Bad news veg-heads: Fruits and vegetables may not be responsible for erasing those love handles.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows there's no clear link between increased fruit and vegetable consumption and weight loss. As your gut might have told you, the best way to lose weight is through good old fashioned moderation and exercise.
The scientists reviewed data from more than 1,200 subjects across seven randomized trials to determine the effect of increased fruit and vegetable consumption on weight.
“Across the board, all studies we reviewed showed a near-zero effect on weight loss,” said lead researcher Kathryn Kaiser in a statement. “So I don’t think eating more alone is necessarily an effective approach for weight loss because just adding them on top of whatever foods a person may be eating is not likely to cause weight change.”
That last part is important, because it shows that the consumption of fruits and vegetables goes both ways: More fruits and veggies is not going to cause you to lose weight, but neither will it cause you to gain weight—unless, of course, you deep fry your veggies or slather them with cheese, salt, and butter. But that should be obvious... shouldn’t it?
Traditional thinking has it that the more calories you eat, the more weight you'll gain, so you should simply eat less. According to this study, that’s bad advice: All you’re doing is limiting your intake of precious vitamins and minerals—not to mention fiber, which you don’t get from juices and extracts. What you really need to do is make healthy food a larger percentage of your overall caloric intake while still eating the same amount.
“In public health, we want to send positive and encouraging messages and telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables seems far more positive and encouraging than just saying ‘eat less,'” said report author David B. Allison.
In short, fruits and vegetables are crucial, and you should eat more of them. Just don’t expect to lose (or gain) any weight because of it.