Tag Archives: fructose

Non-sequiter nutrition II, a sugar-thought experiment

The average western diet contains about 50 grams of fructose from a variety of sources ranging from beneficial fibrous fruits to the more insidious sugar-sweetened beverages, soda and juice.  50 grams of fructose.   2 1/2 cans of Coca-Cola.

50 grams x 4 kcal/g = 200 kcal

200 kcal / 2,000 kcal = 10%

10% of your calories are provided by fructose

Even the very high end of fructose intake rarely exceeds ~85 grams, which is still < 20%.  My point?   This is nowhere near the 60% used in mouse diet studies.  Disclaimer: I think fructose causes leptin resistance because of data from such studies.  60% fructose is the fructose that causes leptin resistance and increased susceptibility to obesity.  What does this say about “normal” levels of fructose intake?  Toxic doses cause leptin resistance and obesity susceptibility in mice, well, because they’re toxic, and fructose toxicity just so happens to manifest like that (in mice).   60% is toxic.  15 cans of Coca-Cola per day (depending on who’s counting); but is it relevant?

39 grams of sugar, roughly half of which is fructose

In mouse studies, toxic doses are used for practical reasons- it’s cheap.  The animals can be rendered leptin resistant, glucose intolerant, and susceptible to obesity within a few months of feeding this expensive purified synthetic diet.  This probably (probably) takes over 100 times longer in humans simply because it’s nearly impossible for humans to ingest mouse-toxic-levels of fructose.

1. If the dose was based on body weight (like a drug; e.g., mg/kg or mpk):

60% fructose x 12 kcal/d = 7.2 kcal.  Divided by 4 kcal/g = 1.8 grams per day.

1.8 grams for a 40 g mouse = 45 g/kg.  For a 70 kg (154 lb) human = 3,150 grams of fructose or roughly 12,600 kcal.  I.e., 150 cans of soda or about a week’s worth of calories.  In other words, you’d have to eat a hypercaloric fructose-only diet for months.

2. If the dose was based on calories:

60% fructose x 2,000 kcal/d = 300 grams = 15 cans of soda or doughnuts per day.   News flash: that’s gross, but it won’t kill you.

fructose: still not as dangerous as playing in traffic

How about just lowering your lifetime sugar exposure.  39 grams of sugar is worse than 0.01 grams of stevia or sucralose.  Anyone remember “water?”  Even if you believe “a calorie is a calorie,” exclusively, it’s still really hard to burn off 39 grams of sugar.  Try running 2 miles.  Skinny kids might do this automatically after drinking a can of soda or eating a doughnut.  Not most adults.

Don’t play in traffic either.

calories proper


XL soda ban, Op. 80

People have been warned about the dangers of excess sugar consumption, but compared to the anti-smoking campaign, the recent proposal to ban XL soda’s is like bringing a cup of water to a forest fire.

In an ideal world, a proper health initiative designed to provide people (kids too) with good nutrition information would work. The new proposal takes a different route: it bans the sale of soda’s larger than 16 ounces (but you can still buy 2-12 ouncers).  I see two possible outcomes: 1) someone who would’ve bought one 24 ouncer of soda might settle for 16 ounces; 2) the one in a million customer who wanted 24 ounces will walk away with two 12 ounce sodas instead.  Win-win, right?  In the first case, the toxic sugar burden is lessened by a third.  In the second, a potentially valuable lesson on “serving size” will be on display.   Serving size 2.0, in 3-D, spelling-it-out for all to see.

It might actually work.  From a nutritional perspective, 90 grams of highly bioavailable sugar (HFCS) is a biological disaster.  Pound for pound, there aren’t many worse things you can consume… it’s the anti-thesis of “moderation.”  Regardless of your stance on the calorie debate, no one can argue that 90 grams of sugar all-at-once is more detrimental than it’s caloric content would imply.  Even for skinny people (metabolic obesity?).  It’s worse than dietary fat, and  might be THEE cause of leptin resistance.

This isn’t a TPMC original, but this graph of soda, diabetes, and obesity is just about as compelling as epidemiology can be:


douse those sugar cubes with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, and we’re good to go

If the ban goes into effect and actually impacts sales, will there be a backlash? more food company lobbying?  increased government subsidies (reduced HFCS consumption -> more taxpayer dollars used to cover the losses)?  Who knows.  If it teaches people a lesson about serving size or empty calories it might be worth it.

calories proper