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March 27, 2020 10 min read

Sugar and spice and everything nice. Well, no, not really. There are not so many nice things the sugar does to your body. Yes, it's sweet and tastes so good, and we are all kids at heart when it comes to sweets. But there are alternatives for refined sugar. It may surprise you to learn how little you will crave it once it's gone from the menu.

Nowadays, added sugar is everywhere, mostly because of its preservation value. The shelf-stable foods can absorb water from the air, which affects the "best before" date. To prevent that, food manufacturers often turn to sugar. Take a better look at the nutrition part of the labels of your regular products, and you will understand.

Even in the most unexpected products, you will find some form of added sugar, obvious or hidden. Start with the jar of sauce or a bottle of ketchup. Next, look at peanut butter and finish with a donut or a can of soda. Put everything the average American eats and drinks in a day on paper and calculate the values. Don't be shocked to discover that a daily intake of sugar often exceeds - or even doubles - the recommended portion.

People’s lives are full of busy schedules, and people often rely on quick, processed foods. That habit puts the sugar high on the list of their daily calorie intake. Some studies have shown that in America today, the added sugars count can range from 14 percent for children to a whopping 17 percent in adults. For comparison, a daily dose of sugar should be less than 10 percent. Sugar causes the opioid receptors in your brain to activate. It's the trigger for your neurological rewards system to ignite the fireworks.

You will feel good emotionally for a while. The sugar high is real. The costs are the headaches, energy crashes, even hormonal imbalances, in the meantime. If you think now that sugar is close to a drug, you’re on the right track. Sugar addiction is a thing.

The Dark Side of Excess Sugar Consumption

Too much-refined sugar in your food is a significant cause of chronic diseases, psychological, and esthetic problems. Check out the list of just a few of the worst health scourges:

  • Type 2 diabetes: Belly fat and obesity are not only esthetic problems but also high-risk factors for more severe conditions.
  • Damage of blood vessels: Consistently high blood sugar levels provoke damage, which leads to the whole sack of problems. The risks of kidney disease, liver disease, and heart disease are just a few.
  • Dental health problems: Refined sugar can cause cavities, as it's feeding the bacteria in your mouth. The process releases acid byproducts, and the tooth decay party begins.
  • Psychological and mental health: There's a link between diets high in refined sugars and an increased risk of many psychological conditions, like depression. Some studies showed the connection between sugar consumption, impaired memory, and dementia.
  • Skin issues: The insulin rollercoasters trigger inflammation in the skin. Losing elasticity and collagen leads to premature wrinkling, sagging skin, and rosacea. Reducing your sugar intake reverses the process. Plenty of new research proves that sugar is one of the most common triggers in rosacea. Cutting it from the diet can improve even the most severe symptoms.

Refined Sugar Blocks Your Diet Efforts

A typical diet used to be a low-fat, high-carb plan. The downside of such a program is that low-fat foods are often high in refined sugars. These kinds of diets became infamous for "starving phases" and various cravings. The culprit is refined sugar and a high level of oscillations in the glycemic index (GI), which it provokes. Refined sugars can also induce resistance to leptin, a hormone whose duty is to signal hunger and satisfaction.

The high glycemic index boosts blood sugars in the body fast and drops them even faster. That kind of roller coaster effect leads to a quick rising and falling of energy levels, followed by "crush cravings." In other words, consuming added sugar pushes you only towards more of the same. The circle never stops.

Your body uses enzymes to break down sugar into glucose. It gets stored as an energy source to use when necessary. Any excess glucose converts to fat. That is how sugar leads to weight gain and obesity.

Carbohydrates are the foods with the highest GI. Think white bread, white rice, white potatoes, white flour, and sugar. That doesn't mean that all carbs are bad. You need some good carbs, like whole grains. A healthy, high-fiber diet can include whole grains, together with the selection of fruits, vegetables, proteins. When you go low carb, all that matters is where you get them.

Whole foods with low glycemic index keep your blood sugar leveled. With steady sugar levels come balanced energy levels. Many cravings disappear, and your appetite is under control. Fibers and low glycemic index make it possible to stay satisfied longer with smaller amounts of food.

An assortment of vegetables.

