Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is fruit making you fat? The FINAL word on fructose and fat loss

Does fruit make you fat? Are bodybuilders right when they cut out fruit before competitions or is that unnecessary? These and other questions have been hotly debated for decades. In this short 4 minute audio, Kevin Larrabee of the Fit Cast show puts this question to Tom Venuto, who puts everything in perspective and gives you the final word on fruit, fructose and fat loss...

Read the transcript below . . .


KEVIN LARRABEE: Well, let's jump right into the questions. The first one we have comes from Chris. He says, "I'm just curious, what are your thoughts about fructose? Should the average person avoid a lot of fruit? I tend to avoid starchy carbs altogether, instead focusing on lean protein, fruit and veggies, in addition to healthy fats. Should I be worried about the fructose stuff? I eat 3 to 5 pieces of fruit a day, and that includes apples, grapes, bananas, oranges and really whatever is on sale at the store."

TOM VENUTO: I saw this topic got stirred up again just a few weeks ago. There was a study published in June, and it got written up in The New York Times, about fructose getting converted into fat. And you know how good the media is at reporting scientific research. Right? [sarcasm]

KEVIN LARRABEE: Oh, it's great. It's fantastic. I go to The New York Times for all my nutrition information actually. [more sarcasm!]

TOM VENUTO: [laughs] Well, it was The Journal for the American Nutrition Society. The title, right off the bat, was really damning. It said, "Dietary Sugars Stimulate
Fatty Acid Synthesis." Then The New York Times' article says, "Does Fructose Make You Fatter?" And everybody saw that and they're like, "Oh, my God! Fruit turns into fat!"

To tell you the truth, having started in the bodybuilding world, I believed that too. That's what I was taught. I was taught that fruit turns to fat, and when you go on a contest diet, you have to cut the fruit out. So when I was just starting out in bodybuilding, in my first few contests, I cut the fruit out. And then I started to really analyze it and it didn't seem to make any sense to me, so I put the fruit back in. I didn't see one shred of difference.

If you really go and look at these studies, like this new one, they were talking about high fructose corn syrup, not whole fruit. We know that the fructose goes to preferentially restore the liver glycogen, and the liver has a limited storage capacity. Some of the studies suggest that about 50 grams of fructose before it starts to spill into fat, at least in the context of those studies.

But does anybody know how much 50 grams of fructose is? I mean, in terms of soda, or high fructose corn syrup, I don't think it's hard at all to get 50 grams. And in that study, they didn't give people whole fruit. They gave them a big liquid dose that had 85 grams of carbs in a 75% fructose solution. That's like 64 grams of fructose all at once.

So there you have it. That's consistent with what you'd expect based on the research.

Now, if you look at whole fruit, everybody saw the headline and they thought, "Fruit equals fructose." But fruit and fructose aren't exactly the same thing. A lot of people think that all the sugars in fruit are fructose. But a typical piece of fruit has what? About 6-7 grams of fructose?

Maybe you'd get about 10 in a big banana, and some of the berries that are really high in fiber, have only 2-3 grams of fructose. So it would take almost an impossible-to-eat amount, especially if you're trying to stay in a calorie deficit, for that to cause any fat storage. And if you're in a calorie deficit for the day anyway, should we really be worried about it?


TOM VENUTO: I think fruit is good for a fat loss diet. You could actually make an argument that you should include it because it's high in nutrients, it's high in fiber; it's high in water content, and we know that's a combination right there
(high fiber, high water) that's good for reducing appetite and making you feel fuller. So maybe the pre-contest bodybuilder or the low carb dieter is going to pull back on fruit a little bit. But that's mainly a function of cutting down on everything across the board -- cutting down calories across the board and
cutting down carbs across the board. Fruit is just too nutritionally
valuable to get rid of.

KEVIN LARRABEE: Exactly. I think something that Craig Ballantyne said was that he's never had a client that got fat by eating fruit. They got fat by having breads, like pastries, junk food, pizzas, things like that. You're not going to get fat by eating
fruit. I think people are just focusing on the wrong things.

TOM VENUTO: Yeah. Absolutely. Eat your fruit.

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