Growing up, you’re always told, “Eat your fruits and vegetables and drink water!" While everyone knows these things are good for you, following that advice is not always easy. Eating mostly fruits and vegetables and drinking water provides you with vitamins, minerals and fiber, but doesn't always lead to weight loss.
Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Loss
Since fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, you may think consuming mostly these foods is the key to losing weight. For effective weight loss, though, your overall caloric intake would still need to decrease. A 2014 article in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" substantiated this train of thinking by noting that increased fruit and vegetable intake has not been shown to lead to weight loss. Focusing on eating mostly these food groups without considering calories is not necessarily going to lead to shedding pounds. In addition, water is always a great choice as a calorie-free beverage, but unless you are substituting it for a high-calorie beverage, it is unlikely to cause any drastic weight changes.
Fruits and Vegetables Are Nutrient-Rich
The main reasons you’re encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables are their vitamins, minerals and fiber content. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrate-based foods that are typically low in calories and usually contain little to no protein or fat. Vitamins A, C and K are commonly found in fruits and veggies. Vitamin C is needed for wound healing and immune function, vitamin A is necessary for vision and vitamin K is needed for blood clotting.
Insufficient Vitamin B-12, Zinc and Iron
Vitamin B-12, zinc and iron are hard to come by when eating mostly fruits and vegetables as they are usually found in meats, dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin B-12 helps with red blood cell formation as well as DNA synthesis, and zinc is necessary for wound healing, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis and immune function. Iron plays a role in growth and helps oxygen move throughout the body. The form of iron in vegetables is not easily absorbed, making it difficult to obtain the iron your body needs from fruits and vegetables.
Very Little Protein or Fat
If you eat only fruits and vegetables, you get carbohydrates but only small amounts of protein and fat, which are essential macronutrients help your body function. Protein is necessary for maintenance and repair of tissues and synthesis of DNA. Without adequate dietary fat, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K needed by your body are often lacking.
Balance Your Plate for Weight Loss
While eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking water can help you have a healthier diet, you want to have a balanced plate that includes foods with protein and fat in them as well. Limit your intake of foods high in refined sugars and fat to help you move toward weight loss. This method is a healthier, longer-lasting choice to make than focusing on only a few foods.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- CDC: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People to Manage Their Weight?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Important Information to Know When Taking: Coumadin and Vitamin K
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake Has No Discernible Effect on Weight Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Mary Jennings earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in nutrition at Case Western Reserve University. She then went on to complete her dietetic internship at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. She is currently a Registered Dietitian and enjoys making the topics of food and nutrition fun to read and learn about.