Calling all people with a sweet tooth! One of the hardest parts of any diet is fighting back against cravings for sweet, sugary foods, amiright? But when it comes to dieting, not all sugar is created equal. While your diet may have strict rules against the refined sugars found in treats like cupcakes and cookies, natural sugars (like the ones found in fruits) usually aren’t off limits.
“[Fruit] is a nutritious item to enjoy during a weight-loss journey as a treat and to decrease your cravings for other less healthy sweet foods,” says Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition. Fruit can also help you feel fuller for longer, due to the fiber content in many kinds. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track your sugar intake when eating fruit. Too much sugar of any kind could still thwart your weight-loss goals, and lots of fruits pack a ton of it.
If you’re trying to lose weight, Shapiro recommends having no more than two servings of fruit a day, or three if you’re active. One serving of fruit can either be a whole fruit that fits in your hand, like an apple or orange, or one cup of cut fruit, like a fruit salad. You should stick to eating fresh fruit; Shapiro advises against eating a ton of dried fruit if you’re trying to lose weight, as the dried fruit’s sugar becomes more concentrated as it loses volume. “The servings of dried fruit are very small, very sweet, and very high in sugar,” she says. “For example, dried mango contains 29 grams of sugar for four slices.” Shapiro also says that people tend to typically overeat dried fruit because of the small serving sizes.
But if you eat fresh fruit, and you take stock of your servings, fruits can keep you on track for your weight-loss goals. If you’re curious which fruits are the best when it comes to weight loss, try this list of 11 recommendations from Shapiro. They have the highest fiber content, the lowest sugar, and are the healthiest options for weight loss.
Shapiro says she loves recommending berries because they have such high fiber content. “Berries are my favorite fruit to recommend since they are the highest in fiber and lowest in sugar and are packed with antioxidants so they are optimal for health.” Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries all make great weight-loss fruit options.
Strawberries: 46 cal, 11.1g carbs, 7g sugar, 1g protein, 0.4g fat, 1.4g sodium, 2.9g fiber
Blueberries: 84 cals, 21g carbs, 14.7g sugar, 1g protein, 0.5g fat, 1.5g sodium, 3.6g fiber
Raspberries: 64 cals, 14.7g carbs, 5.4g sugar, 1.5g protein, 0.8g fat, 1.2g sodium, 8g fiber
If you enjoy something sweet, yet equally tart, consider kiwi. “It’s loaded with vitamin C and not too sweet, but still juicy and refreshing,” says Shapiro.
Per serving: 108 cals, 26g carbs, 16g sugar, 2g protein, 0.9g fat, 5.3g sodium, 5.3g fiber
Watermelon is about 9o percent water, so not only does it help you stay hydrated, but it also aids in helping you feel fuller for longer too.
Per serving: 46 cals, 11.5g carbs, 9.4g sugar, 0.9 protein, 0.2g fat, 1.5g sodium, 0.6g fiber
Apples high in fiber, making your belly feel full, and they leave you mentally satisfied too, says Shapiro. “Apples have a great crunch and texture so they satisfy your craving to chew.” If you’re looking for a yummy and healthy dessert, Shapiro recommends throwing your apples in the oven and baking them.
Per serving: 65 cals, 17.3 carbs, 13g sugar, 0.3g protein, 0.2g fat, 1.2g sodium, 3g fiber
Shapiro says papaya is rich in enzymes that can ease distress in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce bloating. The fruit is also low-calorie and full of fiber. It’s tasty on its own, but she says it also pairs well with some fresh lime juice and a little sea salt.
Per serving: 60.2 cals, 15.1g carbs, 10.9g sugar, 0.7g protein, 0.4g fat, 11.2g sodium, 2.4g fiber
Getting enough water is crucial to any diet, and adding lemon to water makes it tastier, so you’re bound to drink more of it, says Shapiro.
Per serving: 61.5 cals, 19.8g carbs, 5.3g sugar, 2.3g protein, 0.6g fat, 4.2g sodium, 5.9g fiber
Grapefruit is low in sugar and high in fiber, and one serving size is pretty large, so chances are you’ll feel satisfied for a while after eating it. People reported losing 7.1 percent of their body weight on average after eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice before their meals for 12 weeks, according to a study in Nutrition & Metabolism.
Per serving: 73.6 cals, 18.6g carbs, 16.1 sugar, 1.5g protein, 0.2g fat, 0g sodium, 2.5g fiber