When it comes to losing weight, a number of factors must line up in order to achieve visible, healthy results. While a sustainable calorie deficit is one of the most important aspects, the foods you’re getting those calories from also make a significant impact on your body in terms of the energy they provide and their unique bearing on your metabolism. Some foods, such as lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, are undeniably a valuable addition to your diet, but there are others which are less clear as to their effect on your overall health.
If you’ve been following a healthy and balanced diet but are still struggling to see results, there’s one food that experts agree may be stalling your progress and standing in the way of weight loss.
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Although fresh fruit is rich in fiber and inarguably one of the most important food groups to consume regularly for healthy weight loss, snacking on dried fruits can actually have the opposite effect on the body when eaten in excess. You’re hardly to blame for thinking this snack would make for a healthy addition to your eating plan, but the reality is that it’s been stripped of many of the essential nutrients that its fresh counterpart provides.
“Dried fruit tends to be higher in sugar than I prefer to consume, primarily because it’s highly concentrated in nature,” explains nutritionist Lisa Richards. “This variety of fruit, regardless of type, is significantly high in calories and sugar.”
While it’s true that fresh fruit does contain its fair share of natural sugar, the dried variation is devoid of much of the fiber that makes fruit so great for weight loss. “This is primarily due to the preparation method which causes a high concentration of sugar and calories into a small serving size. Due to the small nature of dried fruit it is easy to overeat on these snack items and the calories add up quickly,” warns Richards.
Fiber is essential for keeping your body full, limiting the likelihood of overeating, but when the fruit is dried out, what’s left is an influx of calories and sugar which will fail to satiate you effectively.
That’s not to say that there’s no place for dried fruits in your eating habits, and although they should not be the sole ingredient you’re snacking on through the day, pairing them with other, more filling foods can have a more positive effect on your diet while reducing overeating long term.
“Pairing dried fruit with a protein source can help inhibit over-eating,” says Richards. “[But] whole fruit that has not been processed is the best option for a snack and just as easy and convenient to access.”
At the end of the day, occasionally enjoying dried fruit is not going to majorly impede you from reaching your weight loss goals, but limiting consumption in favor of more nutrient dense snacks can certainly help to streamline the process. Blindly assuming certain foods are healthy without staying aware of their nutrition facts is one major mistake that can make weight loss an uphill battle, but focusing on consuming generally balanced meals complete with protein, carbs, and healthy fat will offset foods such as dried fruit which offer less benefit to your body.