Science tells us that fruit is a nutritious food that’s essential to any balanced diet, but is that the case with a keto diet?
Fruits contain natural sugars that can be healthy in normal amounts and make them tasty, but it is a problem if you’re on a keto diet. We’ll be discussing how fruit affects your body and ketosis, the difference between certain fruits and why fruit may be detrimental to weight loss.
Can Fruit Fit Into a Keto Diet?
Fruit is sweet and natural, that’s why many people call it “nature’s candy.” Almost every fruit is packed with natural sugars, but just because it’s natural doesn’t make it good. Just like artificial sugars found in soda and candy, your blood sugar levels will skyrocket when you consume them.
High blood sugar is something you’ll want to avoid on the ketogenic diet as spiked blood sugar levels will cause your body to release some insulin. This is an issue because it gets your body into the dreaded “carb cycle” you want to avoid on a keto diet. The carb cycle goes like this:
- Carbs are consumed
- Blood sugar levels rise
- Your body produces insulin
- Excess sugar is stored as fat
- Blood sugar levels drop
- Hunger rises
- Cycle repeats
Insulin is referred to as a “fat storage” hormone, because it tells your body to store body fat instead of break it down. The goal of the keto diet is to enter ketosis, which uses fat for energy and breaks it down instead of storing it.
If blood sugar levels rise (Or drop), insulin will be produced and ruin your goal of reaching ketosis. Overall, consuming fruits (Or any other food containing sugars) spikes blood sugar, which causes insulin to spike and halt any fat burning potential; it also prevents ketone protection, something you don’t want on a keto diet.
Why Is the Consumption of Fruits and Other Foods Containing Sugars Limited During a Keto Diet?
Most fruits are loaded with sugar, one of the big carbohydrates you want to dodge while on a ketogenic diet. Sugars can have addictive and disease-promoting effects while also causing immediate spikes in blood sugar. Consuming any sugar will lead to cravings and stop the fat burning process, which is precisely what you want to avoid while you’re on a keto diet.
Don’t believe me? Research has shown that sugar triggers areas of the brain responsible for rewards and cravings; in fact, this effect seems comparable to the effect of addictive drugs. This evidence even suggests that sugar could be more addictive than hard drugs like cocaine, so maybe you should reconsider your sugar habit (If you have one).
Processed sugars and carbs are definitely the major players in “sugar addiction”, but what about natural sugars from fruits? Do they have the same addictive properties as processed sugars?
The answer is that we really don’t know yet.
Scientists haven’t really studied the addictive properties of natural sugars, but sugar, natural or not, is a keto-killer. If you really want to include fruits in your ketogenic diet, you’ll have to find fruits that are low in sugar and carbs. For now, let’s focus on fruits you should avoid, these are:
You should also avoid fruit juice and dried fruits as they typically have an outrageously high sugar content. Most fruits in general will take you close to or over your keto diet’s carb intake for the day, so it’s near-impossible to maintain the metabolic state of ketosis when consuming fruits.
So, Are All Fruits Bad for Keto?
You will have to limit your consumption of fruits to maintain ketosis, but that doesn’t mean every fruit is bad and consuming them is forbidden. The key is keeping a close eye on your daily net carbs and not exceeding your allowance for the day.
If you want to stay in ketosis, you’ll have to limit your daily carb count to about 5-10% of your calorie intake for the day. For most people, this means you’ll only be consuming 25-30 net grams of carbs daily or less than 50 total carbs daily.
If you want to calculate your net carbs, subtract the food’s fiber content from the its total carbs. You count net carbs because dietary fiber will have no impact on your blood sugar levels; it isn’t digestible, so it won’t kick your body out of ketosis or spike insulin levels.
If you’re going to introduce any carbohydrate-filled food to your ketogenic diet, not just fruits, you should always test your ketone levels after consuming it. You do this so you can figure out how the new food will affect your ketone levels.
The Perfect Fruit for Keto
There is one fruit you can eat as much as you want on keto: the avocado!
Yes, you’re reading that right, avocados are a fruit and not a vegetable and they’re the lowest-carb fruit out there. They’re packed with healthy fats, minerals, vitamins, protein, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients; they’re called a super food for a reason after all.
Tip: try our delicious avocado and deviled eggs recipe (it’s amazing!)
Avocados are a blessing to any diet, but they’re especially helpful for anyone on a keto diet. You might mistakenly think that you should avoid avocados because of their high carb content, but they’re actually low in net carbs. They have an excellent ratio of fiber, carbs, protein, fat and other vital nutrients, which makes avocados perfect for keto.
Check out these nutrition facts for half of a typical avocado (about 70 grams) and see for yourself:
- 112 calories
- 6g carbs
- 10g fat
- 5g fiber
- 14g protein
- 1g net carb
While we’re at it, here are some of the benefits of including avocados in any diet:
- Helpful weight loss aid
- Improves the health of your heart
- Promotes healthy eyes, skin and hair
- Lowers risk for developing metabolic syndrome
- Promotes digestive health
- Keeps your hormones in balance
So don’t hesitate, stock up on some avocados today and get a dose of the best, keto-friendly fruit in the world. Here’s a quick tip for buying avocados as well; you should buy them in bulk when sales are running and prevent them from going bad by placing them in your refrigerator’s ice box. They can last for weeks there, saving you a lot of time and money.
