Sugar and weight loss

By Vanessa Voltolina

You’ve seen the news, read the headlines and had that particularly health-conscious friend tell you that you eat too much sugar — all while you’re daydreaming about that delicious venti coffee and whipped cream drink that you plan to enjoy later.

Even if you’re not one of the 65 percent of Americans who are overweight or obese, you still need to watch your sugar intake. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that only six to 10 percent of our daily calories should come from sugar. “That equals 120 to 200 calories and 30 to 50 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet, respectively,” says Jenny Champion, a certified diabetes educator in New York City. But research suggests that, in actuality, added sugars make up around 13 percent of the American adult’s total intake. (Holy schnikes, Batman!) It matters, ultimately, because excess sugars convert to fat. That’s not only a bummer in the weight-maintenance department; it may also lead to a fatty liver disease (a leading cause of liver transplants) and inflammation, which ups the risk for heart disease.

Experts say that the worst culprits when it comes to added sugar are sugary sodas, juices and energy drinks. “The number-one food source are grain-based desserts,” says Joan Salge Blake, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of Nutrition & You. (Think: Processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, pies and cupcakes.)

According to Champion, however, there’s a less-expected source. “The most popular — and surprisingly sugar-laden — food?” she says. “It’s that wolf in sheep’s clothing the fruit smoothie. If you buy one of these treats at a smoothie stand or milkshake joint, you’ll end up taking in upwards of 50 grams of sugar and maxing out your daily sugar allotment.”

Convinced to reduce your sugar intake, at least a little bit? Here’s where to begin:


How Much Added Sugar Should You Limit Yourself to a Day?

More and more people are becoming aware that limiting sugar intake is important for sustaining overall health. Thankfully, keeping track of our sugar consumption is getting easier than ever due to new food labeling guidelines.

As public awareness grows, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to empower consumers to better monitor their sugar intake. The organization has declared that all food companies must include a label for added sugars by 2020.

While more detailed food labeling can help people know how much added sugar they’re consuming, this label is only as useful as people’s understanding of what it means. So let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Here’s an overview of what added sugar is, the downsides of eating too much sugar, and what a healthy limit for added sugar might look like.

What is added sugar?

“Added sugar is sugar that is not naturally occurring in a food, but is added during its production and processing to enhance flavor and texture,” Lisa Samuels, RD, founder of The Happie House, says.

Canned fruit is a classic example of added sugar, Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, founder of and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies, says. A plain peach wouldn’t contain any added sugars, though it does contain sugar. But if you take that same peach and store it in syrup, that food product would contain added sugars within the syrup.

Per Smithson, other common foods that contain added sugar include:

  • Fruit juices
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweets such as candy, cakes, and cookies

Are added sugars unhealthy?

Just because added sugars are distinguished from naturally occurring sugars on a nutrition label, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “unnatural.”

“A lot of added sugars come from natural sources,” Maxine Yeung, MS, RD, CPT, and founder of The Wellness Whisk, says.

Common sources of added sugar include:

  • Agave syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Honey
  • Molasses

“Even though some sugars, such as honey, occur naturally, they are consumed by adding it to other foods or beverages, and are therefore considered added sugars,” Yeung explains.

But when it comes to whether added sugars are healthy, it’s best to compare them to natural, whole food sources of sugar. Samuels explains that whole food sources of healthy sugar, like fruit, “also contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals , which gives them a greater nutritional value than foods with added sugar.”

And while foods with natural sugars are healthier than isolated added sugars, just because a food has added sugar doesn’t make it unhealthy; rather, it’s more important to look at the quantity of added sugar in a food.

What are the downsides of eating too much sugar?

No matter the source, too much of any kind of sugar can be bad for your health.

Yeung says that “The worry with added sugar in food and beverage items is that too much sugar in your diet can increase your risk for many medical complications, such as dental cavities, pre-diabetes, diabetes, and high cholesterol.”

Samuels points out that “sugar contains calories but little to no nutritional value; it contributes what we call ’empty calories’ to our diet. This means that it can cause us to gain weight without adding any nutritional value for our bodies. It also leaves less room for healthier foods in our diet.”

Per Samuels, sugar can also provoke inflammation and “increases the risk of developing certain chronic conditions such as heart disease, depression, kidney and liver disease, and certain cancers.”

Excess sugar consumption can be especially concerning for people with conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Smithson says too much sugar can raise triglyceride levels or increase the carbohydrate content in the diet of a person with diabetes.

How many grams of added sugar should you eat per day?

Okay, so eating too much added sugar isn’t good for you. But what qualifies as “too much” and what should your daily sugar intake be?

The answer may not be one-size-fits-all.

“The FDA and most recent dietary guidelines recommend that added sugars make up no more than 10% of your daily calories,” Yeung says. “This amount varies per person based on individual calorie needs.”

Yeung says that as a general rule, a person eating 2,000 calories per day should consume no more than 50 grams of added sugar daily. “For a person who needs calories, the maximum amount of added sugar is grams per day,” she says.

Examples of recommended sugar intake for different caloric diet are:

1,200 calories: 30 grams added sugar
1,500 calories: 37 grams added sugar
1,800 calories: 45 grams added sugar
2,000 calories: 50 grams added sugar
2,200 calories: 55 grams added sugar
2,500 calories: 62 grams added sugar

While the FDA’s recommendations are meant for the general public, these guidelines may be different for people with special health considerations.

For example, Smithson says, “AHA (American Heart Association) offers guidelines for people with heart disease.” Those guidelines set the recommended limit for added sugar at 25 grams per day.

Smithson says recommendations also vary for people with diabetes. “There may be times that they require added sugar,” she says.

The most practical daily added sugar intake?

If your head is starting to swim, Yeung offers some practical advice for folks without special health considerations: “I recommend trying to limit added sugar as best as you can by focusing on eating a diet primarily made up of whole foods and foods that have been minimally manipulated,” she says.

“You do not need to avoid all added sugar, and it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a sweet sometimes,” Yeung adds.

RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.

Why the recommended daily sugar intake isn’t best for everyone.

While aiming for a maximum of 50 grams of sugar per day is a decent guideline, less sugar is obviously better—50 grams isn’t something to shoot for; it’s a limit to stay well under.

“While the FDA makes sure food is safe for human consumption, they are also concerned with putting out products that taste good and have a normal mouthfeel, so they might allow for that extra bit of sugar to keep consumers happy,” Samuels says.

