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Weight Loss Science, Part 2: HFCS

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS and its derivatives) have a bad reputation in the health and fitness field. There have been countless articles written about it; Google comes up with 2.29 million hits. Top results include the following:

  • Yes there are health concerns.
  • NO it won’t kill you…. immediately.
  • There are a number of metabolic issues over HFCS.

Fructose and HFCS absolutely deserve a bad reputation. But rather then look at it from a bunch of angles, I am only going to look at it from two:

Weight loss

  • Will consumption of HFCS hinder weight loss?
  • Will consumption of fructose hinder weight loss?

Hormones

  • Insulin
  • Leptin

Here’s a cheat sheet if you don’t want to read the whole thing:

HFCS and its derivatives (fructose being one of them) – do not raise Insulin levels when ingested and therefore do not facilitate the feeling of satiety or the desire to stop eating due to Leptin (the satiety hormone) being released.

Here’s the rundown on the whole article (I know you’re busy!):

  • Fructose – whether from HFCS or fruit, does not cause an insulin release.
  • Insulin (the transport hormone) production signals Leptin production, the satiety hormone.
  • Leptin tells us we are full and to stop eating.
  • No Insulin release = no Leptin production = you KEEP EATING BECAUSE YOU ARE STILL HUNGRY!

Here is a great link to a page that lists a bunch of foods containing HFCS – http://www.celestialhealing.net/Food_contain_HFCS.htm

Way to go Heinz….

What’s bad about fruit? Fruit in some circles has a bad reputation AND fructose and HFCS are very similar to each other and have similar effects on the body. Fructose is in the same camp as far as HFCS (in some circles), but the amount of fructose in fruit is small compared to the amount of HFCS in foods. You would have to eat a very large quantity of high-fructose fruit in order for fruit to actually be “detrimental” to your health.

Here is a great link to a list of the fructose in fruits – http://thepaleodiet.com/fruits-and-sugars/#.VpzhHoQSd_w

Does fruit have the same affect as HFCS?

Yes…to a degree. Most fruit is composed of glucose and fructose to varying degrees. Remember, you have two main (there are more, but Ghrlein and Leptin are major players) mechanisms that control hunger – stomach volume (Ghrelin) and Leptin regulation via, mainly, insulin. Glucose does cause an insulin release and a subsequent increase in Leptin and decrease in Ghrelin.

So, while fruit does have the same effect as HFCS from a biological standpoint, there are a few points to consider before you go all crazy and drop fruit out of your diet:

  • Nutritional aspects of fruit far outweigh the issues of fructose, namely:
    • Fiber
    • Vitamins and Minerals
    • Phytonutrients
    • Naners taste good
  • While something made from HFCS is pretty much 100% HFCS, fruit is composed of glucose and fructose and generally, there isn’t a lot of fructose in most fruits.
  • You would have to eat a lot of fruit (like 5+ servings at a time) to get the same fructose load as something made from HFCS.
  • No amount of apples can ever compete to the damage a bag of Cheetos does.

What are the major concerns with an over consumption of fruit?

There really is only one – If you want an insulin release (for instance, let’s say you just worked out and you want to ensure maximal recovery and muscle growth), fruit is probably not your best bet after a work out.

So — short and sweet…..

HFCS doesn’t raise Insulin. That’s bad.

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Ben Dearman

Ben Dearman

Co-Owner at KDR Fitness

Hi, my name is Ben. I am a cancer survivor, blogger, educator and coach. It’s my passion to educate people on health and fitness. The current state of the field is unacceptable to me – overly complicated with too much conflicting information. It’s my goal to help people be as healthy as possible while spending the least amount of time working on it. Work smarter, not harder!

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