Most dieters have heard about the benefits of bitter orange for weight loss. After all, this fruit is one of the most popular ingredients in slimming pills. Proponents say that it increases fat burning, curbs hunger and boosts your metabolism. Unfortunately, these claims lack scientific proof. Regular oranges, on the other hand, are high in fiber and low in calories, making dieting easier.
Oranges can curb hunger and improve your overall health. However, they're not a magic bullet for weight loss. Enjoy these fruits as part of a balanced diet to lose those pesky pounds and keep them off.
The Nutritional Value of Oranges
Loaded with vitamin C, orange is one of the most widely consumed fruits worldwide, especially during wintertime. This juicy fruit has only 65 calories per serving and makes a healthy snack between meals. It's also a great addition to homemade desserts, fruit juices, smoothies and even savory dishes. What about the properties of an orange for weight loss?
Citrus fruits are typically low in calories and carbs, so they can fit into most diets. Orange is no exception. One serving provides:
- 65 calories
- 0.9 grams of protein
- 16.2 grams of carbs
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 3.4 grams of fiber
- 238 milligrams of potassium
- 61 milligrams of calcium
- 17 milligrams of phosphorus
- 14 milligrams of magnesium
- 63.5 milligrams of vitamin C
- 0.2 milligrams of vitamin E
Apples, by comparison, deliver 95 calories and 25.1 grams of carbs per serving. One medium banana has 105 calories and 26.9 grams of carbs, while watermelon contains 84 calories and 21.1 grams of carbs per serving.
As you see, oranges are less calorie-dense and lower in carbs than other popular fruits. They also boast high doses of vitamin A and B vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin and folate.
One serving offers more than 11 percent of the daily recommended intake of potassium for adult women. This mineral regulates your body's pH and water balance as well as your heart rate. That's why it's often used as a primary ingredient in sports drinks and oral rehydration formulas.
Vitamin C, one of the most abundant nutrients in orange, protects your cells and tissues against oxidative stress. It also helps your body repair damaged tissues and heal itself. Plus, it improves iron absorption and keeps your immune system strong.
This water-soluble vitamin may aid in obesity prevention and management, according to an April 2014 review published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. Researchers suggest that high vitamin C intake may lower the risk of stroke, hypertension and several types of cancers. Furthermore, this nutrient may reduce inflammation and improve glycemic control while increasing fat burning. Therefore, it may protect against weight gain and prevent obesity-related disorders.
Oranges and Weight Gain
Some dieters avoid fruits because of their high sugar content. In general, low-carb and ketogenic diets limit fruit consumption. There's no association between oranges and weight gain, though. On the contrary, this juicy fruit can make clean eating easier and help you slim down.
One medium orange has only 16.2 grams of carbs, including 3.4 grams of fiber. If you subtract the fiber, you'll get 12.8 grams of net carbs. Therefore, this fruit is ideal for ketogenic diets, which restrict carbs to 20 to 50 grams per day.
Rich in fiber, oranges promote satiety and keep you full between meals. This nutrient also balances your blood sugar levels and prevents insulin spikes, leading to improved appetite control. Think about how you feel after fruits or vegetables versus potato chips. Fruits and veggies fill you up instantly and suppress appetite. Potato chips, on the other hand, leave you craving more and promote overeating.
Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!
According to the American Chemical Society study on mice, there is no relationship between oranges and weight gain or weight loss. However, flavanones — a class of antioxidants in citrus fruits — may protect against obesity-related liver disease, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Researchers state that citrus fruit consumption can offset the damage caused by high-fat diets and prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases.
An eight-week study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in October 2015 has found that orange juice may help prevent metabolic syndrome due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also improve blood lipids, which further enhances its protective effects. Scientists attribute these benefits to the flavonoids and carotenoids in oranges.
There is no such thing as a fruit diet for weight loss. When consumed as part of a balanced diet, fruits may help prevent weight gain and improve your health. However, they won't burn fat or transform your body overnight. Weight loss requires a calorie deficit. If you take in more calories than you burn, the pounds will add up.
What About Bitter Orange?
Taking bitter orange for weight loss is a common practice among dieters. Also known as Citrus aurantium, sour orange or Seville orange, this fruit is heavily promoted as a fat-burning ingredient. It's also used as a natural sedative, laxative, anti-spasmodic and digestive aid. Its health benefits, though, are subject to debate.
As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) points out, bitter orange supplements may not be safe. Additionally, there is not enough evidence to support their use for weight loss and other health purposes. Using this product alone or along with caffeine may increase your risk of cardiac events and stroke. Synephrine, the "fat-burning" chemical in this fruit, has actually been banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Bitter orange is available in supplement form, but you can also find it at farmer's markets. Diet pills contain synephrine, a phenylethylamine with stimulant properties.
According to a review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity in May 2018, this compound may suppress appetite and increase energy expenditure. Research suggests that it may aid in weight loss and weight management without causing significant adverse effects.
Furthermore, this fruit exhibits antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiulcer effects. It may also protect against diabetes, inflammation, anxiety disorders and bacterial infections. However, more studies are needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness.
Remember, just because a product is natural doesn't mean that it's safe. Bitter orange supplements are controversial and may have potential side effects. Think twice before popping pills.
There is no magic bullet for weight loss. Ultimately, it all comes down to your diet and exercise habits. Oranges, for instance, can keep you full longer and satisfy your sweet tooth, but they won't melt fat away; the same goes for dietary supplements, meal replacement shakes and other slimming products. Losing weight and keeping the pounds off requires lasting lifestyle changes.
- NIH: "Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium L.)"
- USDA: "Raw Oranges"
- USDA: "Raw Apples"
- USDA: "Raw Bananas"
- USDA: "Watermelon"
- NIH: "Potassium"
- Medline Plus: "Vitamin C"
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: "Vitamin C in the Treatment and/or Prevention of Obesity"
- Harvard.edu: "Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss"
- Joslin Diabetes Center: "How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?"
- ACS.org: "Citrus Fruits Could Help Prevent Obesity-Related Heart Disease, Liver Disease, Diabetes"
- Taylor & Francis Online: "Red-Fleshed Sweet Orange Juice Improves the Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome"
- University of Michigan Health System: "Bitter Orange"
- NIH: "Bitter Orange"
- Hindawi: "An Overview on Citrus aurantium L.: Its Functions as Food Ingredient and Therapeutic Agent"