Carbs, including sugar, are the main energy source of the human diet. And while technically your body can function without any dietary carbs as long as you consume an adequate amount of protein and fat, your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate every scrap of sugar from your diet. Instead, it’s important to think about the food sources from which you obtain it.

“I recommend that most of the sugar you consume comes from foods that naturally contain it… where you also get additional nutrients,” Yeung says. “For instance, fresh or frozen fruit is a great way to sweeten up a dish; plus you get fiber, water, and various vitamins and minerals,” which gives whole food sources of sugar a greater nutritional value than just added sugar.

Some of the best sources of natural sugar to focus on for your daily sugar intake include:

Above all, Samuels stresses that it’s important to listen to your body. “It is difficult to tell… people exactly what to eat, because everyone’s bodies are different and they do not process things in the same way,” she says. “However, the less added sugar you include in your diet, the better.”

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Most of us can agree: A little sugar here and there is part of what makes life so sweet. Its molecular form — called glucose — is your cells’ preferred fuel, and your brain’s main source of energy, so your body is well-equipped to manage moderate amounts.

So what’s the problem? Sticking to moderate amounts. It’s the opposite of what’s been happening in the Western diet over the last several decades.

Today, Americans’ diets are totally saturated with sugar. On average, we consume 66 pounds of added sugar per person per year, or about 19.5 teaspoons every day. That’s two to three times the limit of six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons for men that’s recommended by the American Heart Association.

There’s nothing sweet about what that excess white stuff does to your health: Over-consuming sugar and refined carbohydrates has been linked to everything from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease to dementia and even cancer.

Before you set out to slash your sugar intake, it helps to understand more about why it’s so key, and what you’re up against (hello, cravings!).

This is your body on sugar

Excess sugar wreaks havoc on your body in a few different ways. For starters, research suggests it may contribute to inflammation in the body. In turn, chronic inflammation is linked with heart disease, arthritis, numerous types of cancer, and other serious health problems.

“We store glucose in the form of glycogen in muscles and the liver to supply energy between meals. Once glycogen stores are topped off, excess glucose is converted to fat in the liver. That fat must be transported to fat cells (adipose tissue),” explains Dr. Bill Rawls, M.D., Medical Director of Vital Plan. “Fat doesn’t mix with water, so the liver forms special transport particles — called lipoproteins — to transfer the fat. These particles are made of fat, protein, and cholesterol.”

After the fat is deposited into fat cells, the leftover particle, containing protein and cholesterol, is the LDL particle — the “bad” type of cholesterol associated with heart disease.

Glycation is another harmful side effect of sugar overload. “Glycation is when glucose sticks to proteins in the body and gums up the works,” says Dr. Rawls. He explains that proteins are what make normal and necessary functions happen throughout the body, so too much glucose ends up inhibiting those functions.

“The drive to consume carbohydrates is even stronger than the drive to sleep and have sex.” – Dr. Rawls

Glycation also weakens proteins that play crucial structural roles. Take collagen, for example, which is the “scaffolding” that holds up skin and helps keep it smooth and healthy. “Glucose is a collagen cruncher — it’s one of the reasons our skin wrinkles,” Dr. Rawls says.

One more major side effect of excess sugar is its impact on the glucose-regulating hormone insulin. “Insulin is like a lock and key that allows cells to take up glucose,” Dr. Rawls says. “But if you keep pounding cells with glucose, over time they eventually start becoming resistant to insulin, so your body has to pump out more and more.”

“Because of glycation, blood glucose levels must be tightly controlled — too much and the body is poisoned; too little and the body is starved for energy,” he explains.

“The primary way that glucose is regulated is by insulin. After a meal, insulin allows the body’s cells to take up glucose, which lowers blood glucose levels. At first, only insulin levels are elevated — what’s known as insulin resistance. But once blood sugar starts to elevate, the result becomes diabetes.”

Elevated insulin and blood sugar levels can mess with hormones — including those that control appetite. In the short term, those roller coaster blood sugar and insulin levels make you feel crummy and further feed your drive to eat more sugar. Continued over time, it may lead to diabetes and cause your body to store more and more calories as fat.

If you have a hard time saying no to sweet treats, it’s not entirely your fault. Back in hunter and gatherer times, carbohydrates (aka sugar) were hard to come by, but vital for survival. So humans developed an incredibly strong drive to find and consume them. “It’s even stronger than the drive to sleep and have sex,” Dr. Rawls says.

Research shows consuming sugar-laden foods triggers the release of feel-good opioids in the brain, similar to the effect of drugs like heroin. Over time, changes to gene expression and other functions also dull the response to those opioids, meaning that the more often you eat excess sugar, the more you’ll feel the need to keep experiencing the same feeling.

That’s why it can be difficult for some people to eat just one piece of candy. Not to mention, sweet foods are revered by modern society — they’ve become synonymous with reward and celebration. Given all that, it’s no wonder many experts say sugar addiction is very real. The good news is, you can break free from the habit. Here’s how:

10 steps to quitting sugar

First, know that you don’t have to cut out all forms of carbohydrates to beat sugar addiction. Instead, focus on eliminating sweets (candy, pastries, sugar-sweetened drinks, etc.) as well as packaged foods with added sugar. It’s often hidden, so look for its pseudonyms on labels, which include high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, fructose, or other words ending in -ose.

Also, avoid heavily processed white bread and pasta. You might also opt to cut out natural forms of sugar, such as honey, maple syrup, and high-sugar fruits like dates.

Whether you should go cold turkey or simply cut back depends on how much sugar you eat, and whether you feel as if you’re truly addicted. “You wouldn’t tell an alcoholic to just cut back on drinking,” says Brooke Alpert, R.D., founder of B Nutritious nutritional counseling and author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great and Look Years Younger. “With true sugar addicts, the cravings are so strong that moderation doesn’t work.”

On the other hand, if you generally eat well but your sweet tooth has gotten a little out of control, you can probably reduce your intake by cutting out or limiting sweets, packaged foods, and simple carbs.

Either way, the truth is, it’s not going to be easy — but it is doable, Alpert says. Here are ten strategies that she and Dr. Rawls say will help you manage cravings and sugar withdrawal, so you can get your sugar intake under control.

1. Plan ahead

If you’re truly hooked on sugar, quitting abruptly can make you feel like you have a hangover, Alpert says, complete with fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and irritability. Fortunately, sugar withdrawal symptoms typically only last about three days, so to up your odds of successfully navigating those three days, Alpert recommends carefully choosing when you start your sugar detox.

