Many people hear the words ‘no sugar’ diet and think it is as easy as cutting out desserts and wine, but in reality, a true no sugar diet eliminates anything that contains sugar, particularly those that are found in processed food.
However, is this diet a healthy and viable option for weight loss and is it sustainable to maintain consistently?
Firstly, we must understand the reason why we would want to eliminate sugar from our diets. Sugar, whether it is consumed from processed foods or from natural forms found in fruit, spikes our insulin levels. When insulin is spiked, we get a sugar high (which is why most people feel they need sugar for more energy), but after the high comes the fall and our bodies crash. We are left feeling slow, sluggish and hungrier than we were before consuming the sugar. This can lead to overeating, constantly feeling hungry as well as the added extra calories we un-knowingly consume when eating foods with excess sugar.
As well as this, a lot of people are misinformed as to how much sugar they actually are consuming in an average day. An average person consumes 40 teaspoons a day, a far cry from the 4 teaspoons we ideally should be consuming.
David Gillespie, Author of ‘Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat’ swears by a no sugar diet and has lost a collective of 40 kilos in 18 months, simply by eliminating processed foods with sugar. He also does not consume excess fruit as he counts all sugar as the same thing, whether they are natural or processed, bad for you. David has written numerous books about the sugar industry and what the sweet stuff does to our bodies, and has since continued to sustainably live without sugar as a regular part of his diet.
However numerous dietitians say that although it is a good thing to not overindulge in sugar and processed foods, that people can easily become confused by thinking that they must eliminate fruit and dairy (fructose and lactose). Numerous studies have shown that including a balanced serving of fruit in your diet, even though fruit contains sugar, can help protect our bodies from a range of diseases and provide key nutrients and antioxidants that we need to thrive.
Research has also shown that cutting out whole food groups can be difficult to maintain and unrealistic long term.
Going sugar-free can definitely have its benefits and can lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle as well as weight loss, but fixating on one food group can become an unhealthy obsession.
If weight loss and a healthier body is your goal, it is far more sustainable and natural to understand the nutrients that your body requires to function, make sure these are being met and fill your diet with a range of different foods from all the food groups. A sugar-free diet can be beneficial but it is all about balance (and that means including the occasional sugary treat every now and then!).