A sugar busters diet is based on elimination of high glycemic index foods and refined carbohydrates to help lose weight. Just as the name suggests, individuals following the sugar busters diet cut out processed products, sweets, and other types of foods that could cause the blood sugar levels to rise.
The diet was popularized by a book titled “Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat” by Luis A. Balart, Morrison C. Bethea, Sam S. Andrews, and H. Leighton Steward, published back in 1995. Steward is the only author who’s not a medical doctor. Seven years later, the authors published another book, “The New Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat”. Also, there is a kid’s edition, a shopping guide, and several cookbooks.
This diet eliminates added sugars, limits carbs, and emphasizes consumption of many, but not all, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and whole grains. This program is primarily based on the consumption of foods with a lower glycemic index to maintain blood sugar levels. High glycemic index foods are known to increase blood sugar levels, resulting in overeating and eventually weight gain.
This diet resonates with other low sugar diets and low carb eating plans. The sugar busters diet is restrictive than the initial stage of the Atkins diet that drastically cuts carbs. The south beach diet is another low sugar and low carb plan that utilizes the GI to determine the carbs that are more suitable to eat. Also, a protein power diet is a low carb, high protein diet with limited intake of fat and relies on protein and carb counting. [i]
Overall, the sugar busters diet balances healthy fats, lean proteins, and low glycemic carbohydrates.
What To Eat
With the sugar-busters diet, approximately 40% of calories come from high fiber. Moreover, 30% of calories should come from sources of lean protein like fish and chicken, and about 30% to 40% of calories should come from unsaturated fats. Low glycemic index foods shouldn’t have a value that’s above 55. These foods include dairy products, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and healthy fruits such as olive oil and nuts.
Although the rules of this diet are pretty simple, the sugar busters eating plan permits some flexibility with regards to percentages. This might generate confusion around specific foods and the amount you eat to meet your ultimate goals. For example, the creators of this eating plan recommend that you should consume between 50% and 55% calories from carbohydrates, even though they do not offer suggestions for how to balance protein and fat intake.
Keep in mind that the sugar busters diet doesn’t offer precise measurements for sizes but just recommends that you eat one plate of food in every meal, and the plate shouldn’t be overly full. Furthermore, guidelines suggest that we put the right portions on the plate. People following the sugar-busters diet can eat foods the entire day according to their tastes. They can eat three to six meals every day, but the creators advise people to avoid eating after 8 p.m. Also, the authors suggest that juices and fruits shouldn’t be consumed together with other foods.
People following the sugar busters diet are allowed to consume whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice. These products are prepared with whole grain flour. Creators state that wheat flour isn’t whole grain flour. The list of ingredients should indicate that the flour is completely whole for it to be compliant. Also, grain products shouldn’t contain any added sugar.
Legumes and Nuts
Legumes and different types of beans are great sources of fiber and protein and are low in calories. As a result, they are a good carbohydrate on this sugar busters diet. Nut butter and nuts are also allowed. However, you should carefully read the list of ingredients on the nut butter to avoid those having added sugars.
Eggs, Fish, And Meats
The sugar busters diet recommends consuming lean meats, trimming the fat from pork, lamb, lean beef, and skin removal from poultry. All seafood and fish, as well as whole eggs, are allowed. Nevertheless, breading is permitted on any seafood or meat products. People following the sugar busters diet should avoid meat that’s cured in sugar like ham and bacon.
Low Glycemic Vegetables And Fruits
Some frozen, canned, and fresh vegetables and fruits are included in the sugar busters diet, excluding those on the high glycemic list. For instance, canned fruits shouldn’t be packaged in syrup. This is an area that one can easily get confused regarding the foods to include and those to avoid. For instance, sweet potatoes have been included as compliant foods, but they can also be high glycemic foods. Technically, sweet potatoes have a glycemic index of 94 and 44 when baked and boiled, respectively.
