|Zero sugar diet|
|Written by Rachel|
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Rachel is not a nutritionist or a dietician, but she does have a very serious interest in what she eats e.g. both Rachel and Sifu Waller are vegetarians and have been for a long time.
By researching food, diet, nutrition and reading books such as How Not To Die and The Okinawa Program et al, Rachel has been able to develop a more mindful diet for both herself and Sifu Waller.
The sugar train
One problem that Rachel encountered was sugar. Sugar seemed to be in everything. For example yogurt. Most yogurts have added sugar. 0% fat Greek yogurt does not.
In addition to the obvious added sugars, there was fruit sugar and carbohydrates. The presence of sugar in your diet creates instability in the body and adversely affects your health.
Sugar creates a yo-yo effect on your blood stream. You go through highs and lows continuously. This is mistaken for hunger.
Only by cutting out sugar (and any food that might remotely have sugar in it) can you stabilise your body and find equilibrium.
Once you have operated without sugar for a few days you will discover that you are no longer as hungry as you once were and that you do not need to eat as much food.
If your aim is to burn off the belly fat, gain lean muscle mass and eat a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet, then cutting out added sugar is a great starting place.
It isn't as hard as it sounds and the process itself is pretty interesting.
The benefits are enormous: less risk of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, balanced moods, better sleep, less likely to have Alzheimer's and dementia, better skin, better teeth, sustained energy levels...
In order to completely cut out sugar, we did 2 weeks of 'keto'... This meant:
20g of carbohydrates maximum
No sugary or carby food at all
Essentially following the 'Eco Atkins' diet (see on-line for resources)
No fruit even!
No alcohol (Rachel and Sifu Waller don't drink so this was easy indeed)
process cut out obvious and hidden sugars.
Rachel is not a fan of processed/packaged food and prefers to make all food from scratch. Despite this, Quorn proved to be a useful way to wean her off a 'carby' meal.
A bowl featuring a large piece of Quorn, leafy vegetables and sauerkraut proved to be both filling and tasty. Also low carbohydrate and low calorie.
The 2 weeks of keto was tough at first but got easier as the days passed. Sugar cravings passed quickly and the desire to eat sugary food was gone by the end of 2 weeks.
Drinking plenty of loose leaf and premium grade matcha green tea helped - the taste is bitter. Both Rachel and Sifu Waller lost quite a lot of unwanted body fat from cutting the sugar.
(Not everyone can handle 2 weeks of keto; just do as much as you can...)
I don't think that keto diets are a good idea, but a short stint can help you to ditch sweet food; obvious and well as hidden sugars.
Once the 2 weeks of keto was over, Rachel switched the diet to calorie controlled eating in order to record and monitor what they were eating more carefully.
In addition to cutting out sugar, Rachel and Sifu Waller wanted to lose more body fat, particularly 'belly fat' as this is known to cause many medical problems.
The lowest recommended daily calorie intake for a woman was 1200 and 1500 for a man.
Every day Rachel and Sifu Waller started by weighing themselves first thing (naked) and then recording the weight.
They also monitored body fat levels (visually) and by seeing how much they could find by physical inspection. Clothing fit and a measuring tape also provided useful feedback.
Throughout the diet a notebook was used to record the calorie count of everything eaten each day. The calorie estimates were as accurate as could be discerned.
Calorie controlled diet
Following a calorie controlled was not difficult. It just meant getting into the habit of recording everything...
The diet entailed:
Eat nothing that contained added sugar (including honey, maple syrup, corn syrup etc)
Fresh fruit (wide variety) - ideally 5-a-day
Fresh vegetables (wide variety) - ideally 5-a-day
No tinned food
Herbs (wide variety)
Grains (wide variety)
Spices (wide variety)
Nuts (wide variety)
Seeds (wide variety)
Beans (wide variety)
0% fat Greek yogurt
Unsweetened almond milk
Premium grade matcha green tea
Unsweetened prune juice
Home made juices
Home made smoothies
Organic cider apple vinegar (unpasteurised)
Limited intake of bread, pasta, rice, noodles, oats, dairy etc
Seeking to increase variety of food sources
This is the protein we had twice a day: https://www.dolphinfitness.co.uk/en/phd-diet-whey-4-kg/140364 We had it with unsweetened almond milk, half a scoop of oats and pomegranate.
The short-term aim is to replace this product with a more healthy protein source.
Rachel is still finding books a bit patchy... Most cook books are substituting sugar for alternatives that are potentially just as sweet and hence cravings continue.
Our main focus is superfood, plant based eating... and there are plenty of books about those topics.
Fruit, yogurt, All Bran and protein shakes all serve as suitable snacks. When out and about, Rachel has been trying energy bars that contain no added sugar. Pointedly Nak'd and Trek.
As a short-term snack, sugar-free Trek proved the most viable; Cocoa Chaos and Peanut Power were tasty (although a little sweet).
It is better to make your own though, so Rachel is looking for recipes.
Treats and cheats?
Having lost the sugar habit, do not resume your old eating patterns. This is the most important thing to remember.
If you eat the food you used to eat, you will get hooked on sugar once again. It is inevitable. If you want a treat, re-define what 'a treat' constitutes.
Rather that go back to eating sugary food, figure out how much you need to eat in order to maintain your ideal body fat ratio whilst eating a balanced, nutritious, sustainable, healthy diet.
Long term eating
Transforming a habit-based diet into a more thoughtful, well researched one is a fascinating process. It involves continual adjustment, improvement and change. There is no fixity. No boredom.
21 May 2016
Last updated 17 September 2019