A question that we get practically every day is: Does fruit make you fat? Whether it’s at a convention, or through our emails, it’s almost always guaranteed that we’ll get this question in one form or another. Before we answer this we have to make it clear that this is probably one of the most divisive topics in the fitness industry.
Half of the people who clicked this article are probably wondering why fruit would ever make you fat. It’s healthy and it’s mostly low in calories! Others would 100% agree on the fact that fruit does make you fat. After all, it does contain a lot of sugar. So let’s start by learning about the sugar in fruit.
What Is Fructose?
One of the building blocks of fruit is something called fructose, which is a simple sugar naturally found in fruits (as well as in honey and vegetables). You’ve probably heard of high-fructose corn syrup, as it’s prevalent in things like soda and candy bars.
Does Fructose Make You Fat?
High-fructose corn syrup sweetens things to a high degree, and original studies did find that fructose was bad for your health. However, when you look deeper into these studies, you’ll notice that they were done using rodents as test subjects.
They gave rats a whole lot of fructose, which is super sweet. These rats were eating fructose, or fruit sugar, and scientists noticed that they got fat and suffered from insulin resistance. As a result, these rats died young.
Now when people read the results, they were shocked. Fruit can make you fat and die? And when researchers did human studies, they found that people who ate high-fructose corn syrup in high amounts didn’t live as long, they got fat and had type 2 diabetes, which didn’t help with the public image of fruit.
However, we’re not looking at the big picture here. High-fructose corn syrup isn’t found in nature. It is something manmade and refined from corn. Fruit has much less fructose than corn syrup, and it also has a lot of other characteristics.
Are Fruits the Same as High Fructose Corn Syrup?
A fruit mainly consists of water, a lot of fiber, and fructose in small amounts. Studies have actually shown that these small amounts of fructose can improve insulin sensitivity, unlike high-fructose corn syrup!
These studies say that anything between 4-8g of fructose can have a beneficial effect on improving insulin sensitivity. So this does prove that fruit on its own is much different than high-fructose corn syrup.
You should never compare refined high amounts of corn syrup found in some foods– upwards of 40g of high fructose corn syrup–to something like the 6-8g of fructose that exists in fruits. Particularly if you eat fruits like berries, which have fiber and a small amount of fructose but are filled with a lot of macronutrients, you’ll find that it improves your health, and you’re staying full at the same time.
If anything, high-fiber, low-calorie fruits will help you improve insulin sensitivity, keep you healthy, and they might even help you lose fat. Keep in mind though, you shouldn’t take this as your cue to eat whatever fruits you want in as large quantities as you can.
What Are the Best Fruits to Eat?
Studies have shown that the fruits with the highest amount of macronutrients, the lowest number of carbs, and the highest amount of fiber are generally berries, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries.
If you’re looking to maximize the benefits you can get from fruits, pick berries. A close second would be apples. Following that would be fruits that are still good for you yet are higher in sugar content, which includes fruits like bananas and grapes. While these are probably good for you, you’ll need to be more cautious with them. It’s probably not the best idea to make a shake with three bananas, for instance; just eat these higher-sugar fruits in moderation.
We hope this article helped shed some light on the fact that fruit doesn’t really make you fat, and that it’s refined high-fructose corn syrup that gives it such a bad reputation!