What You Cannot Eat
People following the sugar-busters diet should avoid high glycemic vegetables and fruits. Some of the high glycemic vegetables and fruits you should avoid include pineapple, raisins, bananas, many root vegetables (parsnips, beets, and white potatoes), and products made from them, such as potato chips. However, carrots can be included but eaten in moderation.
You should never take added sugar. Syrups, honey, and other products containing added sugar should be avoided at all costs. Followers are advised to avoid juice-based beverages, soft drinks, sauces (like teriyaki and ketchup), salad dressings, jellies, and jams.
The sugar busters diet has a detailed list of refined carb foods that followers should avoid, including white flour, white rice, and products made from white flour-like muffins, bagels, doughnuts, pretzels, crackers, cookies, cake, and bread. However, whole grain pasta is permitted.
Does It Aid Weight Loss?
The sugar busters diet does not require you to track nutrients or count calories, but the diet recommends cutting down your consumption of added sugars and refined carbs. Although there’s limited research, evidence shows that this may be an effective approach for those looking to lose weight. For instance, a study involving 2,834 adults showed that consuming high amounts of refined carbohydrates resulted in increased belly fat, whereas consuming more whole grains was associated with less fat in the belly.[ii]
Another review of 32 studies found that sugar-sweetened beverages were closely tied to weight gain in children and adults.[iii] Also, consuming more fiber has been shown to stabilize sugar levels in the blood and slow bowel movement to support weight loss, decrease calorie intake and feel full longer.
Many studies have found that high protein, low carb diets like the sugar busters diet significantly reduce body fat, increase weight loss, and decrease hunger.[iv] A study involving 89 obese and overweight compared the effect of the high fiber, high protein diet with low fat, high carb diet.[v] Participants on the high protein, high fiber diet lost substantially more body fat and body weight than those on the low fat, high carb diet.[vi]
What Are The Rules Of The Sugar Busters Diet?
The sugar busters diet recommends eating low GI fruits and fiber-rich foods like vegetables and whole grains. Sugar-free dairy products, healthy fats, and lean proteins are also allowed. Following are some of the guidelines you should follow while on the sugar busters diet.
- Eat less sugars
- Drink more water
- Eat more whole grains like couscous, buckwheat, barley, brown rice, oats
- Take fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, watermelon, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, and fruits
- Only drink red wine in moderation and avoid alcoholic drinks like beer
- Avoid high glycemic fruits and starchy vegetables
- Avoid sweeteners, sugar foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages
- Don’t take processed foods like fast food, prepackaged snacks, chips, and crackers
- Don’t take refined grains like white flour products, white rice, pasta, and white bread
Potential Health Benefits
Most people choose to follow low sugar and low carb diets to lose weight. A survey involving 9,000 Americans following (LCHP) low carb, high protein diets like Atkins, the Zone diet, and the sugar busters showed a substantial weight loss among participants, with about 34% reporting losing about 20 pounds. Moreover, 30% of female and 40% male participants reported following the LCHP diet for a long time, which means a low sugar lifestyle is sustainable.[vii]
Reduced Risks Of Diabetes
One of the many health benefits of the sugar busters diet is that it reduces sugar intake, thus reducing risks of type II diabetes, fatty liver disease, and obesity.
Promotes Heart Health
Diets with no added sugar are associated with better heart health and reduced coronary disease and metabolic syndrome risks. The foundation of the sugar busters diet is consuming low glycemic foods to help control blood sugar, which is essential for good heart health.[viii]
Aids Weight Loss
Reducing added sugars and refined carbs while increasing intake of fiber might support weight loss. Research shows that the low carb, high protein diet promotes fat burning and weight loss.
Moreover, a sugar busters diet might help reduce calorie intake and decreased appetite to aid weight loss, although more research is needed in this area.[ix]
Sample Shopping List
Buying foods compliant with the sugar busters diet is straightforward. First, you should keep high glycemic index foods. Also, make sure you balance your fats, carbs, and protein according to a personalized plan. You should steer clear of most packed foods because they often contain many artificial ingredients and added sugars. Basically, you should stick to whole foods.
