Should You Avoid Apples if You’re on a Keto Diet?

Steve Kroening, ND
November 20, 2019

 

If you’re trying to lose weight using the Keto Diet, one of the surprising things you will hear is that you shouldn’t eat apples. One medium apple has more than 20 grams of net carbs. That’s enough to blow your entire carb allotment for the day if you’re on Keto.

But this is where I think the Keto Diet is missing the boat. Apples are one of the best fruits you can eat to lose weight – even if you’re on Keto. Let me explain.

I’ve told you in the past that I’ve always struggled to keep weight off. But I’ve found two very successful ways to eat that will not only drop the weight, but keep it off. And both of them require eating a lot of apples.

The first time I dropped over 35 pounds using the Lock It In diet. I’ve told you about this diet before and it worked incredibly well. The folks at our clinic who run this program can work with anyone in the U.S. And a number of people have found success using it.

This diet is completely customized to each person, so you’ll lose the weight no matter what your body type is. When I did it, I used a low-fat, low-carb diet that incorporated a ton of apples. In fact, any time I was stuck – my weight plateaued – I would eat nothing but steak and apples for an entire day. The change in diet always worked to reboot my system and begin the weight loss again.

After losing the weight, I went through an incredibly stressful time and, as a comfort eater, I gained the weight back. So I started back on Lock It In, but this time my body has done much better on a Keto Diet. However, I still ate apples. And I still dropped the weight. In fact, I lost weight faster when I ate apples than when I didn’t.

Are Apples Keto Friendly or Not?

Obviously, eating 20 grams of carbs is a concern for anyone on Keto – or any diet for that matter. So why do apples help you lose weight with such a huge carb load?

It’s important to remember that when it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t really matter if you count carbs or calories. Sometimes counting both is the best way to go. At least it is with apples.

Apples have several things going for them that your body just loves. First, they contain a lot of water. Nearly 86% of the apple is water. Second, they have a lot of fiber (4 grams in a medium apple). Third, they don’t carry a lot of calories. And fourth, apples have a relatively low glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how much blood sugar levels rise after eating. Apples have a GI of 38, compared to 72 for watermelon. So even though they have 20 grams of carbs, it’s a slow-burning carb that doesn’t affect ketones as dramatically as other carb-rich foods.

That doesn’t mean apples are always Keto friendly. Different people will respond differently. But not everyone should throw apples out the window when they eat Keto. Here’s the evidence:

Studies Show Apples Promote Weight Loss

There are several well-done studies that show how women with excess weight who follow a low-calorie or weight-reduction diet will lose weight better when they eat apples. For instance, one study had women regularly eat apples, pears, or oat cookies. Each of these foods have a similar fiber, carb, and calorie content. After 12 weeks, the fruit groups lost 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg), but the oat group showed no significant weight loss.

In another study, researchers gave 50 people three apples, three pears, or three oat cookies per day. After 10 weeks, the oat group saw no weight change, but those who ate apples lost two pounds. But that’s not all. The apple group also reduced overall calorie intake by 25 calories per day, while the oat group ending up eating slightly more calories. Why? Because apples tend to be more filling and make you feel full, while cookies make you crave more sugar/carbs.

There’s more. A four-year study in 124,086 adults found that increased intake of fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits, such as apples, was associated with weight loss. Those who ate apples lost an average of 1.24 pounds.

While these weight loss numbers may not sound impressive, the researchers didn’t require any other changes in diet. When you couple eating apples with a Keto Diet, you’ll see the weight fall off even faster.

More Than Just a Weight-Loss Fruit

Researchers in another study have found that weight loss is good for a lot more than just weight loss. And it’s not just another fruit. In fact, it’s much better than many other fruits and veggies for promoting a healthy body and fighting illness. Compared to other fruits and veggies, apples are consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart, lung, and metabolism problems. They also have very strong antioxidant activity, decrease lipid oxidation, and even lower cholesterol.

