What is this myth?
That fruit is a healthy and necessary part of the human diet.
In a nutshell, we must replace the idea that you should eat your fruits and vegetables with the idea that you should eat your [healthy] FATS and vegetables.
Last year, I helped a woman lose about 25 lbs in three months with this single line of advice: stop eating fruit.
We sat in my office, and she said, with her best attempt to hide her deep frustration, ” I don’t get it. I follow a strict paleo diet, but that weight won’t budge.”
A paleo diet, like many other popular programs, is more defined by what you DON’T eat – in this case grains, dairy, and refined sugar – than by what you do.
When I’m working with a woman trying to lose weight and gain energy/vitality/joy, I care far more about what you DO eat.
So I ask this well-intentioned, but frustrated woman what she does eat, and she tells me that she starts her day with a green smoothie.
That sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
But I find out that her green smoothie consists of fruit juice, frozen fruit, fresh fruit, and a handful of green leafy vegetables blended together.
A couple hours later, she’s hungry and eats a fruit salad.
For lunch, she has a green salad, which may contain nuts and berries.
Dinner was some lean meat and vegetables.
And she often ended the day with a piece of fruit.
Imagine her shock when I told her that fruit is a dessert, not a health food.
What! Fruit is permitted on a paleo diet. Fruit is healthy! Fruit is natural! Doesn’t fruit have vitamins and minerals that I need?!?!?!?!
There’s no nutrient in fruit that can’t be found in a vegetable.
On top of that, fruit sugar is predominately fructose, which bypasses every signal your body has to indicate that she’s satisfied.
Furthermore, fructose (whether from high fructose corn syrup or an apple) puts a burden on your liver, leaving your liver (the master organ in my opinion) less responsive to the queues of insulin.
Fruit has been modernized for high sugar content.
I mean, seriously, a pink lady apple tastes like a jolly rancher. And the word honeycrisp says it all!
We need to put fruit back in its proper context.
It is the food – for most of the world, naturally available for only a short window of the year – that animals use to fatten in preparation for the coming harsh winter. Fruit doesn’t fill you up because squirrels and bears can’t afford to get full when they’re preparing for 4-6 months with limited or no food. Birds can’t afford to portion control when their bodies are prepping to fly south. These animals are purposefully aiming to increase their fat stores because their life cycle includes a period of fasting.
The human lifecycle once worked this way, too.
But for modern humans, we have largely bypassed this phase through refrigeration and trade. I can now walk into the Good Food Store in January and buy a banana even though it’s 5 degrees outside.
I wasn’t designed for that. And neither were you.
Buy (and eat) the banana, and eventually you’ll pay the price.
If weight loss is your goal, fruit is not your friend.