Can You Eat Fresh Fruit on a Low-Carb Diet?
By Jay Wiener
Founder & CEO, WeightZone Factor
Good news for low-carb dieters. You can eat fresh fruit and still lose weight rapidly and permanently.
For years, low-carb dieters been told that to diet successfully, they must spend months eating nothing but protein and vegetables. That’s a myth; I call it The Atkins Straitjacket. The truth: If you are watching your carbs, the sugar in raw fruit will not slow down your weight loss.
The Carbohydrate Problem
The problem with carbs is their effect on your blood sugar. Everyone worries about the amount of sugar they consume, but few of us consider the source. If you eat, say, a bag of M & M’s, your blood sugar can go up and down faster than Miley Cyrus’s underwear. If you have an occasional binge, no problem (and no guilt). However, if you overload on M & M’s as a lifestyle, there is a strong chance that you will develop Type 2 Diabetes.
Nothing sweet gives as much pleasure as diabetes takes away.
We all know that foods with too much refined sugar are unhealthy. The carbs are absorbed into your bloodstream at hyperspeed, where they can overload your pancreas and liver. However, low-carb diet “experts” who tell you to avoid fruits are lumping a naturally grown, healthy food with candy. They assume that the sugars in fruit are digested as quickly as the sugars in that bag of M & M’s. And they are wrong.
What counts is not the number of grams of carbs that you eat, but whether or not those carbs hit your blood stream fast enough to make your insulin levels spike–and then crash.
Why Fruit Is a Safe Source of Carbs
Unlike the sugar in candy, the sugar in fresh fruit digests gradually. It’s protected inside cell walls made of cellulose–tough to break open. Some is released when you chew, some as your stomach grinds and mashes away and some gets broken down in your small intestine. The entire digestive process takes up to twenty four hours, so there’s never an overload. And one last, unpleasant but necessary detail: a significant percentage of fruit sugar is never absorbed at all. The fiber prevents the cell walls from breaking down, so the glucose and fructose they protect pass through your body undigested.
Think about corn. Now stop.
That’s why fruit is fine on a low-carb diet. The fruit sugars (mainly fructose, some glucose) are absorbed slowly, the way they should be. They won’t overload your pancreas or liver and they won’t hurt your diet (unless you eat too much). How much is too much? Everybody (and every body) is different. Use common sense and eat reasonable portions. That’s why I sometimes call my program Dieting for Adults.
How Many Carb Grams Per Day Are Safe?
A final note. I often see books and articles recommending that low-carb dieters stay below a specific number of grams of carbs per day. 150 and 60 are the most popular limits, even though both numbers are Atkins Straitjackets: they are arbitrary and meaningless restraints.
Think about it–those limits dictate that if a sedentary grandfather and his grandson the football player go on a diet, they should both restrict themselves to the same number of daily carbs–which makes no sense. Why should two very different men follow the same diet rules? And if one of them eats 151 grams of carbs, has he broken his diet?
Specific, arbitrarily chosen diet rules are straitjackets. Eat reasonable portions of fresh fruit every day and break out.
About Jay Wiener
Jay is both a professional mathematician and a humorist–a rare combination. After maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss for many years, he created a popular diet and fitness blog that makes wellness fun. It has helped countless people to lose weight and get healthier.
Jay is also the developer of WeightZone, a free algorithm that predicts a healthy zone of weight based on body stats, health history and exercise history. WeightZone has replaced the standard BMI and is considered to be the most accurate healthy weight guide available online.
To find your perfect weight and subscribe to his blog (to receive a free sample of his work), visit WeightZoneFactor.com.
The views and opinions of guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Full Circle.