Although what you eat on this sugar busters eating plan is entirely up to you, the shopping list below offers a preview to get started. Keep in mind that this isn’t an exclusive sugar busters shopping list:
- Legumes – Split peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans
- Whole grains – Wheat tortillas, whole grain pasta, oat bran, brown rice, and barley
- Whole fruits – Strawberries, cherries, grapes, orange, peach, apple, and grapefruit
- Vegetables – tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cucumber, celery, asparagus, broccoli
- Dark leafy greens – Arugula, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach
- Lean protein – Shrimp, halibut, salmon, pork tenderloin, lean beef, and chicken
- Low-fat dairy products – Plain yogurt
- Healthy fats – Olive oil, pecans, almonds, walnuts, avocados
Sample Meal Plan
If you have relied on prepared or packaged foods for a long time, cooking your meals from scratch might seem like a challenging process. However, if you choose to follow the sugar busters diet and adhere to its dietary regulations, then it’s highly likely you will spend most of the time in your kitchen cooking. Luckily, there are many simple and fresh meals you can prepare at home and enjoy.
While the following 5-day meal plan isn’t all exclusive, it will give you an idea of what a few days following the sugar busters diet will look like. Also, you can accompany the meals with 100% fruit juice, water, and a glass of dry wine. Take note that if you choose to follow this meal plan, there might be other meals that will also work for you. Here’s a 5-day sample meal plan for sugars busters diet:
- Breakfast – Vegetable omelet with tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and peppers
- Lunch – Grilled chicken with brown rice and roasted asparagus
- Dinner – Zucchini noodles with marinara sauce and chicken meatballs
- Snacks – Almonds, apple slices, and celery sticks topped with hummus
- Breakfast – An almond milk smoothie with strawberries, spinach, and protein
- Lunch – The baked salmon with a side salad and sweet potato wedges
- Dinner – A Greek salad topped with grilled chicken, olive oil, cucumbers, onions, olives, tomatoes, and spinach
- Snacks – A sliced pear, hard-boiled egg, and garlic roasted chickpeas
- Breakfast – Oatmeal topped with low-fat yogurt and cinnamon
- Lunch – Turkey with stuffed bell pepper, low-fat cheese, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and quinoa
- Dinner – Beef, onions, cabbage, peppers, and broccoli
- Snacks – Low-fat cottage cheese, sliced peach, and kale chips
- Breakfast – One cup cooked oatmeal with half a cup of strawberries
- Lunch – Salmon salad with celery, radish and dill, 2 ounces of greens
- Dinner – Veggie skewers and grilled Mediterranean shrimp
- Snack – Plain yogurt
- Breakfast – Veggie omelet and ½ grapefruit
- Lunch – Low carb salad
- Dinner – ¼ cup of pico de gallo and low carb beef Fajitas
Pros And Cons Of Sugar Busters Diet
Easy And Straightforward To Follow
Many foods are “sometimes,” “yes,” or “no” on this sugar buster’s meal plan. Counting calories or carbs isn’t required, making it very easy to follow. Also, there are no measuring methods, and no diet phases are necessary. To follow this basic diet, you should find specific food ingredients on recipes and product labels and then avoid all non-compliant foods. Also, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with low glycemic index foods.
Provide Enough Nutrition
Getting about 40% of calories from whole grains, fruits and veggies makes it easier to consume nutrient-rich diets high in phytonutrients and fiber. This diet can be a highly nutritious meal plan for many individuals. It might be ideal for those with diabetes, but it’s important to note that people react differently to carbohydrates. Always follow a health physician’s recommendation for managing your blood sugar levels with insulin and diet.[x]
The Plan Offers More Flexibility
This sugar busters diet allows some allowance on the daily-recommended intake of carbs from 40% – 50% or 55%. This means you can easily modify it as you see fit.
Although you’ll need a copy of the creator’s book to correctly follow this diet, the foods you eat are readily available in many local grocery stores at affordable prices. You don’t have to break a bank in any supplements or special ingredients.
