This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.
No sugar diet sounds harsh and powerful. You may be wondering why try the no sugar diet? Where did it come from?
Did you know that an average American adult consumes 3 times more sugar than the recommended daily sugar intake?
If you are guilty of snacking on sugar-coated doughnuts, candies, and sodas when hunger hits you, chances are you make up these statistics.
Too much sugar doesn’t only have a negative effect on your weight. It kicks starts a chain of inter-related chronic diseases.
From obesity to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and many other non-communicable diseases.
If you are looking to lose weight, detox, and reset your food habits by going sugar-free then a no sugar diet will surely put you on track.
Changing old habits takes time and a lot of effort but if you stick with a sugar-free diet, you will enjoy huge physical and emotional results that are definitely going to be rewarding.
What is the No Sugar Diet?
One of the biggest misconceptions about the no sugar diet is that it refrains you from taking any form of sugar at all.
The No sugar diet is simple – it cuts out artificial sugar but permits the intake of natural sugar from fruits and vegetables.
The best of all, you don’t need to count calories!
You can do the no sugar diet for as long as you like: 3 days, 5 days to 7 or 2 weeks. Maybe forever! You can start with small changes to make it more bearable or go cold turkey!
Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that sugar should not contribute more than 10% of an adult’s caloric daily intake?
So if you are consuming 1,500 calories per day, your sugar intake should not exceed 150 calories. This equates to limiting your daily sugar intake to 6 – 7 teaspoons.
Once you have achieved this, you can further work on reducing your sugar intake.
When consuming less sugar becomes habitual, you can aim towards trimming your sugar intake to make out only 5% of your total caloric daily intake.
If you are ready for this challenge read on!
What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar?
The sugar high we get from consuming sweet food is real.
Indulging in sweet treats causes a rapid spike of triglycerides in our bloodstreams. This leads to a drop in the good cholesterol known as HDL cholesterol.
Studies have shown that when you stop eating sugar, you can expect to feel withdrawal symptoms and effects similar to someone getting off drugs.
Physically, you may experience exhaustion, headaches, and brain fog. In extreme cases, some even suffer from gastrointestinal distress.
Emotionally, you may also be easily irritated and moody.
These withdrawal symptoms happen because your body has been used to the feel-good hormones sugar releases. And the lack of dopamine and serotonin makes you crave for more sugar to fix the hormonal void.
According to Dr. Robert Glatter, it is normal to feel cranky in the first few days of a sugar-free diet.
After a week or so, your body begins to adjust to the new levels of low glucose, dopamine, and serotonin. And from this point onwards, you will feel more alive and less irritable.
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No Sugar Diet Benefits
The No sugar diet is super simple because all you need to do is to cut refined sugar.
That means it is easy to follow and it won’t restrict you from getting together with your friends out and about neither make it hard to prepare your meals and do your shopping. Did I mention you don’t need to count calories?
Get motivated by these 7 amazing health benefits the no sugar diet offers:
1. Younger Looking Skin
As a result, the sugar goes directly to our gut, entering our bloodstream and causing inflammation within our body.
Acne and flare-ups on your skin, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis are some of the common signs of inflammation caused by excessive sugar intake according to this study.
Whether you suffer from any of the above conditions, expect great skin improvements going on this detox sugar-free journey.
2. Steady and Lasting Energy
Our body recognizes processed sugar as carbohydrates. Refined sugar enters our bloodstream fast, gets digested quickly, and gives you that additional boost of energy.
However, once your shot of sugar is metabolized, you’re in for a crash leaving you craving more sweets to fuel energy.
Your energy levels rise and plummet like a roller coaster through the day, and this becomes a vicious cycle.
On a no sugar diet you will get to eat protein-packed foods which will supply you with a steadier stream of energy so that you can power through your day efficiently.
3. Busting Abdominal Fat
Abdominal fat is hard to trim. And even more so as we age.
