What is a sugar-free diet and how does it work?
The no sugar-diet is extremely popular amongst fad dieters, with a proven record in achieving short term results (say hello to J-Lo’s abs), its long-term performance isn’t so strong. The negative effects if sugar was brought to the limelight by Sarah Wilson’s infamous I Quit Sugar 8 Week Plan, followed closely by Damen Gameau in That Sugar Film.
We spoke to sports dietitian Chloe McLeod, from Health & Performance Collective for her opinion of the eating regimen.
The effect that sugar on the brain has been likened to that of drugs, it sends neurotransmitters into an energetic frenzy or high that is followed by an all-mighty crash that has us wanting more. Creating an addictive pattern that will often result in increased anxiety and bigger waistlines.
What different extents of sugar-free diets?
There are two types of sugar-free diets, when starting their no sugar journey participants can choose whether to cut out refined sugars (i.e lollies, and added sugar) or unrefined sugar (i.e natural sugar found in fruit and some vegetables.) The latter is less common as the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends Australians consume two servings of fruit per day.
Why is such a diet good for you?
Chloe agrees that “the reduction in consumption of processed sugars which can spike blood sugar levels, add extra calories and is linked to the development of a number of health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.”
Can this diet be bad for you? In what way?
“Sugar has been quite demonised” and Chloe wants everyone to know that not all sugar is ‘bad’ for you.
“Sugar is naturally found in fruit, dairy products and whole grains. In these foods, it is only present in small amounts and is important to include because of the health benefits provided by these foods.”
What is the science behind a sugar-free diet (e.g. the addictive nature of sugar)?
Most people consume too much sugar on a daily basis, with the World Health Organisation recommending to reduce intake to 5-10 tsp of free sugar per day. Our bodies have evolved to enjoy the taste of sweetness, so when sugar or highly sweetened foods are consumed, this can provide a taste for sweetness, and may encourage us to look for more (hence its addictive nature).
What is the best way to cut down on sugar?
If you are looking to cut down on sugar, Chloe recommends, “cut back on refined sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages and foods that contain large quantities of added sugars.” As she mentioned (above), natural sugars that are found in fruit, dairy and whole grains shouldn’t be avoided.
As with any major eating changes in order for them to be sustainable small changes will go the distance.
Here are a couple of our favourite sugar-free recipes
Sugar Free Lemon Tarts
Bite size pieces of yumminess with these scrumptious and sugar-free lemon tartlets. Get the full recipe here.
Orange, Oat & Sultana Cookies
Cookies don't have to be a guilty pleasure - these tasty treats from Leiths School of Food and Wine are super healthy. Get the full recipe here.