Another Keto-Friendly Fruit
Other fruits will have a higher amount of sugar when compared to avocados, but there’s another fruit you can still eat while on keto.
This fruit is berries. They’re packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, just like avocados; they’re also higher in fiber while being somewhat low in carbs. They aren’t as much of a super food as avocados, but they do provide these benefits:
- Reduction in inflammation
- Better blood sugar levels
- Reduction in insulin response
- Protection against some diseases
Here are the nutrition facts for one cup servings of various berries:
- Blackberries: 14g of carbs, 8g of fiber, 6g of net carbs and 7g of sugar
- Raspberries: 15g of carbs, 8g of fiber, 7g of net carbs and 5g of sugar
- Strawberries: 11g of carbs, 3g of fiber, 8g of net carbs and 7g of sugar
- Blueberries: 21g of carbs, 4g of fiber, 17g of net carbs and 15g of sugar
You shouldn’t get too “berry-crazy” though, they can throw your carb intake out of wack. Be sure to track your intake and continue following your weight-loss goals.
How Fruit Impacts Weight Loss
Lots of fruits limit your ability to maintain ketosis, but fruits can also limit your ability to build healthy habits and negatively impact your ability to lose weight.
Fruit Causes Cravings and Doesn’t Satisfy Hunger
Fruit doesn’t just spike your blood sugar, it can also cause immediate declines in your blood sugar levels like any other carbohydrate.
If you’re eating fruit as a snack on its own, you’ll probably only feel full for around 30 minutes. Hunger will immediately set in again after that and it could throw you into a dangerous loop; this is due to most fruits not having enough protein or fats to keep you satisfied.
Fruits do contain fiber to help manage your cravings, but it isn’t enough to stop that devastating blood sugar crash. As your blood sugar starts crashing, your hunger and cravings come back in full force. This cycle could repeat itself many times, ruining your ketosis and causing you to gain weight.
It’s Easy to Overeat With Fruits
The blood sugar issues are definitely a problem for your keto diet, but fruits also contain a sugar known as fructose.
Here’s the issue with fructose: it doesn’t release certain hormones that signal your neurotransmitters to tell your brain that you’re full.
Ever bought a huge container of watermelon, ate a few of the slices inside and then realized you’ve eaten all of them? Well, it happens to the best of us.
Fructose is sneaky and combining it with blood sugar spikes leads to a weight-loss disaster as you eat way too much of your favorite fruit without realizing it.
Fruit Can Cause Bloating
Fructose plays tricks on your mind, but it also messes with your stomach.
After some research, fructose has been shown to cause bloating because it is inefficiently absorbed by your small intestine. This leads to abdominal discomfort and bad gas, something incredibly frustrating for anyone who’s trying to lose weight. This is just another reason why fruits can cause more harm than good if you’re trying to use them for weight loss.
To make matters worse, advancements in agriculture are making fruits bigger and bigger. This means we’re eating more fruit and by extension, more fructose, than any generation in history, which only amplifies the problems fructose causes.
Fruits Aren’t as Nutritious as You Think
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
We’ve all heard this phrase before, but it is it completely true?
You might be thinking that all fruits are amazing health foods that burn fat and provide vital nutrition, meaning you can consume as much as you want.
It is true to a degree that fruits are healthy and that they do provide healthy nutrients, but the key is moderation. If you’re consuming excessive amounts of fruits, it might as well be the equivalent of eating tons of candy. It adds up and you’ll end up consuming too much keto-killing sugar while gaining weight.
Overall, fruit prevents ketosis, messes with your brain and stomach and spikes your blood sugar. It doesn’t sound so great now does it?
Wait, Fruits Are Healthy! Don’t They Contain a Ton of Essential Vitamins and Minerals?
Well yes, they do. Most fruits boast health benefits and are packed with vitamins and minerals. However, it’s easy to consume them in excess and they could end up providing more problems than benefits. You should also know that fruits aren’t your only option.
Here are a few keto-friendly foods you can eat instead of fruits to get the vitamins and minerals you need:
- Non-starchy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale and mushrooms
- 100% grass-fed, non-GMO meats
- Poultry and seafood, both are packed with nutrients
- Micronutrient powders and supplements
These foods are great for keto or any low-carb diet you’re planning on following. They’ll give you everything you need to promote health and boost your immune system; they won’t mess with you blood sugar and insulin levels either.
Vegetables might be even better than fruits by the way. More research needs to be done, but it’s looking like vegetables are the better food for your health.
For your keto diet, you’ll want to focus on maintaining a good macronutrient balance while getting your vitamins and minerals from sources that are keto-friendly. You want to keep your body in that fat-burning mode, so don’t ruin it just because you want some fruit. If you absolutely need to satisfy your cravings, eat a handful of berries. You can also enjoy avocados as much as you want, as they’re great for keto and great for you in general.
You should also learn more about what types of food are keto-approved and incorporate keto-friendly sources of meat and vegetables into your diet. Healthy fats can help you manage your sugar cravings as they keep your energy up and leave you full and satisfied, so you should include them as well.