Did you know that being skinny-fat is a thing, and that this thing can be more dangerous than being overweight? It's true. Being on track to lose weight for the sake of losing weight and not focusing on health is actually worse than being a bit larger while maintaining a good exercise regimen and eating a well-balanced diet.
Even though someone may not look obese on the outside, they can be metabolically obese on the inside. Some people with a high metabolism may choose to ignore their lifestyle assuming they are already healthy, but in fact there may be fat surrounding their organs which puts undue pressure on the body. This could lead to complications like diabetes. People who are MONW (metabolically obese, normal weight) tend to have a higher mortality rate than diabetics who are obese.
Some causes of being MONW include ingestion of artificial sweeteners which trick the brain into thinking sugar is on the way (this causes the pancreas to secrete insulin which is the fat storage hormone); low-carb diet (body burns muscle tissue in place of needed glucose and it's not sustainable in the long run); lack of sleep (increases the level of cortisol which promotes overeating, muscle loss, and gain in abdominal fat), performing all cardio (like running) with no resistance (lack of muscle can lead to insulin resistance).
If you feel you may be at risk of being MONW, dump the artificial sweeteners, get some sleep, balance your diet, and start picking things up and putting them down along with doing your cardio.
Today I stood--sweat dripping off me onto the driveway--chomping furiously away at an apple. Unfortunately, I was fresh out of my preferred snack and had to downgrade a bit to my old friend the Red Delicious. Though every glorious bite of my crisp pal was providing a quick jolt of glucose needed for me to finish the yard work that lay before me, I couldn't help but secretly wish it were a pear. Before I get into why, let's get a couple things out of the way.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a fan of fruit juice when it comes to weight loss. Even freshly squeezed is a time bomb with which you shouldn't be tinkering. With such a low amount of fiber in relation to the sugar present, the fat is going to pack on anyway. Your best bet is to just stay away from all sugary drinks no matter if they were sweetened by nature or not.
But what about fruit? Whole, solid fruit. Yes, that's much better, but it's my belief it should only be consumed in small amounts. I'm not a registered dietitian, but I it's been my experience that two or three pieces per day (depending on the fruit) should be plenty. The reason I say this is that nature's candy is packed with sugar. While you feel you may be doing something great for your body eating a lot of fruit, you may be overdoing it in the sugar department.
I'm not saying we should completely avoid fruit since many types are rich in vitamins and minerals. In fact, fruit should be a necessary part of our menu and still a better snack alternative to most of the products available today. But why not take it a step further? Why not let the numbers and percentages work for us and reach for a powerhouse of a fruit: The pear!
Pears edge out many fruits including the almighty apple in a few ways. While 180 grams of each come in at around 100 calories, the pear packs 1.5 times more fiber, a little more protein, and a bit less sugar than the same amount of apple. With the higher ratio of fiber to sugar, the liver processes the fructose slower leaving you feeling fuller longer. Not only that, but the breaking down of sugar and storage of it as fat is slowed. Juice just shuttles the sugar right through and into fat stores. Without the higher amounts fiber, you may end up grabbing another glass or two and compounding the problem. Fiber is the key here (25 grams is the recommendation for women each day and 30-38 grams for men).
A word of warning, though: Yes, the sugar in fruit is different from the refined sugar in a candy bar, but this doesn't give you license to eat all the fruit you desire as sugar is still sugar. Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, and even then, only a limited amount is processed in that manner. The rest becomes triglycerides (fat). There's about 17 grams of sugar in one medium pear which equates to a touch over 4 teaspoons. The recommended daily allowance for women is 24 grams (6 tsp.) and 36 grams (9 tsp) for men.
So, while it's still a good portion of your daily allotment of sugar in one pear, there are many more options in the fruit world that are higher in sugar with less fiber to police it. Whether it be a higher amount of sugar or a lower amount of fiber, you can do much worse than the pear.
I encourage you to look up the nutritional info on the next piece of fruit you are about to eat. See how it matches up to other fruits in your daily routine. Calculate the amount of sugar and fiber you have remaining for the day and try to stick to the recommended amounts. Feel free to post your findings and experiences below; I'd love to hear what you've learned and how you're using the information you've found.