Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Limiting Fructose May Boost Weight Loss

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Limiting Fructose May Boost Weight Loss

Article excerpt


One of the reasons people on low-carbohydrate diets might be losing weight is that they are reducing their intake of fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at the University of Texas at Dallas and lead author of a new study, said that her team's findings suggest that the right type of carbohydrates could be as important in weight control as the number of calories.

Current health guidelines suggest that limiting processed carbohydrates, many of which contain high-fructose corn syrup, may help prevent weight gain, and the new data on fructose clearly support this recommendation.

"Our study shows, for the first time, the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose," Dr. Parks said.

Fructose, glucose, and sucrose, which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, are all forms of sugar, but they are metabolized differently.

"All three can be made into triglycerides, a form of body fat; however, once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it's hard to slow it down," she said.

In humans, triglycerides are formed predominantly in the liver, which coordinates the use of dietary sugars. It is the liver's job, when it encounters glucose, to decide whether the body needs to store the glucose as glycogen, burn it for energy, or turn the glucose into triglycerides. When there is much glucose to process, it is put aside to be processed later. Fructose, however, enters this metabolic pathway later, bypassing the traffic cop and flooding the metabolic pathway.

"It's basically sneaking into the rock concert through the fence," Dr. Parks said. "It's a less controlled movement of fructose through these pathways that causes it to contribute to greater triglyceride synthesis. The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in the body."

Although fructose, a monosaccharide, or simple sugar, is naturally found in high levels in fruit, it is also added to many processed foods. Fructose is perhaps best known for its presence in the sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, similar to the mix that can be found in fruits. It has become the preferred sweetener for many food manufacturers because it is generally cheaper, sweeter, and easier to blend into beverages than table sugar. …

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