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What is a No Sugar Diet?

By Summer Banks
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A no sugar diet generally consists of foods that contain no simple or complex sugars. These sugars can include carbohydrates, flour, white sugar, and refined grains. Commonly used as a weight loss or diabetic diet, a no sugar diet is often referred to as a low carbohydrate or no carbohydrate diet.

When eliminating sugar from the diet, foods to be removed from daily eating plans can include:

  • white bread
  • bagels
  • donuts
  • cereal
  • wheat bread
  • rice flour
  • corn flour
  • white rice
  • cookies
  • cakes
  • potato chips
  • pretzels

Each of these foods is flour-based, but flour is a simple carbohydrate that affects the body similarly to refined sugar. Sugar sources typically eliminated by this plan include:

And foods containing sugars, such as:

  • ice cream
  • cookies
  • cake
  • candy
  • jelly
  • jam
  • coffee with added sugar-based flavorings
  • chocolate

Carbohydrates are synonymous with sugars, in terms of diet. Scientifically, a carbohydrate is a starch, or sugar molecule, present in foods. Naturally-occurring sugars, such as fructose, present in fruits are viewed as being healthier than refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar. No sugar diets tend to focus more on refined sugars rather fruit sugars.

The no sugar diet became popular following the publication of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. Written by Dr. Robert Atkins, the book described an eating plan that limited carbohydrate intake to 20 grams or less for the first two weeks, in a process known as induction. Sugars are a main source of energy for the body. When limited to extremely low levels ketosis, or fat burning, is used to supply enough energy for daily activities.

Extremely low carbohydrate diets have been tested for weight loss and control of diabetes. While many respected doctors and physicians believed eating higher fat content and lower sugar or carbohydrate content would lead to health problems, later research revealed otherwise. On July 17, 2008 a study was published in the The New England Journal of Medicine reporting that a no sugar diet was more effective at weight loss and improving overall health than a low calorie diet.

The no sugar diet was reintroduced to dieters in 2006 when Dr. Peter Gott published Dr. Gott’s No Sugar, No Flour Diet. In it, diet plans were based on eliminated foods that offered very low nutritional value, which included all flour and sugar based foods. Instead of filling up with foods that offered no positive vitamin and nutrient value to the body, Dr. Gott suggested eating only healthy, whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables.

A no sugar diet typically reduces hunger because whole grains take longer to digest. Foods high in sugar are easy to break down into energy and thus glucose levels can spike and drop dramatically causing cravings. No sugar plans are commonly thought to be safe alternatives to diets high in fat and carbohydrates.

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Discussion Comments
By surfNturf — On Jul 16, 2010

Comfyshoes- My sister went on the South Beach diet and lost 45 pounds and kept if off for almost three years now.

She says that she no longer craves sweets and has really learned to balance her meals with lean proteins and vegetables. She does indulge once in a while, but not nearly as often as before.

By comfyshoes — On Jul 16, 2010

Great article- I just want to add that the South Beach diet is also a no sugar diet. The diet was created by a Miami cardiologist, which allows no sugar at all during its strictest Stage One phase.

The first phase of the diet lasts about two weeks and the book suggests that the average weight loss from those two weeks is about ten pounds. Only lean meat, cheese, nuts and vegetables are allowed. Fruit is prohibited in the first phase.

The second phase allows minimal fruit and an introduction to some healthy carbs, but generally the South Beach Diet is considered a no sugar diet. With this diet too, cravings are eliminated within the first few days and an increase in energy is also reported.

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