The first thing that is removed from any healthy diet is added sugar. But what about the natural sugars that are found in fruit? Do they stand in the way of weight loss? We’ll take a look at how natural fruit sugar impacts your weight in this video.
Is Natural Sugar in Fruit Bad for You – Summary
- Fruit contains fiber and other nutrients that slow digestion and absorption of the natural sugars it contains.
- The slow digestion of fruit sugar diminishes the blood sugar and insulin spikes that lead to fat storage.
- If you overeat fruit, you may take in more fructose than your body can handle, overloading your liver, resulting in fat production.
- For weight loss, focus on low-sugar fruits, such as berries, lemons, limes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and peaches.
Is Natural Sugar in Fruit Bad for Weight Loss? [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- How natural sugar compares to table sugar
- How eating fruit affects your weight
- The best fruit choices for weight loss
Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar
Most plant foods, including fruit, contain natural sugars. Yet, these whole foods also contain fiber and other nutrients that slow the digestion process.
This slowed digestion is beneficial because it allows the sugars to be slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a more sustained level of energy and hunger satisfaction than added sugar.
Added sugars go by many names, including table sugar, corn syrup, brown sugar, and so on. Regardless of its name, at one time, it was a plant. For instance, table sugar typically comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.
However, it no longer looks like a plant because it has been highly refined, which strips away the fiber and nutrients needed to slow digestion. As a result, table sugar, or one of its close cousins, still contains the same basic sugar units as a piece of fruit but gets digested and absorbed much quicker.
This quick absorption causes a spike in blood sugar that gives you a brief energy surge. However, once that quick energy is used up, your blood sugar drops, dropping your energy and leaving you feeling hungry.
How Does Natural Sugar Affect Weight?
If we compare natural sugar to added sugar, we also see a difference in how they affect insulin levels, ultimately affecting how you gain weight. Insulin’s job is to move sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used for energy.
Your body tries to keep your blood sugar level within a narrow range. When it goes too high, insulin works overtime to bring the level down. If your cells don’t need the immediate energy, your body is forced to put the sugar into storage. Your liver and muscles can store some in the form of glycogen.
However, these storage closets are small, so any extra gets converted and stored in the fat cells, which are the long-term, easily expandable storage units of our bodies.
Because a piece of fruit contains elements that slow the rise of your blood sugar, your body has time to use or burn the sugar, limiting the amount that must be stored. However, when you drink a 12-ounce can of soda, you are dumping 11 teaspoons of sugar into your body (1).
With no fiber or nutrients to slow down absorption, you get a blood sugar and insulin spike that encourages fat storage.
Fruit sugar has weight-loss advantages when compared to added sugar. However, the news is not all good when it comes to the natural sugar found in fruit. One of the sugars found in fruit is fructose.
Unlike glucose, which goes straight into your bloodstream and raises blood sugar and insulin, fructose takes a less direct path. It must first visit the liver and be converted into glucose, so it doesn’t have the same quick blood sugar and insulin impact as glucose.
However, suppose you are eating too much and taking in more fructose than your body can handle. In that case, your liver gets overloaded and converts the fructose to fat, some of which stays in the liver contributing to a common health problem known as fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (2).
Low Sugar Fruits and High Sugar Fruits
Another issue with fruit is that not all fruits are created equal. Some are naturally lower in sugar than others. If your goal is to lose weight, you want to pick fruits that are low in sugar and avoid high sugar varieties.
Low sugar fruits include berries, particularly strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Lemons and limes are also low sugar fruits, as are honeydew melon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and peaches.
Oranges are in the mid-range, but as long as you limit your intake and eat the whole fruit, rather than drinking the juice, you may find that they work in your diet.
High sugar fruits to limit or avoid include bananas, grapes, mangoes, apples, pears, and any dried fruit, including dates, raisins, and prunes.
The bottom line is that fruit has fiber and nutrients that slow the absorption of the naturally occurring sugars it contains. However, you can overdo it on fruit. If you overeat, you can overload your liver with fructose, increasing fat production by your liver.
How much fruit you can consume will depend on factors such as your metabolism, activity level, and age. But, you’ll be happiest with your weight loss results if you stick with the low-sugar fruit options mentioned above.
There is no doubt that there is a lot to learn when you are trying to create a healthy way of eating to lose weight. It pays to have a solid foundation in place. I encourage you to learn my 0,1,2,3 strategy. It is already in use by 10’s of 1,000’s of people and free for you to learn. It’s a great way to get started the right way or to get back on track if you’ve gotten sidetracked. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) “How Much Is Too Much?: The Growing Concern over Too Much Added Sugar in Our Diets.” Sugar Science. University of California San Francisco. Accessed November 9, 2020.
(2) Ter Horst, Kasper W., and Mireille J. Serlie. “Fructose consumption, lipogenesis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Nutrients 9.9 (2017): 981.
About the Author
Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.