A high-sugar diet increases the risk of bad teeth, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. That’s why sugar-free diets are certainly good for your health in this regard.
But even if you eat completely healthy, you will still be eating sugar. In this article, we will give you essential tips for a sugar-free diet.
In this article you will find the following:
- What to eat fructose-free products
- Why addiction is bad for your health
- How to avoid sugar with the help of only 2 tips
- How many aliases do manufacturers use for sugar (the number is far higher than you think)?
- The complete, free and low-carbohydrate weekly schedule
- 3 delicious recipes
- Why you should live sugar-free as long as possible
If you have ever tried to reduce your fructose intake, you will probably already know how incredibly difficult it is. On some days, a life without fructose itself seems almost impossible. But how is it that the brain has such difficulty reducing its consumption?
Sugar causes an opiate-like effect and affects dopamine activity in the reward center of the brain. Of course, fructose is not as addictive as drugs, but there are still many similarities.
The added sugar in food is the nastiest ingredient in our modern Western-style diet. This added sucrose has a detrimental effect on our metabolism and increases the risk of numerous diseases.
Many residents of Western countries consume enormous amounts of refined sugar, in some countries up to 67 kg per year. This means that on average more than 500 kcal per day is only absorbed by sugar!
The exact amount of fructose consumed varies according to the investigation, but it is more than clear that we are consuming much more fructose than it is recommended.
Different studies have shown that excessive consumption can lead to serious disorders of metabolism, such as insulin resistance, bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a disturbed blood sugar level.
What I really mean by sugar-free food and drinks?
A completely fructose-free diet is of course mischief. What it is all about is avoiding it as much as possible, and that is quite different from actually living 100% without sucrose.
That is as well something impossible.
Sugar is added to refined foods, also known as simple carbohydrates, and these should be avoided. However, it would be absurd to demonize all foods that contain carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are full of nutrients and fiber and contribute to the energy supply of the body and the brain. Their glycemic index is also quite low, which means that they are broken down only slowly, causing the blood sugar level to rise and fall slowly.
The following food sources are rich in multiple, complex carbohydrates: vegetables, fresh fruits (fiber), legumes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oatmeal.
However, eating too many complex carbohydrates is not recommended if you want to lose weight. In such a case, a low-carb diet may be the way to go. This diet is effective in weight loss and has many health benefits.
Simple carbohydrates are mainly found in sweet drinks, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, pasta, white rice, etc. Daily consumption of large amounts of simple carbohydrates can lead to obesity and diabetes type 2.
Fast sugars cause large rashes in blood sugar. This is also often referred to as a blood sugar roller coaster. This causes you to become hungry much faster.
Refined foods almost always lack vitamins, fiber, and minerals. The simple carbohydrates only provide calories. That’s why they’re called empty calories, and that’s why they’re so unhealthy.
Tip # 1: Always read the labels carefully
Most slogans on the packaging in the supermarket praise the products contained as healthy, although these are mostly not.
Just think of all the beautifully designed and healthy-looking packaging that holds all the vitamin promises.
Often, refined foods are deliberately added to a small number of ingredients that are considered healthy. Consider vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. But this is made purely for marketing reasons (keyword: clean-labeling) so that hereby can be advertised on the packaging.
In most cases, however, the amount of healthy substances added is so small that they can be neglected, and they can by no means compensate for the harmful substances and sugar levels in the products.
This way, clever advertisers mislead parents who think they are buying something healthy for themselves and their children.
First, find out how much fructose is actually in your diet by looking at the nutritional charts on the back of the packaging. Unfortunately, most people do not read this ingredient list of a product before they buy it. But even the people who do that often have a hard time deciding whether the product is good or bad for them because manufacturers use a few tricks to make the ingredient lists rather obscure.
Even products like tomato sauce, crackers, herbs, and salad dressings are full of added sugar. Luckily, manufacturers cannot ignore food agency regulations and are required to the ingredients that are most in the product on the packaging to be mentioned first.
If you discover sugar as the first ingredient on the list, you already know that there is a lot of it in the product.
One should not forget the different names for sugar on the labels. The manufacturers like to divide the sugar used into different types of sugar. Then they can put the sugar over several names on the label, which gives the impression that the amount of sugar used is not that dramatic. If one then counts the different sugar seeds together, one usually comes to a considerable amount of sugar.
Tip # 2: Remember the code names for sugar
If you want a fructose-free diet, you should look carefully at the labels while shopping. Manufacturers (especially those who produce high-sugar foods) are trying their best to fool unwitting and inattentive customers.
Looking at food labels, it’s no longer enough to look for the word ‘sugar’ if you’re looking for a life without sucrose.
For example, food may contain sugar, sucrose, and glucose-fructose. These are all code names for nothing but sugar.
