Why Fruit & Fructose is Okay on a Keto or Low-Carb Diet

Forbidden Fruit - Okay on a Diet

Once again, it has to do with the effect that fruit sugar (fructose) has on blood sugar levels and therefore on insulin.

If you’ve read any number of the posts here at EatingLove, then not only are you a bit more intelligent than the average person, but you also know that insulin regulation is the most fundamental principle when it comes to losing weight. Specifically, keeping insulin low by keeping your blood sugar levels low.

FRUIT HAS SUGAR THOUGH?

True. But not all sugar is the same. Here are some of the most common types of sugar along with their definitions and effects:

Table Sugar (Sucrose) – When people say that sugar is bad for you this is the type they generally refer to. Sucrose is the white powdery stuff we put into soda, desserts and coffee.

Sucrose is a sugar that is made up of 2 other sugars (2 units), glucose and fructose and comes from sugar cane plants.

When we eat sugar it metabolizes and enters our bloodstream quickly which isn’t good for our health or weight.

Glucose – This is the basic, single unit of sugar that we use in our bodies for energy. We get it by breaking down other sugars like table sugar and complex carbs.

Glucose is what is measured when we check our blood sugar levels and what is responsible for triggering and releasing insulin.

Fructose – As mentioned, fructose is a single unit of sugar (like glucose) found in fruit. It metabolizes differently than glucose above which is why it isn’t as bad (more below).

Simple Carbohydrate – Carbs that digest quickly like the ones mentioned above. Usually these are desserts and sweets but some people put white bread, white flour etc. into this category as well because they digest quickly too.

Complex Carbohydrate – Multi unit carbs. Usually multi-grains, whole wheat, sweet potato etc. These carbs take time to break down and digest, and move into the bloodstream gradually. Because of that, blood sugar and insulin levels rise moderately which is why they are the healthiest type of carbohydrate.

FRUIT SUGAR IS DIFFERENT

Most carbs are digested and broken down into units like glucose and fructose and then go into your bloodstream.

Glucose, the most common and abundant sugar, raises your insulin level.

Fructose does not. It goes into your liver and then is converted into glucose to be stored for later use. The liver may release some into your blood but it won’t have much of an impact on your insulin.

The only time fructose is really bad for you is when you ingest it by eating processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. But we’re talking about fruit in this article, not junk food.

And so that’s why I believe adding small to moderate amounts of fruit to low-carb and Paleo/Keto diets are okay. It doesn’t increase your insulin level all that much the way other sugars do, and keeping insulin low is the primary aim of these diets in order to lose weight.

To understand why that is, see the blog post on insulin here.

NOT ALL FRUIT ARE CREATED EQUAL

Some are better than others.

Fruit and Fructose for Paleo, Low-Carb and Keto Diets

The right ones serve our diet well. The wrong ones just feel badly about themselves 🙁

Most fruit contain a combination of fructose, glucose and sucrose (table sugar) with the good ones containing mostly fructose and the bad ones containing more of the other two.

Examples of good ones include apples, pears, berries, melons, pineapples, plums etc.

Examples of the ones you want to stay away from (or at least eat less of) are grapes, bananas and cherries.

WEIGHING THE BENEFITS

For those who are on a strict Keto diet, eating fruit will take them out of ketosis (a state where they have zero carbs in their blood and are burning ketones for fuel) which they don’t want. In their defense fruit is not necessarily needed to be in good health as they can get all their nutritional needs from fish or meat.

For those on a low-carb diet who can only eat a limited amount daily, fruit is the optimal choice of carbs. Not only for the reason stated above but because fruit has so many nutritional benefits:

– Added fiber to slow digestion and for gut health
– Rich in vitamins and minerals
– High in water content

Whether or not you wish to include fruit into your diet is a personal choice based on what your goals are.

You’ve no doubt heard a lot about how fruit has sugar and so be wary.

I say go on and let yourself be tempted. Just ask Adam and Eve above, “What could possibly go wrong?” 🙂

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