The first step to making more health-conscious food choices is by being mindful of what you eat and trying to eliminate all the foods that could potentially be the cause of weight gain, which is also an underlying factor in many chronic illnesses affecting us today. For many people, the quickest and simplest way to do this is by eliminating sugar from their diet. This is where the 7-day no sugar challenge comes in. In today’s article, we shall tell you why you may want to join this challenge, show you how to go about it, and even give you a sample of a sugar-free diet plan to help you get started.
What is the 7-Day No Sugar Challenge?
As the name suggests, this is a 7-day trial that demands you cut out added sugar from what you eat and drink. But what are “added sugars”? According to the American Heart Association, added sugars are the sugars and syrups that are put in food during preparation, processing, or at the table (1). Essentially, if the sugar wasn’t in the food/drink in its most natural state and was added to the food/drink at a later stage, then you should be avoiding it during this 7-day no added sugar challenge.
How Do You Do The No Sugar Challenge?
Now that you’ve decided to take on this challenge, how on earth do you start?
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start slowly. The 7-day no added sugar challenge is a good place to start. After all, a week is easy to do when compared to a 21-day or 30-day challenge.
- Understand the difference in sugars. Not all sugars are bad. As previously stated, we are avoiding added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars, however, like those found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products (lactose), are completely fine.
- Clean out your pantry and fridge. If you can’t see it, you are less likely to eat it. Throw out (or donate) all the sugary foods in the house– take out all the ice cream, cookies, cakes, table sugar, etc.
- Read your food labels. This is especially important when shopping. Check and see if your nutritional information labels mention any added sugar and make sure to avoid such foods and drinks.
- Learn to recognize other names for sugar. According to Healthline, the general rule of thumb is that if it ends with “ose”, then it’s sugar. This goes for things like glucose, lactose, fructose, maltose, etc.
- Don’t drink your sugar. You’ll have to be more mindful of your tea and coffee orders. Fruit juices sold at grocery stores as well almost always have added sugars in them. Alcohol too, especially cocktails, can have lots of sugar.
- Look for anything that says “unsweetened” or “no sugar added”. This enables you to enjoy your usual seasonings and drinks – especially alternative kinds of milk, spices, condiments, etc. – without the extra sugar.
Sample Of A Simple No Sugar Meal Plan
If you’d like to try out the 7-day no added sugar challenge but are unsure how to begin or even what to eat, here are some simple meals to give you an idea of what to make and eat during this challenge.
Low Sugar Diet Breakfast Ideas
Start your day off right by making any of the following breakfast options:
Option 1: Triple Layer Chia-Berry Pudding
Prepared the night before, chia pudding is a great option for people with busy mornings or those who prefer not to cook in the morning.
For the Pudding
- 4 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup almond milk
- Pinch vanilla powder
For the Smoothie Layer
- 1 tbsp acai powder
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 2 tsp desiccated coconut, unsweetened
- 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup almond milk
For the Berry Layer
- A mashed mix of strawberries and blueberries
- Extra whole (or halved) blueberries and strawberries
- Coconut flakes and mint leaves
This recipe makes 2 servings.
Get Directions from The Awesome Green (2).
Calories for 1 serving: 463. Fats: 19 g, Protein: 12 g, Carbs: 68 g
Option 2: Overnight Oats
If chia pudding isn’t your thing, then try these overnight oats. Because it’s rich in fiber, they will keep you full till lunchtime.
- ½ large ripe banana
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup plain 2-percent-fat Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup almond milk, unsweetened
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 15 pecan halves, chopped
- In a small bowl, mash your banana with a fork.
- In a bigger bowl or mason jar, transfer the mashed banana and add the oats, yogurt, almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir everything and ensure they are combined.
- Cover the container and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- Top with the chopped pecans and enjoy.
Calories: 428. Fats: 19 g, Protein: 19 g, Carbs: 49 g
Option 3: Banana Egg Pancakes
Not only is this a perfect breakfast option for a no-sugar diet, but it is also gluten and dairy free.
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 2 medium eggs
- Butter or oil for the pan
- 2 to 3 tbsp almond meal
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup chocolate chips or fresh berries
- Pinch of cinnamon
This recipe makes enough pancakes for 2 servings.
Get directions from Gimme Delicious (7)
Calories for one serving: 185. Fats: 6.5 g, Protein: 6.8 g, Carbs: 27.3 g
Option 4: Tropical Orange & Coconut Smoothie Bowl
Perfect for summer mornings, this smoothie bowl is a great way to help you eat more fruit.
