Achieving weight loss is a personal success of many, whether it’s 4 pounds or a more significant number. Not only does it improve overall health and reduce risks of chronic disease, but losing weight is also good for the mind and spirit. Who hasn’t felt good about themselves after dropping a few pounds and fitting into slimmer clothes? Unfortunately, losing weight can easily become an obsession and may cause some people to resort to unhealthy, extreme diets. While extreme diets may deliver impressive results in a short time, they are unsustainable and cause a rebound effect that often results in weight gain beyond of what has been lost. Right now, eating oranges is the new it-diet, said to help you lose significant weight in a short amount of time. But is it a healthy, sustainable, balanced diet?
Today’s article aims to analyze the weight loss (some say fat-burning) properties of oranges and try to understand if and how it is possible to achieve healthy weight loss with significant, sustainable, long-term results with just this one food product. Whether it’s just a new fad or a complimentary approach to healthier eating, we’ll be reviewing if oranges do in fact help you lose weight, how much weight exactly you can lose by changing just one food in your eating regimen and the benefits and side effects most likely to occur.
Are oranges fat-burning?
Foods don’t burn fat in the body, so to say a food is fat-burning or has fat-burning properties is utterly incorrect. And that includes oranges too: oranges are not fat-burning. Definitely not to the extent they cause significant weight loss without committing dietary excesses. If you were to eat enough oranges to achieve an energy intake higher than needed, you would start to gain weight. If you eat oranges, but maintain an energy intake lower than needed, you start to lose weight. But it’s not the fruits themselves that cause the weight loss – it’s your energy or calorie intake that does not meet all of the requirements of your metabolism. And since the body has to get the energy from somewhere, it will tap into fat deposits and deplete them to be able to support your metabolic requirements, resulting in weight loss.
So why say oranges are fat-burning? Even if you do lose some weight by including them into your diet, the weight loss isn’t owed to eating oranges alone, but to a wider range of healthy eating habits that ensure you get slightly less calories than you need over a longer period of time, or until you achieve the desired amount of weight loss. Oranges are just one of many lower-calorie, but nutritious foods you can consider for both healthy dieting and an overall healthy diet.
Bitter orange for weight loss
Apparently, the orange diet for weight loss is actually the bitter orange diet. What’s the difference? Studies have found the bitter orange to contain tyramine metabolites, essentially compounds that act as epinephrine (aka adrenaline). Just like epinephrine, these compounds in bitter orange trigger a state of alertness that is conducive to weight loss. They stimulate a process in the liver called glycogenesis which initiates the breakdown of fat with the purpose of releasing energy, raising sugar in the blood. Proponents of the bitter orange weight loss theory have reworded these properties and say the fruit has hunger or appetite-suppressing and fat-burning properties. If this were true and bitter oranges would cause significant and sustainable weight loss to the extent they are claimed to, gyms wouldn’t be full and people wouldn’t be on the Atkins diet or Zone diet or practicing intermittent fasting or fat, carbohydrates or calorie restriction.
Eating oranges and weight loss: the truth
The truth about losing weight with oranges is that you can’t lose significant weight by eating just one fruit. To lose weight in a more significant manner, and keep it off, you need to make more serious changes to your eating habits and lifestyle. And make sure those changes are sustainable so you can turn them into long-term eating and living habits that will help you keep the weight off. And make smart choices so that you preserve and even enhance you physical health and mental well-being in the meantime. This is what a good diet should look like.
While oranges can definitely help, losing weight with just this one fruit is not a realistic or effective diet plan for any age, be it 15 or 50. The fruit can be a tool for successful, sustainable weight loss, but only if you also make other significant changes to your current eating habits. Introducing just one food into you current diet, whether it’s sweet oranges or apples or something else, will not make that big of a difference. Your current weight and, sometimes, also state of health and state of mind, are the result of everything you eat and do right now and have been for some time. One food doesn’t cancel out the effects of all the other foods you eat.
How to lose weight with oranges
One food is often just a drop in the ocean when it comes to losing weight, but one food and another and another and another can make a difference. If you want to include oranges in your diet to shed a few pounds, here are some tips that can help you make the best of what they have to offer:
- Chose the whole fruit over the juice.
- Substitute processed sweets such as candy, cookies, brittle or soda with a whole orange.
- Substitute unhealthy, processed snacks such as chips, pizza, pretzels or oil-roasted, salted peanuts, sunflower seeds and other nuts and seeds with a whole orange.
- Substitute traditional desserts (ice cream, pie, pastry, cake) with a whole orange.
- Add orange segments to salads and other dishes as a side dish to reduce the energy value.
- Use the juice as dressing instead of higher-calorie honey, sugar, oil or mayonnaise-based dressings.
- Eat the fruit before a work out to get quick energy and, at the same time, burn the calories in it.
- You can eat more of the white, spongy part (the pith) to get extra fiber (and antioxidants) – fiber helps curb hunger.
- The most likely side effect is stomach acidity. The solution is to have the fruit with breakfast or after a meal instead of dessert if it causes acidity, or choose acidless oranges if you have GERD or gastritis.
- Start eating healthier overall: get rid of calorie-dense foods with little or unilateral nutrition, focus on lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
- Lower calorie intake (15% to 25% at most).
- Be more physically active, whether you walk more, ride your bike more often, take up jogging, go swimming a couple of times a week, sign up for a dance class or go to the gym 2-3 times a week.
Why choose whole fruits vs fruit juice? (Also see: Is is Healthier to Eat Fruits or Drink Fruits Juice?)
- One large orange, or one cup of sections (estimated weight: 180 g) gets you only 85 kilocalories, but also 4.3 g of fiber and good amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamins B3, B9 and carotene antioxidants and 17 g of sugar.
- The juice is higher in calories and sugar: one cup of unsweetened orange juice (249 per cup) naturally has 21-22 g of sugar and 117 kcal, but less than 1 g of fiber or no fiber if it’s low pulp or no pulp. Light, heat and air oxidize the juice and can cause vitamin loss.