Caught in the sweet trap: How fructose might be setting you up for weight loss failure
(NaturalHealth365) Obesity is a growing problem in the United States and has long been the subject of research as doctors seek to understand it better. Researchers have come a long way, but many puzzle pieces are still missing. Many potential factors, like carbs, fat, and sugar, can exacerbate or even cause obesity, but the smoking gun has always been elusive – until now.
Richard Johnson, a medical doctor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, led a team of researchers to explore the causes of obesity and recently published a significant analysis on the topic. He found that reducing fats and carbs must be done simultaneously; it’s not an either-or endeavor. He also found that a very common carbohydrate could be the key that’s keeping people from losing weight and keeping it off.
Cracking the weight loss code: The hidden culprit in your diet
Dr. Johnson and his team found that people who had significant quantities of fructose, a common carbohydrate, in their diet struggled with weight loss. The study found that it makes it difficult to lose weight and even causes diet failure.
While the importance of reducing junk food and ultra-processed foods to achieve weight loss is widely known and accepted, there is still a question regarding where the focus should be. Is reducing fats, high glycemic carbohydrates, or sugar more prudent? Should the person increase their protein intake?
The researchers agreed that all these elements were correct and should be managed accordingly, but the “fructose survival hypothesis” (more on that below) was one thing tying it all together. That is why cutting fat isn’t enough, and eliminating sugar doesn’t cut it.
This substance sabotages dieting efforts, and most people don’t even realize they are consuming it.
What exactly is fructose, and what’s the big deal about it?
When found in nature, fructose is rarely a problem. It becomes a problem when food manufacturers tamper with it and add it to foods unnaturally. It is often added to other sweeteners and many common foods on grocery store shelves, buried in the ingredients list.
High fructose corn syrup and other added fructose can be found in an alarming list of products – even those marketed as “healthy,” including:
- Salad dressing
- Peanut butter
- Nut butters
- Fast food
- Nutrition bars
- Breakfast cereals
- Fruit preservatives
- Coffee creamer
- Pancake syrup
- Prepackaged meals
- Ice cream
- Barbeque sauce
The additive fructose is created unnaturally and then used to create high fructose corn syrup or added to processed foods. The fructose in these foods is considerably higher than when it is found in nature. It can add up very quickly without the person even realizing it.
What is the fructose survival hypothesis?
The real problem with high levels of fructose consumption is how the body metabolizes it. It causes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – a compound that provides energy for the cellular processes within the body – to drop.
When ATP levels drop, it triggers a physiological response, leading the body to interpret it as a signal for the need to replenish energy reserves. This response is at the heart of the “fructose survival hypothesis.” Essentially, the introduction of excess fructose in the diet reduces metabolic efficiency and elevates appetite. Consequently, individuals tend to gravitate towards high-fat foods, eventually contributing to weight gain. In essence, fructose disrupts the body’s utilization of stored fat as an energy source, prompting increased hunger and caloric consumption even when energy reserves are sufficient.
But wait! Doesn’t fruit contain fructose?
Fructose is a natural sugar that is found in fruit. In this form, when it comes from organic, whole foods, it is not an issue. The nutrients and fiber balance the natural fructose, which becomes fuel for the body. This form is clean and a natural, beneficial component of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet.
It is also worth noting that the human body can produce fructose from glucose, similar carbohydrates, and salty foods.
Fructose isn’t the bad guy, not when it is natural and found in natural whole foods.
Ditch the sugar: Practical tips to eliminate high-fructose processed foods
Eliminating added fructose from your diet can dramatically affect your weight loss efforts. But cutting out the sugar is easier said than done. It is everywhere and has found its way into many of the foods on store shelves today, especially convenience foods. However, it isn’t impossible. It just means a little more care, diligence, and mindfulness in your food choices.
Try these practical tips for ditching the sugar and added fructose from your diet.
Read labels – Before you put anything in your shopping cart, read the label. Added fructose has many names. Some more common are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose syrup, and corn syrup. But other related sugars are bad, so be on the lookout for hidden sugars like glucose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, barley malt, and rice syrup.
Choose organic, whole foods – The fructose in organic, whole foods occurs naturally and is balanced by nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. These foods benefit your body and can help with weight loss.
Cook from scratch – When you cook from scratch, you can be certain that your foods have no hidden sugars or added fructose. There are many websites and cookbooks out there that offer simple, healthy, and tasty recipes with only natural ingredients. If time is an issue, look for recipes with only a few ingredients, cook quickly, or find crock pot friendly recipes.
Find healthier, natural sweeteners – When searching for healthier alternatives, look no further than natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit, renowned for their health benefits. However, exercise caution and be a label-savvy shopper to ensure you’re not inadvertently consuming more than you intended. It’s crucial to steer clear of sweeteners that contain erythritol or aspartame, as these options have raised concerns regarding potential adverse health effects.
Save time with meal planning – Meal planning can save you a ton of time. Take a day to prepare your meals for the week, freeze, and then each day you just heat and go.
Swap soft drinks for better options – Sodas are notoriously bad for you. Most are laden with high fructose corn syrup, and the diet versions aren’t better with aspartame as the main sweetener. Instead, try adding the juice of half a lemon to water (with a dash of honey for sweetness if desired).
Removing added fructose from your diet will likely require some work. It has become a staple in highly processed foods and many other food products today. But if you are diligent, you can eliminate fructose and notice a positive difference within your body.
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