Are Dates Good for Weight Loss?

Have you ever considered eating dates for weight loss? If you're like most dieters, you probably avoid these foods. After all, they're high in sugar and calories. What you may not know is that these delicious fruits can actually make weight loss easier by curbing hunger and cravings.

Use dates as a substitute for sugar in homemade desserts, smoothies, energy bars and post-workout snacks.
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Dates can facilitate weight loss by keeping you full longer and balancing your gut flora. These beneficial effects are largely due to their high fiber content,

Dates Nutrition Facts

The date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera) has been around for thousands of years. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties are recognized by the medical community. Rich in flavonoids, ferulic acid, quercetin and other bioactive compounds, dates have numerous therapeutic uses. Several varieties exist, including Dayri, Amber, Khadrawi, Medjool, Barhi and Zahidi dates.

Despite its high sugar content, this fruit doesn't increase the risk of diabetes or worsen its symptoms. A 2018 research paper published in the Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found no association between dates and this condition. According to researchers, this functional food has a negligible impact on blood glucose levels and can be safely consumed by diabetics.

One Medjool date provides about 66.5 calories and 18 grams of carbs, including 1.6 grams of fiber and 16 grams of sugars (fructose and glucose). It has less than 1 gram of protein but offers more than 5 percent of the daily value (DV) of potassium, 4 percent of the DV of manganese and 3 percent of the DV of magnesium. This naturally sweet fruit is also a good source of calcium, copper, vitamin B6 and niacin. What makes it stand out is its high antioxidant content.

Dates and Weight Loss

When it comes to diet-friendly foods, eating dates for weight loss is probably the last thing on your mind. It's something worth considering, though, especially if you have a sweet tooth. Dates are a healthier substitute for cake, cookies, candies and other sugary treats. Plus, they contain fiber, which slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream and delays gastric emptying.

Read more: The 10 Best Foods to Beat Your Sugar Cravings

The fiber in dates can make it easier to stick to your diet and downsize your portions. This nutrient facilitates weight loss in several ways. First of all, it fills you up quickly and keeps you full, as Today's Dietitian points out. It also regulates the hormones that influence your appetite, leading to reduced hunger.

According to a 2018 review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fiber slows nutrient absorption, which in turn, increases satiety and helps decrease the total amount of food consumed throughout the day. Another study, which was published in the journal Nutrients in 2016, states clearly that fruits exhibit anti-obesity effects despite being high in fructose, glucose and other simple sugars. Researchers attribute these potential benefits to dietary fiber. Additionally, fruits contain essential vitamins and minerals that play a key role in obesity prevention and weight management.

Eat Dates for Gut Health

Gut health has a direct impact on your metabolism and body weight. According to a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2018, gut bacteria can either facilitate or hinder weight loss. Furthermore, obese people have a different composition of gut microbiota than lean individuals. Certain bacteria species have been linked to insulin resistance, inflammation, poor glycemic control, increased appetite and other risk factors for obesity.

Luckily, you can naturally restore your gut flora through dietary changes. Eating dates for weight loss is a good start. A 2014 research paper published in the Journal of Nutritional Science has found that date fruits can positively alter the microbiota due to their high content of fiber and polyphenols. They appear to increase the number of beneficial bacteria and inhibit cancer cell growth, leading to improved colon health.

Another study, which appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2015, suggests that dates may protect against colorectal cancer while increasing stool frequency and bowel movements. Therefore, they may also help prevent constipation. Not to mention that a healthy gut equals improved appetite control and faster metabolism.

Best Time to Eat Dates

These fruits are quite high in sugar and provide immediate energy. Therefore, the best time to eat dates is in the morning or before/after hitting the gym. That way, they will fuel your body rather than adding inches to your waist.

If you eat dates before working out, you'll feel energized and focused. Consuming them post-workout will speed up muscle growth and repair while replenishing your glycogen stores. As nutritionist Rania Batayneh points out, carbs are essential for both pre- and post-workout nutrition. After exercise, your body needs a quick source of fuel to repair damaged tissues and recover from training; add protein to the mix to get the most out of your workout.

Read more: 11 Easy Post-Workout Foods and the Science of Why They Work

In fact, the ability to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores is one of the key benefits of dates for men who lift heavy in the gym or anyone who engages in regular exercise. Ryan Andrews, M.S., RD, recommends ingesting at least 15 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs per hour of gym time, during and/or after training. He states that fast digesting carbs are ideal because they're quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, which may help accelerate recovery.

How Dates Benefit Your Health

This fruit does a lot more than just fuel your workouts and keep hunger at bay. Dates are loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that support health and well-being. According to a 2014 review in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, the date fruit helps reduce inflammation, protects the liver and suppresses free radicals. It also exhibits anti-microbial properties and may help prevent infections.

Beta D-glucan and other compounds in dates have been shown to protect against cancer. Saponins and flavonoids may help prevent diabetes and relieve some of its symptoms. Several studies cited in the review suggest that dates may improve sperm parameters by regulating testosterone and estradiol levels. In other studies, this fruit has been found to increase cervical dilatation and help women relax during childbirth.

Another review, which was published in the International Journal of Recent Advances in Multidisciplinary Research in 2016, confirms the benefits of dates on female health. These fruits reduce oxidative stress and DNA damage, which in turn, may help increase fertility. Rich in iron and calcium, they can improve breast milk quality and prevent anemia during pregnancy.

Read more: Are Dates Healthy During a Pregnancy?

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Naturally

As you see, there's no reason to avoid these delicious fruits. Use them as a substitute for your daily snacks, mix them into smoothies or add them to oatmeal, energy bars, homemade granola and baked goods.

Dates are naturally sweet, which eliminates the need to use sugar in your recipes. Just make sure you don't go overboard.

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