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When To Eat Fruit for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian

Fruits are among the healthiest fruits you can eat. They’re low in calories yet high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protective plant compounds.

Eating more fruit improves the nutritional value of your diet, and research shows that an eating pattern rich in fruit can protect against a number of health conditions, from heart disease to certain cancers.

Adding fruit to your diet can also help support your satiety and encourage healthy blood sugar levels, as long as you’re consuming it in the right way and at the right times.

When trying to lose excess body fat, it’s important to follow a healthy diet high in satiating foods, such as those rich in protein and fiber. Protein and fiber slow digestion and increase the production of satiety hormones like cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), helping you feel full after eating.

Adding more fiber and protein-rich foods to your diet can help you eat fewer overall calories and create a calorie deficit, which is necessary to promote fat loss. Though studies show that high-protein diets are slightly more effective for supporting weight loss than high-fiber diets, both of these nutrients are important when trying to lose weight.

Pairing protein-rich foods with fiber-rich foods can help make your meals and snacks extra filling. For example, preparing a snack with sliced apples, which provides fiber, and peanut butter, which provides protein, will be much more filling compared to eating a plain apple.

Many studies have shown that diets focusing on increased fiber intake without caloric restriction are effective for weight loss. For example, a small study of 15 people with obesity found that a 12-week non-restrictive diet that focused on a daily fiber goal of 35 grams (g) per day and a lean protein goal of 0.8 grams per kilogram (kg) of their ideal body weight (0.36 g of protein per pound) led to an average daily calorie reduction of 265.5 calories and a -2.2% average change in body weight. Additionally, 92% of the participants did not feel hungry while following the diet.

This suggests that making a goal to increase your overall fiber intake without necessarily focusing on calorie restriction can be an effective way to boost weight loss.

Some research suggests that eating fruit before meals may be more effective for increasing satiety than eating fruit after a meal. A small study of 17 men found that when the men ate an apple before a meal, they experienced significantly higher satiety than when they ate the apple after a meal. Eating the apple before the meal reduced the participants’ subsequent calorie intake by 18.5% compared to eating no fruit with the meal.

When trying to manage your blood sugar, it’s essential to choose the right types of carbs.

Carbs that are high in fiber, like fruit, are recommended over rapidly digested carbs, like white bread and sweets. Fiber slows digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps reduce post-meal blood sugar. Eating more fiber-rich foods, like fruits, can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

A study that included data on nearly 80,000 people found that consuming 100 g more fruit was associated with a 2.8% lower risk of developing diabetes. Eating fruit high in fiber is also beneficial for improving blood sugar levels. A review of 19 studies found that eating fruit significantly decreased fasting blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

However, since fruit is high in carbs, it’s best to pair it with a source of protein for optimal blood sugar control. Studies show that pairing carb-rich foods with protein sources, like eggs, nuts, or cheese, can help reduce post-meal blood sugar levels compared to eating carbs alone.

Additionally, some evidence suggests that eating protein before carbs when eating a meal can significantly improve blood sugar control. For example, eating a salad with chicken breast or a bit of cottage cheese before enjoying a piece of fruit could support better blood sugar management.

While pairing fruits with other foods that support healthy blood sugar is important, choosing the right kinds of fruits is also critical for managing blood sugar. It’s best to choose whole, fresh fruits over dried or canned sweetened fruits whenever possible. Frozen, unsweetened fruit is an excellent alternative if fresh fruit isn’t available.

Lastly, since fruit it high in natural sugars, it’s best to enjoy fruit in smaller portions to encourage optimal blood sugar control.

There’s no “wrong” time to eat fruit. Most American diets are far too low in produce, like fruits and vegetables, which isn’t good for your overall health. The average American diet is too high in ultra-processed food and too low in nutrient-dense foods like fruits. This is why it’s important to avoid following food rules with little evidence to back them up.

Here are a few fruit-related myths you can ignore:

  • People with diabetes shouldn’t eat fruit: People with prediabetes and diabetes can eat fruit. Research shows that eating fruit can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar and may help people reduce their risk of developing diabetes in the future.
  • Fruit contains too much sugar: While it’s true that fruit is a natural source of sugar, that doesn’t make fruit unhealthy. Not only do fruits provide energy in the form of carbs, but they’re also rich in fiber, which slows down sugar absorption, as well as vitamins, minerals, and health-protective plant compounds.
  • You shouldn’t eat fruit before bed: Some people recommend avoiding fruit before bed. However, there’s no evidence that eating fruit before bed harms health. Snacking on certain fruits before bed, like kiwis, might help you get a better night’s sleep. Kiwis are a good source of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in sleep.
  • Always eat fruit on an empty stomach: Some wellness enthusiasts recommend only eating fruit on an empty stomach. Though this practice is promoted as a way to support digestion and reduce symptoms like bloating, there’s no evidence that fruit should only be eaten apart from other foods. Studies show that eating fruit with other foods may support satiety and blood sugar management.

Though there are many opinions on the best time to eat fruit, most aren’t based on sound science. It’s important to ensure you’re including fruit in your diet, no matter when you enjoy it.

Most people don’t consume enough fruit. According to The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim to consume 1.5–2 cups of fruit per day.

Here are a few healthy ways to increase your fruit intake:

  • Pair fresh fruit with nuts or cheese for a filling snack
  • Add berries or sliced bananas to your morning oatmeal or yogurt
  • Use frozen berries in your smoothies and protein shakes
  • Incorporate fresh fruits into savory dishes, like salads and grain bowls
  • Snack on apple slices smeared with unsweetened peanut butter

You can enjoy fruit at any time of day, including morning, afternoon, or as an after-dinner snack. Just be sure to include fruit as part of a well-rounded diet that’s also high in protein, healthy fats, and other fiber-rich foods like vegetables, beans, and nuts.

Fruits are highly nutritious, so including them in your diet can help support your overall health and protect against disease.

Though focusing on eating more fruit in general is most important, some research shows that eating fruit before a meal could help support satiety and reduce calorie consumption. Pairing fruit with a protein source may also help support better blood sugar management.

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