Is eating fruit bad for you?
The obvious answer is no. Most fruits are nutritionally dense and provide you with vitamins and minerals that help fight off diseases. Some fruits are even a great source of fiber which is an essential part of your daily diet. The issue I have with fruit is that people over indulge in it. Fruits contain sugar…we all know this, but there is a common misconception that the sugar in fruit is different than the sugar in candy and sweets. It may be a different type of simple sugar but your body does not know that.
Let’s quickly break down the three types of simple sugars: glucose, fructose and galactose. Glucose and fructose can be found in almost every piece of fruit as well as almost every sugary drink, and is added as a combined substance to make foods sweeter. Galactose is very similar to Glucose but with a small change in its make up and is mostly found in dairy products.
Why is this important?
Because your body doesn’t know how to digest sugar from a banana differently than the sugar you put in your coffee and your body stores and uses the sugars the same way. What this means is that if you eat 30g of sugar from fruit and someone else eats 30g of sugar from a Reese’s, your bodies will process and store the sugar the same way.
How is sugar stored?
Sugar is stored in two basic ways. The first is as Glycogen. Glycogen is the primary fuel source for your muscles to use for energy production. This is why when you are on a low carb diet your workouts and energy levels suffer. The other way sugar is stored is…..FAT! Once your body has restored glycogen levels, the liver coverts sugar into fatty acids and returns them to the bloodstream and then on to be stored in your body as FAT! So over eating sugars will make you fat.
I am not saying to not eat fruit. Fruit is part of a healthy diet that can help lower your risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease. The issue I have is that people try to replace their sweets with fruit and some snack on fruit the entire day and do not understand what this is doing to their body composition.
So how much sugar should you be eating?
In my personal opinion (which is one of a non-medical professional) sugar should not make up more than 5% of your diet. This means if you are eating 2,000 calories per day, sugar should be less than 100 calories (-25g) per day. The American Heart Association says that no matter what your caloric intake is, women should not eat more than 100 calories (-25g) of sugar and men should not eat more than 150 calories (-36g) per day. There is a difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Added sugars are a lot worse but your body breaks down and stores the sugars the same.
So how do we stop eating sugar?
You have to start small. Sugar is addictive like a drug. Kris Gunnars, BSc says, ” Sugar and other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine and nicotine.” My suggestion is give them up slowly. More than likely, you have been eating sugars for a long time and it is going to take more than just a week to kick the habit. If you drink 5 sodas a day, cut it to 4, then 3, then 2, then 1 and do this until you have the self control to not drink any sodas. What you do not want to do is cut out your cookie addiction and then replace it with a sugary fruit. Yes you are eating a healthier snack, but you are not kicking the sugar.
Again, I am not saying to not eat fruit.
I believe that people over indulge in fruit and are ok with it because they believe it is making them healthy and not contributing to their inability to lose weight or affecting their body composition. CrossFit as a community has led the war on sugar for years and has preached a diet that keeps your blood sugars low. They published an simple two-paged article back in 2002 that to this day still is valid. If you are truly wanting to lose the extra weight and start to tone up, you will watch your sugar intake. Download a food diary app and see how much you are eating each day. If you are not under 5% then you need to make a change.