best options and strawberries should be mentioned as well. In most cases, you can consume between 3/4 to 1 cup as a serving size and you'll hardly see 100 calories. To even out a potential blood sugar spike, you can combine the berries with a serving of nuts or Greek yogurt to get additional protein and healthy fats.

At the midway point, you've got fruits like apples, peaches, melons, fresh apricots, and grapefruit (among many others). These are still good options as long as you're keeping them between 1 and 2 servings a day.

On the high-end of the spectrum, you consider fruits like bananas, mangoes, figs, grapes, and cherries. The biggest issue with fruits like these is the fact that you lose a considerable amount of fiber which can slow the digestion of the food in your system.

Last but not least, the type of fruit you generally want to stay away from is dried fruit. The reason: most of it has added sugar and artificial preservatives.

So, how can fruit help or hurt your weight loss goals?

Consider that most people consume far more carbohydrates in their diet than necessary. That doesn't mean you should cut them out altogether but rather be cognizant of portions.

You see, fruit isn't the only source of carbohydrates in the typical western diet. Most people are getting more grains than they need from over serving cereal, too much bread (much of which is heavily processed), rice, potatoes, and pasta. I didn't even mention dessert!!

While it's possible to keep many of these foods in your diet to help you with your weight loss goals, many people are unaware exactly what a portion size should be and end up going overboard.

A couple of tips to consider: limit yourself to 3-4 carb options per day. For instance: a measured serving of steel cut oats, 1-2 fruit options per day and a small sweet potato with dinner. If you're going for a higher sugar fruit, try to save it for after your workout along with a protein option (or mixed with a protein shake) to help push protein into your muscles faster.

How about those super-mega-ultra exotic fruits? I'm talking to YOU acai and goji. These fruits are fine but they're not the miracle fruits everyone would like to claim. To be honest, you can find miracle fruit in the same aisle as those miracle pills...which is to say, you WON'T find them.

Sorry to burst your miracle bubble!

As for fruit juices, most of them are better left alone. Going back to the comment above about fiber, if you strip a food down to it's juice you lose the majority of the fiber. Not to mention, most commercial juices have added sugars. If you absolutely have to partake, stick with the standard portion size (8 oz. for most) and go 100% natural.

While I'm on the natural topic, another issue comes up which is whether to buy organic. If you have the financial wherewithal to buy only organic, go for it. Otherwise, if it's a food you typically peel before you eat you're generally safe to buy non-organic. Any fruit you eat as-is, should either be washed excessively to lessen the amount of potential pesticides or just purchased organic to be "safe".

It's easy to consider all-or-nothing approaches to food selection but they aren't the only way to be successful with your goals. You can make more appropriate choices and spread them out throughout the day without feeling like you're sacrificing everything you enjoy.

We can help you understand how to fit what you love into your goals!