One thing that almost every person on a weight-loss journey must have encountered is the relentless debate about sugar in fruits and their consumption. Should I eat that banana during a workout, or should I keep an apple for a quick healthy munch at work without disturbing my low-sugar diet? These are the most common questions that cross the mind of every person who is avoiding a sugar-laden diet.
However, the debate about consuming sugar importantly holds that fruits contain natural sugar. They are not considered fattening or threatening to increase our blood sugar levels. The nutritionists advocate new scientific discoveries in this regard, which assert that fruits are not fattening.
That being said, the medical professionals and nutritionists also claim that as anything excess is bad; therefore, a controlled quantity of fruits is not a threat to the weight-watchers. Rather, fruits in a limited and controlled amount significantly help in the weight-loss journey.
If Fruits are not fattening, then What About the Sugar in Them?
Sugar in fruits is in its most natural form. It is hugely different than our table or refined sugar. Refined sugar is processed, implying that it is taken from the sugar cane or beets to be processed into what we purchase from stores. Of course, the processed sugar does not have any nutrition in it – except, well, sugar!
On the other hand, the sugar in fruits is known as fructose. Though by name, it is the same as the refined or table sugar, it otherwise differs significantly from it. Firstly, the fructose in sugar is in its natural form. Secondly, this fructose is not supposed to be consumed alone; instead, the fiber in fruits helps dampen the effect of fructose. It is like a saving grace of the fruits from the harmful impacts of fructose.
What Happens in Our Body When We Consume Added Sugar Vs. When We Consume Sugar from Fruits?
Consuming refined sugar, mostly in the form of table sugar, is readily absorbed by the liver. This results in a spike in blood sugar levels. Too much of the sugar content in our bloodstream then stimulates the release of a large quantity of insulin to help control the blood sugar levels.
This much high quantity of insulin can bring down the spiked sugar levels in our blood. However, this takes our body to a hypoglycemic state (low sugar level) – which in turn leaves us in a starving state. This forces us to eat more and with less intermittent gaps.
In comparison, the sugar in fruits is combined with fiber and numerous other nutrients such as potassium, folate, vitamin B, etc. The fiber in fruits helps slow down the digestion process of fructose. The soluble part of the fiber forms a gel-like substance in the stomach, which decreases the speed of absorption of sugar in our bloodstream. Also, the phytonutrients in the fruits play an inhibiting role for sugar absorption through the stomach wall into the bloodstream.
Fruits Help in Losing Weight
Contrary to popular belief that fruits are packed with sugar, which is why they should be avoided when following a weight-loss diet, a registered dietician, Cynthia Sass, explains in her blog that fruits are not the culprit behind the obesity crisis in the USA.
She stresses on the fact that, if not overconsumed, fruits, even the cherries, melon, berries, etc., can surprisingly help in losing weight. The following points elaborate on how consuming fruits might help in your weight loss journey rather than making you fat:
- Consuming Fruits Makes You Eat Less
This is one of the most interesting evidence in support of the fact the fruits do not make you fat. A research conducted in 2014 revealed that people who are fruit-eaters have lower BMIs as compared to the ones who do not consume fruits. The research also deduced that the BMIs of fruit-eaters were also lower than the people who consume more veggies in their daily diet.
So, next time you shy away from a sweet thing while on a low-sugar diet, help yourself with an apple or fresh blueberries or a chunk of watermelon. Furthermore, consuming more produce than baked items is claimed to result in lower body fat and smaller waist measurements.
- Fruits are loaded with Fiber
The impressive combination of varying proportions of different nutrients in fruits is mind-blowing. Fruits usually have high water and fiber content. Fiber, as elaborated above, helps significantly in dampening the effects of sugar in our body. It slows down the absorption of sugar, which in turn is imperative in reducing the chances of sudden spikes in our bloodstream.
Therefore, naturally occurring sugar (fructose) in fruits is less likely to make you fat than processed or added sugar. For instance, consuming a cup of fresh strawberries provides you with only 7 grams of sugar as compared to a tablespoon of maple syrup, which provides you with 13 grams of sugar.
- Antioxidants in Fruits
Different fruits have varying amounts and kinds of antioxidants. Antioxidant properties of some fruits, such as cherries and plums, are slightly different than, say, berries, melon, citrus, or tropical fruits. Thus, maybe consuming the same type of fruit every day will not reap such benefits as consuming a different variety of fruits daily.
- Fruits Provide Endurance and Energy Boost
Fruits are an excellent source of obtaining an instant boost of energy. Research comparing the consumption of bananas to drinking any sports drink during an intense cycling exercise, found that bananas not only provided an instant energy boost but also resulted in increased motivation. The research observed that the consumption of banana resulted in a shift in dopamine – a neurotransmitter that is critical in elevating mood.
This critical finding implies that consumption of fruits is not only beneficial for our physical health but also for uplifting our mental endurance.
So, what does this all mean? Does it imply that our weight-loss diet should majorly involve fruits and their consumption day and night? Absolutely not. A balanced diet helps in maintaining a healthy body, so does a carefully balanced consumption of fruits. Therefore, fruits, in no way, make you fat if eaten in moderation.