- ¼ cup coconut milk, unsweetened
- ¼ cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt, unsweetened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ banana, frozen
- 1½ peeled seedless mandarin orange, divided
- Ice, as desired
- 2 tbsp pistachios
- 2 tbsp dried shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Place your coconut milk, yogurt, vanilla, banana, 1 orange, and ice into a blender and blend them till smooth, or as smooth as can it be depending on how powerful your blender is.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl, and top with the remaining orange wedges, chia seeds, shredded coconut, and pistachios.
Calories: 420. Fats: 21 g, Protein: 9 g, Carbs: 54 g
Option 5: Stuffed Sweet Potato
Having a boiled sweet potato with your morning tea or coffee is common in many countries around the world. If you’d like to upgrade to a basic breakfast option, here is what you’ll have to do.
- 1 small sweet potato, unpeeled and thoroughly washed
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- A pinch of cinnamon
- With a fork, prick the sweet potato all over, then wrap it in a damp paper towel and proceed to microwave it for about 6 minutes, or until it’s soft.
- Once cooled enough to touch, cut it lengthwise, spread your peanut butter, pour in the yogurt, and sprinkle the cinnamon.
- Enjoy with your beverage of choice.
Calories: 215. Fats: 6 g, Protein: 10 g, Carbs: 31 g
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7-Day No Sugar Challenge Lunch & Dinner Ideas
Here are some easy lunch and dinner ideas that are ideal for a sugar-free diet plan:
Option 1: Creamy Chicken Cutlets
High in lean protein, this can be enjoyed with some brown rice or quinoa and a side salad.
- 453 g chicken cutlets
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp oil from a tomatoes jar
- ½ cup shallots, finely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp parsley
This quick 20-minute meal makes 4 servings.
Get directions from Eating Well (3).
Calories for 1 serving: 324. Fats: 18.9 g, Protein: 25 g, Carbs: 8.4 g
Option 2: Venison Stew
If game meats are more your style, this low-carb venison stew is a great lunch option for a 7-day no-sugar challenge.
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 680 g venison chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 fennel bulbs, chopped
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, sliced
- 1-liter low-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups (340 g) cauliflower florets
- Salt to taste
This recipe makes 6 servings.
Get directions from Clean Eating Kitchen (13).
Calories for 1 serving: 245. Fats: 9.3 g, Protein: 29.8 g, Carbs: 13.2 g
Option 3: Salmon Quinoa Salad
Refreshing, rich in fiber, and packed with protein – this is the perfect healthy and filling salad for a no-sugar diet.
For the Salad
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 4 cups arugula
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- ½ cup tomatoes, chopped
- 2 to 3 salmon fillets, about a pound
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
This recipe makes 4 servings.
Get directions from A Sassy Spoon (9).
Calories for 1 serving: 464. Fats: 28.4 g, Protein: 33.4 g, Carbs: 19.6 g
Option 4: Low Carb Peanut Zucchini Pasta
Most pasta served at restaurants usually has a ton of sugar hidden in the sauces used to make it. This zucchini pasta is not only low carb but is also sugar-free and rich in healthy fats thanks to the peanut butter.
- 1 large zucchini
- ⅛ cup creamy natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp chili garlic paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- Finely chopped scallions, chopped peanuts, and black sesame seeds for garnish
This recipe makes 2 servings.
Get directions from The Lemon Bowl (4).
Calories for 1 serving: 149. Fats: 11.6 g, Protein: 5.5 g, Carbs: 7.7 g
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Option 5: Tuna Salad
A simple yet delicious sugar-free and keto-friendly dinner idea.
- 1 can tuna
- 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup plain greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- Carefully drain your tuna and transfer it to a sizeable bowl.
- Combine all the other prepped ingredients in the bowl with the tuna. Mix everything until well combined.
- If needed, season with extra salt and black pepper (chili flakes too if desired).
Calories for 1 serving: 157. Fats: 7 g, Protein: 21 g, Carbs: 2.5 g
Option 6: Spaghetti Squash Casserole
This casserole is a good low-carb yet delicious alternative to the typical pasta dish.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium-sized shallot, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
- Fresh basil
This recipe makes 4 servings.
Get directions from Eating Well (10)
Calories for 1 serving: 470. Fats: 19.8 g, Protein: 42.9 g, Carbs: 27.5 g
7-Day No Sugar Challenge Snack Ideas
When it comes to eating healthy or reducing sugar intake, most people often falter when snacks are involved. While you may not consider snacks as part of your “meals for the day” and don’t really think about what you are consuming, many of these snacks are often quite unhealthy and packed with added sugar.
To avoid this, we suggest making your own healthy and sugar-free snacks at home and carrying them with you whenever you go out.