In this way, an ingredient that sounds quite healthy at the very top of the list of ingredients can appear at once, but if you then count the amounts of the four types of sugar used, the sugar should be number one.
Here are some examples of such aliases for sugar:
- glucose syrup
- agave syrup
Did you already know them all? Probably not, right? There are now almost 70 code names!
The use of so many different aliases is a clever trick to conceal the true amount of refined sugar in a product. That’s why you should always look closely and check whether several types of sugar in a product are included.
If you spot several types of sugar on the label, this is a good indication that the product is unhealthier than you might think.
Tip # 3: Avoid sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners
If you want to drastically reduce your sugar intake, you will need to avoid artificial sweeteners.
The switch from sugar to sweetener can currently be very common in a lemonade.
Artificial sweeteners contain almost no calories and give the drinks a sweet taste. One could, therefore, come up with the idea that they would be the ideal solution for a fairly sugar-free diet.
Unfortunately, all the sugar substitutes and low-calorie sweeteners in products are not healthy solutions. Because they taste very sweet but do not deliver calories, they confuse the body.
When one eats something that tastes sweet, the body expects to be fed calories (energy). The artificial sweeteners, however, contain virtually no calories let alone essential nutrients that the body needs to function.
This can then cause you to still be hungry even though you have already eaten and drank enough. You think you could deceive your body with sweeteners, but it’s the other way around!
Here are some findings on artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes:
Women who drink light sodas drink larger amounts of lemonade than women who drink the normal sugar-rich version of the beverage. According to the researchers, this is due to an additive effect of artificial sweeteners.
However, some health authorities still claim artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame E951) are perfectly healthy. They base their claims on investigations conducted by institutes funded by the food industry.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) views these institutes critically and has therefore removed them from its list of organizations that are allowed to participate in WHO activities in 2006.
As you can easily see, there is still a lot of confusion about artificial sweeteners and how they affect our health. But are they also an obstacle to losing weight? According to science, this is not proven (at least for the moment).
Different studies with random controls (or, to put it another way, the highest quality category of scientific research) even conclude that artificial sweeteners help to reduce body weight, fat mass, and waist.
Artificially sweetened beverages can be an alternative for people who drink liters of normally sweetened lemonade a day and want to reduce their sucrose intake. However, drinking light sodas will not automatically lead to weight loss if compensated directly by eating larger portions.
If you find that light lemonade increases your appetite, you should rather just drink water.
Tip # 4: Eat protein and healthy fats
Over the last 50 years, the consumption of refined/processed carbohydrates has increased drastically.
The natural sources of carbohydrates (such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds), however, are found less and less often in today’s western diet.
This development is very bad, because refined carbohydrates, in particular, cause the body to initiate sugar burning instead of burning fat. The unhealthy carbohydrates are full of ‘plain’ sugar, which causes the blood sugar level to rise very quickly (and then just as quickly to fall again and you’re hungry very quickly).
The higher the blood level rises, the more insulin the body will produce. And insulin is responsible for storing more fat.
To stimulate fat burning and live sucrose-free, you have to eat protein-rich and follow a low-carbohydrate diet. With such a diet, you will absorb more protein and healthy fats, and your carbohydrate intake will fall sharply.
Protein is scientifically proven to be your best friend in the fight against obesity.
Tip # 5: Pay attention to what you drink
Avoiding sodas is a good first step if you want to achieve a sucrose-free diet, but they are not the only drinks that contain a lot of fructose.
Even drinks that are considered very healthy (vitamin water or fruit juices) may contain far more fructose than the WHO recommended a maximum daily dose of 25 grams of fructose.
To give you an idea of how many cubes of sugar are contained in certain drinks, here is a brief overview:
- Lemonade (Cola, Fanta) – 10 cubes
- Chocolate milk from the pack – 10 cubes
- Orange juice – 10 cubes
- Vitamin Water – 8 cubes
- Aquarius sports drink – 6.5 cubes
A sugar cube is equivalent to 4 grams of sugar. As you can easily see, many classified as ‘healthy’ drinks are also full of fructose.
Tip # 6: Choose foods with low glycemic load
One way to determine what high-carbohydrate foods do with your body is to determine how fast the carbohydrates are absorbed by the blood.
Both the number of carbohydrates and the type of carbohydrates (simple or complex) affect the blood sugar level.
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) can help determine what specific foods affect your blood sugar level.
Low-GI foods are absorbed more slowly by the blood, resulting in a slowly rising blood sugar level instead of heavy rashes.
The GI of pure sugar is 100.
As a measure you can remember the following:
Glycemic Index (GI)
- Healthy: less than 50
- Medium: between 51 and 69
- Unhealthy: all over 70 (fast sugars)
For example, the glycemic index of quinoa is significantly lower than brown rice and sweet potatoes. Also in terms of nutrients quinoa beats the brown rice and the sweet potato the normal potato.
