Let’s face it – nothing quite says “happy birthday” or “congratulations” better than a slice of buttery cake that’s full of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, giving up sugar might seem impossible. However, there are proven benefits of a diet low in added sugars. The 30-day no sugar challenge is for people who struggle to give up refined and added sugars. It involves slowly cutting away sugary foods and replacing them with whole, natural sugar sources. There are many versions of this challenge but the overall idea is to gradually eliminate foods that are high in added sugar. In this article, we’ll show you how to make a 30-day no sugar plan – here’s everything you need to know.
Is The No Sugar Challenge Good For You?
Yes, it is. There’s no doubt that eating a lot of added sugar is bad for your health. Here are 10 things that happen when you eat too much refined sugar:
Sugar Can Cause Cavities
One of the most common results of eating too much sugar is cavities. Eating sugar can actually bring cavity-causing bacteria right to your teeth so they can eat away at the enamel while you sleep. Even worse, eating too much sugar can cause an advanced form of tooth decay (10).
Sugar Can Make You Gain Weight
Sugary foods often provide a lot of calories but few nutrients and not much fiber. Eating too many of them too often can cause you to gain weight and actually make your body feel hungry because it hasn’t received any real nutrients (6).
Sugar Increases Risk Of Heart Disease And Stroke
According to the American Heart Association, eating too much refined sugar can put you at risk for developing heart disease and stroke. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is a major risk factor associated with these two diseases (8).
Sugar Can Make You Depressed
Multiple studies have concluded that high added sugar intake may actually cause you to feel more anxious and sad (11). So the next time you’re feeling extra blue, it may be best to skip the candy aisle and run in the other direction!
Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Acne
If you already have acne problems or are prone to breakouts, then adding more sugar into your diet isn’t going to help matters one bit. Sugary beverage and food intake has been associated with acne in adults (1).
Sugar Makes You Gain Belly Fat
According to recent studies, eating sugary foods can cause you to gain belly fat, even if they don’t contribute to any other weight problems throughout your body (9).
Eating Too Much Refined Sugar Can Cause Inflammation In The Body
While inflammation isn’t always a bad thing (it’s necessary to help fight infections and other foreign invaders), chronic inflammation is extremely dangerous because it’s been linked directly with diseases such as heart disease and cancer (2).
What Are The 30-Day No Sugar Challenge Benefits?
And meal plan that cuts out sugar is likely to benefit your health. More specifically, here are five potential benefits of a sugar free diet:
May Reduce The Risk Of Diseases
More research is needed, but there are suggestions that a sugar-restricted diet may reduce the risk of diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity (3).
May Improve Moods
One review found an association between unhealthy dietary patterns (including excess sugar) and poorer mental health in children (7). Another study found that adults’ moods also improved after they stopped eating refined sugars for two weeks.
May Promote Weight Loss
While most people will not notice immediate weight loss when cutting out refined sugars, some will lose pounds over time by reducing their caloric intake or increasing activity levels. This is because sugary foods often contain empty calories, meaning that they don’t provide our bodies with any nutrients.
May Raise Energy Levels
If you’re feeling lethargic after your cup of blueberry-flavored yogurt, it’s probably because the sugar content is too high. After cutting out these foods for a while, you may notice that your energy levels return to normal or even increase.
May Improve Teeth Health
Our teeth are constantly exposed to bacteria which react with sugars in our mouth to produce acids that attack enamel. This process can cause tooth decay, so limiting the intake of sugary snacks and drinks can help protect our pearly whites from damage (10).
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Which Foods Can You Eat On The 30-Day No Sugar Challenge Diet Plan?
Any food that contains sugar, such as candy and soda, should be avoided when on a sugar-restricted diet. Even foods that are not sweet themselves can contain high amounts of sugar, so always check the nutritional information before you eat or drink anything.
Most fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but they usually have a pretty high sugar content too. Some examples include raspberries, oranges and apples . If you do want to consume fruits on this challenge, try to stick to around one serving per day (which is equivalent to around 80 grams or one cup).
While vegetables don’t contain any sugars by themselves, some items like canned corn may have added sugar during processing. Most vegetables provide vitamins and minerals and are very low in calories (this is especially true for green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and lettuce).
Try to limit any products containing refined grains such as white bread and pasta, which have been stripped of their fiber-rich bran coating. Whole grain foods such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat are a healthier alternative because they contain more nutrients than their refined counterparts (12).
Lean Meat And Fish
Both fish and red meat can contribute to healthy diets, but some cuts may have higher levels of fat or calories, so it’s important to compare nutritional information before you buy them. Always try to opt for leaner cuts of meat when possible.
Milk, yogurt and cheese are all low in sugar but they may contain high levels of fat, so it may be best to choose lower-fat options depending on your goals.
