This popular food endorsed by the clean eating crowd, actually hurts fat loss efforts, especially in women over 40 who are naturally experiencing a slower metabolism. The answer may surprise you.
Mary, (not her real name) a client of mine in early midlife, came to me because she was frustrated with her lack of progress. Her self-described plan was low carb or so she thought. Mary described her typical day of eating looked like this. She avoided processed foods, potatoes and grains, like bread, pasta, and cereals. She ate a few veggies, minimal fats and had a serving of protein twice daily. Her breakfast was an ample bowl of fruit, and whenever she was hungry, she snacked on fruit throughout the day. She used fruit as her free food, and she was easily eating 4 servings per day.
Mary was making no progress, her skinny jeans no longer fit her, and she was always hungry and struggling with willpower. She was exhausted and confused as to why her ‘low carb’ diet didn’t produce better results.
With a few simple changes, we were able to get her closer to her goals. Mary’s fruit consumption was thwarting her progress. Fruits are carbohydrates that are broken down into glucose and fructose. Glucose is used by the brain and muscles and other tissues for energy. Fructose, the other major sugar, in fruit is metabolized 100% in the liver. The liver always turns fructose into fat and sends it to be stored as fat deposits around organs. Chronic excess fruit consumption can be a major cause of a higher body fat percentage. Even at a normal size, a woman who eats several fruits per day can be ‘skinny fat’. Add to that an exercise routine based on long slow (muscle eating) cardio and you have the perfect recipe for a soft flabby body. This is commonly what I see with women who are frustrated and perplexed because they eat clean, not a lot, and exercise for several hours per week, yet they can’t make any improvements. (We will save the cardio discussion for another day.)
We altered Mary’s meal plan, primarily by limiting her fruit to a single half-cup serving a day, and added in protein at another meal. We made some other important nutritional changes. The results were significant. Her skinny jeans were fitting well within two weeks, and Mary’s cravings and hunger between meals became almost nonexistent.
Fructose can actually make your hunger worse.
Let’s talk about the hunger and fructose relationship. Fructose can interfere with our hormone balance and satiety, making hunger more intense throughout the day. Mary was constantly hungry, and she was relying on ‘clean’ snacks consisting of fresh or dried fruit. This was actually making her MORE hungry.
Imagine a day where you need to be in highly composed for an important work function, the traffic is horrific, your kids are uncooperative, and your hunger is insatiable. This is a perfect storm for overreacting to hunger leading to guilt and remorse. Your day could be so much easier by taking the hunger and cravings out of the picture. Eliminate all but one serving of fruit, and eat more fiber and veggies. Your hunger will be more manageable allowing your willpower stores to be used for other important issues, like not screaming at your boss or kids.
Be careful of the ‘all or nothing’ mindset here. Fruit does have nutritional benefits like antioxidant properties, vitamins, and minerals, especially in berries. One modest serving (1/2 cup) a day is plenty. Antioxidants are helpful and some fruits are high in them. However, more is not better because excessive fructose from fruit can cause the body to super-oxidize freed radicals leading to liver inflammation, and fatty liver disease, similar to an alcoholic liver. For more information read this research: Fructose It’s Alcohol without the Buzz
If this has been an eye-opener for you, and you are yearning to make a change with structured guidance and accountability, you will benefit from working with me. I have a limited number of one on one coaching spots open. Respond to me here for a complimentary 15-minute discovery call to discuss your struggles and goals. For more information on my one on one coaching programs and testimonials, visit my webpage at www.gratefulfitness.com under “Work with Judy”
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