Diet plans, which mainly contain low GI foods, have proven to be particularly healthy for people with type 2 diabetes.
However, the glycemic index also has one big drawback: it does not take into account the number of carbohydrates in food.
Of course, some foods contain a lot more carbohydrates than others.
If you were to choose your food-based exclusively on the GI, you would rather buy a Twix chocolate bar (GI value of 44) than a watermelon (GI value of 75). This is of course nonsense. The watermelon contains far fewer calories and essential nutrients per serving than the Twix bar.
How is this possible? The answer is quite simple: the glycemic index does not compare realistic portions with each other. The GI value of a food is determined by giving the products a portion of food containing 50 grams of digestible carbohydrates, which includes starch and sugar.
So that would be the number of carbohydrates that are stuck in about a 3/4 bar Twix and about 5 servings of watermelon.
So although eating many pieces of watermelon can raise blood sugar levels, only one serving of watermelon contains significantly less sugar than a chocolate bar.
Since the glycemic index neglects the portion size of the food, the value of the glycemic load was introduced. The glycemic index indicates how high the blood sugar level can rise, but the glycemic load indicates how high it rises. In this respect, the glycemic load is a better indicator than the glycemic index.
The GL is a measure of both the GI and the number of carbohydrates in one serving.
The calculation formula for the GL is as follows:
Glycemic Index x Carbohydrates per serving / 100
Take, for example, a medium-sized apple: GI = 38; Carbohydrates per serving = 15 grams.
GL = (38×15) / 100
The glycemic load of a normal apple is thus about 6.
A GL of less than 10 is considered low, 11-19 is considered averaged and over 20 is considered high.
The glycemic index of, for example, oats is quite low, while the glycemic load is quite high, which results in a fairly stable blood sugar level. Quite the opposite of energy drinks, which cause the blood sugar levels to fluctuate enormously.
Tip # 7: Decrease your sugar intake gradually
Would you like to eat less sugar? Very well! But do not rush in. For most people who are used to a lot of sugar, that would not be realistic. Sugar is present in almost all foods and it has a very addictive effect. By stopping hard cold turkey with sugar, the temptation increases, even more, to treat yourself to something sweet again.
It is therefore much better to slowly banish the sugar from your diet. One should first determine how many grams of sugar are consumed per week on average and then start with small changes.
For example, if you always put two sugar cubes in your coffee, you should reduce that to one cube and try it a week later with a piece of sweetener. With two cups of coffee a day you already save 28 pieces of sugar cubes.
Tip # 8: Make sure you have a good night’s sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to poor appetite control and over-eating of high-sugar food.
When we are tired, we tend to eat sugary products faster.
For example, consider a can of Red Bull that keeps you awake. Hunger is largely influenced by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day.
Lack of sleep increases the hormone balance and thus disturbs the regulation of appetite. This can also trigger strong hunger attacks.
Different scientific studies have shown that people with sleep problems have a 55% greater risk of being overweight compared to people who sleep well.
That’s why it’s important to have enough rest and sleep for at least 7 hours a night. For most people, this is sufficient to work well.
Of course, the need for sleep varies per person. It depends mainly on the age. On average, babies, children, and adolescents need more sleep than adults.
3 awesome sugar-free diet recipes
Breakfast Recipe # 1: boiled egg with avocado and buckwheat
What do you need?
- 1 egg
- 1 avocado
- A handful of sprouts/seedlings
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil
- 60g. buckwheat
- Black sesame
Prepare the buckwheat according to the instructions on the packaging.
Cook the egg.
Cut avocado into half and that into strips.
Fill a bowl with buckwheat.
Put the egg, avocado, basil, and sprouts in the buckwheat.
Garnish with black sesame.
Lunch Recipe # 2: mozzarella with fried mushrooms and spinach
What do you need?
- 3 eggs
- 50g. mushrooms
- 25g. of low-fat mozzarella
- 200g. finely chopped fresh spinach
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. smooth parsley
Crack the eggs in a bowl.
Add the mushrooms, spinach, and cheese.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the egg mixture.
Stir and bake for two minutes.
Finally, garnish with the parsley.
Dinner Recipe # 3: turkey and quinoa Thai style
What do you need?
- 300g. turkey fillet
- 400g. of sliced zucchini
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tin (200 ml) of coconut milk
- 2-3 tablespoons Thai curry powder
- 1 sliced fresh chili
- 1 spice garlic, ground
- 80g. quinoa (not cooked)
- 30g. almond flakes
Heat a pan with oil and fry the turkey meat, onion, and garlic.
Stir for 3-5 minutes until the meat is lightly browned.
Add zucchini and the coconut milk, then the curry powder and some chili. The quantity should be according to your preference.
Mix everything well.
Add the dry quinoa and finally the almond flakes.
Add water if the mixture gets too dry.