Misconception Correction

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

After my latest blog detailing an example day of my food intake, I got some pretty good feedback. I try to answer my comments and questions as quickly and thoroughly as possible, so in honor of that I am actually going to make a blog post or two on some of the feedback.

Q: I was little surprised by the quantity of fresh fruit. The glycemic load is obviously balanced out by the other parts of the meals, but it’s still a good amount of fructose over the course of the day. If you wanted to cut some calories out of this plan, would that be where you would go first?

A: First off I do what to say that I agree with the premise that a large daily consumption of fructose could potentially be very problematic, with connections to high triglycerides, visceral fat, metabolic syndrome and possibly even Alzheimer’s (and more). The research on this topic is growing and is pretty consistent across the board, but to take this research and extrapolate it to mean to not eat fruit is just plain silly. It’s like making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Yes there is fructose in fruit, but on the average of 7-10 grams per serving. Some have a little more (apples/pears), some have a little less (berries) but it all averages out in the end. A great blog on the topic of fructose and its potential for health problems was done on the Precision Nutrition website here. She points out that to consume as much added fructose as the study participants, on a 2,000 calorie diet it would require more than 20 apples per day! On my diet, where I am definitely consuming more than 2,000 calories, it would take even more. Now that would be excessive fruit consumption.

A second point is that fructose barely causes a blip on the glycemic index, due to the fact that it has to travel to the liver first, and since fruit is still generally pretty low in carbs per serving, it’s glycemic load is very moderate, so it is just irrelevant, but I digress.

Lets take a quick look at my actual estimated fructose intake shall we (and I am going to estimate high):

Breakfast:

  • 3oz POM = ~5 grams fructose
  • 1/2 cup wild blueberries = ~5 grams fructose

Pre-Training:

  • 1 banana = ~7 grams fructose

Post-Training:

  • 1 Gala Apple = ~10 grams fructose

Late Lunch:

  • 1/2 cup wild frozen blueberries = ~5 grams fructose

Dinner:

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries = ~5 grams fructose
  • 1/4 cup wild frozen blueberries = ~3 grams fructose

That gives me a total of approximately 40 grams of fructose intake from fruit. Sure there will be a little more maybe from the peppers etc., but definitely no more than 50 grams overall at the most. This is not a problematic number, especially since I am maintaining my weight. Most of the research showing problems with high fructose intakes has people on hypercaloric diets, in research where people are in a caloric deficit but taking in huge amounts of fructose there are little to no problems.

One last point is that I am also getting my fructose intake from high quality fruit, providing me tons of fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients and a touch of sweetness to my meals that I enjoy. I am also an active guy, training 4-5 days per week and am on my feet all day at work. So a long answer to a short question is that no, I don’t feel that amount of fructose intake is a problem. When dieting, especially in low-carb situations, I do think that my fruit intake might come down a smidge, but not a whole lot since I do want my limited amount of carbs to come from high-quality nutrient-dense sources. If you want more info on that, please check out some of my previous blogs about low-carb dieting such as: Low-Carb Dieters: Eat Your Fruit & Carrots (my second blog ever), Warp Speed High Carb Day, Warp Speed Normal Day, and Warp Speed No Carb Day.

Hope that helped to clarify a little misconception and help you realize that fruit intake isn’t your fructose problem, too much sugar and HFCS is.

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Posted on September 30th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

5 Comments

  1. Jack Says:

    Brian,

    With your activity level, I would imagine that even in a “dieting down” situation, you would likely be able to get away with more carbohydrates (including fructose from fruit) than your typical general population person.

    One question regarding the statement

    “Most of the research showing problems with high fructose intakes has people on hypocaloric diets, in research where people are in a caloric deficit but taking in huge amounts of fructose there are little to no problems.”

    Should that read hypercaloric diets?

  2. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Jack,

    Yes thanks for catching that. Fixed it!

  3. Glenn Says:

    Glad my question allowed you the chance to vent! ;)

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