Here are some recipes that you can try out:
Option 1: Mango Coconut Popsicles
These make great snacks for both adults and children, especially on hot days.
- 12 ounces ripe mango, diced
- 1 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt (use coconut yogurt for a dairy-free option)
- ¼ cup dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
- ½ medium-sized ripe banana
- Place all your ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the blended mixture into six popsicle molds.
- Transfer the mixture to your freezer and freeze for about 4 hours.
- Remove the popsicle from the mold and enjoy.
Calories for 1 popsicle: 79.9. Fats: 27.9 g, Protein: 3 g, Carbs: 10 g
Option 2: Nutty Date Shake
Dates are a source of natural sugar, which makes them perfect as a sugar alternative in a 7-day no added sugar diet, and peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats.
- 1 banana, frozen
- 2 dates, no pits
- A pinch tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup of almond milk, unsweetened
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Please note that if you do not have a powerful blender, it’s advisable to soak the dates for at least an hour before blending.
Calories: 333. Fats: 15 g, Protein: 9 g, Carbs: 47 g
Option 3: Energy Balls
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 6 pitted dates
- ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
- ⅓ cup creamy cashew butter
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅓ cup dried strawberries
This recipe is enough to make 24 energy balls.
Get Directions from Dishing Out Health (11).
Option 4: Stuffed Strawberries
- 1 lb large fresh strawberries
- 6 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- ⅓ cup powdered erythritol sweetener
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup fresh blueberries
- ¼ cup mini sugar-free chocolate chips or cacao nibs
This recipe makes about 16 servings.
Get directions from All Day I Dream About Food (8)
Calories for 1 serving: 88. Fats: 6.8 g, Protein: 1.2 g, Carbs: 4.7 g
How Do I Detox From Sugar In 7 Days?
Here are some tips to help you out during this 7-day no-sugar challenge:
- Eat healthy balanced meals. Make sure to eat lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This helps keep your blood sugar in balance which prevents sugar cravings throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is said to increase hunger and cravings, especially sugar cravings. To avoid this, make sure you are always properly hydrated (6).
- Don’t go cold turkey. It’s good to be motivated and think that removing all sugar from your diet is the best thing to do at the beginning. However, this is often incredibly difficult for many and they end up giving up. Instead of going cold turkey, we suggest making small but gradual changes. Keep the honey and maple syrup but throw out the table and baking sugar. Replace table sugar with alternative sugars like stevia— you still get the same sweetness but with much fewer calories.
- Battle cravings with fruit. Not only are natural sugars good for you, but fruits are much healthier than sugar. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet fruits like berries, watermelon, dates, etc.
What Happens To Your Body A Week Without Sugar?
As previously stated, some people consider sugar addiction to be very real, and, thus after 7 days of a no-sugar diet, especially if you went cold turkey, might cause some withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, unexplained fatigue, intense sugar cravings, mood swings and irritability, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, insomnia and other sleep issues, difficulty in concentrating, as well as an intense craving for carbohydrates.
How Long Does It Take Your Body To Detox From Sugar?
There is no one blanket answer for this question and it all depends on an individual and how much sugar they consumed, to begin with. Some people might be adjusted in just a week, while many more will require a few weeks to fully “detox”.
The Bottom Line
The 7-day no sugar challenge is a great stepping stone for anyone who wants to not only beat what they feel is a sugar addiction but also to reduce the risk of issues like weight gain, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, tooth decay, etc. that can be caused by the excess consumption of this sweetener. If you choose to attempt this challenge, remember to pace yourself. For anyone dealing with diabetes, please make sure to speak to your doctor before attempting this diet challenge.
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. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Added Sugars (n.d., heart.org)
- Chia, Acai And Strawberry Layered Breakfast Jar (n.d., theawesomegreen.com)
- Chicken Cutlets with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (2019, eatingwell.com)
- COLD SESAME PEANUT ZOODLES (n.d., thelemonbowl.com)
- Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- From bad breath to car accidents, dehydration is a real health threat (2015, edition.cnn.com)
- Healthy 2 Ingredient Pancakes (Paleo, Gluten & Dairy-Free, No Sugar added) (n.d., gimmedelicious.com)
- KETO CHEESECAKE STUFFED STRAWBERRIES (2021, alldayidreamaboutfood.com)
- Salmon Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (2020, asassyspoon.com)
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole (2020, eatingwell.com)
- STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM ENERGY BALLS (2022, dishingouthealth.com)
- Sugar Addiction: From Evolution to Revolution (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Venison Stew (Instant Pot or Stovetop) (2022, cleaneatingkitchen.com)