The no-sugar diet; what to eat and what not to eat

The no-sugar diet; what to eat and what not to eat
  • PublishedOctober 19, 2020

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar daily for women and no more than 36 grams of added sugar daily for men. The bad thing is that many adults eat much more sugar than the recommended amount.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adults in the United States get around 15% of their calories from added sugars alone; excluding the natural sugars from products like fruits and milk.

The Harvard medical school indicated that excessive sugar consumption has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, increased inflammation in the body, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

So, adopting a no-sugar diet or reducing added sugar intake is a healthful idea and reduces your risk for these health conditions.

In this article, we look at the no-sugar diet, the tips on how to adopt a no sugar diet, what to eat, what you can’t eat, the health benefits of the no sugar diet, and the downsides associated with the no-sugar diet.

What is the no-sugar diet?

The no-sugar diet, also known as a sugar-free diet has become popular as people look to lose weight and live a healthy life. It is not a philosophy but rather a lifestyle or way of eating that aims at reducing sources of added sugar from our daily food intake.

In other words, a no-sugar diet means avoiding foods such as candy, soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, and most processed foods or even removing sources of natural sugar like fruits and some vegetables.

Eliminating added sugar is healthy and transforming. According to research, reducing sugar intake by even 20% could save many Americans from early death, disease, or disability, and save more than $10 billion in medical costs.

The no-sugar diet and the ketogenic diet are related in the way that they all restrict the consumption of added sugar and simple carbs, which compels the body to burn fats for energy and this triggers weight loss.

So how can I start a no sugar diet?

Starting on a new diet altogether may be challenging at the beginning. Some people can manage it while others lose course along the way. Below are some of the tips to help you along as you start on the no-sugar diet.

1. Start gradually

Shifting from a diet dominated by added sugar to a no-sugar diet should be a gradual process. You can begin by eliminating the most obvious sources of added sugar.

Below is a hierarchy of carbs from the highest composition to the lowest

  • Foods containing added sugar; sweets such as candy, pastries, sodas, energy drinks, and yogurt
  • Refined grains; White bread, white rice, pasta, crackers, bagels, and baked goods
  • Whole grains/starches; Brown rice, oats, whole-grain bread, and more.
  • Fruit; Apples, bananas, peaches, pineapples, pears, and berries
  • Starchy vegetables; Carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and beets
  • Green vegetables; Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and Brussels

You can build up a no-sugar diet by following the above list from top to bottom and with time, you will be able to reduce your sugar craving.

2. Be mindful of the product labels

When you read product labels, you are able to know the products that contain sugars. This way, you can know the foods to eat and that to avoid. Sugar has so many names including; cane sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, invert sugar, beet sugar, barley malt, honey, and more

When you see any of the above on the ingredient list, just know the item has added sugar. Also, ingredients list with sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, and more ending with “ose” is a type of sugar.

3. Replace simple carbs with whole grains

By simple carbs, we mean items like white flour, white pasta, and white rice. The body easily converts the carbohydrates in these foods into sugar, causing high blood sugar levels.

4. Distance from artificial sugars

Artificial sugars such as Splenda, stevia, NutraSweet, and Sweet’N Low are much sweet than sugar although they have few or no calories. They trick the body into thinking that they are eating sugar; leading to sugar craving. This sabotages the no-sugar diet.

Artificial sugars also exist in their chemical names on the ingredients list. When you come across names like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, and acesulfame K, that is a red flag.

5. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks

Sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, sweetened teas, and specialty coffee are sources of added sugar. These should be replaced with unsweetened herbal tea, coffee without sugar, and water to reduce your sugar intake.

6. Replace processed foods with whole foods

A number of processed foods have refined ingredients that contain added sugar. Therefore focus on whole and complete foods like nuts, seed, legumes, fish, poultry, lean meat, and vegetables.

7. Use herbs and spices

There are many herbs and spices out there that have a sweet taste and flavor. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla can be added to foods and drinks like coffee, oatmeal, or yogurt to replace sugar.

8. Plan your meals

If you don’t follow any meal plan, you are more likely to reach out for sugary snacks when you feel hungry. Always plan your meal ahead of time so that you always have nutritious meals and healthful alternatives to hand.

So what do I eat on the no sugar diet?

Like we discussed above, the no sugar diet aims at reducing sources of added sugar from our daily food intake or goods with a higher glycemic index. Below is the list of sugar-free foods that you can include in your diet.


  • Avocado, coconut, olive oils
  • Eggplant
  • lemons/limes
  • Berries
  • Tomato
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Mushrooms


  • Kale
  • Kelp noodles
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Watercress
  • Green beans
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Mustard
  • Coffee
  • Tea


  • Whole-grain bread
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal


  • Low-fat dairy like whole milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Lean meats including chicken, beef, and pork

Related; Different ways of cutting out sugar for weight loss.

  How to stop food craving (including popular food craving

What are the foods to avoid on no sugar diet?

  • Breakfast pastries (muffins, coffee cake)
  • Baked goods (cookies, cakes)
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Baked beans
  • Crackers
  • Tacos
  • Boxed rice
  • Frozen entrees
  • Grains (bread, rice, and pasta)
  • Processed foods
  • Anything with added sugar on the nutrition facts label or sugar listed in the ingredients list

Drinks to avoid;

  • Soda
  • Fruit juices
  • Flavored coffee, milk, tea
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tonic water
  • Cocktails
  • Liqueurs
  • Any other sugar-sweetened beverage

what are the health benefits of the no-sugar diet?

Evidence-based research and studies show that reducing sugar intake in your diet has several health benefits. These include;

Others include; Preventing hunger pangs and cravings, Boosting energy levels, and Improving dental health.

What are the side effects of the no-sugar diet?

The side effects people normally get from making dietary changes, for example adopting a no-sugar diet are mere withdrawal symptoms. These are similar to what drug addicts experience after withdrawing from an addictive drug.

The no-sugar diet symptoms include;

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Sugar cravings

These are however short-lived. They can hang around for at most two weeks.

Bottom line

The no-sugar diet is a lifestyle or way of eating that aims at reducing sources of added sugar from our daily food intake. Research shows that reducing sugar intake comes with health benefits including skin health, weight loss, increased energy levels, reducing inflammation, reducing type 2 diabetes, and more.


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