The low sugar diet entails cutting back on your intake of sweeteners and added sugars as well as foods containing natural sugars. The no-sugar diet is more difficult to follow than other diets because it means not consuming many vegetables and fruits, which also contain many essential nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber.
In the long term, the low sugar diet is much easier to manage than a no sugar diet. The good news is that it comes with numerous health benefits like minimizing risks of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Also, it might help those looking to lose weight. The prime goal of the low sugar diet is maintaining healthy glucose levels in the body. Although small natural sugar amounts in a healthy person’s diet will not cause any catastrophic results, high than normal intake might wreak mayhem in the body.
Excessive and long-term intake of refined sugars and sugary beverages might result in over consumption and adversely affect a person’s overall calorie intake that might create a domino-like effect on a person’s health with the ability to exacerbate different health complications. For example, excess sugars in the body might eventually turn into fat, resulting in fatty liver disease.[i]
The low sugar diet can significantly aid weight loss, but such a lifestyle might also help you prevent and/or manage diabetes, reduce inflammation, stroke, and heart disease and even improve your skin’s health and mood.[ii]
Back in the late 1990s, opinion started shifting in the direction of low sugar diets and low carb.[iii] Although the low sugar diet is important for people with heart disease or diabetes, reducing the amount of added sugar you take is very beneficial. The low sugar strategy is the main tenet amongst other renowned health-conscious diets, including the Sugar Busters diet, Dash diet, and the Mediterranean diet. However, unlike the Dash diet that emphasizes on foods that are lower in sodium, the low sugar diet emphasizes on foods lower in sugar.
What You Can Eat?
The most important thing about the low sugar diets is avoiding added sugar and foods-containing high amounts of carbohydrates, which eventually break down into sugar once in the body.
A low sugar diet is not too regimented with regards to the timing of foods – the most important thing you can do is maintain your blood sugar levels to make sure you do not become sluggish because of the low energy. To preserve energy, the plans call for eating after every 3 to 4 hours. Different small meals the entire day in a perfect schedule, and eating more fiber and protein helps make you feel full for extended periods.
One of the best tips to help you stick to a low sugar duet is reading labels. Most people purchase food items without necessarily taking a look at what they eat. You should take enough time to look for the sugars hidden in the food you are buying; this will ultimately prove beneficial.
Furthermore, having a better understanding of the foods you should eat, and the foods you must avoid will make a low sugar lifestyle more doable. With many low sugar recipes and numerous sugar alternatives available, eating the low sugar diet is now easier than ever before.
To succeed on the low sugar diet, look for whole foods and avoid pre-packaged and processed items. Consuming whole foods makes it easier for you to stick to the low sugar diet since they are full of nutrients and satiating.
Whole grains are known to have higher nutrient and fiber levels than white grains, which makes them a healthy alternative in a low sugar diet.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges are great sources of minerals like potassium, vitamin C, and vitamins. Also, berries are a great fruit option on a low sugar diet, filled with vitamins and antioxidants.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Vegetables are jam-packed with nutrients and vitamins and seem to have little impact on blood sugar levels. Kale and spinach are two perfect examples: high in protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. Other low sugars and healthy leafy vegetables include broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and collard greens.[iv]
Sweet potatoes are an excellent replacement for white potatoes with their low GI (glycemic index level). Also, they provide potassium, fiber, vitamins C and A.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts contain many healthy fatty acids. For example, walnuts are high in omega-three fatty acids, essential for a healthy brain and heart.
Herbs and Spices
Flavorings such as cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin are highly beneficial if you follow the low sugar diet.
What You Cannot Eat
- Refined sugars – Refined sugars usually offer empty calories with no added benefits, which come from foods containing natural sugars.
- White flour or bread – You should avoid these because they contain high GI levels. Choosing foods like whole-grain pasta or quinoa is best.
- Sugary drinks – As mentioned earlier, you should avoid refined sugars. So, do your best to avoid sweetened smoothies, sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, juices, and sodas.
- Packaged snack foods – Many packaged foods are usually packed with added sugars, which you might not know you are ingesting.
- Alcohol – If you’re following the low sugar diet, your alcohol intake must be limited. Whenever you go drinking, avoid options that are high in sugars like dessert wine or champagne.
