The No-Sugar Diet: What is it and is it safe?

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Think about the last time that you walked into a store to get food–– was your approach a swift grab-and-go or did you find yourself considering the nutritional value before buying?

More often than not, we tend to find ourselves buying food items without thinking too much about what is really in it. Items like Low-fat yoghurt, fruit juice, and breakfast cereals, commonly very sweet foods perceived as ‘healthy’, have surprisingly high sugar content [7]. Just imagine how much sugar we are actually consuming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American adults consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day which is 2-3 times more than the recommended amount per day. This totals to 60 pounds of added sugar consumed annually. In the long-term, an excessive added sugar intake consumption can predispose you to various health risks such as obesity.

In the pursuit of reducing sugar consumption, diets like the No-Sugar Diet have emerged, where an individual is guided through a diet plan to completely eliminate sugar and meet specific health goals.

But what is the No-Sugar Diet and is it really safe? Let us dive deeper into this topic.

What is the No-Sugar Diet?

The No-Sugar Diet is a diet approach that aims at reducing sugar intake to promote better health and reduce the risk of health conditions such as heart disease that is commonly associated with excessive sugar intake.

The diet consists of restricting added sugars and sweeteners completely or by a significant amount and instead adopting a diet that focuses on consuming whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

It is also worth noting that the no-sugar diet can come in many versions like a no-sugar, no-flour diet. Individuals should tailor their diet according to personal health goals.

Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars

Sugar is found in all foods that contain carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy products, they all contain sugar.

You might be wondering, ‘If all of these contain sugar then does this not defeat the purpose of the no-sugar diet?’ No, it doesn’t and here’s why. The difference lies in the type of sugar it is.

Whole and unprocessed foods contain natural sugar which is okay for consumption [5]. Our body still requires sugar for energy. Natural sugars are digested and processed much slower than added sugars, helping to keep your metabolism stable over time [3].

Added sugars or sugar substitutes are sugars or syrups that are put into foods during preparation, processing, or at the dinner table. It can be found in everyday foods such as pasta sauce, ketchup and salad dressing. Other examples of foods that contain added sugar substitutes or sugars are sugar sweetened beverages, candy, desserts and snacks [1].

No-Sugar Diet: Health Benefits

Following a no-sugar diet or a low sugar diet can bring about positive effects on your health and reduce the risk of developing health conditions. Here are some benefits of doing so.

  • Weight management: Past studies have shown that not only does added sugar cause weight gain, diets that are high in added sugar increases the risk of developing obesity. Besides using weight loss tools to count calories, cutting out or reducing your sugar intake could potentially help you to lose weight more effectively.
  • Manages and prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Limiting added sugar can be effective for individuals with type 2 diabetes in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Lowers your risk of heart diseases: A 2023 UK study has found that an excessive sugar consumption is linked to higher concentration of triglycerides, which can increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Choosing less sugar or sugar-free options can reduce the susceptibility of heart-related diseases.
  • Reduces risk of tooth decay: Added sugars feeds the bacteria in the mouth that causes tooth decay. Tooth decay can increase the risk of getting cavities or in extreme cases, gum diseases. Limiting sugary foods and drinks can help to prevent tooth decay.

What to Eat on a No-Sugar Diet

While on a no-sugar diet, it is important to avoid eating foods that have added sugar and focus on whole, unprocessed foods. Not only are whole, unprocessed foods free from added sugar, they are also free of any preservatives and additives as well.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of foods to include:

  • Whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa)
  • Fruits
  • Starchy and non-starchy vegetables
  • Healthy fats (e.g. avocado)
  • Lean proteins (e.g. chicken, egg, legumes, tofu)
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cheese (e.g. cottage cheese, feta cheese)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil)

What to Avoid Eating on a No-Sugar Diet

no sugar diet
added sugars

When you are on this diet, it is best to avoid foods that are the opposite of whole, unprocessed foods. Not only do these foods have the potential to spike your blood sugar levels, they may also contain hidden added sugars.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of foods to avoid:

  • Sweetened beverages (e.g. fruit juices, energy drinks, soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee)
  • Sugary snack (e.g. candies, cakes, cookies, pastries, ice-cream)
  • Processed foods (e.g. processed meats, fast food, frozen meals)
  • Refined grains (e.g. white bread, white rice)
  • Breakfast cereals

Tips on How To Get Started on This Diet

Given how it can feel highly addictive, curbing sugar intake could prove to be a challenging process. However, mastering sugar cravings through a few key strategies and adopting mindful practices can significantly ease the transition into a sugar-free lifestyle. Here are some valuable tips to help you get started on this journey:

1. Start slow

It is very common for many individuals who decide to embark on a new diet to dive into it too aggressively and rapidly. Making drastic changes to your diet such as going cold turkey without giving your body proper time to adjust, could prove itself ineffective and unsustainable.

Instead, it may be helpful to eliminate the most obvious source of sugar first such as sweet stuff or sugary beverages. Start off with a low sugar diet before gradually easing into a sugar-free diet. Giving your body time to adjust to new changes will encourage better food habits.