A Low Sugar Diet for Optimal Health

Refined sugar is natural when first extracted from plants like sugarcane. The processing serves to remove molasses and make the rest easier to preserve and use. "Table" or "white" is the most common type of finished product. America today lives on high-fructose corn syrup, which is also refined sugar. When doctors and dieticians tell you to cut down on sugar, they’re talking about this kind.

Not all sugars are equally bad. Refined sugars contain empty calories and lead a train of bad habits. On the other hand, foods that contain natural sugars come with many other nutrients. Think about the fructose in fruits and the lactose in dairy products or honey. All of those come together with various health benefits. Fructose comes with fibers. Lactose holds hands with proteins.

A medium-sized banana contains about 14 grams of natural sugar. Even superfoods like kale contain molecules whose structure is sugar. But all of those hold a low GI and provoke no rollercoasters in blood.

By consuming natural sugars, you get a healthy intake of other nutrients. Our brains use up to 400 calories of glucose every day. However, it can also run on ketones, which you make during fasting or eating less than 60 grams of carbs per day. A low sugar diet includes consuming small amounts of carbs. It replaces all the refined stuff with natural and processed food with whole foods.

A diet rich in high-fiber vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and healthy fats, is the root of success in most healthy weight loss plans. It aims to cut calories from excess sugars and processed foods while promoting ingredients that help you feel full. You can still have plenty of your favorite foods, slightly adapted to the diet plan. 

A carton of eggs.

Eat This, Not That

Depending on your goals, you don’t always have to count calories. You should put some control into your portion sizes. Once you adapt to the no-sugar plan, you can see that portion control is not a hard task. Many of your typical cravings will disappear.

  • Fruits and vegetables: You can eat them, as long as you stay away from those richest in sugar. However, don't go overboard with anything. Natural sugars can still provoke oscillations in your GI, and your liver may complain too. A reasonable dose of fruit is up to three small units or one and a half cups of chopped pieces.
  • Grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, bread, and pasta from the whole-grain category are permitted. Keep the portions small. Spreads, toppings and side dishes should be homemade and straightforward. If you top the whole-grain pasta with a pre-made sauce bursting with added sugar, your efforts will be gone with the wind.
  • Protein: Low-fat dairy, milk, cheese, and yogurt are welcome, as well as eggs, fish, nuts, shellfish, lean meats. You can eat lean pork, but turkey and veal are a better choice.
  • Beverages: Unsweetened coffee and tea are permitted. If you swap soda for natural, fresh squeezed juices, you are already doing an excellent service to your health. Take some time and explore the variety of tea mixes and spices you can include in your program. After a while, homemade iced tea and zero belly smoothies will be the only thing you want to drink. Besides water, of course.
  • Snacks: Replace milk chocolate and high-calorie bars with almonds, carrots, and low-fat cheese, or even dark chocolate with 80% or more cocoa. Sometimes it's just the habit that makes us want to chew something between meals or while watching TV. That habit doesn't mind if you chew carrot instead of cake, as long as you chew.
  • Alcohol: Occasional glass or two of fine red wine will not harm you. Keep it very moderate.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Technically, it's a no-no. Eating artificial sugars may trick the body into thinking that it is eating ordinary sugar. The chain of reaction will wake up old cravings and make it more difficult to persist. 

However, if you are not ready to have your beverage without some sweet taste, incorporate Stevia. Be careful, because not all Stevia is the same. You want the real, concentrated thing, the one that replaces a full teaspoon of sugar with merely a sprinkle. The minuscule amounts will keep you safe until you get ready for total commitment.

  • Caution: Stay away from pre-made meals and processed food! In most cases, those contain the things you want to avoid. More often than not, they burst with added sugar. It's not worth the risk. Shop the simple whole foods and cook at home. It's your best bet not to make efforts in vain.

The Zero Sugar Diet Plan by David Zinczenko

If you do better with more specific rules, go with the user-friendly guide of the former editorial director of Men's Fitness in the US. In association with Stephen Perrine, he created a specific program that brings your hormones into balance. His book contains a "14-day plan to flatten your belly, crush cravings, and help keep you lean for life." Healthy and tasty recipes assist liver function and take away food cravings while delivering rapid weight loss.

