Saturday, 11 June 2016

Post 8: Fruit Makes You Fat, Sick, and Stupid

Hi all, I was recently posed this question by a reader;

“You really only want to be eating one portion of fruit a day (preferably not even every day)" - isn't this against guidelines for fruit consumption per day? Bit of a bold statement if you ask me :P
- Liam

That’s right Liam, it is a bold statement, and one which I’ll be addressing in today’s post. I promise you that by the end of this you’ll probably be rethinking how much fruit, or more specifically fructose, you’re consuming.

Firstly, we all know the positives of eating fruit: fibre, antioxidants, water content, flavonoids, polyphenols, and it tastes just so darn good.

But what about the darker side of “nature’s candy”? We often bandy around the phrase “fruits and vegetables” as if they were identical. The truth is far from it. I’ve done the research so you don’t have to, and hopefully will bring a new perspective to your views on fruit. Remember, though, that this is just the other side of the same coin. Take the good with the bad, and find the best way to fit fruit into your diet like a true fat burning expert would!

Your time praying at the fruit altar is coming to an end...


This week is a little different; today we start with the takeaways rather than end with them. Then I spend the rest of the post explaining exactly why I think they’re worth following.

    • Eat at most one portion a day and preferably not every day
    • Only eat fruit after your last meal of the day, and definitely not in the mornings
    • Stick to low(er) sugar fruit such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries

Before we begin in proper, consider this: fruit is one of the only foods that actively markets itself in nature. It is designed to make you want to eat lots of it, in order to spread its seeds, which explains its bright colours and high sugar content. Unfortunately for us humans, over-consumption is dangerous, especially when you consider that we’re exposed to highly cultivated fruits with engineered high-sugar content, all year round. The truth is that the fruit we’re exposed to now is a million miles away from the fruit we evolved to eat, and it is available in far larger quantities!

Berries are some of the best fruit to eat


Fructose has two hormonal effects. The first is on leptin. Leptin is a hormone released by your fat cells when they fill up with energy, and tells your brain that you’re satiated. It is in effect the signal to say that you’re full-up. Consumption of fructose does not encourage the production of leptin, so it leads to overconsumption.

The second hormone affected is ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone which is activated when the stomach is empty, and tells your brain to be hungry. It is in effect the signal to eat more. Fructose does not suppress the production of ghrelin, so again it leads to overconsumption.

A useful way to remember the effects of leptin and ghrelin is L&G - leptin and ghrelin - lose weight and gain weight.

Combined, you can see that fruit consumption is not going to be a large part of a fat burning expert’s diet. Fruit is not going to make you feel full and is not going to suppress hunger like other foods will naturally.


First it should be known that fructose can’t be used for energy in the mitochondria (the cell’s energy factory) and cannot be used for energy by the brain (which accounts for 25% of total energy expenditure in the body).

It therefore is forced to be metabolised (broken down) in the liver, leading to higher sugar stores in the liver (of which there is limited space), and higher conversion to fat. This leads to higher triglycerides and risk of fatty liver disease. Furthermore, cancer cells just love to nom down on fructose as a source of fuel. Fructose also increases “bad” cholesterol and leads to a higher risk of fat oxidation. Sounds appetising right?!

Not only is the energy in fruit less bioavailable than other sources, it also has another insidious effect depending on the time of day it is eaten. Fructose tends to lower your heart rate because of its potassium content, so when it is eaten in the mornings when your heart rate should be slightly higher, you feel less energised!

Fat burning

If hormonal and energy levels aren’t your thing, then I’m guessing that the way you look could be. Eating the sugar in fruit is a sure fire way to knock you out of ketosis, especially considering the lack of effect on L&G, which promotes overeating.

I follow my own advice, and eat roughly a portion of fruit every other day, and I personally find it increases my cravings on the day after. That’s my N=1, but you may find it to be true also.

Avocados and fruit juice

Just before we conclude I want to take a quick second to discuss some anomalies: avocados and fruit juice.

Avocados have the benefits of fruit but none of the sugar, and are high in healthy fats. They also taste amazing and go with nearly everything. I eat one a day.

Fruit juice, I’m afraid, is the complete opposite, and one of biggest conspiracies in healthy eating. Usually all of the beneficial fibre is stripped away, and the beverage is condensed to contain a disastrous amount of sugar, which is all consumed and absorbed in a flash because it is a liquid. The same goes for fruit laden smoothies.

Don’t be fooled by fruit juice.

You may have guessed by now that I really love avocados...

Takeaways revisited

Let’s review those takeaways from the beginning:
  • Eat at most one portion a day and preferably not every day
  • Only eat fruit after your last meal of the day, and definitely not in the mornings
  • Stick to low(er) sugar fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries

By eating fruit sparsely it becomes more like a treat, and soon you’ll reconfigure your tastebuds to accommodate for this. But remember, remember, remember, I’m not saying to eliminate fruit; instead be mindful of how much you’re eating and be aware of the deal you’re striking when you consume it.

If you’re not convinced already, here’s a few extra tidbits which I didn’t think fit under my categories above:
  • Fruits lose a lot of their nutrients in transit, thus reducing the pros of eating them
  • Fruits are commonly grown using copious chemicals and pesticides
  • They are then commonly cosmetically treated to make them more sexy on the shop floor
  • Fructose can link to proteins inside the body causing the aging process to accelerate
  • Bad bacteria preferentially eat fruit creating uric acid, leading to increased risk of kidney stones and gout

Tirade over!


If you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy this post, I would love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @tomcowlin or on Instagram @be.cowlean. 

As always, if you know someone who would enjoy this post and could benefit from it, please share it with them!

No comments:

Post a Comment