2. Pay attention to food labels

Typically, products found on supermarket shelves tend to contain hidden sugars. To avoid unknowingly consuming these sugars and make healthier food choices, start paying attention to food labels. Nutritional information and ingredients list on food labels are a good indicator of whether a product can be consumed while on the diet.

Take note of the various aliases that sugar can disguise itself as. Here are some common names for sugar:

  • Agave
  • syrups (e.g. high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Molasses
  • ingredients that end with ‘-ose’. (e.g. sucrose, glucose, maltrose, dextrose, fructose, lactose)

3. Create a meal plan and focus on meal prep

It may be harder for some to stick to a diet when there is no plan on how to go about it. Creating a meal plan and following it could be the key to success in navigating and maintaining a sugar-free diet.

Additionally, prepping your meal in advance will not only save you time but it will also prevent you from reaching for the nearest sugar-laden snack available.

4. Avoid simple carbohydrates

While on the diet, it is recommended for you to avoid consuming simple carbohydrates. Reason being that simple carbohydrates break down easily and causes the person to feel hungry faster. The breakdown process also causes a spike in blood sugar levels.

Opt for complex carbohydrates instead as it takes a longer time to break down and helps to keep a person full for much longer.

3-Day No-Sugar Diet Meal Plan

The idea of starting a no-sugar diet can feel absolutely daunting and uncertain, fret not. Here is a simple, easy to follow 3-Day Meal Plan to help you step foot into the world of a no-sugar diet with confidence. Whether you are somewhat familiar with this diet or you are just starting out as a beginner, this meal plan is designed for you!

3-Day No-Sugar Meal Plan
No sugar diet

This meal plan only serves as a guide to kickstart your diet journey. Feel free to substitute with other sugar-free recipes according to your personal preferences.

No-sugar Diet: Potential Health Risks

Though the no-sugar diet offers a multitude of healths benefits, if taken too extreme, it can result in potential health risks.

Some may find that the diet is too ‘overly-restrictive’ with the different food rules on what to eat and what to not eat, wounding up with unhealthy eating habits. Such habits can increase “withdrawal” symptoms and intensified sugar cravings.

The key is to not go overboard on creating food rules but rather focus on consuming sugar in moderation and choose options without added sugars.


Embarking on a no-sugar diet is generally safe when done properly with a well balanced diet. That being said, it is still crucial to approach this diet mindfully like any others diets out there. Everyone has different nutritional needs and have their own unique health situations.

Do consider your individual health goals and any medical considerations before starting a new diet. If necessary, consult a dietitian or nutritionist for proper guidance.

No-Sugar Diet Plan: FAQ

What do you eat on a no-sugar diet?

On a no-sugar diet, individuals should eat foods that are whole and unprocessed. The main foods that you should consider including in your diet are fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Also, ensure that you are reading food labels carefully to avoid any added sugars.

What happens after 2 weeks of no sugar?

After two weeks of not consuming sugar, individuals may experience positive changes such as increased energy levels, reduced food cravings, better mental clarity and a better overall mood. Do note that results may vary for different individuals.

Can you eat bananas on a no-sugar diet?

Yes, you can eat bananas on a no-sugar diet. Bananas are not only fruits that contain natural sugars, they are also high in potassium and fiber–– essential nutrients that are important for our body. However, it should still be consumed in moderation.

Can you really lose weight by not eating sugar?

You can potentially lose some body weight just by specifically eliminating or significantly reducing added sugar. Foods high in added sugar tend to be high in calories, resulting in weight gain. Cutting them out can reduce the amount of calories consumed, promoting weight loss.

How long does it take to see the benefits of this diet?

The timeline varies for different individuals. Some may take a few days to notice improvements in their health and mood while others may take up to a few weeks.

Is it safe to do this diet in the long-term?

It is generally safe to do this diet in the long-term. However, it is strongly advisable for you to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist before starting on a new diet.

Is this diet suitable for diabetics?

While it is generally considered safe for people with diabetes to go on a no-sugar or low sugar diet, you are strongly recommended to consult with your healthcare provider on what kind of dietary regimen will be best suited for you as your current health condition has to be taken into consideration.


[1] American Heart Association (2021) Added Sugars [online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[2] Bryne, C. (2023) What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar? [online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[3] Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research (2021) Understanding Natural Versus Added Sugars [online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[4] Faruque, S., Tong, J. Lacmanovic, V., Agbonghae, C., Minaya, D. M., and Czaja, K. (2019) The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review. Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences, 69(3), pp.219-233. [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[5] Harvard Health Publishing (2022) The sweet danger of sugar [online]. Available at:,foods%20contain%20protein%20and%20calcium. [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[6] Kelly, R. K., Tong Y. N. T, Watling, C. Z., Reynolds, A., Piernas, C., Schmidt, J. A., Papier, K., Carter, J. L., Key, T. J. and Perez-Cornago, A. (2023). Associations between types and sources of dietary carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease risk: a prospective cohort study of UK Biobank participants. BMC Med 21(34) [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

[7] West, H. (2023) 17 Foods and Drinks That Are Surprisingly High in Sugar [online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar 2024].

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