MYTHBUSTERS: DOES FRUIT MAKE YOU FAT AND CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH?
When I decided to get healthier about 8 years ago, it was difficult to navigate the internet for truth and facts versus fad and fiction. Between things I had heard from friends and read online, fruit was a no-go. My husband, Dusty, can vouch that I used to be scared of eating too much fruit when I wanted to get rid of my belly fat. But, eating less fruit made absolutely no difference at all. It wasn't until I cut out all of the crazy, processed junk that I saw real results. Now, it's pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to fruit in our household. I have more energy, clearer skin, a flatter stomach, and a sweet-tooth that is fully satisfied—seriously, I used to be a candy-holic!
THE BOTTOM LINE: FIBER IS KEY!
The simple sugars found in whole fruits (and veggies) are part of a bigger package! When we try to tease away the sugar from fruit, it becomes a different product in our body—one that is less familiar. Refined table sugar is unnatural, and therefore, the body must go to greater lengths to process it. Over time, too much of the white stuff can lead to Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and the list goes on. The sugars in fruit are accompanied by fiber, water, vitamins, antioxidants, and many other essential nutrients that nourish the body with clean fuel. The fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which prevents spikes in blood sugar and keeps us feeling fuller longer.
Don't you want to be putting the best possible fuel into your body so that it can burn clean and perform at its maximum output? I know I do! Next time you have a craving for something sweet, don't torture yourself by skipping the sugar; it's totally natural and our bodies need it! Instead of going for a candy bar or a soda, try snacking on your favorite fruit, instead!
How to Kick Refined Sugar and Squash Out Cravings—Remember my simple acronym:
- SQUASH -
Set Your Timer - The average craving only lasts 7 minutes. Next time you feel one coming on, set a timer and chances are, it will have passed!
Quit Soda - Opt for sparkling water instead. Invest in a Sodastream and make your own carbonated water and squeeze a lemon or lime in it! I use mine every day!
Upgrade Refined Carbs (i.e. white bread, white pastas, chips, crackers) - Look for sprouted, 100% whole grain varieties such as Food For Life Ezekiel Breads, and other healthy grains like brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, and whole grain pastas.
Avoid Sweets - Choose fruit instead. Pick your favorite type of fruit and enjoy! I can't get enough of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries!
Say No To Processed Foods - Always read the ingredients list on packaged and processed foods; many of them are full of added sugars that can be disguised under other names. Check out this Women's Health Article on hidden sugars in the foods we eat!
Have Fun! - Fruit can be indulgent, too! Look for my fully raw fruit cheesecake recipe coming soon!
The Truth: You can change your tastebuds! In time, the more healthy whole fruits you eat, the better they will taste. Soda, candy bars, and cupcakes will begin to taste too sweet and you simply won't be able to eat as much anymore! Just stick with it!
nerd alert! if you want all of the juicy details on fruit, i've done the research for you!...
Here's the Squeeze
As of late, there have been a lot of myths and misconceptions swirling around about sugar intake and how much fruit we should (or shouldn't) consume. Personally, I don't think fruit is where our problem with sugar lies.
There is this notion that sweet foods are bad for you and that all sugar should be avoided—but craving sweets is natural! Our tongues are full of different taste receptors: salty, savory, bitter, and yes, sweet! There's the camp that says that eating fruit makes you fat and that you should limit your daily intake to a certain amount of servings. Even some health professionals are suggesting restricting fruit consumption due to its sugar content. But the sugar in fruit is part of a much bigger package!
From my own experience and extensive research, I can safely say that fruit will not make you fat, and the sugar in it is very different from refined table sugar. So how much fruit should we consume, and can we consume too much? Don't worry fellow sweet-tooths, I am here to bust the myths and set the record straight!
Does Fruit Make You Fat?: A Big Fat Lie
Some believe that fructose, a type of sugar found in fruit, can lead to weight gain. However, there is a great deal of evidence to support otherwise. It is not necessarily a certain type of sugar that causes weight gain, but rather excess calorie intake in general.
Dr. Garth Davis expands on this idea further in his interview on the Rich Roll Podcast, in which he explains that it doesn't matter which macronutrients (proteins, fats, or carbs) you are consuming. If you are taking in more calories than you burn, you are going to gain weight. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you are going to lose weight. So, simply trade the the refined sugar and processed junk for whole fruits.
