The First Law of Conservation states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can, however, can change forms and flow from one place to another. For example, fruit contains energy. In the case of an apple, the energy comes in the form carbohydrates (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms). In chemistry, so I am told, the word “carbohydrate” is a synonym for “saccharide,” which is derived from the Greek word for sugar: sákkharon. (In fact, the group saccharide includes sugars, starches, and cellulose, says my son).
An apple contains approximately 20 grams of carbohydrates. Depending on the type and size of an apple, 13-16 grams of the carbohydrates are derived from sugar, and the remaining 4 grams of carbohydrates come from dietary fiber. Apples do not contain fat, but your body can convert the sugars to fat. How does it work?
The sugars in an apple come from three sources: glucose (2.3g), fructose (7.6g), and sucrose (3.3g). Your small intestine absorbs the glucose and fructose, and it moves into the bloodstream as glucose. As explained by Skerrett (2011), while every cell in your body can use glucose for energy, only liver cells can break fructose down. In the end, fructose creates triglycerides, which can cause damage to liver function, and create arterial plaque (Skerrett, 2011).
Now, this is not to say that an apple is bad for you. By examining the impact of an apple upon our body, however, we can gain a better appreciation for what happens when we eat foods that are created with high-fructose.
According to the International Sports Science Association (2013), there are three ways that your body can put glucose to work. First, for every hour, when blood-borne glucose is below 20 grams, your body will use the glucose energy immediately. Second, if the glucose is not needed, say, because you are not active, your body will convert it to glycogen. Glycogen is stored in your liver and muscles – but there is a limit to how much glycogen your muscles and liver can store. It’s like your locker at school: contrary to what you may think, you can only put so much in it. Third, once your liver and muscle “stores” are full, surplus glucose is converted into fat and stored as adipose tissue (body fat). At this stage, it does not matter if you put junk food or fruit into your body – if you already have a lot of sugar in your body, it will turn whatever you digest into fat.
Okay, if this is what happens when you eat an apple, I wonder what happens when you drink a soft-drink like Coca Cola? Remember that your liver must process fructose, and the standard sweetener in Canadian and American Coke is high-fructose corn syrup. So, thanks to the Wade Meredith and the Renegade Pharmacist, we have this awesome info-graphic to help us understand the process better.
Here is an interesting factoid: Coca-Cola was originally prepared with coca leaves, which contained small amounts of cocaine. In the early 1900s, Coke used a chemical process to de-cocainize the coca plant and substituted the cocaine with caffeine. The coca plant continues to be part of the Coca-Cola formula. As for their formula, there are a couple of varieties: the original formula was certified Kosher. When Coke, in the United States market, shifted to corn syrup as the sweetener, it impacted Orthodox Jews: they must abstain from drinking Coke during Passover. If you have ever seen a Coke bottle in the United States with a yellow or white cap that reads either “OU-P” or “CRC-P,” the Coke is Kosher. In Canada, the cap will read “COR Passover.” All Passover varieties are made with cane sugar (sucrose) rather than high-fructose corn syrup.
All this talk about the Coca-Cola has got me craving a Big Mac; I wonder, “What happens when you eat a Big Mac? Hmmm . . . .”
So, every time you eat or drink, your body converts what you have consumed into energy. As for the energy that cannot be used immediately, your body turns it into fat. It does not matter if you are eating pasta, fruit, or drinking a coffee – excess calories are turned into fat.
Does fruit make you fat? International Sports Science Association. (2013). http://www.bodybuilding.com/author/issa
Skerrett, P.J. (2011). Is fructose bad for you? Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-fructose-bad-for-you-201104262425
What happens one hour after drinking a can of Coke. http://therenegadepharmacist.com/what-happens-one-hour-after-drinking-a-can-of-coke/
What happens on hour after eating a Big Mac? https://fastfoodmenuprice.com/big-mac-revealed/