We have been sent a series of emails asking why Weight Watchers allows unlimited fruit but the PEERtrainer Cheat System makes you count it after the first serving. With a few exceptions.
The first point to make here is that the people who do Weight Watchers and those who have really "gotten into" PT are fairly distinct. We would observe that the two tools serve people at different phases.
Weight Watchers is an excellent tool for people who are just starting to get their eating and weight under control, and who are starting the process of making better food decisions. If you are eating the standard Western or American diet that is high in processed foods and high in sugar, a shift to more fruit makes a ton of sense.
Yes, fruit contains a lot of sugar, but it also contains important nutrients, and as you make this shift you are essentially replacing worthless sugar with some sugar that has more vitamins, minerals and important micronutrients and phytochemicals. These added nutrients are critical to your long term health.
Certain fruits, especially berries have some very powerful health promoting aspects to them. In fact, Strawberries and Blueberries are unlimited on the Cheat System if they are organic. Citrus also has some unique properties to it. Grapefruit is a powerful food in particular, and also one of the few unlimited fruits on the Cheat System.
That said, a lot of experts who deal with health, nutrition and peak performance recommend a limiting or even an elimination of fruit. You'll probably want to start doing that after you have lost your first amount of weight, and that weight loss is sustainable.
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You will only get to this place by making a shift to a much more nutrient dense diet, that includes lots of greens, vegetables, beans, a small amount of grass fed meat, good eye on portion control. And it can take time to transition. Weight Watchers is excellent in particular in teaching you portion control, and basically getting a solid set of "training wheels" going for you. Most people can't just jump in and do something like the Cheat System after doing the typical diet.
Once you do get to this point, you are going to be getting enough nutrients in your diet that you can begin to reduce your fruit, especially in relation to your overall vegetable intake. Our view is that you don't want to eliminate fruit, especially berries, cherries and grapefruit. But you are having health problems, you are hitting a weight loss plateau, or you want to improve your athletic performances you will want to start taking a closer look at this.
Timothy Ferriss, who has written an interesting new book called The 4 Hour Body, says that if your goal is weight loss, "don't eat fruit." Period. He writes, "Humans don't need fruit six days a week, and they certainly don't need it year round." In his view, the principal sugar in fruit, fructose ends up getting converted into a substance which ends up being stored as fat "more efficiently than almost all other carbohydrates."
Robert Young, PhD, says in his book, The pH Miracle For Weight Loss, "most fruits are high in sugar...despite the nutrients they also contain, are best avoided." He goes on to assert that "You will not lose weight, or lose it quickly, or keep it off, if you are eating high sugar fruits." He also asserts that fruit is especially bad for diabetics.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. does not take as strict a view on fruit. In his food scoring system, green vegetables score much higher than any fruit. So anyone following that system will prioritize vegetables over fruit. However, for people who are sick or who have autoimmune diseases, Fuhrman recommends cutting fruit way down. In the case of eczema, he advises very low levels.
Related PEERtrainer Article: Do Low Carb Diets Work?
From our perspective, we are seeing a pattern where nobody disputes the nutritional benefits of fruit, but people do question the effects of sugar on weight and health. Given the overwhelming amount of sugar people eat in their diets, and the very low levels of green vegetables, we thought that it made sense to guide people in the direction we did.
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Update: The following comments have been posted on our Facebook Wall:
"I was probably the first "at goal" type person to convert to WW's new plan and actually GAIN weight. I'm still a great proponent of the plan as I feel we could all greatly inprove our wellness by swinging more towards a whole and/or plant-based diet, but I definitely have to count my fruit overwise those skinny jeans won't fit for long. (Gotta admit, for *me*, the WW plan seems much less effective if you're already "clean" without weight to lose.)"
"Thanks for this post, it really resonates with me at this specific point in my weight loss journey. Your Cheat system is exactly what I needed! I hate to use this word, but it really is :PERFECT: for me! I feel like PT had me in mind when creating this! Ha! I have reduced my excess fruit intake and have increased my vegetables... I still have much work ahead, but I am very confident I will reach my lofty goals sticking with this program. I didn't realize how much of a dependency I had for sugar until I started paying closer attention recently with my new focus on the Cheat System... The excess sugars (even fruits in excess!) in my diet are killing me!
I just wanted to add that when I first joined PT back in 2007, I was in the obese weight range. About 14 months later I was finally in the normal weight range. I think when you first start out on the weight loss journey, just cutting out th...e junk and eating natural whole foods is great! Bring on the fruits! :D However, once you are hovering in the normal weight range and it is your time to kick it up a notch, then definitely work the Cheat System! I run marathons for fun, so my focus might be different than most folks, I'm guessing... but I'd still recommend this for optimal performance, even if you are just walking around the block! My energy levels have soared just by increasing my greens! I feel fantastic!"
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Discuss How Much Fruit To Eat On A Diet In The PEERtrainer Community
Wow. It has taken me too long to getting around to reading this posting. I don't have too much weight to lose at this point, I'm going for the gold now . . . And I am beginning to see how too much fruit in my diet is holding me back. It's not easy to transition out of some fruit every day (I'm already a no-added-fat vegan) but I can now see that it's the fruit that is the factor in whether or not I get to and maintain my happy weight. Thank you for helping me to understand why this is so!
Posted by: Wendy (healthygirlskitchen) | 04/02/2011 at 09:17 AM
Thank you for this article. I just signed up for WW online to get back on track and as a vegetarian, was thrilled to see the switch to a focus on more whole foods. I do know that too much fruit isn't good. After reading this article I am going to be much more moderate in my fruit intake.
Posted by: Patti | 04/05/2011 at 08:28 AM