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Apples for Weight Loss

January 15, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

The old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Well I’ve found some new research that may add to the good reputation of apples. After reading today’s blog, the new saying may be, “An apple a day, keeps overeating at bay”.

Apples are a wonderful source of fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals (healthful, plant-based chemicals). But we often think of them as simply being a healthy snack or dessert option (think apple cobbler or apple pie). In any event, we generally don’t consider eating apples prior to meals. Maybe we should reconsider.

Apples A Fuji or Granny Smith for Leaner Times

In December of 2008, an interesting study appeared in the journal Appetite. The goal of the study was to determine if having an apple prior to a meal could decrease overall food intake.

The authors of the experiment asked a group of 58 volunteers to consume apples in several different forms: a) the whole fruit, b) applesauce, c) apple juice, d) apple juice with added fiber and e) no apple at all. The trial lasted a total 5 weeks.

At the beginning of each week, the volunteers were fed a different form of apple. The researchers then asked them to wait 15 minutes prior to eating their meal. The participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted during the meal. After they finished eating, the researchers measured how many calories were consumed.

Once the experiment was completed, the researchers tabulated their findings and reached the following conclusions:

  • Eating an apple prior to a meal reduced total mealtime calorie intake by 15%. In other words, the participants that ate an apple also ate 15% less during their meals.
  • There was no decrease in caloric intake in the “no apple group”, “the applesauce group” or in the “juice and juice with added fiber groups”.

Comparing Apples to Oats

Earlier in 2008, a similar study was published in the same journal. This time, a trial was conducted on 49 overweight women with ages ranging between 30-50 years of age. The women were divided into three groups. One group was asked to eat three apples a day. The second group was assigned three pears a day. The third group was given three oat cookies for daily consumption. All of these snacks contained approximately the same amount of fiber per serving (6 grams).

The three groups were asked to eat these snacks in addition to their regular diets for a total of 10 weeks. At the end of that period, the authors of the study reported that:

  • The apple and pear group decreased their overall caloric intake. This reduction in calories was associated with weight loss for both the apple and pear group.
  • The oat group experienced a small, but non-significant, increase in the total amount of daily calories. This group did not lose any weight.

Is this the missing link we’ve all been waiting for? The final, elusive piece to the weight loss puzzle? I’m afraid not. But, I’d much rather see people eating more apples than overeating or using potentially dangerous hunger suppressants. And the beautiful thing is that apples tend to have many side benefits. For instance, I spent part of today researching several studies that indicate a possible anti-cancer effect to these powerful fruits.

Be well!


PS – I used to have a horrible problem with my appetite which was out of control. My solution has been eating a whole food based, low carbohydrate diet. By eating that way, I’ve been able to manage my hunger and lose a considerable amount of weight (40+ pounds and counting). This may be an even better option for some people.

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9 Comments & Updates to “Apples for Weight Loss”

  1. G Paul Fanton Says:

    Another very useful article!
    In closing, you mentioned you have lost 40 Lbs and counting.
    A few questions:
    1) Over what period of time?
    2) Have you also increased your physical activities, such as thread mill walking
    3)Do you plan to incorporate to your plan the apple effect?
    What contribution do you think each of these actions has had toward your progress?
    Do you think that diet alone is the way to go?


  2. JP Says:

    Thank you for the questions, Paul.

    I’ve lost the weight over the course of about 4 months. And the weight appears to continue to drop.

    I have been more physical in this time period but not as active as I’d like. Exercise should be a more prominent part of my lifestyle. I’m working on that.

    I probably won’t use the apple strategy myself. It doesn’t really fit in with my current diet – which is working very well for me.

    For the time being, I think my diet has had the greatest impact on my weight loss. Being more active and attempting to manage stress better have also helped, I’m sure.

    Ideally, diet should be the centerpiece of any weight loss program. But exercise, stress management and psychological (mind/body) practices would be helpful and healthful additions to any appropriate diet.

    Thank you for your questions.

    Be well!


  3. Teresa Arieta Says:

    John, I told you Dad about the difficulty I had in subscribing. My problem was that I was putting spaces in between the code letters. You can see that I am not that versatile with the computer. You Dad came to my rescue.
    You are doing a great job and service. Keep up the good work.


  4. JP Says:


    That’s very kind of you to say. I’ll do my best to keep doing good work.

    Thank you!


  5. Maria Lisa Says:

    Hello JP–
    I found your answer in regards to your own [balanced]weight-loss strategies very interesting/thought-provoking. I think in our individual quests for weight-loss I’ve come to the conclusion there really is not a specific [“one”] miracle cure; I do believe it is much more about an ecclectic balance…delving into ALL the aspects of our weight issues, and also accepting that the ‘cure’ is unlikely to be “overnight”. I just noticed a blurb about a former “Biggest Loser” ‘winner’ who has since gained 122 lbs. back. I wonder if you could speak to the stress~weight link in future publishings… it is as interesting as it is baffling (I have known folks who claim to have LOST significant amounts of weight that they attribute to stress-related incidents; however, I know many more for whom stress is more likely to “pad” their overall weight)…I theorize there is a significant link (perhaps more for some than others), and am especially curious in knowing when stress factors are not necessarily controllable/removeable in ones life…how best to manage-? I so appreciate your practical solutions for health-related issues!
    Thanks for all your research!

  6. JP Says:

    Hello, Maria.

    I will certainly focus on stress in upcoming blogs – both with regard to weight and other aspects of health.

    You’re quite correct when you say that these things vary among individuals. They can even vary based on where we’re at in our lives.

    For instance, in the past, stress used to drive me to overeat. Now, if I’m too stressed, I feel less of a need to eat. I prefer to direct my energy elsewhere.

    Thank you for your kind words and for your valuable suggestions.

    My best to you!


  7. Glenn Fernandes Says:

    Very useful article. Interesting survey. You are absolutely right, apple is good for health, has no side-effects and eating apple prior to meal is one of the the best way to lose weight.

  8. JP Says:

    Thanks, Glenn.

    Natural, whole foods often have “side benefits” rather than side effects. At least, that’s been my experience.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Update 05/29/05:


    Nutrients. 2015 May 26;7(6):3959-3998.

    Apples and Cardiovascular Health-Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?

    There is now considerable scientific evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve human health and protect against chronic diseases. However, it is not clear whether different fruits and vegetables have distinct beneficial effects. Apples are among the most frequently consumed fruits and a rich source of polyphenols and fiber. A major proportion of the bioactive components in apples, including the high molecular weight polyphenols, escape absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract and reach the large intestine relatively intact. There, they can be converted by the colonic microbiota to bioavailable and biologically active compounds with systemic effects, in addition to modulating microbial composition. Epidemiological studies have identified associations between frequent apple consumption and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Human and animal intervention studies demonstrate beneficial effects on lipid metabolism, vascular function and inflammation but only a few studies have attempted to link these mechanistically with the gut microbiota. This review will focus on the reciprocal interaction between apple components and the gut microbiota, the potential link to cardiovascular health and the possible mechanisms of action.

    Be well!


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