“Make sure you’re not doing it during three days you know will be high-stress,” Alpert says, which makes it easier to succumb to sugar cravings. Instead, pick days when you can practice more self-care and better plan meals, snacks, and distractions. “Know that there’s an end to it, and you will be okay,” Alpert says.

Food will also start tasting better when you avoid sugar, which helps. “Your taste buds will begin to recalibrate, and you’ll be able to taste sugar again in its natural form,” Alpert says. “You’ll notice that foods like almonds and onions actually have some natural sweetness.”

2. Fill up on healthy fats

Fat tastes good and is satisfying, both mentally and physically. It also helps stabilize blood sugar, Alpert says. That’s key, since dips in blood sugar were shown to activate areas in the brain that produce a greater desire for high-calorie food in study subjects who were shown images of tasty treats, reports the Journal of Clinical Investigation. So making sure every meal contains some healthy fat from foods such as avocados, nuts, olives, fish, or cheese can help you enjoy your food and feel less deprived.

3. Get plenty of sleep

“Being sleep-deprived sets you up for poor food choices,” Alpert says. “When you’re tired, you’re always looking for that quick fix of energy.” Levels of ghrelin, aka the “hunger hormone,” also rise if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, which makes it extra hard to fight cravings.

Research shows sleep deprivation actually increases your desire for high-calorie foods while also decreasing activity in the regions of the brain that deal with evaluating food choices. For instance, one study in the journal Sleep found that sleep restriction boosts a chemical signal in the body that makes junk food taste extra delicious (similar to the “munchies” effect of marijuana) — and keeps it elevated when it would otherwise dip in the evening. What’s more, the sleep-deprived study participants binged on cookies, candy, and chips, even after eating a big meal two hours prior, eating twice the amount they did after a good night’s sleep.

4. Stay hydrated

“Adequate hydration keeps up energy levels and helps stabilize hunger,” Alpert says, adding that it can also affect blood sugar levels. On the flip side, being thirsty could mess with your ability to make healthy decisions and resist sweets. It turns out that even mild dehydration (1 to 2 percent less water than your body needs to function optimally) seems to impair cognitive performance, which includes attentiveness and critical thinking skills, according to a study in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.

For this reason, both Dr. Rawls and Alpert advise sipping zero-calorie sparkling or mineral water when you crave something sweet to help deter indulgence. These drinks come in a variety of flavors, or you could add your own flavor. “I grew up in the south where everyone drinks sweet tea; I don’t enjoy plain water unless I’m really thirsty,” Dr. Rawls says. “So I drink mineral water with a little vanilla extract or tart cherry concentrate, and it tastes better than anything.”

Another option is to add 1-2 teaspoons of stevia or honey to your drink to help make the taste more pleasant. But stay away from artificial sweeteners — they’re linked to serious health concerns and can worsen sugar cravings.

5. Write down what you’re going to eat

Every morning, think about your meals and snacks for the day, and jot them down. “It puts you in a positive mindset, and helps hold you accountable for your goals and what you’re going to do,” Alpert says.

To help reduce sudden cravings, get rid of the candy bowl in your office at work and the cookie jar at home. “You’ll eat what’s available,” says Dr. Rawls. “Keeping your home and workplace free of carb-loaded foods is the best way to avoid them.”

If you feel like you’re about to give in to cravings, call or text a friend for support. Alpert says quitting sugar with a pal, or at least talking to someone about your plans and asking them to help keep you on track, can be a lifeline. A few words of encouragement from someone else are sometimes all you need to stay the course.

6. Be mindful, then distract yourself

It’s easy to mindlessly grab a handful of sweets when you pass a candy bowl, or automatically reach for the breadbasket when out for dinner. The trick is to think about everything you eat before it goes in your mouth. Do you really want it? Do you really need it? If you find that the answer to both questions is “no,” and that instead you’re responding to a craving, take a moment to acknowledge the feeling: Inhale a slow, deep breath, and then remind yourself of your goals and that cravings always pass.

Once you’ve tuned back in to the present, distract yourself. You might read a good book, listen to a podcast, or scroll through social media. Even better, take a short, brisk walk: A study in the journal PLoS One found that a 15-minute walk significantly reduced participants’ urge to eat a sugary snack compared to a control group.

7. Fight sweet cravings with bitters

Bitter taste receptors aren’t only on your tongue; they’re found throughout your digestive system and on other organs. They largely go unused if you eat a traditional Western diet, but stimulating those receptors with bitter foods and herbs positively affects hormones involved in controlling hunger and appetite, which could help keep cravings in check.

Bitter herbs and aromatic bitters (bitter herb extracts in an alcohol base) are also commonly used in traditional medicine to help stabilize and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The pancreas, which makes insulin, actually contains bitter taste receptors.

To stimulate your bitter receptors, try adding a dropperful or two of aromatic bitters on the back of your tongue before meals and at your usual snack time. In terms of other herbal therapy, many herbs such as burdock root and dandelion root are naturally bitter, having been derived from bark and roots. Some bitter herbs also help support healthy blood glucose levels, such as andrographis, Dr. Rawls says.

8. Sniff essential oils

Research has shown that several scents help tame an overactive appetite. When study subjects sniffed peppermint every two hours for five days, for example, they consumed fewer calories and less sugar than when they weren’t exposed to the aroma, reports a study by researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Studies also show that the scent of jasmine and grapefruit may also help control cravings and hunger. Try diffusing any of these essential oils around your home or office, or look for the scents in natural, essential oil-based perfumes and body lotions or oils.

9. Exercise regularly

“Regular exercise and being active decreases appetite and carb cravings better than anything else,” says Dr. Rawls. “You cannot break free from your sugar addiction without increasing your activity level.”

Find an activity you enjoy — whether it’s hiking, biking, tennis, yoga, kayaking or another form of exercise — and make time to move your body each day. “Physical activity also mobilizes glucose and fat stores in the body,” says Dr. Rawls. “This has the effect of normalizing blood sugar, an important factor in decreasing the incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes.”

10. Indulge wisely

If you do decide to go the cold turkey route, Alpert suggests waiting at least a week, but possibly even longer before indulging in sweets again. “Once you feel like you’ve got the day-to-day under control, it’s okay to have something sweet,” she says. “Life is short and there’s a place for a slice of cake.”

But, she says, it’s key that you eat it without guilt. If you’re going to binge and feel bad, it often leads you to make more poor choices and fall off the wagon altogether.

So make sure your indulgences are intentional, thought-out, and enjoyable. Keep avoiding processed junk, simple carbs, low-quality candy, and packaged foods with hidden sugars. Instead, treat yourself to, say, a piece of dark chocolate or a small cup of ice cream every now and then. And when you do, be sure to savor every bite.

