Sugar is a controversial topic. We love it, and we love to hate it.
More than ever, people are cutting back sugar entirely by adopting a no-sugar approach to eating.
But what exactly is a no-sugar diet? Is it something that could benefit you? Is keto automatically a no-sugar diet? What can you eat on a no-sugar diet?
In this article, we outline the benefits of cutting out sugar and offer clear guidelines for trying this way of eating for yourself.
What are the Health Benefits of a No-Sugar Diet?
Sugar consumption in the United States has increased more 40-fold since 1750 [*]. But this exponential increase isn’t surprising considering how much of the modern Standard American Diet consists of pre-packaged convenience foods and drinks like soda and fruit juice.
Collectively, we are consuming way too much sugar, and it comes at a cost.
The increased consumption of processed carbs in the United States has been linked to the diabetes epidemic [*]. And a high-glycemic load of foods (AKA sugar) has been linked to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease [*].
One study suggests that if we cut back our sugar intake by just 20% in the U.S., we could reduce the number of years lost to disease and early death for Americans by 777,000. We could also save more than $10 billion in medical costs [*].
Reducing sugar intake can help you:
- Prevent skin disease, as in aging of the skin or skin cancer [*]
- Prevent depression [*]
- Reduce inflammation [*]
- Lose weight and prevent obesity [*]
Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes [*]
More and more people are realizing the negative health impact of sugar and making conscious decisions to cut back. That’s why the no-sugar mindset, adopted by popular diets like Whole30, has taken off.
What is a No-Sugar Diet?
When most people talk about a no-sugar diet, they usually mean a diet with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Added sugar does not just exist in sweet desserts. It’s a primary ingredient in many processed foods like bread, cereal, yogurt, tomato sauce, and even milk.
Since it has so many different names, sugar can go undetected on food labels. Even snacks that claim to be healthy and clean sometimes hide sugars under names most people wouldn’t recognize.
Here are some of the most common sugar aliases to look for on food labels, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines [*]:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado sugar
Avoiding artificial sweeteners may also help you when adopting a no-sugar approach to eating. Why? Artificial sweeteners can trick your body into thinking it is eating real sugar, leading to more sugar cravings down the road.
On a no-sugar diet, consider removing:
- Sweet’N Low
- Acesulfame K (Acesulfame potassium)
What Can I Eat on a No-Sugar Diet?
Many foods, like fruits, vegetables, and nuts, naturally contain sugar. So what’s the line between no-sugar and allowing for some natural sugars?
This plan from byrdie.com recommends the following guidelines for someone trying a no-sugar diet:
- White and brown sugars
- Syrups and agave
- Cocktails and beer
- Soda and diet drinks
- Juice (fruit, green)
- Pre-packaged sauces and condiments
- Pre-packaged items with added sugars
- Refined grains (white bread, white rice, pasta)
- Dark chocolate
- Fruit (except berries)
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas)
- Whole grains (quinoa, couscous, buckwheat)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Alcohol (1 glass of red or white wine, tequila, gin, vodka, whiskey)
- Leafy greens and other vegetables
- Healthy fats (nuts, avocado, olive oils)
- Clean proteins (organic salmon, non-GMO tofu, grass-fed beef)
The above is one example of a no-sugar plan.
The two main ideas to keep in mind are:
- Eliminate all added sugars, including artificial sweeteners, as well as refined grains.
- Stick to leafy, green vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, proteins, and fats.
What’s the Difference Between the Keto Diet and the No-Sugar Diet?
A no-sugar diet is not automatically keto, nor will a keto diet always follow no-sugar guidelines.
One person could follow a no-sugar diet, eating primarily protein and leafy green vegetables, but stay away from eating fat. While this diet would likely be low-carb, this person would not be within the low-carb, high-fat macros required for ketosis.
In contrast, someone on a keto diet could be hitting their macros, while allowing for the occasional gram or two of artificial sweeteners or added sugar to fit into their plan.
Keto is not always going to be no sugar. But keto dieters may find that no-sugar guidelines help them stay in ketosis and make keto easier.
Is the No-Sugar Diet Right For You?
Whether or not you choose to eliminate sugar from your diet, most of us could benefit from reducing our sugar intake or cutting it out temporarily (try it for a month and see how you feel!). Simply reducing sugar or cutting it out for a few weeks can have positive health benefits for your energy level and weight.
What Are Some No-Sugar Snack Options?
At FBOMB, we strive to bring you excellent, delicious, naturally sugar-free snack options, like Pork Sticks and Keto Krunch.
All of the snacks in our Real-Food Snack Box are naturally free of added sugars, preservatives, and anything artificial. Plus, they’re keto-friendly!