This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
The old saying goes “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But are apples as good for weight loss as keeping doctors away?
Apples are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Find out whether you should remove them from your weight loss diet or eat more of them.
Micronutrients in apples
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in apples.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
Apples are pretty lacking in the vitamins and minerals department. The only noteworthy amounts per 100 grams are (1):
- Vitamin C: 8% of your Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 3% of your DV
These levels are very low compared to almost all other whole foods.
Other compounds in apples
Apples do contain other antioxidant compounds that can be beneficial for your health (2).
- Catechin: an antioxidant also found in green tea that can improve muscle and brain function (3, 4).
- Chlorogenic acid: Also found in coffee, chlorogenic acid can lower blood sugar and cause weight loss (5).
- Quercetin. A nutrient also found in other plant foods. This compound may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anticancer, and antidepressant effects, according to animal studies (6, 7, 8, 9).
It’s good that these compounds make apples a bit better for weight loss. You can also find these same compounds in other foods so apples might not be your only option to consume them.
Fiber in apples for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Apples contain around 2.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams. This is a decent amount compared to a lot of other whole foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in apples you can reduce the time you spend craving for food.
Do apples help you lose weight?
You still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in apples.
52 calories per 100 gram. 49.7 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (13.8 g per 100 grams of which 2.4 g fiber).
You might be able to fit them in but apples are not great for a keto or low carb diet because most of the calories in it come from carbohydrates.
The amount of calories in apples is not very high. A normal level for most fruits, and a bit more than most vegetables. That means that they are a great replacement for unhealthy snacks. On the other hand, you might be able to find even better foods for losing weight.
All in all, apples are a good addition to your weight loss diet. Together with the fiber and extra healthy substances, apples can be a decent addition to your weight loss diet if you are looking for something to fill you up without adding too many calories.
How many apples should you eat a day to lose weight?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
Apples do contain calories and not that many vitamins and minerals. Consuming enough micronutrients is important for both your short and long-term health. Apples and fruit in general do not help you a lot with reaching these daily micronutrient goals.
That’s why something like the fruit diet, mostly eating fruits, is just plain bad for you.
If you have consumed enough micronutrients you can see how many apples still fit within your daily calories. The amount will be different from individual to individual from day to day, it can be 0 too.
When should you eat apples to lose weight?
The calories in apples are mainly from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise insulin. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. Sleep is important for losing weight.
That’s why you preferably want to consume apples earlier in the day or at least not right before bed.
In one study, 49 women were randomly chosen to add either three apples, three pears, or three oat cookie, with the same amount of calories and fiber, per day for 10 weeks. The group of women who ate the apples lost 2 pounds (0.91 kg) and the pear group 1.6 pounds (0.84 kg), the oat group’s weight did not change (10).
Apples vs other popular fruits for weight loss
You now know how good apples are for weight loss but how do they compare to certain other fruits? Find out how good apples are for weight loss vs bananas, oranges and pears.
Apples vs bananas
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits there are. If you’re only looking at calories bananas contain a lot more percentage-wise. Apples contain around 52 calories per 100 grams vs the 89 calories per 100 grams of bananas (11).
In terms of fiber these fruits are about the same. Apples contain around 2.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams, bananas 2.6. Bananas do contain more vitamins and minerals than apples.
In short, apples are likely better for weight loss than bananas if you look at the nutrient contents. If you care more about vitamins and minerals, bananas are the better choice.
Apples vs oranges
The amount of fiber in both of these fruits is about the same, 2.4 grams per 100 grams. Also in vitamins and minerals oranges take the lead, although besides vitamin C the differences are not that big.
If you only look at calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals oranges are slightly better for weight loss. There are other micronutrients in apples that can benefit weight loss but it’s not entirely clear just how much of a difference they make.
Apples vs pears
Lastly there is apples vs pears. Pears are a tiny bit higher in calories than apples, 58 calories per 100 grams (13).
Pears contain around 3.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams. A decent amount higher than the 2.4 grams per 100 grams in apples. You can’t really say there is a big difference in the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain.
There is almost no difference between these 2 fruits for weight loss if you look at the numbers of certain key nutrients. The study from before did find more weight loss in the group that ate apples vs pears but you have to remember that even with statistical analysis, there is variance in play. It’s also possible that the extra micronutrients in apples do make a big difference.
Chart of apple vs other popular fruits
All in all, the differences between these fruits won’t make that much of a difference when it comes to losing weight. Bananas might not be the greatest choice if you easily overeat on calories.
The amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods does matter for weight loss and health but you can’t simplify that in one number. You can check out the numbers for apples (1), bananas (11), oranges (12), and pears (13) to compare.
|Values Per 100g||Apples||Bananas||Oranges||Pears|
|Calories||52 calories||89 calories||47 calories||58 calories|
|Fiber||2.4 g||2.6 g||2.4 g||3.1 g|
Different ways to eat apples for weight loss
Like with most whole foods there is a wide variety of ways to eat apples. Not all of these options are as great for weight loss. If you know the difference you can are better able to make the right choices for your physical goals.
Solid apple vs apple sauce vs apple juice
There are many different apple sauce brands with many different nutritional values. If you’re looking to lose weight you want ones without a lot of added ingredients. Even if you find a healthy one apple sauce is most likely not as great as regular apples.
Calorie rich drinks like fruit juices are almost never a good idea if you’re looking to lose weight. By juicing you remove the fiber from food which is arguably the most useful nutrient for weight loss. In general, it’s a lot easier to overconsume calories with drinks than with whole foods.
There actually is a study with 40 people that compared these foods. The participants were given these foods in the same amount of calories at different moments. They found that whole apples left the participants the fullest. Apple sauce an intermediate amount. And apple juice the least (14).
Apple in smoothies
Smoothies can be good for weight loss if you use the right ingredients. You basically get all the nutrients, the good and the bad, from all the ingredients you use.
Since apples can be a good addition to your weight loss diet they can also be part of a great weight loss smoothie. Do keep in mind that there are better ingredients too.
Baked goods with apple
There are a lot of baked goods with apple in the name. Apple pies, apple muffins, apple cake…
The apple in the name does make it sound healthier. Even so you should try to avoid these kinds of foods. You can have some every once in a while but if you eat these baked goods with apples too often you will stop losing weight.
Best way to eat apples for weight loss
Whole, unprocessed apples and apples in smoothies are the best choice if you’re looking to lose weight.
How can apples help you lose weight?
Apples can certainly help you lose weight by filling you up with mostly water and fiber. This doesn’t add too many calories to your diet.
Apples are certainly better than, let’s say, cookies or other processed snacks high in sugar. So if your choice is between these and apples, the latter are your best bet for weight loss and health.
That being said it’s possible to get most of the benefits from apples and more by eating other vegetables and fruits and drinking some green tea and coffee.
Is it OK to eat 3 apples a day?
Depending on the rest of your diet it can be OK. However, one or 0 apples a day with other vegetables and fruit is probably even better. In general, more variety in your diet is better and apples are not that great nutrition-wise compared to most whole foods.