Many dietary know-it-alls would have you believe that all it takes to drop a few pounds is to switch from a meat-heavy diet to one full of nothing but fruits and vegetables, as if losing weight were no more difficult than passing up a burger in favor of an apple and a side of fries.
However, anyone who’s ever seriously tried to go vegetarian knows it’s not that easy. Just because food is plant-based, doesn’t mean it can’t be full of sugar and starch. Even healthy, fibrous vegetables can leave well-meaning dieters feeling bloated and sluggish. And gorging on enough fruit to fill Carmen Miranda’s hat can be nearly as bad as reaching for a box of cookies.
The trick to feeling full from eating fruits and vegetables without getting gassy and sugar-sluggish, according to Joanne Perez, registered dietician and founder of Real Bite Nutrition, is to look for nutritionally dense produce and then pay attention to portion control.
“All fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet,” says Perez. “But since some are higher in sugar and calories than others, portion size is important. The healthiest fruits and vegetables are those that have a high-density value, which is the number of nutrients a food has in relation to the number of calories. Foods with a high-density value will give you the most nutrients for the fewest number of calories.”
Most nutritionists agree that any produce is better than none at all, but there are some that work better for people who are on diets or are trying to reduce bloat after overindulging during the holidays. To get your new year started off right, we’ve spoken to some top dieticians for advice on which fruits and vegetables they advise against for clients looking to lose weight.
This story was originally published on January 9, 2015.