There’s also a growing body of evidence that apples can protect your brain against memory loss – even severe forms of memory loss. That’s because apples protect the brain from the effects of free radicals.

Several years ago, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research examined the brain protective effect of apples. They published their results in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The scientists on this team have been studying the antioxidants in apples for several years.

In this study, the researchers answered the question of whether apple juice is protective against oxidative brain damage. They found that oxidative brain damage leads to memory loss. This study showed that when aged mice consumed diets supplemented with apple juice, they performed significantly better on the maze tests. They also had less oxidative brain damage than those on the standard diet.

Drinking apple juice fully protected the aged mice from the free-radical damage caused by a nutrient deficient diet. In addition, stronger mental acuity resulted when the aged mice consumed the human equivalent of two to three cups of apple juice or approximately two to four apples per day.

In earlier studies, this group of researchers showed that in cell cultures apple juice prevented the brain damage induced by amyloid beta protein. Increases of amyloid beta contribute to the decline in cognitive performance during normal aging and in neurodegenerative conditions.

Why Apples Are So Protective?

We already know apples are packed with vitamins. But much of their protective effect is attributed to phytochemicals. These are non-nutrient plant compounds and include carotenoids, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids. Phytochemicals may play a key role in reducing chronic disease risk.

Apples also contain abundant levels of quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid (all of which are strong antioxidants), and polyphenols, which are powerful free-radical fighters.

Of course, studies have shown that the apple peel is the most abundant source of nutrients. The concentration of phytochemicals varies greatly between the apple peels and the apple flesh. While the flesh does contain some phytochemicals, they are found in much lower concentrations than in the peels.

Building Aging Muscles

In addition to protection your brain, apples are great for protecting your muscles, including your heart (which is a muscle). This is because of a little-known molecule that actually reduces muscle atrophy. This is important when you’re losing weight, as many diets actually reduce muscle. But this molecule, known as ursolic acid, helps keep your muscles strong even when you’re losing weight.

If you are sedentary, or just losing muscle as a consequence of aging, you want to know about ursolic acid. It can make the difference between building muscles with exercise or remaining flabby and frustrated at the lack of results. I’m not talking here about appearances. Having weaker muscles means you’re not able to walk, exercise, and carry groceries as easily. They also increase your risk for falls.

A mouse study conducted at the University of Iowa found that ursolic acid increased the size and strength of muscles in older mice. In another study, researchers gave ursolic acid to mice that fasted. They found that it protected the mice against muscle atrophy. When they gave ursolic acid to non-fasting mice for five weeks, their muscles grew.

Ursolic acid appears to be a promising body recomposition agent. Animal studies found it is able to both increase muscle mass and decrease fat. While there are no human studies to date, information from animal studies indicate that it makes sense to supplement your diet with ursolic acid.

There are several forms of apples to choose from: the whole fruit, apple polyphenol supplements (powerful antioxidants), apple juice, dried apples, and concentrated apple peel. Each works just a little differently, but all of them can be effective. Keep your juice intake low, as you’re missing the fiber to slow sugar metabolism. So it might spike your insulin levels.

One problem with using whole or dried apples is their high sugar content. Another problem is that fresh apples aren’t always fresh. They’ve been stored. All commercial apples are cold-stored in warehouses – some for many months. But a study on apples found that the phenolics and antioxidant activity decreases after the first three months. This means that many commercial apples have little or no polyphenols.

You can avoid this problem by taking a concentrate made from apple peel. Several studies have shown that the most beneficial nutrients for the heart are in the apple peel – not in the flesh of the fruit. The peels contain polyphenols and other natural protective chemicals. This is why you should never peel your apples. In my opinion, a whole food has the advantage of containing co-factors that may not yet be recognized.

If you’re on a Keto Diet and have been avoiding apples, you might want to give them a try and see if your weight loss continues. If not, switch to a concentrated apple peel supplement. It won’t affect your ketones and you’ll get a lot of the muscle benefits.

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