FRUIT & VEG - why and how much?

calories food fruits nutrition vegetables Sep 18, 2020

‘Eat enough fruit & vegetables’

It’s almost impossible to get through life without someone preaching this to you… but how much is ‘enough’? And why is it so important anyway? 

In this article, i’ll zoom into these questions giving you the what, why and when. Let’s get going!

Starting with why: 

The Australian Government gives RDIs (recommended daily intake) for fruit and veg which we’ll cover in a sec but first, why is this even important? 

Well... Each micro (vitamins & minerals) has an RDI, as well as ea macro (protein, carbs, fats) AND a fibre AND calories AND sleep, water, exercise and sun exposure. JESUS that's a lot to think about!

Considering how busy our lives are already, it is not practical to micromanage every vitamin and mineral so the practise of daily minimum intake for fruit and vegetables (PACKED with vitamins and minerals aka ‘micronutrients’) helps us consume at least our minimum requirements for health without having to keep track of each individual vitamin & mineral.

You can eat your fruit & veg raw, frozen, steamed, baked, or while hanging upside down from a tree - it really doesn’t matter, but variety in fruit & veg types AND in cooking methods is encouraged. 

Variety not only keeps things interesting but also exposes you to a variety of micronutrients , in various combinations & quantities.... and likely this will be enough to tick off our daily fibre RDI too.


How much is enough?

 Fruit: 2 serves per day

Veg: 5 serves per day

1 serve veg (non starchy) = 75g

That’s just shy of 400g daily

1 serve fruit = 

- 150g fresh or frozen


- 125ml 100% fruit juice


- 30g dried

That’s 300g total daily if using fresh or frozen only. Of course other combinations exist like 60 dried fruit, or 125ml juice and 150fresh.

This isn’t to say that it is important to have exactly 75g of 5 different vegetables…. Having 100g of 3 different veg each, then only 50g of 2 other veg is also okay. It’s more the daily minimum total and variety that is the most important thing. 

Same goes for fruit… 200g of watermelon (above ‘1 serve’) and only 100g blueberries would mean you’re still hitting your ‘2 serves’, you’re just having more than 1 serve of 1 type and a little less of the other. That’s cool! 

At Flex Success we set this 2 & 5 up as daily minimums for our clients unless there is reason to reduce it like someone with IBD but that’s not to say someone can’t consume more. 

These are MINIMUM requirements. For those with an appetite much larger than their calorie needs, including more than this can help satiate the client (reduce hunger) via larger amounts of food from low energy (calorie) dense foods and fibre contributions. These clients would also be wise to choose fresh fruit over dried fruit because of the larger portion of food they can consume for the same calories. They may also want to consume their veg steamed or raw instead of baking it where volume of food is reduced.  

When someone struggles with actually consuming all of their food because they are too full would be wise to stop at this RDI & fill the rest of their calories with high energy (calorie) dense, low fibre foods. This way they won’t be eating large volumes of food, but can get in more calories. 

You may or may not have picked up that this vegetable recommended intake for vegetables is for non starchy veg only. Why is this? 

Why are starchy carbs not included? 

Starchy carbs are things like corn, parsnips, white potato, sweet potato and pumpkin.

If we were to include intake of starchy vegetables as part of our daily minim intake, we could easily fill this daily minimum (almost 400g) amount with just 1 ... maybe 2 types of veg and therefore exposure to varieties of micronutrients, in various dosages and combos, would be compromised.

Each vegetable has a unique combination and amount of vitamins & minerals (micros) and we benefit from consuming a wide range of these.

Of course, this isn’t to say starchy veg should not be consumed, but rather we want to add them ON TOP OF our minimum daily fruit & veg targets, ensuring it is within our calorie or carb targets (if you’re tracking your calories and/or macros).

While we are on the topic of starchy carbs, have you ever heard someone say to let them cool down after cooking because it’s good for weight loss?

If so, ever wondered if it’s true and how it works?

You can read all about it here: 

Why a DAILY target, and not a weekly target? 

Let’s say the optimal water consumption for you is 3L per day (this would be your 'RDI' or 'recommended daily intake)'. That is 21L over the week.

Would we get the same benefit if we drank nothing for 5 days then then had 10.5L ea day for 2 days?

What about our RDI of sun exposure. Would we have the same benefits if we got no sun for 3 weeks, then had hours of unprotected exposure on a very, very hot day to make up for it? #useprotection

The answer is an obvious no. But for some reason people seem to think micronutrient intake works differently.

Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs for general health and recovery. Vitamins are vital for energy production, immune function, blood clotting amongst other things. Meanwhile, minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes.

Those that think they can eat more vitamins and minerals later to make up for a deficit now are missing a few important points.

Any 'excess' of fat-soluble vitamins from high fat foods (like avo, nuts, salmon, seeds and olives) are stored in the liver and adipose tissue (fat) for later use so excess consumption yesterday can be used today.


BUT and excess of water-soluble vitamins (like from fruit and veg) is detected by the kidneys and excreted through urine, so we benefit from a consistent (daily) exogenous supply.

The point here is, do what you need to do daily not every now and again because it won't have the same impact!

Wrapping it up

Now you know how much is enough, and why daily intake is so important and are left with no excuse but to reach your RDI for fruit and veg. 

It doesn’t have to be all boring salads and a banana on the run. Keep it interesting with stir frys, a curry filled with veg, sneak some veg into your spaghetti sauce and lasagnas, give cauliflower rice a go, stuff a wrap full of your favourite veg, add wedges of peaches or apples into your salads, add a nice dip to your veggie sticks or whip together some fruit skewers to make it fun. 

If you’re stuck for ideas, flip through some cook books for inspiration, google some recipes, or check out the free ‘yummly’ app for ideas. 

And remember, you’re unlikely to stick to something long term that you don’t enjoy, so find ways to make it enjoyable and make a habit of it.

There may be one burning question you’re left with…. What about foods like chips, chocolate, ice cream and pizza. They don’t really add much to our vitamin and mineral intake but are they still okay to eat? If so, how much? 

I’ll cover this in a future blog. Stay tuned! 


Diet Smart Not Hard.

Coach Lizzy.