Will Cutting Out Sugar REALLY Result in Weight Loss?

What happens when you eliminate sugar from your diet? For many of us, sugar is the primary source of empty calories in our daily diets, meaning it is pretty safe to assume that removing it from your daily diet could result in weight loss. Before you decide it’s time to forgo your daily Coke or Mountain Dew, swear off cookies and cake forever, and even stop eating your favorite tuna sandwich on white bread, here’s the truth about whether or not saying goodbye to sugar will really result in weight loss.

In Simple Terms, The Answer is Yes

Although this may not be the answer you are looking for, it is true that you will lose weight simply by cutting out sugar. On the other hand, if you continue to eat sugar, your changes of gaining weight grow higher and higher.

The Science Behind It

When you eat sugar, your body automatically goes into overdrive producing insulin and pulling glucose into your cells and prompting your body to hold on to fat for future use. This, of course, causes weight gain. At the same time, the fructose found in sugar can only be metabolized by your liver. Unfortunately, this is where it gets turned into fat and later secreted into the blood and distributed throughout your blood cells. These cells will become bigger and bigger, causing your body to secrete more leptin. Over time your body will develop a resistance to leptin, blocking any sensations of fullness and causing you to eat more.

It is also worth noting that when you opt to take sugar out of your diet, you are also eliminating quite a bit of carbohydrates. The carbs you do consume will come from veggies, grains, legumes, and meat. Not only will this add to the weight you are losing by eliminating sugars, but it will also target excess fat that has accumulated in your abdomen.

All Those Empty Calories

The average person consumes around 42.5 teaspoons of sugar every day. This is an additional 680 calories that offer no nutritional value and do little more than sit there and accumulate. For every 3,500 calories you consume, you gain 1 pound, which can happen quickly simply by consuming too many empty calories. Instead, replace these sugary foods with something healthy and low in calories.

Say Goodbye to Processed Foods

Let’s face it. Many of the sugary sweet treats you love are highly processed, yet offer minimal nutritional value. When you eliminate sugar, you will have to incorporate more natural, unprocessed foods into your diet. Not only are these foods much healthier, but they tend to have considerably less calories and fill you up faster. Thanks to your decreased caloric consumption and less snacking due to being full, you can expect to lose even more weight.

Can You Really Stop Eating Sugar and Still Enjoy Food?

If you are thinking to yourself that there is no way you could possibly live without sugar, you just might be surprised. You can eliminate sugar from your diet and still be satisfied. You just have to know the best substitutes. Here are a few of your best options that are free of the chemicals you will find in manufactured sweeteners.

  • Applesauce: Plain, unsweetened applesauce is the perfect substitute for sugar in some of your favorite sweet treats. It can be used to make muffins, cakes, brownies, cookies, pancakes, and more.
  • Bananas: Bananas are ideal for sweetening up smoothies, baked goods, and even homemade ice cream and popsicles.
  • Agave syrup: Made from the nectar in the Blue Agave plant, agave syrup is often referred to as “honey water,” though it also has a bit of a caramel taste to it. In recipes, a ¾ cup of agave syrup is equal to the sweetness you get in 1 cup of sugar.
  • Stevia: A powdered extract of the South American stevia plant, stevia is an herb that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. It is frequently used to sweeten oatmeal, baked goods, and sugar free protein bars.
  • Molasses: Molasses is often used as a substitute for brown sugar when baking. It’s a great option when making gingerbread cookies.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve decided that it is time to quit eating sugar, you can expect to lose weight. But remember to not get complacent. It is important to always supplement with exercise. There are tons of fun workouts you can get into. Set a trampoline in your backyard and get in a workout. Visit sites like for recommendations for trampolines. You can also get into Zumba, Yoga, or any other type of dance workout. It’s really up to you! Just make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy so it won’t feel too much like exercise.

What happens when you eliminate sugar from your diet? For many of us, sugar is the primary source of empty calories in our daily diets, meaning it is pretty safe to assume that removing it from your daily diet could result in weight loss. Before you decide it’s time to forgo your daily Coke or Mountain Dew, swear off cookies and cake forever, and even stop eating your favorite tuna sandwich on white bread, here’s the truth about whether or not saying goodbye to sugar will really result in weight loss.

Despite what most people think, I—an avid runner and nutrition writer—can’t just eat whatever I want.

I still need to fuel my body and my miles with whole foods, good fats, fruits and veggies, and make sure I’m not eating more than I’m burning.

But I’d been hearing a lot about the no-sugar craze and some talk about if sugar is really bad for you, and it got me thinking about my diet. The truth is: I have an insane sweet tooth. I eat ice cream every day. I even held a taste test at Runner’s World once. So if anyone could stand to cut back on sugar, I figured it was me. I gave myself 30 days to see what would happen. But it wasn’t all or nothing—I made a few guidelines on how to cut out sugar from my diet:

No Refined Sugars

Natural sugars, on the other hand, were fine. I would not cut out fruits, and I would still be able to sweeten my (full fat!) plain yogurt with a little bit of honey, for example.

No More Than 8 Grams per Day

My go-to breakfast is the aforementioned yogurt with granola, so I looked for stuff that contained fewer than eight grams of added sugar. If I’m being honest, I made that number up: I’m not a registered dietitian (although I work with them quite a bit). But 8 grams seems like an appropriate amount of sugar, especially if it’s mostly natural.

Finding a granola with so little sugar turned out to be difficult so I ended up making my own and adding a little bit of honey for sweetness.

I Could Still Have Fun

This was about cutting back, not depriving myself and feeling miserable, so if something came up (a work birthday party, a nice dinner with dessert), I wouldn’t turn it down. Besides, I’ve learned over the years that it’s easier to form good habits if you’re not so strict with yourself. A total sugar deprivation probably would have lasted until day two. Okay, okay, day 1.5.

Through the experiment, I learned a lot of things—most of which were surprising. Here are the top takeaways based on my experience.

1. I felt lighter—at first.

As you might expect, I felt great for the first few days. The key word there is “felt.” A couple of days wasn’t long enough for the change to have had a physical effect or move the needle on the scale. Maybe it would have if I’d been eating nothing but fast food for three meals a day. But I had gotten so excited at the prospect of cutting back on my sweet tooth that it boosted my motivation. At the end of the 30 days, however, I didn’t end up feeling any different.