Does It Aid Weight Loss?
Some studies have found that cutting back on your sugar intake helps those looking to lose weight and improve overall health. On the other hand, overconsumption of refined sugars is related to increased intake of calories, increasing risks of visceral fat, and obesity. These can be very harmful to the body’s internal organs.[v]
For instance, a study that involved 2,834 participants, found that consuming high amounts of refined carbs is related to increased belly fat, and at the same time, eating more grains was connected to reduce belly fat.[vi] Another comprehensive review of about 32 studies found that sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to weight gain among children and adults.
Also, consuming more fiber will stabilize blood sugar levels and slow bowel movements to support weight loss, decrease calorie intake, and feel full for extended periods.
In reference to the meta-analysis published in 2013 in the journal BMJ, reduced consumption of “free sugars” which are added to foods as well as the naturally occurring sugars in fruit juices, syrups, and honey is associated with weight loss, whereas increase intake of sugars was linked to weight gain.[vii]
Also, research shows that the type of carbohydrate consumed matters. A review published in the journal of food and nutrition research in 2012 showed that diets high in white grains that the body processes in the same way as sugar was related to weight gain, whereas diets containing whole grains were associated with weight loss.[viii]
What Are The Rules Of A Low Sugar Diet?
If you’re going to follow the low sugar diet, it’s important to make sure you stick to specific meals. Here are the simple rules you can follow to help reduce sugars from your diet.
- Read product labels – After you’ve managed to cut back on sugars from your diet, you should turn your attention to other products containing sugar. Reading the product’s labels helps identify the types of sugars that you must avoid.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates – Also, most no sugar diets recommend that you avoid simple carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates include white rice, white pasta, and white flour.
- Avoid artificial sugars – In most cases, artificial sugars are a controversial subject for diets. These are sweeter than sugars but contain little or no calories at all.
- Don’t drink sugar – While sugar might not be easy to avoid, sweetened drinks are amongst the greatest sources of more sugar in a diet. They include fruit juices, sweetened teas, specialty coffee, and soda.
- Eat whole foods – An individual following the no sugar diet also involves eating whole foods. This is because whole foods are less likely to contain added sugars or refined ingredients.
Potential Health Benefits
The Health Benefits of the low sugar diet has, over the years, been well documented. Besides aiding weight loss, studies show that reducing your sugar intake helps manage and prevent chronic illnesses like stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Cutting back on your sugar consumption also helps protect your body against inflammation, improve your skin’s health and control your mood.[ix][x]
Studies have also shown that the low sugar diet might also help improve heart health by reducing blood pressure. Eating less than 5 percent of calories from added sugars might help raise good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Studies show that lowering bad cholesterol helps reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease.
Maintaining a diet containing whole foods and removing added sugar has numerous benefits for your body. Eating a healthy diet and reducing sugar intake could help many people:
- Prevent obesity and lose weight
- Reduce risks of skin cancer and have a clear skin
- Regulate mood
- Reduced inflammation
- Minimize risks of type II diabetes because sugar might increase the risks of obesity that might result in type II diabetes.
Sample Shopping List
The low sugar diet emphasizes whole vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Although it’s upon you to choose what you want to eat, the shopping list below offers recommendations for those looking to get started.
- Spices and dried herbs (sea salt, cumin, oregano, paprika, turmeric)
- Dairy products (cottage cheese, unsweetened yogurt, parmesan, feta cheese, milk)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, avocados)
- Legumes (soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans)
- Whole grains (couscous, brown rice, amaranth, barley, quinoa)
- Lean protein (shrimp, halibut, ground beef, beef cuts, chicken)
- Frozen and fresh fruits (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit)
- Veggies (carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli)
- Dark leafy greens (arugula, Swiss chard, kale, spinach)
Sample Meal Plan
Essentially, there are many possibilities for delicious and creative meals that follow a low sugar lifestyle. Although the 3-day meal plan below isn’t all-inclusive, it will give you a brief overview of what you can expect from a balanced low sugar diet. Keep in mind that if you choose to follow the diet, there might be other meals, which are more suitable for your budget, preferences, and tastes.
