Fruit and Low-Carb Lifestyles: Do They Mix?
When people first start learning about or considering a low-carb lifestyle, there’s a question that comes up pretty quickly:
Is fruit okay when trying to eat low-carb (or keto)? Do fruit and low-carb lifestyles work together?
The answer, truly, is: it depends.
You will find some people in the low-carb camp that say you should avoid fruit altogether, but there are plenty of other GOOD reasons you should keep fruit in your low-carb lifestyle, even if you have to do so in moderation.
Let’s look at this a little more closely.
Fruit and Low-Carb – The Problem
The primary goal of any low-carb lifestyle is to restrict your carb intake so that your body switches from burning carbohydrates to fat for energy.
The main reason people believe fruit and a low-carb lifestyle don’t mix is because, while otherwise healthy, fruit tends to be fairly high in carbohydrates, primarily from the simple sugars they contain. Fruit in general is much higher in carbs than vegetables.
This is where the confusion starts to happen. Yes, some fruit is high in carbohydrates, and generally fruit has more carbs than vegetables, but not all fruits are created equal in this way. So how do you effectively incorporate fruit into a low-carb lifestyle?
The Solution (Part 1) – Know Your Limit(s)
This seems like an obvious concept, but it will make it all that much easier to accomplish your goal: the first step towards balancing fruit and low-carb lifestyles is to know your limits.
The typical ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrate intake to 50 grams or less a day—some even call for restrictions as low as 20 grams! That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.
Other low-carb diets allow for 100-150 grams of carbs. Here you could fit a little more fruit in without worrying about going over.
The point with either of these scenarios is that you should know exactly what your limit is, and how what you’re eating fits into that limit. Which tees up our next point.
The Solution (Part 2) – Know Your Fruits
As we mentioned above, not all fruits are created equal in terms of their carb count. Some fruit can be enjoyed easily in moderation, while others probably needed to be avoided in most cases.
So which fruits should you aim to incorporate into your low-carb diet, and which ones should you generally avoid? Let’s take a look.
Fruits that work well with a low-carb diet:
- Apricots – a medium-size, fresh apricot has just 4 carbohydrates and contains vitamin A, vitamin C and plenty of antioxidants.
- Avocados – your typical black skin avocado has only 2.5 net carbs and is packed with healthy fat (~19g)!
- Strawberries – 8 net grams carbs per 100g, contains vitamin C, vitamin B9, and potassium
- Blackberries – 6 net grams carbs per 100g, contains vitamins C, E, and K
- Raspberries – 7 net grams carbs per 100g, packed with vitamin C, manganese, and fiber
- Tomatoes – with just under 3 net grams of carbs, tomatoes are a great snack or addition to any recipe
As you can see, there are plenty of fruit options that are low in carbs and can easily be worked into a healthy low-carb diet. The key is to focus on eating these fruits in moderation, and to be mindful of your overall carb intake for the day.
What about fruits to avoid?
- Apple (1 small): 23 grams of carbs
- Banana (1 medium): 27 grams of carbs
- Raisins (1 ounce/28 grams): 23 grams of carbs
- Dates (2 large): 36 grams of carbs
- Mango, sliced (1 cup / 165 grams): 25 grams of carbs
If you’re not sure how many carbs are in a particular fruit, there are a number of online calculators that can help you out.
The Benefits of Fruit
Now that we’ve established that fruit isn’t entirely off-limits on a low-carb diet, let’s talk about some of the benefits that fruit can offer.
First, fruit is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins C and K, potassium, magnesium, and folate are just some of the nutrients you’ll find in fruit.
Second, fruit is a great source of fiber—something many people on low-carb diets often lack. Fiber helps with digestive regularity and can also help to lower cholesterol levels.
Third, fruit is hydrating! This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s important to stay hydrated when you’re eating low-carb (or really anytime). Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
And last, fruit is a great way to add sweetness to your diet without resorting to unhealthy sugar substitutes. This is especially important for people with diabetes or other conditions that require them to limit their sugar intake.
So fruit does have some benefits—just be choosy about which ones you eat, and how much of them you eat at a time.
Other Tips For Incorporating Fruit Into Your Diet
The best way to enjoy fruit on a low-carb diet is to focus on eating fruit at times when your body can better handle the carbohydrates—namely, during and after workouts.
This is because when you exercise, your muscles need glycogen (a type of carbohydrate) for energy, and fruit is a great way to replenish those glycogen stores.
Plus, research has shown that consuming fruit after a workout can actually improve your recovery time and help reduce muscle soreness.
So if you’re looking to add fruit into your low-carb diet, the best times to do so are before or after exercise, or as part of a post-workout meal.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that while fruit should be a part of every healthy, balanced lifestyle, moderation is key when it comes to eating fruit in a low-carb lifestyle! Skipping fruit entirely will cause you to miss out on so many beneficial vitamins and micronutrients; too much fruit can push you past your carb limit and kick you out of ketosis. So be mindful of your fruit intake and overall carb consumption, your body will thank you for it!
What are your thoughts on fruit and low-carb lifestyles? Do you have any tips for incorporating fruit into a low-carb lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to get started with the low-carb lifestyle? We recommend starting with our Thinlicious™ 28-Day Metabolism Reset, which is designed to introduce you to the Thin-Adapted System and help you retrain the way your body burns fuel in just four weeks. Get it HERE.
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