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Will Fruit Juice Make You Fat?

Posted Oct 31 2008 12:02pm

Last week on The Fitcast, the gang and I discussed fruit juice and how it’s gotten a bad rap as of late. First off, let me just say that there are far worse things that people could be drinking: soda, beer, battery acid, etc. At the very least, fruit juice will provide vitamins and minerals, along with some fiber (depending on the type and how processed it is). I’ve always been a “realist,” and never really had any issues with people drinking fruit juice (within reason). I mean if someone is 30 lbs overweight, the last thing they should be worried about is their morning glass of OJ. Or should they? Notice the blatant foreshadowing there? You’re totally going to keep reading.

Needless to say, I was catching up on some reading the other day and came across a really cool review by Lyle McDonald discussing how humans show poor compensation for fluid calories.

As McDonald points out:

Compensation means that the body will adjust caloric intake at other times of the day (or days later) for a given caloric load. So say you eat a bunch of candy earlier in the day and it provides 450 calories. What you might see is that, later in the day, folks eat a few hundred calories less than they’d normally eat. The body ‘compensates’ for the food you ate earlier. The problem is that most liquid calories aren’t compensated that well and figuring out why is of some interest to researchers.

Furthermore, of interest to me (and something that I didn’t bring up last week during the show), is the fact that various lines of research indicate that the intake of calorically sweetened beverages (fruit juice, soda, etc) do NOT reduce the intake of solid food. In other words: people drink their calorie containing beverages (typically loaded with sugar), and because there is no “compensation,” will generally still stuff their pie holes later on in the day in the form of real food. Read: fat people are fat. Or something like that. I don’t know, I’m not a researcher.

And before some of you start going ballistic, please note that I’m not saying indulging in a diet coke or some flavored water every now and then is going to be detrimental in regards to one’s body composition. However, I do feel the above brings up a few valid points.

Namely, as noted in the original review, in all but the last 11,000 years, the predominant fluids consumed by humans were water and breast milk. That’s it. As well (and this is just me speaking), it’s only been within the last 75-100 (ballpark guess) that we’ve inundated our diets with a plethora of artificial sweeteners and liquid calories. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that fruit juice and the like make people fat, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not just a coincidence that there are many of you out there who tend to rely on calorie containing beverages and often wonder why it’s so hard to lose any weight. Something to think about.

That being said, I hope everyone has an awesome National Dress Like a Slut Day Halloween. Sadly, I won’t be participating in any festivities today. Apparently there’s a rule that your costume needs to include pants. Pfffft, whatever.

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