2. I uncovered a different kind of willpower.

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I don’t feel like I lack in the willpower department—I’ve run seven marathons, and I’ve prepared for all of them. I’m not scared of putting in hard work, whether it’s 90 degrees out or in the single digits. But when it comes to my sweet tooth, all bets are off. During Passover, for instance, I won’t touch a crumb of chametz (wheat, corn, rice, beans) because it’s not allowed. But in general, I just can’t say no to a few scoops of ice cream.

This experiment helped me see that I could turn down that 2 p.m. bite of dark chocolate or the nightly bowl of frozen awesomeness, and that did feel good.

3. My skin broke out.

You hear stories of people cutting out sugar (or some other “bad” thing), and their skin glows or their hair becomes silky. This did not happen to me. In fact, I broke out in chin acne. To be fair, I’ve been struggling with acne on and off for a while, so my dietary change may not actually have been the cause, but it happened within a week of cutting out most sugar so I’m noting it here.

4. I ate more fruit and nuts.

I love fruit. I’m getting better at eating veggies (thanks to my local CSA!). But in order to satisfy my sweet tooth, I turned to fruit. I noticed I was feeling so much fuller due to the fiber content (something I often write about, but it’s always nice to be validated firsthand). Organic cashews (unsalted, roasted) became my staple snack. High in fat, yes, but filling, tasty, and easy to munch on.

5. Sugar is in EVERYTHING.

No, seriously. I thought I knew this when I read this article on deceptively sweet health food. “Hidden sugars” blah, blah. But no, really. Sugar is in everything. (So is gluten, actually.) I learned to read nutrition labels even closer than I had been, which helped me make healthier choices. And that’s a habit I can take with me beyond this month-long experiment.

6. I got creative.

Making a homemade granola is just one example. I realized something my friend has been saying forever: It’s best to just make things yourself. I love making cookies, but they’re packed with sugar. So I took one of my favorite recipes and tweaked it to make it a little healthier. Instead of Nutella, which I normally add to my oatmeal (along with protein-packed peanut butter), I made an avocado-based chocolate spread, sweetened with honey. And for better or worse, I took a few bites of that in place of my ice cream.

7. I actually eat pretty well.

I’m not going to lie. I thought that by dialing back my sugar the weight would fall off and I’d be at my lean and mean racing weight. You’ve read how that happens, right? But I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t gain weight either.

I realized that, despite my sweet tooth and my nightly bowl (okay, okay, scoops straight from the carton) of ice cream, I eat well and don’t have much to “cut out.” Sure, if I wanted to shed ten pounds and get to some elusive race weight, I could probably do it. But I’d have seriously sacrifice by cutting out all sweets and dialing back my caloric intake, which during marathon season, may not be as high as it should be anyway. So, chalk one up for me, for eating a pretty balanced diet and performing pretty well on the road.

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Over the years I’ve learned that depriving yourself of certain foods or food groups is the worst thing you can do to your mind and body. I used to cut out carbs. I couldn’t maintain a healthy weight. I was miserable. Once I started eating everything in moderation, my weight stabilized; I was happier; and I stopped feeling like I was missing out on things.

Where am I now, you might ask? I’m not as strict as I was during that month-long period. But I am more mindful—or I try to be. I read the labels closely. I ask myself if I really need that square (or two) of chocolate that has (somehow!) made its way onto my desk. I try to limit the amount of ice cream in my freezer. And of course, I run a lot.

No, I can’t eat whatever I want, but a sweet treat tastes even sweeter after a good workout.

Heather Mayer Irvine Freelance Writer Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook.

Why Are We Fat? Is It Gluttony, or Is Your Fat Actually Hungry?

What if everything you ever learned about weight loss was wrong? What if losing weight has nothing to do with calories—counting them or cutting them out by sheer willpower? What if, in fact, most health professionals (including doctors and dietitians), our own government and especially the food industry are giving us weight loss advice guaranteed to make us fat?

Here’s their mantra: “Eat less and exercise more. The secret to weight loss is energy balance. There are no good or bad calories. It’s all about moderation.”

If you doubt that this advice could be wrong, just look around. We have tripled our obesity rates since 1960, and in the last decade, cases of type 2 diabetes in children have increased by over 30 percent. In 1980, there were no children with type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult onset diabetes), and now, there are over 50,000. Seven out of ten Americans are overweight. The advice is not working. Could it be the wrong advice?

Nobody wakes up in the morning saying, “Hey, I want to gain weight today. I am going to overeat. I want to be fat.”

Rather, we have a $60 billion weight loss industry. It specializes in helping people count calories, eat less and exercise more. When are we going to realize that that our approach—as a scientific community and as policy makers—is failing miserably at stemming the tsunami of obesity and related health, social and economic costs?

Could it be we have it all wrong? Could it be the world is round, not flat, even though it looks flat, just as it seems that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight?

The answer is yes. Our focus on calories has missed the mark entirely. Even if you held the Guinness world record for calorie counting, you could easily be off by 100 calories a day. Do that for 30 years, and you will be 20 to 30 pounds overweight.

The End of Counting Calories

David Ludwig and Mark Epstein published the most important scientific paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association since the Watson and Cricks paper on DNA in 1953, which changed our whole way of thinking about genes. They also explained their findings in the New York Times piece, “Always Hungry? Here’s Why.”

It’s not that Isaac Newton and his first law of thermodynamics was wrong. It’s right—energy is conserved in a system. This is the whole foundation of our calories in/calories out, energy balance concept of weight loss. Just eat less and exercise more, and all the pounds will melt off.

But there is one fatal flaw in that thinking. The law states that energy is conserved in a “system.” It is true that, in a vacuum, all calories are the same. A thousand calories of Coke and a thousand calories of broccoli burned in a laboratory will release the same amount of energy.

But all bets are off when you eat the Coke or the broccoli. These foods have to be processed by your metabolism (not a closed system). Coke and broccoli trigger very different biochemical responses in the body—different hormones, neurotransmitters and immune messengers.

The Coke will spike blood sugar and insulin and disrupt neurotransmitters, leading to increased hunger and fat storage, while the thousand calories of broccoli will balance blood sugar and make you feel full, cut your appetite and increase fat burning.

Same calories—profoundly different effects on your body.

Is Your Fat Hungry?

Dr. Ludwig, for the first time, explains why. It’s not overeating that makes you fat. It’s being fat that makes you overeat. Once you start to consume refined carbs, such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and any form of sugar, you start making a certain kind of fat cells called VAT or visceral adipose tissue.