Lower In Saturated Fats
The creators of this sugar busters diet ask readers to eat less saturated fats, even though this meal plan does not place more emphasis on this habit like other popular low carb diets. Research is still not clear about the intake of saturated fats, but the world health organization suggests reduced consumption of saturated fats.[xi]
Although the sugar busters diet has lots of great information, there are a few disparities that readers could find confusing. You may scan the meal and food lists to find extra information in the text, which contradicts items included on the list. For instance, the compliant food lists include cheese, cream, and butter.
However, if you read the rest of the text, the authors advise followers to lower their intake of saturated fat. Moreover, there’s no guidance that’s provided with regards to how much saturated fat is allowed. Also, information regarding fruits is confusing. The fruit part doesn’t stipulate what fruits people should avoid.
It Doesn’t Have Scientific Evidence
The sugar busters diet largely relies on the glycemic index, which has over the years been criticized by experts and researchers.[xii] Technically, the sugar busters diet doesn’t consistently use the glycemic index.
Restricts A Few Healthy Foods
With the variations in percentages, the foods you cannot eat list doesn’t change. Therefore, if you love pineapple, potatoes, or bananas, this diet might not work for you. Most of the foods that people following this diet should avoid are commonly consumed foods. Even though the sugar busters diet rules are pretty simple, the meal plan itself might be challenging to follow for some people.
Is The Sugar Busters Diet A Healthy Option For You?
According to the dietary guidelines highlighted by the United States department of agriculture, the sugar-busters eating plan has most of the elements found in a healthy and balanced diet. The sugar busters diet recommends a balanced mixture of fat, carbohydrates, and protein from a wide range of foods. It focuses on whole grains as opposed to refined grains. The United States Department of Agriculture and other accredited health organizations shares this recommendation.[xiii] [xiv]
However, the sugar busters program deviates from the federal guidelines by restricting healthy foods instead of recommending such foods in moderation. Furthermore, the sugar busters diet contains fewer carbs than what experts recommended for a healthy, balanced diet. According to the USDA, adults should eat between 45% and 65% of calories from carbs, which is way high than what’s permitted on the sugar busters diet, which is approximately 40% of calories from complex carbs.
According to the USDA guidelines, an individual should only target approximately 2,000 calories for proper weight maintenance and 1,500 calories every day for those looking to lose weight, but the numbers vary based on factors like physical activity, height, sex, weight, or age.[xv] Although many nutritionists recommend calorie counting to remain within the recommended range, there isn’t any specific count linked to the sugar busters diet.
Overall, the sugar busters program is nutritionally balanced, even though experts agree that eliminating specific healthy foods is not necessary for weight maintenance and weight loss.
How Much Does The Sugar Busters Diet Cost?
With an emphasis on high glycemic index foods and refined carbohydrates, the sugar busters diet could be expensive. However, if you have access to the farmer’s market, it will be easy to find affordable fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that this diet encourages healthy eating plans like picking whole foods over added sugars and processed foods, which might prove costly.
However, following the sugar busters doesn’t have to be expensive if you keep it simple. A simple sugar busters dinner of turkey breast with sweet potato and vegetables on the side will cost you less than $4.
What is the Main Benefit of Taking Vitamin E?
What Foods Contain Vitamin E?
What Can You Eat on Sugar Busters Diet?
Is the Sugar Busters Program Healthy?
Does the Sugar Busters Diet Work?
What Will Happen if You Quit Sugar for One Month?
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- [vii] Blanck HM, Gillespie C, Serdula MK, Khan LK, Galusk DA, Ainsworth BE. Use of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets among americans: correlates, duration, and weight loss. MedGenMed. 2006;8(2):5.
- [viii] Vreman RA, Goodell AJ, Rodriguez LA, Porco TC, Lustig RH, Kahn JG. Health and economic benefits of reducing sugar intake in the USA, including effects via non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A microsimulation model
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- [xiii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.
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