Fruit is packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are all great things for your body.
So why would I tell you to limit your fruit intake if you’re having trouble losing weight?
Read on to learn about times when fruit and fat loss don’t mix.
Is Fruit a Problem on My Diet?
In this video, I explain the reason too much fruit might be a barrier to fat loss. I also share the only fruit I recommend if weight loss is a challenge for you.
Fruit is not Bad – IF – Your Metabolism is Good
Let me start by saying that I am a fan of fruit and find it to be a satisfying part of a healthy diet IF your metabolism is strong and your body is highly insulin sensitive.
If you have trouble losing weight, there is a good chance that you have one or more metabolic issues that make it hard for your body to lose weight when you eat too much fruit.
To understand what’s going on, we need to understand more about the sugar found in fruit.
Fructose. The Natural Sugar in Fruit
Fruit contains a type of sugar called fructose. It has a different chemical structure than glucose, which is the sugar that circulates in your blood.
If you look at a fructose molecule next to a glucose molecule, you’d probably think that they look pretty similar.
But to your body, they are quite different so they are handled differently.
Glucose is easily transported to your cells where it can be used as fuel by virtually every cell in your body.
Fructose cannot be carried directly to your cells, so it has to first visit your liver where it is converted into something else.
A small amount can be converted into glycogen (a.k.a. stored glucose), but the majority is converted into fat.
Fruit and Fat
The fact that fruit sugar gets converted to fat sounds bad because we don’t want to get fat. But we have to look at the big picture here.
Storing a small amount of fruit sugar as fat is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the right way for the body to act.
You wouldn’t live very long if your body was incapable of storing energy, which is what body fat is – stored energy.
So, there’s nothing wrong with tucking away a bit of energy as long as you have a metabolism that can easily pull that energy back out of storage when it’s needed.
And here is where the problem with fruit and fat gets started.
A Sluggish Metabolism and Fruit Sugar
If you have an issue that has made your metabolism sluggish, then the fructose and carbs from fruit are more likely to remain stored as fat.
Ironically, a major cause of metabolic issues is the over-consumption of unnatural fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Natural vs. Unnatural Fructose
We have two main sources of fructose in our modern-day diets.
The “natural” form of fructose comes from fruit, while “unnatural” fructose comes from high fructose corn syrup.
When you eat a whole piece of fruit, you take in natural fructose, but because the fruit has that sugar locked inside its fibrous structures, it takes time for your body to extract it.
Fruit also contains a lot of micronutrients and antioxidants that counter the ill effects of fructose.
So, in a properly running metabolism, the slow trickle of natural fructose from fruit is handled just fine.
Unfortunately, the unnatural form of fructose is everywhere in our food supply.
It is found in many foods that you wouldn’t suspect, including salad dressing, sauces, and ketchup.
High fructose corn syrup is also commonly found in soda and processed or packaged foods.
If you’re consuming these foods every day, your liver is getting overloaded with fructose.
Overdosing on Fructose – The Fruit and Fat Connection
Frequent intake of fructose turns your liver into a fat-making factory.
It is also causing metabolic issues that make it hard to burn off that fat.
Don’t think that because you’ve been drinking Coke or Pepsi for 20 years without really noticeable health effects that you’re somehow escaping unscathed.
You cannot outrun the impact this stuff has on your health and metabolism.
High fructose consumption is one of the leading causes of fat deposits in your liver, and that disrupts your body’s ability to burn fat.
Fatty Liver – The Hidden Consequence of Fructose
As you learned earlier, your liver converts fructose to fat.
When you drink soda or eat other high fructose foods, your liver makes a lot of fat and much of it stays in your liver leaving you with a fatty liver.
A fatty liver is less capable of performing its duties, and you don’t do well in life with a poorly functioning liver.
A fatty liver leads to a cascade of health issues.
Fructose and Insulin Resistance
If your body is insulin resistant, it is unable to get glucose into your cells causing the glucose to build up in your blood. The rising blood glucose levels cause insulin levels to rise.
With nowhere else to go, the glucose gets dumped into your fat cells.
Insulin is your fat-storing hormone. When insulin levels are high, fat burning is blocked.
Now…Fruit and Fat Loss Don’t Mix
Now that years of overdosing on fructose have created metabolic issues fat loss is more challenging.
To lose weight you go on a diet, and with the good intention of doing something good for your body, you start eating more fruit.
Unfortunately, you’re left scratching your head because you can’t seem to lose weight.
It’s not that the fruit is bad, it’s that your body is no longer able to handle the fructose and carbs from the fruit as it did before the fatty liver and insulin resistance set in.
What You Can Do to Lose Weight
Despite the challenges, you’re not doomed if you’ve developed metabolic issues related to high fructose consumption.
And, you don’t necessarily have to abandon fruit completely.
You just need to approach weight loss a bit differently. And when you do it right, you can start to heal your fatty liver and restore insulin sensitivity.
In my Freedom Weight Loss Coaching Program, you eat a low-carb diet, which is important for turning metabolic issues around.
When I have someone who has trouble losing weight, I’ll advise them to limit fruit to one cup of berries a day.
Berries are high in antioxidants and micronutrients and fairly low in fructose, so they provide a good value in exchange for the fructose.
Will I Miss Out on Vitamins If I Limit Fruit?
A concern people have with limiting fruit is that they will be missing out on certain vitamins.
However, if your diet is rich in vegetables, you are able to get the micronutrients you need.
Vitamin C is a great example.
Most of us equate oranges or orange juice with vitamin C.
However, if you eat bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes, you’re getting plenty of vitamin C without the metabolism impact of fructose.
It’s complex to get all of this nutritional knowledge under your belt, but you can learn it and make it applicable to your life.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.