Fruits are considered high in sugar and carbs and so many people following a high protein diet wonder whether they should include it, and if so, how much.
So, can you eat fruits on a high-protein diet? Fruits should be added to a high protein diet for three reasons. First, they offer something ‘sweet’ to help with cravings when dieting. Second, fruits are carbs, which serve as the primary energy source when you are working out. Last, carbs are high in fiber and micronutrients that regulate key bodily functions.
If you want to include fruit into your high-protein diet, you’ll need to know the types of fruit and how much to add.
In this article, I will cover:
- What is considered a high protein diet?
- Is fruit a high-protein food?
- Tips and tricks to add fruit into your high-protein diet
- Reasons why you should add fruits if you are following a high-protein diet.
- The top 5 fruits with highest protein content.
What Is Considered A High Protein Diet?
The standard amount recommended by the National Institute of Health regarding protein intake is very low.
They recommend having a daily intake of 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means that for a person that weighs 70 g, having 56 g of protein daily is more than enough. If we are talking about food, it means having 8 oz of protein for the entire day.
Although this amount might be ok for someone that is not very active, trying to lose weight or increase muscle mass, I l find this recommendation very low.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition classifies a high-protein diet to be 1.6-2.0 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Although you don’t have to be an athlete to have this dairy recommendation of protein, an active person might benefit from following a high-protein diet.
If you are trying to lose weight, a high protein diet helps you increase your metabolism (since protein burns more calories than fats or carbs), provides fullness, and maintains your muscle mass.
Is Fruit A High Protein Food?
Fruit is not considered a high-protein food. On average, one cup of fruit or one small unit of fruit has around 15 g of carbs, less than 1 g of protein and fat. This means that fruit is composed of 80-90% of carbs, and the rest is divided into proteins and fats.
Some fruits have between 1-3 g of protein. However, this is not enough to be considered a “high-protein food”.
Keep in mind that in a high-protein diet, you still need to get nutrients from other foods, and fruits are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
4 Ways You Can Eat Fruit on A High Protein Diet
If you want to eat fruit on a high protein diet, I recommend following these 4 simple rules:
1. Track Your Daily Macros to Fit Fruit
Following a high-protein diet doesn’t mean you should cut out all carbs.
On average, your carb intake on a high protein diet might be between 30-40% of your total daily calories (more if you’re active, less if you’re not). This is still a substantial percentage that you need to fill in daily. Fruits help you reach that carb intake. That way, you can balance your macros out with different fruits.
Make sure that whenever you are adding fruit, you subtract it from your total daily calories. That way, you stay within your macronutrient percentages during the day. You can track your calories using my favorite macro-tracking app, MacroFactor.
As a general rule though, one cup of chopped fruit typically has an average of 15g of carbs. This helps you have a general idea of how many carbs you are getting from fruits.
2. Add a Protein Source with Fruit
Since fruit is very low in protein, adding a protein source is excellent to balance it out. The easiest protein source to add is a protein shake using whey protein. However, after a while, having a protein shake might be very dull.
Therefore, there are other high-protein foods that you can add that go along well with fruit. For example, if you are having a cup of cantaloupe, adding ½ a cup of cottage cheese helps balance the meal out, since cottage cheese has 13 g of protein per 4 oz.
Another option that you can have is Greek yogurt. The benefit of Greek yogurt is that it is very high in protein and very low in carbs. You can either use it as a parfait or make a natural homemade fruit popsicle made out of Greek yogurt (link to recipe).
Pro-tip. One of the tips I give my clients is to freeze cubes of Greek yogurt. You place Greek yogurt in a regular ice cube tray and freeze them. Then, whenever you want to have a cold shake, you take out the Greek yogurt cubes.
3. Pick Low Carb Fruits
Suppose you are on a high-protein diet and don’t have a lot of wiggle room to add fruit. Several fruit options are lower in carbs that might be the best choice for you.
There are several fruit options that in 100g of the product have less than 10g of carbs. For example, grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries, peach, cantaloupe, and blackberries are all great options of fruits that are lower in carbs.
If you decide to add any other fruit, just make sure to measure the portion size and add it into your total carb for the day.
4. Ensure You’re In A Bulking Phase
You have a wider range of calories and macronutrients in a bulking phase since you need to be in a caloric surplus to gain weight. If you are in a bulking phase, you can choose other fruits like grapefruit or strawberries that are lower in carbs.