Sugary food triggers a flood of insulin through our body, which over time causes fat to accumulate around our abdomen according to this study.
Also known as visceral fat, these fat cells deep in the abdomen generate adipokines and adipose hormones.
These chemical troublemakers then travel to the organs and blood vessels, resulting in inflammation and other health conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Your belly fat won’t stand a chance on the no sugar diet.
Eating veggies, lean proteins, and plant-based fats will help you get a slimmer waistline.
4. Lose Weight
According to Professor David Ludwig, the professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H School of Public Health, increased insulin levels do not only add pounds to your belly.
Instead, it transforms fat cells into a calorie-storage overdrive all over the body. Naturally, when you consume more sugar than your body needs, you will store the calories by converting them into fat and gaining more weight.
So by reducing your sugar intake and replacing them with healthy fats, your hunger pangs will decrease, your metabolic rate will speed up, and losing weight becomes easier without the yoyo effects.
Besides, you will able to maintain your weight loss better over time, rather than succumb to the binge-and-eat cycle triggered by the insulin rush.
5. Lower Risk of Diabetes
A diet overflowing with refined carbohydrates and sugar requires the pancreas to release lots of insulin, meal after meal, every day.
This extravagant demand puts insulin-producing cells into overdrive, causing them to malfunction and eventually leading to insulin resistance. When the body fails to maintain its normal blood glucose levels, this marks the onset of diabetes.
To prevent this, a no sugar diet will help to decrease body weight and finally the risk of type-2 diabetes.
6. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Did you know that you are twice as likely to die from heart disease if more than 25 percent of your daily calories are derived from sugar?
Research published in 2014 noted this positive correlation between excessive sugar consumption to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In contrast, participants who derived 10 percent or less of their calories from sugar enjoyed a remarkably lower risk of cardiovascular-related diseases.
7. Improved Quality of Sleep
Halting your sugar intake will not solve your sleep problems overnight, but you should fall into a deeper sleep in the next few weeks.
Foods with high amounts of refined sugars reduce the degree of slow-wave sleep (SWS). SWS is important as the restorative sleep reinforces memories and information learned throughout the day.
Besides, sugar-laden food reduces the length of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage, also known as the dream phase.
According to this study, eating high sugar, saturated fat foods are associated with sleep disorders.
So when you cut back on sugar in the long run, the quality of your sleep will improve. You may benefit from a longer REM and SWS period, waking up feeling rejuvenated the next morning.
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No Sugar Diet Food List
The no-sugar diet also advocates avoiding simple carbohydrates such as white potatoes, white flour, white pasta, white bread and white rice which are high in GI and will spike insulin levels.
However you can eat some of these in the wholemeal version. Wholemeal rice (brown rice), wholemeal bread and pasta are allowed in moderation.
When planning and preparing your low carb meals aim to consume a variety of foods: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, dairy and healthy oils.
Check out this image from Havard for meal proportion guidance https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
Variety is the key, focus on nutrient-packed foods in balanced amounts. Here are some food examples:
- Grains (beans, lentils, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, etc)
- Lean proteins (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, seafood, etc)
- Unrefined oils (avocado, coconut, olive)
- Milk products (natural yogurt, yellow cheese, white cheese such as ricotta and cottage and milk. Butter in moderation)
- Healthy Wholegrain products
- Kelp noodles
- Natural spices (chili, paprika, turmeric, etc)
- Natural seasonings (onion, garlic, fresh/dry herbs)
Foods to Avoid
You will be surprised where you will find added sugar.
They are often hidden in many different food types. So learning sugar terms and reading nutritional labels is essential should you adopt a no sugar diet.
Most processed foods have added sugar, here are some examples:
Foods to Avoid:
- White Pasta
- White Rice
- Sweets/Lollies/Chocolate – expect dark chocolate that has no sugar
- White Bread
- Salad dressing
- Pasta sauces
- Breakfast cereals
- Milk (some types of milk have added sugar)
- Energy bars
- Granola bars
- Canned vegetables
- Processed meats (salami, ham, sausages)
- Drinks (Juices, Energy Drinks, flavored coffee, milky drinks and waters, sports drinks such as Gatorade)
- Deep-Fried Foods – Most deep-fried food are simple carbs, avoid them at all costs.
