Is fruit making us fat?

Controversial?…read on.

Yes fruit is good for you it is full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. However it contains fructose (sugar) and if people are over weight, trying to lose weight or are diabetic then this information below should be taken seriously.

The majority of food contains some sort of carbohydrates which will in turn contain sugar. This includes fruit, vegetables, milk and cheese.

But not all carbohydrates act the same. Some are quickly broken down in the intestine, causing the blood glucose level to rise rapidly. These carbohydrates have a high glycemic index. Other carbs called complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly and release a steady flow of glucose.

Foods with a high GI (Glycaemic index) have a greater effect on your blood glucose levels, when your blood glucose level increases, the hormone insulin is released into the bloodstream to remove the glucose (sugar). Some glucose goes to the brain and muscles where itโ€™s used as an energy fuel, but if there is any excess this goes to the liver where itโ€™s turned into fat and stored, causing people to gain weight.

To give you some context 1 medium sized apple (180g) can contain up to 20g sugar! This is the equivalent to a standard Mars bar! An Apple is A LOT healthier than a Mars Bar and is full of vitamins however people don’t realise that the cravings a short while after eating either of these are caused by the increase in blood sugar levels which then crash causing hunger to strike. This is because they are both high GI foods.

Don’t put down that apple though or be scared of other high GI foods as they have a purpose! One of which is the quick release of glucose, this will feed our muscles which is extremely important after a workout or any strenuous activity. Look at long distance cyclists who eat Jelly Babies or energy gels during their rides, this gives them an instant hit of  glucose turning into energy which helps them power through the remaining part of their journey.

However if people are over weight and don’t exercise regularly why would we need the increase in glucose? If it isn’t used, it is being stored as fat therefore it makes sense to limit the amount of high GI foods in our diets as this will make a significant difference to our health.

Lets look at foods with a low GI, these maintain a steady blood sugar level which is good and will prevent spikes in insulin levels. So what would happen if we combine low GI and high GI foods together?

Well this would reduce the impact of the high GI food, meaning that you can enjoy high GI foods without the insulin spike! 

I used to eat apples, pineapple, smoothies and raisins as an easy snack during the day and would find I was ravenous within an hour and I didn’t know why. I was eating my lunch by 11:30am and starving by mid afternoon!

After reading a book called the GL Bible by Patrick Holford I have experimented with combining high GI and low GI foods, to help keep my blood sugar balanced. It has worked really well for me and I would highly recommend this if anyone is interested in losing weight or even reducing symptoms of diabetes.

I now eat the majority of high GI foods after a workout as the majority, if not all of the glucose will be used to feed my muscles. However if I do eat something with a high GI any other time I will always eat this with something with a low GI.

For example combine an apple with some cashew nuts or white rice with chicken or a banana with some peanut butter.

Here are some other high and low GI food examples-

High- White bread, pasta, pineapple, grapes, white rice, sweet potato, carrots

Low- Lentils, blueberries, plums, spinach, chicken, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

You might be thinking, well I already combine the majority of these foods, if so that’s great. However I know a lot of people that don’t and are often snacking on high GI foods and are extremely hungry when they get home.

We are told smoothies, fruit juices and dried fruit are healthy.  Yes they are but all in moderation or combined with a low GI food to reduce the effect they have on blood glucose levels.

So in summary-

  • Fruit is good for us! 
  • Continue to eat fruit and choose low sugar options like strawberries, pears, plums and blueberries.
  • Combine high and low GI foods.
  • Eat the majority of high GI foods after a workout.
  • When buying smoothies opt for ones with low sugar, if making your own make sure you add vegetables and good fats.
  • If your diabetic then consider removing high GI foods altogether or if you do eat them, you should combine with low GI foods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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