How high fructose corn syrup keeps us fat

is high fructose corn syrup bad for you

For years, we heard warnings that fructose corn syrup is bad for you. But just how bad is it?  One mouse study suggests fructose makes us fat and lazy. So even if we wanted to shed the extra pounds, our brains wouldn’t let us.

Before we go into that, let’s answer one question:

Why is fructose bad for you?

Glucose is a natural type of sugar. Our bodies create it and get it from the foods we eat, such as starches like potatoes and rice. Every cell in our body needs glucose to create energy. This means, we need glucose to survive.

But fructose isn’t necessary. And our bodies don’t create it. Throughout history, we used to only get fructose when fruits were ripe. So it was seasonal and we ate it in much smaller quantities than today.

What’s key is, every cell in our brain and body needs glucose. But the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts.

When we eat a diet high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat.

Although the link between fructose and disease isn’t 100% proven, lots of data point to fructose causing serious weight gain. And it’s well documented that excess weight can lead to other chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer.

How much fructose are we really eating?

Statistics from 2000 show the average American eats about 64 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each year.

When you add all of the other types of sugars we eat daily (e.g., artificial sweeteners, refined sugar, honey, etc.), that number more than doubles to 152.4 pounds/year.

That’s roughly 52 teaspoons of fat-producing sugar per day.

As unbelievable as that sounds, gorging on that much HFCS is easier than you might think. Because HFCS hides in nearly all our foods from hotdogs to peanut butter.

The average American teen gets 18% of their calories through fructose. Meaning 2 out of every 10 bites of food is fat-building-couch-potato-supporting sugar. How bad is that? Well, this takes us back to the original mouse study…

Feeding mice like a teenager

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology studied two groups of mice for 11 weeks. Treating them like typical American teenagers, the mice ate 18% of their calories in sugar. One group was given sugar as fructose. The other as glucose.

Their findings: fructose fed mice gained more fat, overall body weight, and their livers became significantly larger. Plus they moved less, which probably added to their weight gain.

The takeaway

This isn’t a definitive study linking high fructose corn syrup to obesity. But it’s another bit of research stacking up against fructose corn syrup.

For kicks, you can do your own experiment. Remove HFCS from your diet for a month or two – without doing anything else in your diet or lifestyle. See how much weight you lose. Then continue cutting back on other sugars too to see how the pounds drop. As well as how much more energetic you feel.

 

References:

http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

http://beckman.illinois.edu/news/2015/06/rhodes-fructose