This is no ordinary fat. It is super fat. Hungry fat. Dangerous fat. This fat starts an inexorable cascade that leads to obesity. It’s like falling down an icy slope where it’s almost impossible to stop yourself. You need a big ice axe and crampons. We ordinary mortals are no match for this hungry fat.

Here’s what happens.

Those hungry fat cells suck up all the available fuel in your blood stream (glucose, fats, ketones). Your body then thinks, “Oh, my god, I am starving. I better eat more and slow my metabolism, so I don’t die.” The problem is, anything you eat gets sucked up into those fat cells around your belly, leading to a vicious cycle of hunger, overeating, fat storage and a slowing down of your metabolism. No wonder we gain weight and can’t lose it.

The key trigger for all this is a simple common hormone that we all need (but not too much of).


If we make too much insulin, it drives the fuel in our blood into our fat cells. Too much insulin also does a lot of other bad things like cause heart attacks, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia.

When it comes to causing spikes of insulin that start this miserable chain reaction, not all calories are created equally. Sugar and refined carb calories are the culprits. Americans eat, on average, about 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour a year (almost a pound of sugar and flour per person per day!). These are actually pharmacologic doses of sugar and flour!

Eat More Calories, Weigh Less?

There are many studies showing just how different sugar and fat calories are. Most scientists still hold on to the dogma that fat makes you fat, that fat causes high cholesterol and that low fat is the way to go to live a long healthy life. Plenty of evidence proves otherwise. What if the fact that this conventional wisdom is completely wrong is what has actually caused our obesity epidemic?

Dr. Ludwig points to studies in which all calories are held to be equal, but those participants kept on a low sugar and refined carb diet burned 325 more calories a day than those eating a low fat diet. Bottom line: Eating a high carb, low fat diet slows down your metabolism.

Most striking was an animal study (and yes, we are not animals but the results are still very impressive). The study found that animals eating a low fat diet put on 70 percent more body fat even while eating fewer calories than animals eating a low carb diet.

Let me say this again. Animals eating a low fat diet and fewer calories got fatter than those eating more calories and a low sugar and carb diet—70 percent fatter.

If you restrict your calories, you will end up triggering very ancient biological adaptions that protect us from starvation. You will slow your metabolism and get a lot hungrier.

You can’t voluntarily control your weight over the long term. Willpower is no match for these ancient programmed hormones that make sure you don’t starve to death.

The Key to Automatic Weight Loss

Dr. Ludwig proposes a novel, radical but scientifically true way to solve the obesity epidemic once and for all.

Don’t worry about how much you eat, because you will never be able to control that. Rather, focus on what you eat, the quality of the food you eat, the composition of the food you eat (high in fiber, good quality protein and fat, low in starch and sugar). Then, you won’t be hungry and will shift from fat storage to fat burning. And you will prevent most chronic disease including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia.

10 Take Home Lessons: Forget the Calories, Focus on the Quality of Your Diet

Here are the take home lessons from Dr. Ludwig’s paper:

  1. Overeating doesn’t make you fat. Your fat cells make you overeat.
  2. You make hungry fats cells by eating sugar and refined carbs.
  3. Restricting your calories will slow your metabolism, make you hungry and guarantee that your weight loss attempts will fail.
  4. Eating a higher fat, higher protein, lower sugar and refined carb diet will speed up your metabolism and cut your hunger.
  5. Controlling what you eat is much easier than controlling how much you eat.
  6. Forget calorie counting. It’s not about the calories but about diet quality and dietary composition. Just try eating 1,000 calories of broccoli.
  7. End our scientifically outdated position that all calories are equal and weight loss is simply a matter of eating fewer calories than you burn.
  8. Lower insulin by a sugar detox, and watch your body lose weight effortlessly without hunger or cravings.
  9. To learn more, watch the movie Fed Up or read The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet (a medically designed program to cut insulin and detox from sugar and refined carbs).
  10. Stop blaming yourself for lack of willpower, and start empowering yourself by eating real, whole, fresh food that’s low in sugar and starch.

Sugar – why quitting sugar guarantees you’ll lose weight

1. Cutting out sugar removes a lot of kilojoules/Calories

A level teaspoon of white sugar has only 70 kilojoules (16 Calories) but that’s not the problem. It’s not just the sugar. It’s the company sugar keeps.

If you eliminate sugar-laden foods, you eliminate a lot of kilojoules/Calories from fat and refined starches too. That’s because we don’t eat sugar on its own. We consume it with fat and refined starches (you can’t bake a decent cake or biscuit without flour, fat and sugar).

My short bread example

Think of shortbread biscuits. Yes there’s 12 per cent added sugar but with that comes 29 per cent fat from the butter and 65 per cent of starch from the flour. The sugar isn’t the key issue. It’s just part of the wider problem of junk food.

Recipe for shortbread:

350 g flour (or flour and rice flour)


100 g white sugar


250 g butter.

Shortbread 100 grams g fat g sugar g starch kilojoules
29 12 65 2220

Take a look at what you’ll save if you say “No” to soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate biscuits, lollies, doughnuts and muffins. For instance, cut out just one can of fizzy drink and you cut out 555 kilojoules (130 calories) and 34 g sugar.

Carrot cake with icing 1400kJ (330 calories) and 26 g sugar

Choc-chip muffin 1245 (295 calories) and 13 g sugar

Doughnut 950kJ (225 calories) and 13 g sugar

Chocolate bar 910kJ (215 calories) and 29 g sugar

2 Tim Tams 770kJ (185 calories) and 16 g sugar

Energy drink can 480kJ (115 calories) and 28g sugar

10 Jelly beans 400kJ (95 calories) and 16 g sugar

Removing soft drink is a strategy often suggested to curb childhood obesity. Even reducing the volume of soft drink – as New York city has proposed with its ban on supersized cups and limiting a single serve to 500ml – can help.

2. Sugar is a “marker” for highly-processed foods

When you quit sugar you’re cutting out foods nutritionists have always said you shouldn’t eat.

No lollies, chocolate biscuits, cup cakes, fizzy drinks, caramel frappucinnos or Magnums means you’re removing “junk food” that is kilojoule (Calorie)-dense, of poor nutritional value, that comes in huge portions, is highly refined with added colours, flavours and preservatives.

What’s more it’s usually low in fibre and has a high GI (not good). None of these foods is any loss in a healthy diet. You’re better off without them.

What these foods have in common is sugar. It’s there for sweetness and flavour. And sugar does functional jobs like balancing acidity, preserving by preventing bad bacteria from growing and creating nice browning during baking. Just ask any chef.

