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12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 3 – Are You Afraid Of Eating Fruit?

December 13, 2018 1 Comment

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Let me cut right to the chase with this one. This is one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard. People who won’t eat fruit because it has too much sugar! Really? Ok. Then show me someone who became obese from eating too much fruit?  Better yet, let me save you the time (basically you won’t find anyone) and really get into this fruity dilemma. This crazy idea that fruit is somehow a bad thing to eat came into full swing with the low carb diet craze a few years ago. The terrible thing is that the myth still persists.

Yes, There Is Sugar In in Fruit

I guess the best way to start is to say that sugar isn’t inherently bad for you. Too much of it is, specifically the wrong kind. There is natural sugar (i.e. the sugar in fruit) and there is added sugar (the culprit of all bad things). The body doesn’t differentiate between the natural and added sugars but the sugar in fruit offers so much more than the natural sugar it contains – including water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (those naturally-occurring plant compounds that have wide ranging beneficial effects on the body). The idea that fruit is “loaded with carbs” or is “full of sugar” needs to be clarified too. It’s true that when you eat fruit, the overwhelming majority of the calories you consume are supplied by carbohydrate – mostly in the form of fructose, which is the natural sugar in fruit. That however is the nature not just of fruit, but of all plant foods – they’re predominantly carbohydrate and that means not just natural sugars, but healthy starches as well as structural elements, like cellulose, that provide fiber. When you eat vegetables, the majority of the calories you’re eating come from carbohydrate, too. But you don’t hear people complaining that vegetables are “loaded with carbs”.

But What About the Carbs?

Before you go assigning foods as being loaded with sugar, or too high in carbs, consider not only the amount of sugar or carbs you’re eating, but the form of the carbohydrate, too. There’s a big difference between the nutritional value of the natural carbohydrates found in fruits and other plant foods: sugars, starches and fibers, and what is in, or not in, the empty calories we eat from added sugars that are literally everywhere.

How The Body Processes Sugar (Carbs)

A very important part to understand is that your body favors carbohydrates as a fuel source. When you eat them, enzymes in your digestive system break them down into their simplest possible form: sugar. Complex carbs, sometimes called starches, have complicated molecules that can take some time to break down. Simple carbs, or sugars, are easy to break down, if they need breaking down at all. Either way, the carbs you eat all become sugars called glucose, at which point they enter your bloodstream. At this point, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which does a few things with this blood sugar. The key to avoiding blood sugar spikes is tempering your carb intake with other foods that slow absorption. Fat and protein help to some degree, but the best way to slow absorption is with fiber, which are carbs so complex that your body can’t digest them, so they slow the digestion of the carbs around them, causing the sugar to enter your blood at a slow drip. This is one reason why high-fiber foods are considered a healthier option. They help you avoid blood sugar spikes. Fruit, in general, tends to be fiber-rich, making the sugar content irrelevant.

Can I Eat Too Much Fruit?

Of course, it is possible to take in too much of a good thing. Moderation is the key with any food. There are all kinds of incredibly healthful foods that can be overeaten, from seeds and nuts to salmon and avocados. Point is to always question who and where you get your knowledge. It can be all the difference.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home

Filed in: Nutrition, Wellness • Tags: , ,

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

Comments (1)

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  1. Nancy T. says:

    Good post.

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