The Fruit Fat Connection

All your life you have been told to eat your fruits and vegetables and I am not going to tell you otherwise. I am, however, going to show you that the idea that you can eat all the fruit you want is not necessarily correct.

I am even going to recommend you limit fruit intake if you are overweight.

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.

RealDose Weight Loss Formula No. 1 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

It’s because of this information that we formulated a fruit-replacement powder called RealReds. This delicious powder has the same nutritional value as six servings of healthy organic fruits… with 6 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar. Because it only contains 35 calories, you are able to save over 300 calories of pure sugar. Click Here to Learn More.

Until next time,

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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Reference:

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

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4 comments

  1. Thank you for posting the fruit and fat connection. I, too, have always thought fruit was a Healthy choice while trying to lose weight and not knowing how the fructose played such a major roll in the fat loss battle. I’ve always thought the body used up the fructose more readily, because of the fact it’s a natural sweet, than its sweet cousins. I only eat fruit in the morning and sometimes in the evening, if I am searching for a snack. I will be more aware of my fruit consumption and limit it to a weekly snack.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Connie,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I am glad that you have found the article informative and helpful. Yes, fruits and nuts are quite healthy when compared to our go to snacks of junk food and candy, but should also be taken in moderation. You already have a great schedule for taking them and you can even add a handful of nuts to make it heartier. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  2. I found this very interesting as I too have not been able to lose anything this first week while taking the weight loss formula 1. I have noticed not having the craving and have been eating less but fruit has always been a big part of my diet. I am going to try limiting as recommended to see if that makes a difference. Thanks.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Marilyn,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! A better control on your appetite and fewer cravings are sure signs that you are responding well to the changes RealDose Weight Loss Formula NO.1 is making. As it slowly works in your body, you will notice other positive changes such as increased energy, better sleeping patterns and overall mood improvement. That said, for those who are trying to lose weight we recommend limiting fruit intake because of the high sugar and calorie content in fruit. Recommended fruit intake is 2 servings per day. A serving is roughly the size of a golf ball. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

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