3. Quitting sugar means more natural, unprocessed foods

What do you replace sugary foods with? Usually it’s more fruit and dried fruit (unless you’re a “Sweet Poison” fan), nuts, salads, water or you just eat more chicken, fish meat and vegetables at your meals. Sounds pretty healthy to me.

Here are my 9 simple swaps to limit your intake of sugar junk foods.

Instead of this sugary junk food …


sweetened soft drink

water, mineral water, diet soft drink


water, or dilute cordial down so it just adds a bit of flavour

fruit juice

half juice (100% juice) with half water or just sip a small ½ cup serve

chocolate or chocolate bar

mug of hot milk with cocoa

dessert e.g. cheesecake, pudding

fruit salad, fruit sliced up on a plate, 2 scoops ice cream if you’re still hungry, ½ cup custard with canned apricots or fruit

dessert e.g. apple pie, apple Danish, deep-fried apple turnover

baked apple or stewed apple or pie-pack apple with a scoop of ice cream home-made apple crumble with oats and nuts

frozen mixed berries with a scoop of ice cream


distract yourself if it’s after dinner and you’re not hungry.
Or have a few dates or prunes e.g. 3-4

chocolate biscuits

distract yourself if it’s after dinner and you’re not hungry.
Or have a few dates or prunes e.g. 3-4


A piece of grainy toast with a nut butter
e.g. macadamia, almond or cashew.

Salty fat

Note: You can still eat a lot of kilojoules by eating fat and starch with salt. I call them salty fat. No sugar there.

  • Watch how many potato crisps, corn chips or movie popcorn people wrap themselves around when no-one’s watching.
  • Check out the amount of gourmet cheese with crackers that is consumed after you’ve eaten dinner.
  • Oh, and how could I not mention the tubs of hot chips or slabs of pizza at kids’ parties?

The bottom line

You don’t have to quit sugar entirely to improve your health and your weight (as the anti-sugar campaigners insist). Moderation, as always, is the key to eating healthily, sensibly and in a way that is easy to maintain. However, if you seriously want to lose weight, I do believe that eating less sugary junk food is a good thing to do.

Write out your day’s intake of food. Circle the sweet foods and drinks you like to consume regularly or in large amounts. The most likely culprits are soft drinks, juices, cordial, chocolate, muffins and confectionery. Or circle the sweet foods you reach for when you need a comfort fix. Cut out those.

My advice?

Remove the large amounts of sugar from your diet and don’t worry about the little bits that make low-fat, high-fibre, foods palatable such as a sprinkle of brown sugar on porridge, a scrape of jam on grainy bread or a drizzle of honey on your unsweetened breakfast cereal. And don’t stop eating fresh fruit.

A Life Less Sugar: Author Amanda Tiffen’s book about quitting sugar and losing 20kg in nine months

She knew that junk foods such as soft drink, ice cream, cakes and biscuits were loaded with the stuff and to be avoided.

“I wasn’t a big sweet eater. I’d go out and have ice cream with dinner, but I wasn’t someone who would eat the entire packet of biscuits,” Ms Tiffen, 43, from Christchurch, told

But it wasn’t until she watched the famous 2015 New Zealand documentary Is Sugar The New Fat? that she realised some of the “healthy” staples in her diet — low-fat yoghurt, muesli and salad dressings — were also packed with sugar.

The documentary follows Kiwi psychologist Nigel Latta as he eliminates products containing “hidden” sugars from his diet.

“ was going through the supermarket and picking out everyday products that I used to use — he picked out muesli and some flavoured tuna — and I thought ‘I had no idea sugar was in that’,” Ms Tiffen said.

“I’d always wanted to lose weight because I was always getting bigger, but it wasn’t until I watched the documentary that I thought ‘Wow, maybe it’s sugar and that’s something I should try cutting out’,” she said.

Amanda Tiffen before her 20kg weight loss.Source:Supplied

Amanda Tiffen before her 20kg weight loss.Source:Supplied

She combed through her fridge and pantry and was shocked at what she found.

“I started looking at sugar amounts in the products that I had and I was noticing in the low fat products there was a lot of sugar. It stunned me because society has really taught me that the way to go to lose weight was low fat goods,” she said.

“They strip out the fat and replace it with sugar. I went to my fridge and I had a look at my low fat yoghurt and milk and sure enough there was quite a bit of sugar in that as well. I thought ‘What am I going to do now? Everything I’ve got is full of sugar? Where do I start?’

“When you’ve been living a certain way and you think you’ve been living the correct way, you’re kind of a bit stunned. I was a bit in shock.”

Amanda Tiffen after her 20kg weight loss.Source:Supplied

A diabetic friend recommended Ms Tiffen start building her diet around healthy proteins such as eggs, cheese and lean meats.

She swapped out her breakfast of cereal, tinned fruit and low-fat milk for eggs on toast and eats whole, unpackaged foods for lunch and dinner and chooses full fat dairy products.

Ms Tiffen has also taught herself to read nutrition labels, focusing mainly on the sugar and carb content.

“I wasn’t terribly worried about fat,” she said, “because from what I’d seen, it says fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. I thought ‘who cares about the fat because a bit of fat is going to fill me up and help me eat less’.”

Amanda Tiffen’s new book ‘A Life Less Sugar’.Source:Supplied

In just nine months she lost 20kg and dropped from a size 16 to a size eight.

Now she’s written a best selling book about her experience, A Life Less Sugar, and runs an Instagram account (@alifelesssugar) calling out “healthy” products that are high in sugar.

“I post everyday foods and I take the information given on the back of the packet and convert the grams into teaspoons,” Ms Tiffen said.

“People get confused by grams, but if we see that something has 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, we wouldn’t eat it. We need to have images of teaspoons on products so people can understand what they’re eating.”

The World Health Organisation recommends reducing “free” or added sugars such as sweets, honey and fruit juices to less than five per cent of our total energy intake, or about six teaspoons of sugar.

There are approximately four grams of sugar per teaspoon, so that equates to a maximum of 24 grams of added sugar a day. That excludes fruit and milk, which both contain natural sugars.

But the average Australians consumes an average of 60 grams of “free” or added sugars a day, which is the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of sugar, according to ABS data.

The majority of this sugar intake comes from beverages, including soft drink, fruit juice and sports drinks.

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) recommends we consume fruit juice and dried fruit only occasionally. Both are concentrated sources of sugars and are easy to over consume.

The DAA also says junk foods and sweets are to be avoided on a daily basis and enjoyed only occasionally.

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

  • The sugar-free diet plan is a must-try if you can’t get enough of the sweet stuff.