- Breakfast – feta oatmeal and savory spinach, a half grapefruit
- Lunch – a cup of red curry lentil soup and Mediterranean vegetable wrap
- Dinner – vegetable skewers and one serving of grilled Mediterranean shrimp
- Breakfast – strawberry banana smoothie, Californian summer veggie omelet
- Lunch – one and a half cups citrus, Quinoa Salad, and Kale
- Dinner – four-ounce serving of baked salmon; one serving grilled or roasted asparagus
- Breakfast – One cup of breakfast Quinoa with almonds and mixed berries
- Lunch – One-cup rainbow veggie soup, an avocado chicken salad that’s served over greens or whole grain bread.
- Dinner – One cup couscous and one serving the Middle East grilled kofta kebabs
- Breakfast – Kick start your day with Zucchini bread oatmeal
- Lunch – A salmon salad and mayo served over cooked quinoa, wild rice, rice, or greens
- Dinner – Chicken thighs with the green chilies served with steamed veggies and rice
- Breakfast – Det the day started with a strawberry beet smoothie
- Lunch – A salmon salad and mayo served over cooked quinoa, wild rice, rice, or greens
- Dinner – Pot Thai green chicken soup
- Breakfast – kick start your day with the acai smoothie and coconut
- Lunch – Greek chicken salad
- Dinner – pot salsa chicken, topped with cooked rice, guacamole, and canned beans.
Pros And Cons Of The Low Sugar Diet
The diet aims to accomplish a balance in your overall lifestyle and meals. However, there are a few downsides. We’ve reviewed the pros and cons to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decision.
Helps In Weight Loss
Cutting back on sugars has been found to aid weight loss and overall health. Increased intake of sugars is linked to overconsumption of calories, increasing the risks of visceral fat and obesity.[xi]
Reduces Risks Of Type II Diabetes
Although sugar intake is not the leading cause of type II diabetes, eating less sugar lowers your risks of developing diabetes. Overconsumption of sugar that results in high-calorie intake can result in weight gain that has been found to significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes.[xii]
Customizable And Flexible
If you can make sure your meals remain balanced, substitutions and modifications can be achieved with a low sugar diet. If the allergy prevents you from eating a particular food, you should swap it for something different on the list of recommended food. Technically, sugar is the primary component that you must remove for this great diet to work, which allows for the abundance of ingredients and foods that helps you to stick to a healthy and balanced meal plan.
Plentiful And Easy Recipes
Reduced sugar intake has become increasingly popular over the past few years, leading to more recipes tailor-made to fit all needs of this great recipe.
Supports Heart Health
The low sugar diet also aids promote heart health by regulating blood pressure. If you consume less than 5% of calories from added sugars might help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.[xiii]
Needs Comprehensive Label Reading
Although it might be exhaustive, the low sugar diet demands that you know the sugar on the food labels and keep a watchful eye for the sugars in foods you may not have expected. Hidden sugars are pretty common in most products, from sauces and salad dressings to beverages and snack foods.
More Risks Of Abnormal Eating
Like other diets that involve being more aware of your consumption of specific foods, this hovers around the fine line of obsession and a great diet. The most important tenet of this low sugar diet is to live a balanced and healthier lifestyle to avoid getting caught up between bad and good foods.
It Doesn’t Fuel Rigorous Workouts
If you constantly do intense workouts or train for a marathon, this might not be an excellent diet for you. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which ultimately acts as fuel for your muscles when working out. This does not mean that rigorous workouts need a high sugar diet; instead, the rigorous workouts might seasonally need more carbohydrates than the standard low sugar diet.
It’s important for you to make sure you’ve taken these cons seriously, especially if you are considering the low sugar diet. Although it’s a perfect lifestyle for millions of people, it’s not ideal for everyone. Modify all of them and draft a plan that works for you.
Is A Low Sugar Diet A Healthier Option For You?
The USDA (U.S Department of Agriculture) recommends protein, dairy, grains, vegetables, and fruit as part of a balanced, healthy diet. Key suggestions in the federal policies include:[xiv]
- Healthy oils
- A wide variety of foods containing proteins, including soy products, seeds, nuts, legumes (peas and beans), poultry, lean meats, and seafood.
- Low-fat dairy including fortified soy beverages, cheese, yogurt, and milk.
