When we go off of our diets, we tend to think of the foods we eat that are extremely high in sugar as the “culprits” for our weight gain. We think that the cookies and the ice cream are what made it impossible for our jeans to close or what gave us that double chin.
Sometimes, sugar is the cause of it, but sometimes it is the pizza, hamburgers, and spaghetti; foods we don’t think of as “high in sugar.” Still, a no sugar diet may be a good place to start for many people.
Why? Because sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, and if you can cut your dependence on it, or at least cut it out of foods that it doesn’t have to be in (like your morning coffee), you will not only be cutting sugar, you will be actively fighting that addiction to sugar.
So, should you go on a no-sugar diet? Is it right for you, your body, and your lifestyle? Let’s find out!
What Is a No Sugar Diet?
A no sugar diet restricts the added sugar in your diet, not the naturally found sugar in things like fruits or vegetables. There are more extreme diets that will limit even that, but we do not suggest that as a healthy option for most people.
When we talk about “no sugar,” we are talking about sugary foods that have added sugar to make the food sweeter, such as cakes, cookies, ice cream, sweetened coffee drinks, and more. These are often foods that are high in calories as well.
It’s important to note that sugar does provide energy, but it doesn’t provide nutrition, which is why these foods are often said to contain “empty calories.” Eating empty calories in moderation is just fine, but they don’t really fit into the no sugar diet. You want to avoid these foods completely on this type of diet.
Those who follow this diet tend to feel better and lose weight because they are making smarter choices. They have more energy because they don’t have sugar crashes, and they eat foods that are nutritionally dense and keep them feeling fuller longer.
Why Do People Go on A No Sugar Diet?
People go on a no sugar diet for a variety of reasons, but most are related to losing weight and feeling healthier. In the United States, in particular, sugar is a serious problem. The average American will consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day — that’s on top of the sugar already found in fruit, dairy, and more. Eating this much sugar leads to:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Heart Disease
- Gut Health Issues
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Feminine Health Issues
By going on a no-sugar diet, you may be able to reduce your health risks significantly. It’s important you take your health seriously so that you can avoid developing any of the aforementioned issues.
What Can You Eat?
It may seem like not eating sugar will cut a lot of things out of your diet, but that isn’t the truth. You don’t have to follow a super formal eating plan just to stay on this diet. When you start to cut out added sugar, it is best to do so gradually and just focus on eliminating that sugar and replacing it with healthier foods.
For example, if you are craving a can of soda, try drinking water with lemon in it instead. These small cuts will start to add up.
When starting, we suggest limiting your added sugar intake to only about 200 calories a day. This gives you some room for a sweet treat and doesn’t completely deprive you of added sugar, which can be nearly impossible to avoid.
Here’s what you can eat on a no-sugar diet:
- Unsweetened beverages
- Foods that contain natural sugars (such as fruits)
- Foods that contain no added sugars
What foods and drinks should you avoid on a no-sugar diet?
- Foods that have added sugar
- Beverages that are sweetened
- Sugar products
At first, you will have to read the labels of every packaged food you eat to see if there are added sugars. You will start to recognize foods that fit into your diet and foods that don’t. There are plenty of options out there, you just need to become cognizant of your choices.
What Can’t I Eat While on a No-Sugar Diet?
This is a very simple diet to understand: you cannot eat foods that contain added sugar. This usually includes some common culprits like candy, pastries, cookies, syrups, jelly, breakfast cereals, and coffee drinks, but there are some sneaky foods as well. These include salad dressings, condiments, sauces, yogurts, oatmeal, smoothies, and more.
The best thing you can do is look at the nutritional information for the food you’re eating and see what contains the fewest (or no) added sugars.
Cereal is really hard because a lot of the best cereal contains sugar, so you want to look for something that has fewer than 5 grams of sugar and more fiber. Anything that has a flavor (like strawberry yogurt, for example) is at risk of having added sugar.
When it comes to carbohydrates, many people try to avoid simple carbohydrates that break down into sugar quickly. While you don’t have to do this, it will yield better results for you. Opt for more complex carbs like whole grains whenever you can.
Can I Eat Foods With Natural Sugars on a No Sugar Diet?
Often, people will tell other people that they shouldn’t go on a no sugar diet because it is too strict. This is because they are also cutting out foods that have natural sugars. Whole foods that contain sugar aren’t completely off-limits when you are on this diet.
You can eat fruits like strawberries, pineapples, and oranges. You don’t want to eat fruits that have sugar added to them, however. This includes fruit cups that are in juices with additional sugars, those grapes that taste like cotton candy, and fruit juices.
Now, it is important to balance the fruits you eat with your weight loss goals. There are some fruits, particularly fruit juices, that do have a high number of calories. These aren’t empty calories, but they do add up.
Can I Drink Anything Other Than Water on a No Sugar Diet?
There are many things you can drink other than water. While water is the best drink for you, you can also drink unsweetened tea or coffee, 100% fruit juice, and “diet” sodas and lemonades. While these drinks may not be completely healthy and they may not help you reach your caloric or weight loss goals, they don’t contain sugar.
Truthfully, drinking water is the best way to lose weight. If you are struggling to drink just plain water, consider infusing your water with fruits, trying carbonated water, or even getting sugar-free drink packets to flavor your water.
Pros and Cons of a No Sugar Diet
The no-sugar diet isn’t necessarily the best approach for everyone. There are health and weight loss benefits for most people, but it isn’t going to show as many results for someone who doesn’t have sugar cravings, for example. Let’s take a sneak peek at the pros and cons a no sugar diet can bring to your life.
Pros of a No Sugar Diet
The reason many people are successful with a no sugar diet is that it is simple and realistic. A no sugar diet helps you to refocus your calories on foods that are healthier for you and, often, easier to get. This is a practical lifestyle that you can adhere to.
Once you learn where added sugar hides, you shouldn’t have any problem sticking to the diet when you go out to eat. The rules of the diet are in the name: don’t eat sugar.
Many people like it because you can follow this diet pretty much anywhere you go. Ordering a fresh salad is almost always an option, and you’ll know what dressings have sugars and which ones don’t. You can order water with lemon, a black coffee, or even certain drinks that don’t have added sugar.
The best part about this diet is that over time, your sugar cravings should start to subside. Once you’ve broken that initial addiction, you shouldn’t have cravings. In fact, overly sweet foods won’t taste good to you anymore.
Cons of a No Sugar Diet
The simplistic style of this diet isn’t for everyone: some people thrive when they have strict guidelines to follow. There isn’t any counting or rules here, which means someone can get off the diet fairly quickly. When you don’t have rules, it is even possible to eat too many calories that don’t contain sugar.
Another huge problem is that there is added sugar in almost every part of our diet. Your best bet is to start with whole, real foods and avoid anything that comes in a package. You will spend a lot of time reading labels for the first few months of this diet, but that’s completely ok.
Keeping that in mind, this diet can be extremely time-consuming as well. Why? Because you’ll have to cook more. If you don’t feel up to that challenge, My Fit Foods has you covered. Our meals are prepped and ready to go.
In Conclusion: Should You Go on a No Sugar Diet?
At the end of the day, there’s just no saying whether or not this is a good fit for everyone. If you have a sweet tooth and know that you consume a lot of sugar, it may be a great way to jumpstart your health journey. If you are more of a savory person, you may have some issues.
Remember that no diet is perfect for everyone, and sometimes, you’ll need to take a break and splurge for that delicious slice of gooey chocolate cake at your friend’s wedding — and that’s 100% okay!