THINK all fruit and veg are fair game when you’re watching your weight? Marjun Ziarati sorts the wheat from the chaff
Sweets, cakes and bacon, we all know they need to be rationed if you want to stick to a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. But fruit and veg we can gorge on ‘til the cows come home, right?
That might be what most of us have been led to believe, but according to some experts, chomping through endless quantities of fruit and veg might not always be a great idea.
“Although it would be difficult to get fat on a vegetable based diet, if you’re looking to burn body fat, not all vegetables are as beneficial as others, meaning that they also have a higher calorie count,” says Chris Hall, founder of Hall Training Systems.
There are some fruits and vegetables, he notes, that may also lead to weight gain, so may be best avoided if you’re aiming to lose a few pounds.
So, what are the worst waistline culprits in your fruit bowl?
BEANS AND LEGUMES
“These contain a lot of protein and have a high-nutrient density, one cup of lentils has 227 calories, compared to broccoli with just 31. If you are on a limited calorie diet, you would need to watch your intake of these vegetables,” advises Hall.
According to Emma Rose, Fresh Fitness Food’s nutritional expert, this starchy vegetable has a “high glycaemic index” which raises your blood sugar levels, resulting in a drop in glucose levels after only a few hours, leaving you feeling hungry quicker.
Elouise Bauskis, a nutritionist at NutriCentre, notes that the much-loved potato is perhaps one of the worst vegetables for those looking to lose weight. Very high in starch and carbohydrates, excessive consumption could contribute to weight gain over time, especially as potatoes tend to be something we eat in big portions. A nutritious alternative would be low-calorie broccoli, which contains more vitamin C but less calories, or even sweet potatoes, which have a lower glycaemic load (GL).
Technically a fruit, this creamy and delicious addition to any meal is, relatively speaking, higher in calories than most of its counterparts, with around 332 calories in a large avocado. There’s no need to ban them entirely, but if you are watching your calories closely, it’s worth bearing this in mind.
Dried fruit is generally far more calorie-dense than fresh fruit. Adding some to your breakfast porridge, yoghurt or salads is a great way to liven up meals and pack in some extra goodness, but keep the portions small if you’re watching your weight.
Fruits that generally taste sweeter are higher in sugars, which can lead to a drop in glucose levels and leave you feeling hungry quicker.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
Cauliflower, broccoli and kale
Super nutritious, these are all low-starch foods and can leave you feeling fuller for longer, while also helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
“If you’re trying to increase your vegetable intake at the same time as losing body fat, try choosing vegetables with high levels of dietary fibre. These foods will make you feel full without bumping up your calorie intake too much. Cooked carrots contain nearly 4g of soluble fibre per cup,” says Hall.
According to Rose, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries can leave you feeling fuller for longer and are packed with antioxidants to boost your intake of vitamins. This should keep you from reaching for unhealthy snacks!
This super-fruit can help speed up your metabolism, meaning faster calorie burn.