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The Fruit Fat Connection

If you read my Fat Loss Fast Start Program, you might have wondered about this step:

“Eat at Least 5 Servings of Vegetables and 2 Servings of Fruit a Day. Make this convenient by having fruits and vegetables around the house and in snacks you take to work. The more vegetables you eat the better, but try not to eat more than 3 servings of fruit a day.

So why limit fruit intake?

I am going to surprise you, and tell you that if you seem stuck… for a while you may want to reduce your fruit intake even more.

How Fruit Can Make You Fat

First a little science; fruit contains a high proportion of a sugar called fructose. More specifically, there are two basic kinds of sugar your body can use: fructose and glucose.

You probably have also heard of sucrose known as table sugar (which is broken down by the gut into 50% glucose and 50% fructose).

Here is where this becomes relevant...

Surprising Research

Surprising research performed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center revealed that fructose turns to fat much more easily than glucose.

In this study, researchers fed healthy people breakfast drinks containing three different “sugar combinations” over the course of several weeks, followed by a carefully controlled lunch.

In one test, the breakfast drink contained 100% glucose; in the second 50% glucose, 50% fructose (which is what you’d find in ordinary sugar); and in the third, 25% glucose and 75% fructose.

The researchers were interested in two things, both of which are important:

First, they wanted to measure how fast the sugars in the drink turned to fat in the liver.

Second, they wanted to see how the morning sugar-meal influenced how people metabolized foods eaten later in the day (for example, lunch).

The Findings: Fructose Makes Us Fat

The findings were disturbing. First, the researchers found that fructose got “made” into fat more quickly than other sugars.

And secondly, they found that when fructose was eaten with fat (for example in any junk food snack you can name) the fat was much more likely to be stored rather than burned.

“Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose”, said lead researcher Elizabeth Parks, PhD.

“The carbohydrates came into the body as sugars, the liver took the molecules apart like tinker toys, and put them back together to build fats. All this happened within four hours after the fructose drink. As a result, when the next meal was eaten, the lunch fat was more likely to be stored than burned.”

Even more concerning, Dr. Parks noted that the study likely underestimated the fat-building effect of fructose because the study subjects were lean and healthy. In overweight people, the effect may be amplified.

Why Fructose Makes Us Fat

It turns out that glucose can be used by the body immediately for energy when sugar levels are low. If it is not needed for immediate energy it can be converted to glycogen in the liver or muscles.

If the glycogen stores are full… only then does the excess glucose get converted by the liver into body fat.

Fructose, on the other hand, is not used by the muscles to create glycogen… and is not the preferred source of energy. So any excess fructose is far more likely to be turned into fat by the liver.

"It’s a less-controlled movement of fructose through these pathways that causes it to contribute to greater triglyceride synthesis," Dr. Parks said.

Can We Eat Fruit at All

This is a good question. Some good sources I know say to stay away from fruit 6 days a week. Some, like me, say to just limit your intake to 3 servings a day (but whole fruits only).

However, if you are having weight problems, you may already be insulin resistant… which means you might be very sensitive to fructose.

So you may want to skip the fruit for a couple of weeks while you try to balance your hormones.

Ultimate Trim helps reduce the absorption of sugars and slows down the liver’s sugar production. Staying off fruit and other simple sugars can help magnify this effect and maximize your weight loss results.

So if you are finding that you are still “stuck”, try reducing your fruit intake gradually and see if this helps. For many people, this can make a huge difference.

And don’t worry; you can still get all the healthy nutrients you need from the other foods you will be eating.

Fructose Traps

Obviously you want to stay away from processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup. This contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

However, certain natural health advocates seem to imply that you are safe with agave nectar and honey.

Be careful... agave can contain as much as 90% fructose and honey can contain up to 70% fructose, so these are definitely not safe bets!

Fruit juices, smoothies, and dried fruits can also be fructose traps. So even though you might think you are being healthy, these are things to stay away from.

When I go to my favorite “juice bar” down the street, I get vegetable juice instead of fruit smoothies and they make me feel vibrant and alert all day.

One last thing, bananas and some other fruits, such as strawberries, become richer in fructose as they ripen and some of the starch is converted to sugar.

How Much Fructose Can We Eat?

There is some debate, but if you are overweight you probably do have some level of insulin resistance… so while in your fast weight loss phase it might be anywhere from 15 to 25 grams a day for six days a week. (This amount will sneak in through the small levels of fructose contained in complex carbohydrates like beans).

Below you will see a chart that shows you the complete sugar profile of some popular fruits, sugars and candies. Please pay attention to the Tot. Met. Fructose (Total Metabolic Fructose) column. This number number combines the direct fructose content with the amount of fructose contained in its sucrose content. Also keep in mind that Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose do not always add up to Total Sugars since there are some other sugars not shown in the chart (such as galactose, lactose and maltose).