What Can You Drink On The 30-Day No Sugar Challenge?
Luckily, there are many drinks that don’t need to be totally cut out of this challenge. Here are some examples:
Tea And Coffee
Both of these beverages are great for your health if you drink them without adding sugar (try using cinnamon or nutmeg instead). Featured Recipe: Cinnamon Apple Green Tea (A Great Natural Alternative To Coffee)
Herbal Teas – These tasty, flavor-packed drinks come in lots of different varieties and flavors including mint tea, chamomile and rooibos .
Drinking water is highly recommended for everyone, but it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight because our bodies need fluid in order to function properly (4).
Watch Out For These Sneaky Sugar Sources While On The No Sugar Diet Plan
- Soups And Sauces. Even if a sauce is tomato-based, it may contain lots of added sugar, so always check the label before you buy it.
- Salad Dressing. A salad is usually full of healthy nutrients but creamy dressings have high levels of hidden sugars, so go for vinaigrette or mustard instead, or make your own.
- Condiments. There are some surprising sources of sugar that can be found in condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce, so always read labels to ensure they don’t have any added sugar.
- Baked Goods. Many baked goods look innocent enough because they appear to be made from whole grains, but you’ll need to read food labels to determine if they contain added sugars. Some examples include muffins , waffles and biscuits.
- Cereal. While some cereal brands are fortified with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, you still need to check their labels for sugar content if you’re on the no-sugar diet plan.
- Juices. Even 100% fruit juice can contain lots of sugar, which is why it should only be consumed in moderation. If you’re craving fruit, you’re better off eating the whole fruit instead of drinking the juice.
- Energy Bars And Protein Bars. These products are usually marketed as healthy snacks but they may contain high levels of sugar, so always check the label before you buy them.
- Bottled Iced Teas. Commercial iced teas often contain high levels of sugar, even those that claim to be low in calories. The best choice is homemade tea which you can sweeten with a little honey or lemon juice.
- Special Junk Foods. You may have expected this one, but it’s important that you remember to avoid foods marketed as ‘diet’, ‘low fat’ or ‘sugar-free’, because they usually contain other ingredients that may be just as bad for your health as the standard versions of these products.
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Tips For Success While On The No Sugar Diet
If you decide to take part in the no sugar challenge, you need to be realistic. Trying to achieve too much too soon can make it harder for you to stick to the diet. Use these five tips to transition slowly and guarantee success (5):
If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, make sure you only eat healthy snacks like fruit or nuts. You can also try healthier alternatives to your favorite treats like these no-bake protein bars which taste better than the store bought kind.
Cook From Scratch
Preparing homemade meals is always best because you can control the amount of sugar present in your final dish. By preparing food yourself, you know exactly what goes into each dish which makes it easier for you to avoid hidden sugars.
Eat Before You Feel Too Hungry
When you feel ravenous, your resolve becomes weaker so try to eat small meals or healthy snacks throughout the day. This is especially important when you first start the no sugar diet because it reduces instances of binge eating.
Set SMART Diet Goals
Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound diet goals is a great way to stay motivated. When setting dietary resolutions, make sure you set clear or measurable targets so that you know whether or not you’re meeting your goal and if it’s the right target for you.
For example: ‘I will eat no sugar’ is not a great goal because it’s too vague, so adjust it to ‘I will eat no more than 20g of added sugar per day.’ Most importantly, such goals are realistic. Once you’ve followed your diet plan for a while, you’ll likely find that positive behavior changes become second nature and it will be easier to improve on these goals.
There are indeed health benefits associated with a meal plan that cuts out refined sugars, but they are not guaranteed to happen overnight. It may take some time for your body to adjust, so it is important that you do not stop eating sugary foods altogether. However, if you want to experience these benefits as soon as possible, then be sure to follow the 30-day no sugar challenge meal plan carefully.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors (2020, jamanetwork.com)
- Effect of Dietary Sugar Intake on Biomarkers of subclinical Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies (2018, nih.gov)
- Health and economic benefits of reducing sugar intake in the USA, including effects via non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a microsimulation model (2017, nih.gov)
- Increase Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss (2016, nih.gov)
- LOW SUGAR DIET: FOLLOW THESE RULES FOR SUCCESS (2017, parkcrescenthealth.blog)
- Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding (2016, nih.gov)
- Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review (2014, nih.gov)
- Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease (2002, ahajournals.org)
- Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy (2017, nih.gov)
- Sugars and Dental Caries: Evidence for Setting a Recommended Threshold for Intake (2016, nih.gov)
- The depressogenic potential of added dietary sugars (2020, sciencedirect.com)
- Whole Grains (n.d., harvard.edu)