Why Do People Choose The Fruitarian Diet?
There are so many diets on the rise that navigating through all of them is not just a daunting task – it’s impossible! What is concerning is that most of these diets are not created by qualified dietitians or nutritionists which makes people wonder if they are actually safe and healthy. The fruitarian diet is said to be a variation of the raw vegan diet.
With veganism breaking all the charts, the fruitarian diet has started gaining massive momentum among weight loss enthusiasts. And rest assured, an eating plan made up of mostly fruits is bound to be touted for health and weight loss benefits. But do they hold water? We did all the homework for you. Keep on reading to learn every little detail about this trending diet.
What Is The Fruitarian Diet?
This is a very restrictive diet in which fruits make up between 50% and 75% of one’s diet. Just like with most diets that are highly restrictive, most people interpret them differently (6). There are people who make sure 90% of their daily menu is made up of fruits while they are on the fruitarian weight loss journey.
People get into this diet for different reasons: some are concerned about their health, while the others do it for moral and ethical reasons (4). An example here would be people who switch to this diet due to their strong belief that eating animal-based products and harming them is morally wrong. People who wish to get their health back on track try this diet to improve their eating habits. There’s also a camp of people who decide to go on a fruitarian diet to up their fiber intake and fine-tune their digestion.
Fruitism in simple words is just eating raw fruits, nuts, seeds and other fruit components for all your meals (11). Some people on this diet are not allowed to eat certain foods like grains. It all comes down to how you decide to go about this meal plan. Any cooked foods or processed foods are not allowed on this diet. All animal-based products like milk and eggs as well as all meat are proscribed on this diet.
Are Fruits Nutritious?
Fruits are quite nutritious. There is a reason people keep saying ‘an apple a day keeps a doctor away’. Fruits contain nutrients and vitamins that our body needs and they are known to reduce the risks of certain diseases. These might be some of the reasons that convince people to give fruitarianism a try. The question to ask, however, is whether eating exclusively fruits is beneficial to one’s overall health.
Nutrition experts are against this diet because of how restrictive it is. People on this diet are likely to experience nutritional deficiencies due to the fact that their diet lacks very important nutrients that may not be provided by eating fruits alone. Interesting how even the most nutritious foods like fruits still lack some nutrients needed by the body. This shows that people cannot and should not eliminate entire food groups from their diet, because it is bound to lead to health complications.
Most people on this diet add a few vegetables to their daily menu. Another common thing about people on this diet is that they rarely drink water because most fruits have water in them and they believe if you are eating the right amount of fruits in a day, you are getting enough water from them.
People on this diet also rarely count their calorie intake. They only eat when they are hungry and until they reach satiety.
Amounts Of Food In A Fruitarian Diet
Since this is a highly restrictive diet, it is important to know the amounts of food you should consume in a day. Between 50% and 75% of your calories are supposed to come from raw fruits (9). That is up to ¾ of your diet. The other 25% to 50% depending on the percentage of raw fruits you chose should be composed of nuts, seeds, vegetables etc. This is the percentage most fruitarians follow. There are some that go for 90% of raw fruits and 10% of nuts, seeds, and vegetables. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on how you interpret your version of this diet.
What To Eat And What To Avoid
There are obviously some foods that are allowed on this diet while others are banned. Here’s your fruitarian cheat sheet:
What To Eat
A fruitarian is suppose to eat (11):
This comes as no surprise since even the diet gets its name from fruits. Fruits are the primary foods on this diet and should be consumed in very high amounts. Fruits offer numerous vitamins and minerals that the body needs. They also provide fiber which helps prevent constipation among other things. People on this diet usually eat these 7 groups of fruits (1):
- Acidic fruits. Examples of such fruits include oranges, cranberries, pineapples, lemons and so on.
- Sub-acidic fruits. Examples of such fruits include raspberries, figs, sweet cherries, apples and so on.
- Sweet fruits. Grapes, bananas, melons, and figs are some of the examples of fruits on this diet.
- Oily fruits. This includes the likes of avocados, coconuts, olives and so on.
- Vegetable fruits. These are fruits that we mostly use like vegetables. Cucumbers and bell peppers are good examples of such fruits.
- Starchy fruits. These are fruits with a high carb count. Squash is an example of such fruits.
- All kinds of melons.
The life of a textbook fruititain revolves around those groups of fruits.
If you are on this diet, it is important to eat nuts because they provide you with fats, fiber and protein. Since this diet is highly restrictive, nuts are important in providing you with fats and protein that you are not likely to find in fruits. Cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts are examples of nuts that should be on your plate.
Seeds are important to one’s diet. They are good sources of many nutrients, they contain protein as well as some healthy fat. They can be used to make your fruit diet very interesting and diverse. In addition to that, they also contain antioxidants. Chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds are examples of seeds you can add to your diet.
Some drinks are allowed on the fruitarian diet. This, however, depends on how a person interprets their meal plan. Water is allowed, so is coconut water, fresh fruit juices among others. Some people drink coffee and tea while others decide to stay away from caffeine.
What To Avoid When On A Fruitarian Diet
These are some of the foods you should avoid on this diet (11):
Any food item that has been processed should not be consumed in this diet. Most of the items you consume in this diet can be found in your local market or even in your garden. If it is processed, it is not allowed while following this diet.
These are those greasy foods that have zero nutritional value that most people love so much. The likes of burgers and fries should not be consumed while on this diet.
This includes beef, pork, fish, poultry, eggs and so on.
This comes without any surprise. Cheese, milk, yoghurt, and other dairy products are not allowed on this diet. Most Fruitarians find other cow milk alternatives. Examples of such include almond milk, cashew milk and coconut milk.
What Are Some Of The Nutrients A Fruitarian Is Likely To Lack?