How To Spot Hidden Sugars In Products
Start paying attention to nutritional labels and scrutinize the terms that suggest the food has added sugar.
If you come across any of these on the nutritional label, do note that the food has added sugar:
- Brown sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn sugar
- Corn syrup
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Cane sugar or brown sugar
- Corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Invert sugar
- Beet sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
- Rice syrup
- Apple or grape juice concentrate
- Panela or piloncillo
Another easy-to-remember tip to identify sugar is to look out for words ending with the suffix “-ose”. Examples include:
No Sugar Diet Plan – 5 Days Meal Plan
Even though you don’t need to count calories on the no sugar diet you do need to ensure you are eating a balanced diet. Avoid eating not too much of one food group such as carbs.
Your meals should have a variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, dairy, and healthy oils and be low in carbs. This serving guide poster from Nestle is a good starting point (obviously avoid last row related to sugar): www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/PortionPoster.pdf
Check out our 5 day no sugar diet plan sample with delicious meals that can be cooked in less than 20 minutes.
If you are up for the challenge you can repeat the cycle and make it a 10-day sugar-free diet. Alternatively, you can start slow with a 3-day plan.
Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs. ¼ sliced avocado, ½ sliced tomatoes
Morning Snack: 1 apple with ¼ cup of raw almonds
Lunch: 2-3 cups of salad veggies of your choice with oil + sugarless vinegar dressing and your choice of meat.
Afternoon Snack: ½ cup golden hummus with one cup sliced veggies
Dinner: Roasted chicken breast with one cup of veggies and 1/2 of cooked quinoa
Breakfast: Green smoothie
Morning snack: Apple with cinnamon almond butter
Lunch: Mediterranean tuna – spinach salad
Afternoon Snack: Unsalted nuts / seeds + orange
Dinner: Vegetable soup with a slice of wholegrain bread
Breakfast: Poached eggs, salt/pepper over steamed kale or spinach
Morning Snack: Guacamole with carrot
Lunch: Creamy chicken curry with brown rice
Afternoon Snack: Apple slices with 2 tablespoon almond butter
Dinner: Kelp noodles with veggie and tofu or chicken stir-fried (cooked with sesame oil, tamari, garlic, onion, pepper, and ginger)
Breakfast: Porridge (made with oats and skim milk)
Morning Snack: Cup of Blueberries
Lunch: Bacon, tomato, lettuce romaine wraps
Afternoon Snack: Cucumber slices with guacamole dip
Dinner: Baked sweet potato with veggies and grilled turkey breast
Breakfast: Avocado banana smoothie
Morning Snack: Cup Edamame
Lunch: Meatballs in tomato sauce with quinoa
Afternoon Snack: Plain non-fat Greek yogurt + ¼ cup strawberries, sunflower seeds & cinnamon
Dinner: Spring tofu and mushrooms scramble with a green salad on the side
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No Sugar Diet Results
Swapping sugary meals for nutritious and wholesome food will definitely pay off your efforts.
Here are some noticeable results you will experience if you follow the no sugar diet.
1. Experience Weight Loss
The no sugar diet plan which is high in fiber and nutrients keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
According to this study, high fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat and it is considered as a strong factor in preventing obesity.
So with fewer cravings and healthier eating habits, you can watch a steady and healthy loss of excess weight while on the no-sugar diet plan.
2. Good Sleep Guaranteed
Falling asleep will become such a breeze! The lower blood sugar levels will allow you to feel tired when your circadian rhythm kicks in.
So the moment your head hits the pillow, we guarantee that you’ll be in dream-world in 5 minutes or under.