- Grains – Of which half are whole grains
- Different veggies from all subgroups including starchy, legumes (peas and beans), orange and red, dark green, and other fruits, mainly whole fruits
- Sodium, added sugars, trans fats, and limited saturated fats
There are a few differences between USDA guidelines and a low sugar diet:
- Vegies and low glycemic fruits: Although a low sugar diet suggests eating veggies and fruits, the vegetables and fruits consumed on the low sugar diet have a low glycemic index and less starchy.
- Sodium: A low sugar diet does not address intake of sodium
- Low-fat dairy and non-fat foods: Federal guidelines emphasize low-fat dairy or fat-free foods, whereas a low sugar diet primarily encourages full-fat dairy choices because they have less sugar than low-fat options.
- Saturated fats: Trans and saturated fats are not specifically included in a low sugar diet, but the main tenet is to create a healthy eating option. Following USDA’s recommendations on this subject is the best choice for an individual following a low sugar diet.
Keep in mind that although this low sugar diet can work perfectly for some, not all individuals benefit the same way. We recommend that you consult a physician before you start applying this diet.
How Much Does A Low Sugar Diet Cost?
Some people think that changing from a high sugar diet to a low sugar diet will eventually reduce costs. To fully understand how much a low sugar diet costs, we can break it down into long-term and short-term expenses. The short-term costs refer to the immediate expenses like your grocery bill, whereas the long-term costs refer to supplements, medical bills, and additional lifestyle burdens that come from consuming high amounts of sugar.
There is a myriad of factors far beyond money. Longevity, weight, calmness, contentment, well-being, pleasure, and health, just to name a few. You’ll be glad to find that cooking homemade low sugar meals is less expensive than the high sugar diets.
What is the main benefit of vitamin E?
What food is high in vitamin E?
• Fortified breakfast cereals, spreads, margarine, and fruit juices
• Green leafy vegetables (like broccoli and spinach)
• Seeds like sunflower seeds
• Nuts (like hazelnuts/filberts, peanuts, and almonds)
• Vegetable oils (soybeans oils, safflower, sunflower, and wheat germ)
What should you eat when following a low sugar diet?
How much sugar does a low sugar diet have?
• Men – 150 calories every day (9 teaspoons)
How do I remove sugar from my diet?
• Try extracts
• Add fruits
• Eat canned, dried, frozen, or fresh fruits
• Replace the soda
What is a low sugar food?
• Low – 5g or less of sugars per 100 grams
• High – over 22.5 grams of sugars per 100 grams
What happens if I stop eating sugar for one week?
What fruits contain the most sugar?
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- [ii] DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O’Keefe JH. The evidence for saturated fat and for sugar related to coronary heart disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2016;58(5):464-472. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2015.11.006
- [iii] La Berge AF. How the ideology of low fat conquered America. J Hist Med Allied Sci. 2008;63(2):139-77. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrn001
- [iv] Kuzma JN, Schmidt KA, Kratz M. Prevention of metabolic diseases: fruits (including fruit sugars) vs. vegetables. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017;20(4):286–293. doi:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000378
- [v] Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: A systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(2):274-288. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.1.274
- [vi] Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004;292(8):927-934. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.927
- [vii] Te Morenga L, Mallard S, Mann J. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies BMJ 2013; 346 :e7492 doi:10.1136/bmj.e7492
- [viii] Fogelholm M, Anderssen S, Gunnarsdottir I, Lahti-Koski M. Dietary macronutrients and food consumption as determinants of long-term weight change in adult populations: a systematic literature review. Food Nutr Res. 2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.19103. doi:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.19103
- [ix] Della Corte KW, Perrar I, Penczynski KJ, Schwingshackl L, Herder C, Buyken AE. Effect of dietary sugar intake on biomarkers of subclinical inflammation: A systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. Nutrients. 2018;10(5). doi:10.3390/nu10050606
- [x] Katta R, Desai SP. Diet and dermatology: The role of dietary intervention in skin disease. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(7):46-51.
- [xi] Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: A systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(2):274-288. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.1.274
- [xii] Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004;292(8):927-934. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.927
- [xiii] Cleveland Clinic. Cholesterol Guidelines and Heart Health. Updated May 24, 2019.Cleveland Clinic. Cholesterol Guidelines and Heart Health. Updated May 24, 2019.
- [xiv] U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate. Choose a food group to explore