- If you want to know more about which fruit to add, check out my article on the 20 Best Fruits For Muscle Gain.
3 Benefits of Eating Fruit on a High Protein Diet
Here are 3 benefits of eating fruit on a high protein diet:
1. Adds Energy to Your Diet
Even if you are following a high-protein diet, you need carbs, such as fruit, to act as the primary energy source in the body. If you don’t add any carbs or fats when doing a high-protein diet, you run the risk of protein being used as energy instead of muscle building.
We all need carbs for our body to function correctly. Even those that are following a keto diet, which is a “no carb diet”, don’t remove carbs altogether. They just decrease it to 5-10% of their daily calorie intake.
Fruits are a great way of providing the energy your body needs. Especially when you are thinking of a pre-workout snack, fruits are a great snack since they are easily digested and provide fast-acting energy.
2. Very Nutrient-Dense
Another reason to add fruits to your diet besides being high in carbs is that they are nutrient-dense, which means that they are high in vitamins and minerals. Having an adequate nutrient intake makes sure that you stay healthy.
Some of the most common vitamins seen in fruits are:
- Vitamin C is essential for a functioning immune system and collagen synthesis, which keeps your hair, nails, and skin healthy.
- Potassium is essential for muscle contractions and preventing cramps.
- Vitamin A supports good eye health by keeping the cornea healthy.
- Folate helps create healthy red blood cells. This means that more nutrients and oxygen can be delivered to your muscles and your organs.
3. Sweet Without Too Many Calories
Most people on a high protein diet are looking to change their body composition, i.e. lose body fat while retaining (or building) muscle. When trying to lose body fat, finding something that is sweet but provides fullness and nutrients can be a little challenging to find.
Fruits are a great choice to add something sweet into your diet that will also provide nutrients and, depending on which one you choose, will have a lot of fiber that will keep your hunger levels down.
What Kind of Fruit Is High In Protein?
Fruits are naturally low in protein.
However, some fruits might be higher in protein. This means that they contain around 2-3 g of protein per serving size.
Here is a list of the highest-ranking protein-containing fruits.
Jackfruit is one of the highest fruits with protein. In one cup of jackfruit (151 g), you find 2.5 g of protein. No wonder why vegetarians of vegan use this fruit as a protein supplement.
It is also a good source of fiber. In one cup of fruit, you find 2.3 g of fiber, which means it gives you 10% of the recommended daily intake.
Some people use jackfruit as a meat substitute, using it in savory or sweet recipes. However, remember that it doesn’t have the exact amount of protein as meat to be considered a substitution.
Guava is one of the fruits that has the highest amount of protein per cup. In one cup of protein (165 g), you can find 4.6 g of protein. This is the same as 0.5 oz of meat or chicken.
One of the advantages of guava is that it has some carbs, but not as much as other fruits. In one cup, you can find 23 g of carbs, with 8.9 g of fiber. This represents 35% of recommended daily intake of fiber.
Guava is a really good option for those that are trying to add to their protein intake and can’t seem to find a way.
Dates are another great choice of fruit that is relatively high in protein. In 100 g of dates, you can find 1.8 g of protein. Dates are also a great source of fiber since they have 6.7 g of fiber, which represents 26% of the recommended daily intake.
However, keep in mind that dates are very energy-dense. For you to obtain that 1.8 g of protein, you are ingesting almost 75 g of carbs.
This is one of the fruits that I typically recommend when someone is in a bulking phase.
They are a great source of energy since they are very high in carbs. They are also a source of fiber. One cup has 4.8 g of fiber which represents 19% of the recommended intake.
Since they are very energy-dense, try to have them when you are in a bulking phase.
Finally, apricots are one of the fruits with a decent amount of protein. In one cup of sliced apricots (165 g), you can find 2.3 g of protein.
Apricots are easy to carry around, and they are an excellent source of fiber. One cup has 3.3 g of fiber which represents 13% of the recommended daily intake.
It is not so high in carbs since one cup only has 18 g compared to other fruits.
What Else Should You Eat On A High Protein Diet?
Check out my other articles discussing foods that you can add to a high protein diet:
- Can You Eat Pasta On A High Protein Diet?
- Can You Eat Ice Cream On A High Protein Diet?
- Can You Eat Rice on A High Protein Diet?
- Can You Eat Bread On A High Protein Diet?
- Can You Eat Cheese on A High Protein Diet?
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.