Sugar Profile of Fruits, Sugars and Candies (in Grams of Sugar per 100 Grams)

  Total Sugars Glucose Fructose Sucrose Tot. Met. Fructose
Fresh Fruit          
Apples 13.3 2.3 7.6 3.3 9.3
Apricots 9.3 1.6 0.7 5.2 3.3
Avocado, California 0.9 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.3
Avocado, Florida 0.9 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.3
Banana 15.6 4.2 2.7 6.5 6.0
Blackberries 8.1 3.1 4.1 0.4 4.3
Blueberries 7.3 3.5 3.6 0.2 3.7
Cantaloupe 8.7 1.2 1.8 5.4 4.5
Cherries, sweet 14.6 8.1 6.2 0.2 6.3
Cherries, sour 8.1 4.2 3.3 0.5 3.6
Figs 6.9 3.7 2.8 0.4 3.0
Grapefruit, pink 6.2 1.3 1.2 3.4 2.9
Grapefruit, white 6.2 1.3 1.2 3.4 2.9
Grapes 18.1 6.5 7.6 - 7.6
Guava 6.0 1.2 1.9 1.0 2.4
Guava, strawberry 6.0 1.2 1.9 1.0 2.4
Jackfruit 8.4 1.4 1.4 5.4 4.1
Kiwi fruit 10.5 5.0 4.3 1.1 4.9
Lemon 2.5 1.0 0.8 0.6 1.1
Lime 0.4 0.2 0.2 - 0.2
Mamey Apple 6.5 1.1 3.7 1.6 4.5
Mango 14.8 0.7 2.9 9.9 7.9
Nectarine 8.5 1.2 - 6.2 3.1
Orange 9.2 2.2 2.5 4.2 4.6
Papaya 5.9 1.4 2.7 1.8 3.6
Peach 8.7 1.2 1.3 5.6 4.1
Pear 10.5 1.9 6.4 1.8 7.3
Pear, Bosc 10.5 1.9 6.4 1.8 7.3
Pear, D’Anjou 10.5 1.9 6.4 1.8 7.3
Pineapple 11.9 2.9 2.1 3.1 3.7
Plum 7.5 2.7 1.8 3.0 3.3
Pomegranate 10.1 5.0 4.7 0.4 4.9
Purple Passion Fruit or Granadilla 11.2 4.0 3.1 3.3 4.8
Raspberries 9.5 3.5 3.2 2.8 4.6
Starfruit 7.1 3.1 3.2 0.8 3.6
Strawberries 5.8 2.2 2.5 1.0 3.0
Tomato 2.8 1.1 1.4 - 1.4
Watermelon 9.0 1.6 3.3 3.6 5.1
Dried Fruit          
Dates 64.2 - - 44.6 22.3
Dried apricots 38.9 20.3 12.2 6.4 15.4
Dried figs 62.3 26.9 24.4 6.1 27.5
Dried peaches 44.6 15.8 15.6 13.2 22.2
Dried prunes 44.0 28.7 14.8 0.5 15.1
Raisins 65.0 31.2 33.8 - 33.8
Raisins, Golden 70.6 32.7 37.1 0.8 37.5
Zante currants 70.6 32.7 37.1 0.8 37.5
Pure Sugars          
Sucrose (table sugar) 97.0 - - 97.0 48.5
Maple sugar 85.2 4.3 4.3 75.0 41.8
Honey 81.9 33.8 42.4 1.5 43.2
High fructose corn syrup (42%) 71.0 36.9 29.8 - 29.8
High fructose corn syrup (55%) 77.0 30.8 42.4 - 42.4
High fructose corn syrup (90%) 80.0 7.2 72.0 - 72.0
Molasses 60.0 11.2 12.9 34.7 30.3
Brown sugar 89.7 5.2 - 84.1 42.1
Candy          
M & M chocolate candy 64.7 - - - -
Lifesavers 66.5 - - - -
Hard candy 62.3 - - - -
Bit O Honey 42.4 - - - -
Almond Joy 44.9 - - - -
Baby Ruth 42.0 - - - -
Butterfinger 48.8 - - - -
Caramello Candy Bar 54.2 - - - -
Nestles Crunch Candy Bar 52.4 - - - -
Nestles 100 Grand Candy Bar 63.5 - - - -
Nestles Raisinets 62.5 - - - -
Reeses Pieces 50.0 - - - -
Skittles 76.4 - - - -
Nestles Plain Milk Chocolate Candy Bar 51.0 - - - -
Hershey’s Kisses 50.0 - - - -
Sugar babies 72.9 - - - -
Milk Duds 50.0 - - - -
Junior Mints 82.2 - - - -

I know we all could use helpful reminders to keep us on track. Coming up, I'll recap everything we've covered in the Fat Loss Fast Start Program so far, putting it all into an "easy to digest" format I think you'll like! :)

Sources:

Parks, E.J. Dietary Sugars Stimulate Fatty Acid Synthesis in Adults. The Journal of Nutrition, 2008 Jun; 138(6): 1039-46.