As the name suggests, the no-sugar diet eliminates added sugars from meals, snacks, beverages, and other ingestible products. Although cutting back on your sugar intake can be a healthy diet change, you probably don’t need to eliminate as much as you think. Keep reading to learn more about this nutrition trend.
Every cell, organ, and tissue relies on sugar molecules (called glucose) for energy.
Refined or added sugars, such as sweetness in soda, candies, or baked goods, can harm your health if consumed in large amounts.
While the no-sugar diet seems like a good idea, you probably do not need to cut out all added sugars from your diet. Instead, you should think about including them in moderation.
A breakdown of sugar
Since sugar is the body's main source of energy, naturally sweet foods like fruit have long been favored by humans. You may even crave sweet foods because every cell and vital organ in your body relies on glucose (sugar molecules) to function. However, consuming too much sugar can negatively affect your health.
Over the last decade, several health organizations have demonstrated that eating large amounts of refined and added sugars can worsen health and increase the risk of several health conditions, including cancer.
Top dietary sources of sugar that contribute to poor health include:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, flavored coffees, etc.)
- Snack items
Many people could benefit from reducing their intake of refined sugars by choosing whole, unprocessed foods instead.
What is the no-sugar diet?
The no-sugar diet encourages you to consume sugar only from natural sources like fruits, grains, and unsweetened dairy. All added-sugars, such as white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup should be avoided. Although this approach may work for some people, you don’t need such extreme measures to be healthy.
A healthy diet
A healthy, balanced diet primarily includes foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential nutrients. But it also leaves room for some indulgences and comfort items as well.
The 80/20 rule is an illustration of a balanced eating plan. To follow this approach, you are encouraged to eat nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time, and 20% of your diet is reserved for less-nutritious delights that bring you joy.
Another balanced eating pattern is the Mediterranean diet, which is widely researched and regarded as one of the healthiest diets to follow. They promote a diet rich in plant-based foods, fiber, unflavored dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fat sources. Also, you are allowed to have up to five sweets per week.
Sugar dietary guidelines
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that less than 10% of your caloric intake should come from sweetened sources. So, if you follow a 2000-calorie diet, 10% would be 200 calories from sugar, or 12 teaspoons. If you’re more active and require 3000 calories daily, you have a higher sugar allowance and could safely have approximately 18 teaspoons.
Cutting back on sugar
Here are simple dietary changes that will reduce your added sugar intake:
- Choose fresh fruit instead of fruit juice or store-made smoothies
- Have a glass of sparkling water with fresh lemon juice instead of soda
- Make a dessert plate with fruit and cheese
- Enjoy a square of dark chocolate alongside nuts and fruits
- Make your own salad dressing instead of using store-bought
- Opt for reduced-sugar options, including ice cream
What type of sugar is the healthiest?
Many people believe honey and maple syrup are superior to white sugar because they’re natural and contain tiny amounts of nutrients. However, all sources of added sugars will be metabolized similarly and regarded as nutritionally equivalent in terms of your metabolic state and cellular activity.
Ultimately, you should always select a product based on how it makes you feel. Whether it is sugar, honey, or maple syrup, always remember that you should consume it moderately.
It is in your body's nature to metabolize and digest food and sugar. Of course, too much sugar can strain your system, so aiming for moderation can be a healthier approach. Many of the world's most researched diets allow room for treats, including the Mediterranean diet.
However, if you’re struggling to reduce your sugar intake, you may want to consult a nutrition professional, such as a registered dietitian, for support. Even though changing your diet can be difficult, you can achieve your health objectives with the right support.
- Nutrients. High Added Sugar Intake Among US Adults: Characteristics, Eating Occasions, and Top Sources 2015-2018.
- Stat Pearls Publishing. Physiology of Glucose Metabolism.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.