    The sugar-free diet plan could be the diet for you if you always need your 4pm chocolate fix… Do you spend the whole afternoon in a sugar-slump? Or crave biscuits and fizzy drinks when you’ve had a long day? You could be one of the 75% of us addicted to sugar! Although we all know how bad sugar is for us, giving it up is another thing altogether. Especially as so much of it is concealed within products that we think should be good for us – like cereals or granola bars.

    But help is at hand with diet guru Monica Grenfell’s Sugar-Free Miracle diet that will help kick your addiction and drop up to 10lbs in 4 weeks.

    Why is eating sugar that bad for me?

    They say a little of what you fancy does you good, but it’s unhealthy to treat yourself every day – if you do, too much sugar could be sabotaging your figure and your health.

    Blood sugars naturally rise after a meal and insulin swings into action to stop the level rising too high. But regularly having too much sugar can throw your system and the insulin stops doing it’s job – next stop, diabetes.

    Plus, all the extra calories could be standing between you and your dream figure!

    Credit: Getty Images

    What can I do about my sugar addiction?

    The good news is it’s easy to conquer sugar addiction. Stick to this plan and you’ll not only whittle your waist but those energy levels will soar.

    Start by kicking the sugar rush: This diet works by cutting out sweets, desserts and anything sweet tasting, like fruit juice or dried fruit, for three days. Then you follow up with a low-GI diet. Foods with low glycaemic helps stabilise blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

    So what does the Sugar-Free miracle diet look like?

    Days 1-3: Follow the 7 golden rules

    1. No desserts, no fruit and no sugar in drinks.
    2. No juices, squashes or diet colas.
    3. Drink tea, coffee (no sugar or sweetners) milk, plain water.
    4. No ketchup, brown sauce, Thai or Chinese-type sweet and sour sauces.
    5. Base your meals around meat, fish and eggs.
    6. A carbohydrate breakfast of unsweetened cereal is allowed.
    7. Portions must be small – after seven mouthfuls, stop eating.

    Days 4-7: Add a little of what you fancy

    As days 1-3, but add a healthy dessert in the evening, such as fruit salad, yogurt or fromage frais with stewed fruit.

    So what can I eat every day?


    • Shredded Wheat with sprinkling flaked almonds and 250ml of skimmed milk
    • Skinny latte, 2 rashers of bacon, 1 poached egg, grilled tomatoes
    • 1 Oatibix, 250ml skimmed milk, 1tbsp blueberries


    • Baked cod with chopped tomatoes, peppers and garlic, carrots and butter beans
    • Chicken stir-fry with vegetables
    • Cold, salmon or tuna salad

    Credit: Getty Images


    • Wholewheat pasta salad with tuna, 1tsp mayonnaise, chopped peppers
    • Wholegrain chicken or salad sandwich
    • 40g cheese or 3tbs low-sugar baked beans on 2 slices buttered wholegrain toast

    Day 2


    • 30g porridge, 200ml skimmed milk. 1 boiled egg
    • 2 eggs, any style, 1 slice wholemeal toast and peanut butter
    • 1 Oatibix, 200ml skimmed milk, 1tbsp blueberries


    • Roast chicken wrapped in bacon, served with carrots, peas and gravy
    • Vegetable curry with 2tbsp brown or wild rice, side salad.
    • 1/2 avocado filled with water-packed tuna, 1tsp mayonnaise. Green salad


    • Prawn, mayonnaise and lemon open sandwich with 2 slices rye or granary bread
    • Wholewheat spaghetti with a Mediterranean vegetable sauce. Green salad
    • 40g cheese or 3tbsp low-sugar baked beans on 2 slices buttered wholegrain toast

    Credit: Getty Images

    Day 3


    • 2 slices granary toast with marmite
    • 1 bagel with 1/2 fat cream cheese
    • 2tbs Bitesize Shredded Wheat, 200ml skimmed milk


    • Low-fat burger, grilled. Mixed salad with sweetcorn
    • Salmon fillet baked, with veg
    • 2 slices cheese on 2 Ryvitas with a sliced tomato


    • Seafood risotto, green salad
    • Vegetable curry with 3tbsp brown rice
    • Grilled fillet steak with mushrooms, tomatoes and a baked sweet potato

    Day 4


    • 30g porridge, 200ml milk
    • 2 slices granary toast, lightly buttered with 2tbsp tinned tomatoes
    • 2 Shredded Wheat with 200ml soya, rice milk or skimmed milk

    Credit: Getty Images


    • Avocado and prawn salad
    • Cold chicken and salad in a tortilla wrap
    • 40g hard cheese with fruit and celery


    • Small portion wholewheat macaroni with tomato and vegetable sauce, sprinkling Parmesan cheese
    • Small bowl lentil soup with 2 slices granary bread and Flora
    • 4tbsp mixed vegetable chilli sauce, served on 3tbsp brown or mixed rice

    Day 5


    • 1 Shredded Wheat, sprinkling sultanas, 200ml skimmed milk
    • 1 boiled egg, 1 slice granary toast, Flora
    • 40g toasted muesli, 200ml skimmed milk and 1tbsp plain yogurt


    • Baked cod, peas and carrots
    • Granary sandwich filled with Brie and grapes
    • Cheese salad


    • 1 small vegetable pizza with mixed salad
    • Small slice stilton and broccoli quiche, with hot vegetables or salad
    • Cheese or spinach 3-egg omelette.
    • Baked sweet potato

    Day 6


    • 2 eggs, any style, 1 slice wholemeal toast and peanut butter
    • 1 Oatibix with 200ml skimmed milk
    • Smoothie made with 1 banana, 6 almonds, 1tbsp oatmeal and 300ml skimmed or soya milk


    • Cold cheese omelette in strips on salad with sweetcorn and peas
    • Meatballs in tomato sauce with 3 green vegetables
    • Bowl of carrot, spinach or vegetable soup with small granary roll and butter

    Credit: Getty Images


    • Wholewheat spaghetti with 50g smoked salmon and 1tbsp crème fraiche
    • Quorn fillet in lemon and black pepper, served with coleslaw
    • Jacket potato with cottage cheese and sweetcorn

    Day 7 – Cheat Day!

    One day a week you can pick what you want from the other days a be a bit more generous with the portions. Plus you’re allow 1-2 glasses of alcohol and one sweet treat e.g. 2 biscuits, small slice of cake- but not in your first week!

    If you’re having a go at the Sugar-Free Miracle diet let us know how you get on on our social media pages!

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