Zinczenko is the famous author of the Zero Belly Diet. His other titles include Zero Belly Cookbook and Zero Belly Smoothies. The book reviews launched him to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. You can often see him sharing a wealth of helpful information live on Good Morning America.

The Zero Sugar Diet Plan works by drastically lowering your sugar consumption while boosting your fiber intake. All of the recipes are based on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, lean meat, and the right amount of good fats. The promise is it will flatten your belly in no time. You'll also feel much more energized, and the feeling will remain.

Letting Go of Your Sugar Addiction, Cold Turkey

Sugar works for you in a similar way that drugs do. You may experience withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly cut all unnecessary sugars out. The symptoms include exhaustion, headaches, and mood swings. Some gastrointestinal discomfort is also possible.

Sugar is activating the "happy hormones," dopamine, and serotonin. As with any other way to artificially improve your mood, the brain will not be happy to give that away. 

A sudden feeling of sadness or depression is no reason to worry; it's a signal that your body started adjusting. There is an easy solution to balance the mood when you first begin a zero sugar diet. Use healthier ways to achieve the same effect. Go for a walk, do something you love, and exercise. Regular workouts affect the same hormones, plus it makes you healthier and slimmer. There’s no comparison between the two. 

After a week or so, your energy and mood will start to improve. You'll learn there are many sweeter things in life than sugar.

Six Tips for Going Sugar-Free

  1. Take it slow: Start by eliminating the most prominent sources of sugar.
  1. Read nutrition labels: Corn syrup, cane juice, barley malt, juice concentrate, turbinado, muscovado - none of these expressions contain "sugar." Still, that is exactly what they are. Over 60 words describe sugar. Learn to recognize the difference.
  1. Learn the difference in carbohydrates: Simple carbs are empty calories, aim for the carbs with high fibers and high nutritional value.
  1. Focus on whole foods: Avoid processed foods that contain refined ingredients or added sugars.
  1. Plan your meals: Any diet works better with arrangements. Shop smartly, keep unwanted stuff out of your kitchen, and set the meal plan in advance for the week.
  1. Spice up the things: Add sweet herbs and spices to foods and drinks. Cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, these will enhance the taste and replace the sugar.

Will the Zero Sugar Diet Plan Cost Me?

We dare to say it comes at no cost. Food swap doesn't have to change your regular shopping list. You will adapt by dropping some items out and replacing them with better alternatives. Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating does not have to empty the pockets of dieters. The road to the healthiest lives requires only developing great savvy monitors.

Is the Diet Plan Worth the Effort?

The zero sugar diet promises to lower your cholesterol, increase your energy, and help treat diabetes and other diseases. Cutting out refined stuff is a formula for overall better health. Controlling blood sugars with low-glycemic foods is the best way to shred your body fat without suffering.

The restriction of prepacked foods is useful for anyone on a low-sodium diet. Excess salt can be bad for your heart, and processed food is rich in it. Less sugar and salt will promote your hydration, adding more benefits to the list.

Eliminating added sugar from your diet will improve the quality of your rest. The levels of slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (the dreaming phase) will be better balanced without interrupters. The number of times you wake up during the night will slowly decrease.

Giving up "bad food" can undoubtedly lead to weight loss. You don't have to suffer the hunger attacks and sugar cravings, thanks to the high level of fibers and low GI. Fewer restrictions make it possible to have a diet that is full of delicious recipes and still delivers.

The ketogenic diet with zero sugar plan offers hope to people with type 2 diabetes. Most dieters feel better with fewer diabetic symptoms, while some even get less dependent on medications.

Some may find the restrictions of keto and zero sugar diet too difficult to follow. While it is reasonable to expect a motivation drop over the long term, yo-yo dieting can be dangerous. Do the steps before you start the diet to make sure you can commit to it. Your dietician and doctor can help you find and follow the best plan, win small thresholds, and avoid monotony, the worst enemy of persistence.

Making the whole food and no-sugar diet a part of your life is a smart move in many ways. It is not just a simple, one-time solution for weight loss. It is part of a lifestyle change. For the best results, you should always involve regular exercise. If you are eager to get rid of body mass, you can speed that along as the next step.

Always speak to a professional before making significant changes. Even the healthiest of goals need to be built on a healthy foundation.