Although I do still partake of the odd nut or two (love me some macadamias) I realised this week that it is almost a year now since I touched a piece of fruit. I was never a big fruit eater to begin with (although I don’t recall ever turning down a slice of apple pie or a rhubarb tart) but since I started following a ketogenic lifestyle the world of fruit has become virtually non-existent for me.
But ‘why? why?’ you might ask. ‘Fruit is good for us—right?’ Well, yes . . . and no . . .
For those of you who have never heard of ketogenics (which, for the record, excludes anyone within earshot of me) here’s my understanding of it (vastly oversimplified, and should NOT be considered medical advice). The human body uses three energy sources to keep it moving: carbohydrates (sugars and starches), protein and fats. We will also burn through those energy sources in that order. (Your body will always burn the carbs first and the fat last.) The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet which involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake while at the same time replacing it with foods high in fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body, having no sugar left to burn is forced to burn the fat.
(Eat fat to lose fat? Sounds crazy right? I thought so too. But I gave it a go and a year later I’m fitter, healthier and slimmer than I have ever been. All I can say is—don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it . . . )
How do you drastically cut down on carbs? It’s surprisingly easy when you know the rules (click here for more info if you’re interested and hear from the real experts)—but the one thing that does seem to horrify people most (apart from telling people they should be eating MORE fat of course) is when I tell them they should be careful about their fruit intake. Why? Because most fruits contain a surprising amount of carbs, mostly in the form of sugar. For instance, a medium-sized apple (150 grams) may contain as much as 18 grams of carbs, which is almost a full day’s allowance of carbs if you are eating strictly ketogenic (keeping under 20gms of carbs per day).
(Disclaimer: Before I start to sound all holier-than-thou I am decidedly NOT strictly ketogenic!! I adhere to the ‘lazy-keto’ lifestyle and try to stay under 50gms of carbs a day. One must always leave room for a little dark chocolate and a sneaky drop of red at the end of a long day. Priorities, people—priorities!)
And I admit I feel slightly vindicated this week after reading a story which would seem to indicate that eating too much fruit is not only a problem for people. An article in the Melbourne Age outlined the effect fruit-heavy diets were also having on some of the animals at Melbourne zoo.
Animals like fruit for the same reasons we do (it’s sweet and it tastes good) and so many animals (especially primates) will selectively choose to eat the fruit in the meals they are given and simply ignore the rest. This has become such an issue that zookeepers have apparently had to wean their animals off fruit because it has been making them fat and rotting their teeth! Dr Michael Lynch, the zoo’s head vet stated, “The issue is that cultivated fruits have been genetically modified to be much higher in sugar content than their natural, ancestral fruits.” Because of this the zoo has now switched their animals’ diets towards leafy green vegetables and pellets packed with vitamins and minerals. Zoo photos of meal times with monkeys enjoying bananas may soon be a thing of the past.
Now before all the fruit growers of the world (or any other avid fruit-lover for that matter) get ready to come after me with their big sticks, I am not saying that no-one (man or beast) should ever eat fruit again. All I am saying is we should perhaps be slightly more selective about the type of fruit we eat—and how much of it we eat. Sugar is a sneaky bastard. He’ll get inside you anyway he can . . .