Snacking on fresh fruit may not be your best option when trying to lose weight.
The saying used to be “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The truth may more likely be “An apple a day keeps the weight loss away.” The argument for Fruit in our diets used to be for their nutrient and fiber content, but lower nutrient values have shot holes in that theory. Thanks to poor soil quality, studies show steady declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century, with the magnesium content of an apple about 82% lower than it was just 100 years ago. Fruits today are mainly sugar, water, and fiber, and this change in composition has changed their value in our diets.
Why Fruit Might Stop Your Weight Loss Progress
The main sugar found in fruit is Fructose, which is a simple sugar that is only processed by your liver. If your liver already has enough energy, fructose is rapidly stored as fat in your body. For this reason, fructose is considered the most harmful sugar for your metabolism. Compare this to glucose, the most common simple sugar, which is sent to your muscles, brain and other organs to be used immediately for fuel and energy. Fruit does have both fructose and glucose in it, so the glucose slows down the time it takes your liver to break down the fructose, but the ratio these sugars are in is about the same as the ratio in table sugar, and that’s not what we’re going for when we’re trying to lose weight.
The other reason fruit can halt weight loss progress is sugar cravings. Some people find the sweetness of even one piece of fruit causes them to crave sugar and indulge in sugary treats or more carbohydrate-rich foods. High carb foods cause weight gain in a similar way to fructose; they break down into sugars that are stored as fat if they aren’t burned for energy. Eliminating fruit entirely from the diet helps kills the sugar cravings more quickly in this case, and makes it easier and more enjoyable to stick with a healthy weight loss plan. The best all-around triple whammy to control fruit cravings, help fat absorption and support the liver’s ability to metabolize sugars is our Weight Loss Formula.
One of the hallmarks of eating too much fruit is what I call “fruit belly.” As the founder of UNI KEY Health, I’ve had a fair amount of customers contact me over the years, concerned the nutritional supplements they started at the same time they began their new weight loss diet are causing them digestive issues. “James, my belly is bloated all the time, I’ve got a lot of gas and am having bouts of diarrhea. What am I taking that’s causing this?” At this point, I usually ask about which diet they’re on and how much fruit they are eating or juicing. Most of the time, they’ve increased their fruit or even started juicing quite a bit of it, and that’s the real source of their issues.
Everyone thinks juicing fruits is one of the healthiest things you can do, but it’s really not. When you eat a whole piece of fruit, the fiber in it slows your digestion so the sugars in it are absorbed more slowly. When you juice that same piece of fruit, the fiber is removed and it’s like taking a shot glass full of sugar; all that sugar creates the perfect conditions for Candida yeast overgrowth in the intestines.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), fruit is considered yin and full of dampness, which means it’s more contracting, less energetic, and contributes to a sluggish metabolism. Shifting the balance of a person to being more yin sets you up for Candida yeast overgrowth, with bloating, skin rashes, acne, hair loss, excessive gas, and diarrhea. Candida yeast upsets your microbiome and creates an unfavorable imbalance that leads to weight gain, not weight loss. You can stop the yeast overgrowth by cutting out the fruit and all sources of sugars, and repopulating the microbiome with healthy bacteria using a good probiotic. If symptoms have been ongoing or are more severe, a cleanse may be needed to get your digestive system balanced again.
Occasionally, symptoms are more severe, and in this case it’s likely to be Fructose Malabsorption, formerly known as Fructose Intolerance. In some people, the small intestine cannot completely absorb fructose, so it passes through undigested into the colon. Once in the colon, the bacteria that are part of the microbiome rapidly digest it and produce gases, which cause the colon to swell. This swelling leads to bloating, distention, gas, cramping, and occasional diarrhea when a larger amount of fructose is ingested. Fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and constipation can also be present.
Fructose Malabsorption can be hard to distinguish from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), and Candida overgrowth. Testing from a doctor’s office may show nutrient deficiencies and elevated pancreatic enzymes. They may do a Hydrogen Breath Test or prescribe a fructose elimination diet.
While these tests are important, once they are done I believe a comprehensive gastrointestinal analysis is important. This is a more detailed test we offer through UNI KEY Health, which will tell you if there is Candida, harmful bacteria, or other pathogens present in your digestive system. It also measures markers of inflammation, pancreatic enzymes, and tests for common food reactions.
Getting to the root causes of your weight gain and eliminating them will lead you far down the road to health and success. Impaired digestion from intestinal overgrowth and lack of nutrients in our food may lead to nutrient deficiencies. This is why good supplements are a must to maintain a healthy body and achieve your goal weight.
The bottom line is even if you’re eating what you think are healthy foods, they may not be the health superstars they used to be. I encourage you to replace the high fructose fruits in your diet with leafy green vegetables and just a few berries in your protein-rich smoothies. Unsweetened cran-water is a good choice to replace high fructose drinks.