still think swapping a calorie-free sweetener for sugar or fat-free, sugar-filled fro-yo for ice cream will help you shed some lbs? Think again. What’s really happening when we cave and indulge in that bottomless bowl of frozen yogurt or blended mocha frappe with extra whipped cream? Let’s talk about it.
It’s no secret that Americans, and people globally, are eating way more sugar daily than we ever have before. It’s hard to imagine that in 1700, we consumed a mere 4 pounds of sugar a year. As of 2009, that number has grown to 180 pounds a year or a whopping 32 teaspoons of sugar a day! What most people don’t realize is that sugar in all it’s forms has snuck its way into nearly every processed food item we consume. The obvious products of course are soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices and candies, but sweeteners are also used in unexpected daily staples like milks, breads, sauces, dips and dressings too. What’s more, that sugar is usually present in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a substance that is highly processed and contains no nutritional value whatsoever. Humans were not even exposed to HFCS before 1975. It’s effect on our bodies is very different than the other sugars we’re used to.
Here’s what you should consider next time you reach for that tub of fat free frozen yogurt…
What Really Happens When You Eat That Tub of Frozen Yogurt:
The fructose/fat connection:
Overcoming a breakup? Maybe you even skipped the full fat and went straight to the self-serve fat-free fro-yo. Well that tub of frozen yogurt may not have a lot of fat, but it sure does have a lot of sugar, and it’s usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. What many of us don’t realize is while it may be advertised as fat-free, fructose metabolized in the body turns to fat pretty easily.
The High-Fructose problem:
The key point to keep in mind when it comes to high fructose corn syrup is that it is metabolized by the body very differently than most other sugars. High fructose corn syrup is is made up of one glucose and one fructose molecule, but they are not bound together, and without any fiber like in whole fruit, they don’t need to be broken down by the body and instead, head straight to the liver to be processed. Consuming excess HFCS causes our bodies to create Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDLs,) in an attempt to process the extra triglycerides being formed. As a way of preventing a fatty liver, the VLDLs will instead create fat stores throughout the body. So our conscious effort to save some calories with that tub of fro-yo, despite not containing any ‘fat’ still manage to go straight to our thighs anyway.
Make the swap:
When you’ve got the craving for something sweet like ice cream, indulge – but read labels. Opt for an ice cream that doesn’t contain any fructose or high fructose corn syrup and contains only whole food ingredients. Sure, “real food” and real ice cream may contain fat, but our bodies know how to process that natural fat. The richer, fattier food may actually fill you up faster and help to sate your cravings more effectively. Win, win!
TCM Pick: Homemade fig ice cream