Furthermore, Joy Dubost, R.D. states in a Huffington Post article, "whole fruit has a lot of fiber, which actually slows down your body's digestion of glucose, so you don't get the crazy insulin spike (and subsequent crash) that candy causes. That also means your body has more time to use up glucose as fuel before storing it—as fat."
Types of Sugar
Sugars are simple carbohydrates. They can be broken down into monosaccharides and disaccharides. There are three main dietary monosaccharides: glucose, fructose, and galactose. Sucrose, or common table sugar, is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. Both fruit and table sugar contain about the same ratio of fructose and glucose. The real difference between fruit and table sugar is what happens during extraction. According to practitioners Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD:
The refining process removes the water, fiber, and virtually every other nutrient and element of the food. What's left behind is sugar and only sugar—not the package it belongs in. This extraction is more calorie dense and thus overstimulating to our pleasure senses. Even worse, food manufacturers add these highly concentrated, palate-pleasing sugars to already stimulating and disease-causing high-fat foods.
The Smackdown: Table Sugar vs. Fruit
Dubost, explains, "Fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn't provoke an insulin response. Glucose starts to break down in the stomach and requires the release of insulin into the bloodstream to be metabolized completely." When nutritionally void refined sugar enters the body, it causes an extreme blood sugar spike, followed by a crash, leaving you hungry and craving even more food. This roller-coaster ride can be the start to many health issues, including diabetes and heart disease. Fruit, on the other hand, has actually been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
To be clear—table sugar is a component that is extracted from plants. When you alter the makeup of whole foods and begin to isolate the various components, it becomes a processed and/or refined substance, and thus, more difficult for the body to process. The sugar in fruit is accompanied by fiber, which essentially turns it into a slow-release pill, and will not cause blood sugar spikes. It becomes a source of fuel and longer-lasting energy. Dr. Garth Davis alludes to this idea in his interview, when he discusses our misplaced obsession with protein. He explains that less than 3% Americans are protein-deficient and about 97% are fiber-deficient. Where do we get our fiber? Plants…Fruit!
How Much is Too Much?
Fruits are ripe with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential to our health and well-being. For someone who is interested in a more plant-based, vegetarian, vegan, or raw diet, fruits become even more important as a quality source of calories. Compared to vegetables, which are mostly water, fruits are much higher in calories due to the carbohydrates in the form of sugars. So when you are eating lower on the food chain and focusing on plant-based foods, you will want to be sure you are consuming enough calories. Entire meals can even consist of fruit—give it a try and see how much energy you have and how satisfied you will feel!
Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org, quotes the Harvard Health Letter:
'The nutritional problems of fructose and sugar come when they are added to foods. Fruit, on the other hand, is beneficial in almost any amount.'
In the study, a group was given 20 servings of fruit per day, or about 200g—the equivalent of 8 cans of soda. Even though the test subjects were given an astounding level of fructose, absolutely no adverse effects were seen in weight, insulin levels, blood pressure, or fats in the blood. In fact, it was perhaps beneficial—an average of a 38-point drop was seen in LDL cholesterol. If you're not convinced, I highly recommend watching Dr. Greger's quick 4-minute video on fruit consumption for yourself. The best part is at the very end! :)
* BONUS *
Consume Fruit When Ripe, and Not Before:
You wouldn't eat a tomato before it was ripe, so don't eat a banana before it's ripe either! I use this example because bananas are a very cheap, versatile, and satiating fruit to begin incorporating into your diet, so it's important to know when they are best to eat. Many people eat them before they are ripe, when they are still green, which can lead to stomach upset, indigestion, bloating, and gas. A banana is actually ripe when it's covered in leopard spots! This means that the starches have fully converted into sugars, which your body can then use for energy and fuel!
What I like to do when I buy bananas is stagger them—I'll buy some green, some yellow, and some almost completely spotted (if the store has them). The reason grocery stores don't sell them already ripe is because they bruise too easily.
BANANAS FOR BANANAS:
- Add them to your smoothies and protein shakes
- Make banana milk
- Put them on a piece of toast with nut butter
- Freeze them and make banana "nice cream"
I know I got a little long-winded on this one, but fruit is literally my fuel and life-force! I want you all to know how beautiful life is when you eat unprocessed, whole fruits (and veggies) and how amazing they will make you look and feel!
Keep your eyes peeled—I've got a great recipe blog post in the works! I'll be sharing a delicious, raw vegan cheesecake recipe with you! Fruit can be fun and indulgent!
Designed For Your Lifestyle,