3. Bursting with Energy
Amazingly, your energy levels will be bolstered to new heights – something you never expected could happen!
You may be able to run faster, push harder, and carry heavier weights for slightly longer by the third week of the no-sugar diet plan.
No Sugar Diet Tips
Let’s go straight to some of the pro tips to ensure you stay on track with the no sugar diet plan and make this a lifestyle habit.
1. Make Small Changes & Start Slow
Cutting off any form of addiction doesn’t come with success overnight. So don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to conform to a sugar-free diet immediately.
Ease of that expectation and gradually reduce the amount of sugar you have been consuming. If you have been drinking premix coffee all this time, switch to black coffee and introduce sugar alternatives such as maple syrup or coconut sugar gradually.
And if you’re used to having chips as a morning snack, reach out for an apple to curb your urge to munch. Start by eliminating side meals and snacks and gradually replace your main meals with wholesome, sugar-free meals.
2. Plan Your Meals
Meal prepping has never been so important. The trick to stay on course is to always have your meals ready before the actual meal itself.
This is because when hunger strikes, you are more likely to reach out for an unhealthy snack.
Thus, plan your meals around 5 days ahead, and stock up for the week.
Most of us have 9 – 5 jobs, so time is rare. To prep your meals efficiently season your meat and store them in the freezer.
Clean your greens and chop your vegetables so that when you’re hungry, assembling your meal takes mere minutes. With food ready in a jiffy, you will be less tempted to reach for a cookie or a soda.
3. Read Labels
Once you have managed to cut out most sugar from your diet, it will be time to up your ante by eliminating food with artificial sweeteners.
You will have to master the art of reading nutrition labels.
Sugar comes in at least 61 different names so empower yourself with adequate knowledge to identify artificial sugar from natural sugar.
4. Have Simple Snacks Ready
Keep easy-to-eat fruits on hand to satiate your urge with natural sweetness.
Fruits like bananas, papayas, cut melon, or citrus fruits are packed with fiber and healthy carbs to keep you full.
5. Cut Off Soda
Did you know that a 12-oz can of soda contains between 8 – 11 teaspoons (46.2 grams) of added sugar?
A single serving of soda is almost double the recommended daily sugar allowance. So swap your soda for plain water or tea to stay on course your no sugar diet.
Warning / Side Effects
Following a diet too low in sugar or carbs can cause hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, low blood sugar can result in headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
One common effect of hypoglycemia is the feeling of lightheadedness.
To prevent hypoglycemia, adopt a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
This will ensure that your body is adequately fueled with a steady supply of healthy carbohydrates and sugars.
2. Flu-like Symptoms
Don’t be surprised if you feel more susceptible to flu-like symptoms.
This includes having a fever, chills, night sweats, diarrhea, and generalized fatigue.
It is also normal to experience dull aches and muscular pains that closely mimic the discomfort that accompany the flu.
Should you experience these flu-like symptoms when cutting back on sugar, do consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare provider to rule out flu as the cause of these symptoms.
3. Poor Sleep Quality
Sugar withdrawal can cause sleep disturbances just in the beginning.
The amount of REM sleep you get at night may be affected.
When the body tries to adjust to a decrease in sugar and certain hormones, your sleep quality could be affected.
Nevertheless, poor sleep quality related to sugar withdrawal will correct itself and diminish with time.
So before you get to enjoy a good night’s sleep, your body needs to adjust its blood sugar conditioned from its high to a lower, healthier state.
Nevertheless, if you notice that this persists for longer than a week or two, it’s time to consult with your physician for further advice.
One of the biggest pitfalls of a no sugar diet is the ability to control food cravings.
We’re all human and predisposed to our unique cravings from time to time.
As such, take advantage of the numerous techniques on how to eat healthily which in turn will help you conquer your cravings.
By following these tips and clean eating recipes, you will gain the confidence to succeed.
The no sugar challenge may just motivate you to cut off all old habits.
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.