Is fructose playing hide and seek with you?

By Rachel O'Regan |

I Quit Sugar - Where's the fructose?

Come out, come out, wherever you are! Fructose can be lurking in places you didn’t even think to look. 

It’s the stuff that’s highly addictive (hello, crazy sugar cravings!) and gets dumped straight onto our livers to process (and converted straight to fat). We know all this sugar talk can be a little confusing, so we’ve rounded up these five important facts about fructose to get you up to scratch.

1. Fructose makes up half of sucrose (table sugar).

When people think sugar, they generally think of the granular white stuff you add to tea and coffee. This is called sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose. We focus on quitting fructose on the I Quit Sugar: 8-Week Program, so when someone asks if you want sugar in your tea you can say, “No thanks, I’m sweet enough!”.

2. Fructose is also in agave, maple, dates and honey.

Ah, yes. The so-called “natural” sugars (despite the fact that sucrose is totally “natural”, too). People often defend agave, dates, honey and maple syrup on their vitamin and mineral content, but the high percentage of fructose outweighs that small benefit. If you want the health benefits of natural sweeteners, just eat a piece or two of whole fruit, a pile of veggies or some whole grains!


3. Fructose is mostly metabolised by the liver.

Unlike glucose, which is readily absorbed into the bloodstream for energy, fructose is primarily metabolised by the liver. And it can’t deal with too much of the stuff at once, so it stores what it can’t get through as fat. A high-fructose diet puts unnecessary pressure on the organ, so it’s no small wonder that two cans of soft drink a day raises your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

4. Fructose mucks with your appetite.

Ever demolished a whole pack of biscuits… and still had room for more? There might be a perfectly good reason for that. A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fructose doesn’t lower appetite hormones after ingestion like other foodstuffs do, leaving you hungry and prone to overeating.

5. Fruit is the best way to eat fructose.

While we’d never recommend fructose in juices, powders, syrups or dried fruit we have no problem with fresh fruit. Fruit is full of vitamins and minerals, but unlike honey or maple syrup, it has plenty of fibre and water to slow down absorption and keep you full. We cut it out at the beginning of the Program, but only to help your body, and taste buds, recalibrate. Then on Week 6, we’ll gently reintroduce it to test our sugar sensitivity and see how our bodies react.

We originally published this article in February 2016. We updated it in May 2017.

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