As mentioned earlier, the rigidity of this diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies. Here are some of these nutrients that fruitarians run the risk of lacking:
This is an essential vitamin for a person’s body. This vitamin is mostly found in animal-based products (1). Animal products are prohibited on this diet. Vitamin B12 is responsible for keeping our blood cells healthy and helping the process of making DNA. Prolonged deficiency of this vitamin may lead to anemia and severe nerve damage.
Vitamin D helps with the absorption of phosphorus and calcium (1). These nutrients are needed by the body. Without vitamin D, your body will lack these two nutrients as well.
Just as we have mentioned above, this is another nutrient you will miss if you follow a fruitarian diet. Calcium helps with bone formation, helps with the clotting of blood as well as helping nerves and muscles work properly (1). There are some fruits that provide calcium, but only in meagre amounts. The fact that it might also not be absorbed due to the lack of vitamin D plays a role in a potential deficiency.
It is hard for Fruitarians to get this nutrient in their diet. Lack of iron can cause anemia.
People on this diet can get some amounts of zinc from the variety of nuts and seeds they eat. Zinc helps with the repairing and rebuilding of body cells.
A person on this meal plan may lack iodine (3). Iodine helps in maintaining a normal metabolic function. It should hence be included in a person’s diet.
These are some of the nutrients a person on this meal plan is likely to lack. They are needed by the body and hence a person on this diet should find ways of ingesting these nutrients even if it is finding some supplements for these nutrients. Before you try any supplement, you should first consult a dietitian.
Fruitarian Diet Dangers
Although this diet might be seen as it holds some benefits, there are dangers to being on an all fruit diet. Some of these dangers are:
Lack of protein
People on this diet also run the risk of inadequate protein intake due to the fact that they do not consume any animal-related products or legumes or most of the plant-based protein sources. Most of their proteins come from seeds and nuts and this might not be enough (5). When a person lacks protein they are likely to lose some muscle mass. This is because protein is responsible for building and repairing muscles. Losing muscles could hinder your weight loss goals as it takes away the high metabolic rate associated with muscle mass. In addition to that, lack of protein can cause physical weakness and a weakened immune system.
Tooth decay and cavities
Fruits contain sugars. They are also known to contain some acids likes fructic acid and citric acid. These properties of fruits might cause the tooth enamel to dissolve leading to tooth decay and cavities over time. Drinking fruit juice can also lead to this. People on this diet need to have top notch oral hygiene to prevent such things from happening (5).
Increased risk of some diseases
Being on a diet that primarily consists of fruits can increase the chances of mismanaging certain chronic diseases. An example of such diseases is type II diabetes. Eating large amounts of sugar can cause an increase in blood sugar levels and might affect one’s insulin sensitivity (8).
This diet is highly restrictive. Eating only fruits can lead to serious food cravings and food obsessions (3).
Lack of good fats
Most people usually think that fats are bad for one’s body while there are actually healthy fats that are good. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are examples of good fats (2). People on this diet are likely to lack such good fats. These fats help maintain proper hormone level, provide energy, help maintain body heat etc.
Fruitarian Diet Benefits
This diet holds a number of benefits. This is why many people choose to go for it. Here are some of the benefits people on this diet are likely to experience:
Leads to one always being hydrated
Fruits are known to contain large amounts of water. People on this diet consume large amounts of fruits and that translates to them consuming large amounts of water (10). This means then they are constantly hydrated.
Provide one with enough fiber
Fruits as mentioned contain high amounts of fiber. Fiber helps prevent constipation and maintain a good gut health.
Fruits contain lots of vitamins and minerals
Fruits are highly nutritious. They contain high amounts of vitamins like vitamin C and A. They contain high amounts of minerals like potassium. All these nutrients are important for maintaining health and normal functioning of one’s body.
Fruits are rich in antioxidants
These help reduce the risk of getting certain diseases like cancer and several cardiovascular conditions (3).
These are some benefits of this diet.
Fruitarian Diet And Weight
This is one of those diets that can either cause weight gain or weight loss depending on how the individual interprets their variation of this diet.
Fruitarian Diet And Weight Loss
There are a few ways in which this diet may cause weight loss. One of the ways is by restricting your calorie intake. If you consume less calories while on this diet than you burn this might trigger weight loss (9).
This diet also promotes weight loss due to the fact that most fruits contain high amounts of fiber. Fiber has a filling effect. This makes an individual feel fuller for longer. This helps reduce the amount of calories they consume in a day which leads to weight loss.
This diet can also cause weight loss due to its restrictive nature. It is so restrictive that a person only has few good options. This might cause one to repeat some foods so much that they get bored of eating them. This might reduce the amount of food they consume, leading to weight loss.
Fruitarian Diet And Weight Gain
This diet could also cause weight gain because most fruits contain high amounts of natural sugars. Most people on this diet do not count calories and eat when hungry and eat as much as they can eat till they get full. Consuming high amounts of natural sugar can still trigger weight gain.
People who follow this diet gain most of the weight they lost when they go back to normal eating habits (2). This is due to the food cravings that are associated with this diet that are likely to cause one to overindulge.
The Bottom Line
It is important to note that there is not much research that has been done on this diet (10). The fruitarian diet is a highly restrictive diet and most dietitians and nutritionists are against it. It is likely to cause deficiency of so many essential nutrients that its many benefits may not be worth it. The fruitarian diet is not for everyone and people with diabetes or those who are prediabetic should not attempt this diet (9). Before you join the fruitarian bandwagon, make sure to consult a dietitian as they will offer you the best advice on whether this diet will work for you or not.
Sticking to a healthy diet based on your health needs, allergies and preferences is a great idea, however when combined with a workout plan that meets your goals, it might bring you significant benefits. Better mood, stronger muscles and endurance are just some. Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.