No Sugar Diet Meal Plan
Learn how to follow a no sugar diet, with information about how going sugar-free can benefit your health. This post also includes a no sugar meal plan, including snack ideas.
If you’re worried about what you can eat when on a sugar free diet, don’t worry! I’ll share tips and meal ideas on a no sugar diet. First, let’s talk about why sugar is a problem.
Sugar consumption is at an all-time high. The average American consumes at least 17 teaspoons of sugar a day, when the recommended amount is ideally less than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
If you’re following a standard American diet, chances are that you’ll find sugar in nearly everything you eat. Sugar is sneaky, making its way into even savory foods–you likely have no idea how much you’re actually consuming.
Sugar Free Diet Overview
If you’re concerned about what you can eat on a no-sugar diet, then rest assured that there are tons of choices. In fact, if you decided to avoid processed foods and just ate whole foods, then you would naturally be close to an anti-inflammatory diet that is very low in added sugars.
Also, if you’re going sugar-free, you might want to check out my tips for going sugar-free without going crazy.
If you’re going sugar free, a savory breakfast will be your friend! You’ll help reduce sugar cravings by signaling to your brain first thing that sugar is not available.
Shoot for at least 25 grams of protein to help keep blood sugar stable. If you need some sweetness for your coffee, then check out my article with the best sugar substitutes. It’s probably best to avoid artificial sweeteners whenever possible.
No sugar breakfast ideas include:
- Egg muffins made with hams, sausage or bacon,
- Green smoothie made with collagen protein and berries,
- Leftovers from dinner the day before, or
- Chia pudding sweetened with fresh berries and monk fruit sweetener.
While you should probably skip fruit juice and breakfast cereals with breakfast, you can certainly fill up on other healthy foods.
Lunch is a good time to get some antioxidants from fruit, starchy veggies, or greens. Paired with plenty of protein and healthy fats, any natural sugars or carbohydrates you consume at lunch will be used as energy throughout your afternoon rather than stored as fat.
No sugar lunch ideas include:
- Power bowl with a whole grain, legume, baked fish or roast chicken, and avocado,
- Salad topped with a hamburger patty or sliced sausage and tons of raw shredded veggies, or
- Hot soup with veggies, lean protein, beans, and a dollop of coconut yogurt (check out my low-carb Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Stew).
If you went without sugar all day, feel free to pair your dinner with a piece of fruit or a healthy baked treat for dessert. Some people also enjoy a piece of dark chocolate as a healthy after-dinner treat.
No sugar dinner ideas include:
- Hearty stew made with veggies, a grass-fed roast, and red potatoes (check out my Slow Cooker Pot Roast),
- Beans and rice bowl topped with guacamole,
- Roast chicken served with roasted butternut squash and steamed spinach (or something like my Crockpot Chicken Thighs with Green Chiles), or
- Instant Pot Beef Chili with Sweet Potatoes.
7-Day No Sugar Meal Plan
This No Sugar Diet Meal Plan is meant to serve as an example of what it’s like to eat for seven days with no added sugars. So, while you might be giving up added sugars like honey, cane sugar, and maple syrup, you can still get added sweetness from natural sugars in fruit and sweet potatoes.
I think you’ll find that after the first week of going sugar-free, it will get much easier to avoid the sweet stuff and choose foods higher in nutritional value. A low-sugar diet will also help with consistent energy levels and reduce your chance of heart disease and insulin resistance.
Of course, always consult with your health care provider before making any changes to your diet.
- Breakfast Strawberry Zucchini Smoothie
- Lunch Easy Clean Eating Chicken Salad served on greens or cooked quinoa
- Dinner Lentil Salad with Wild Rice (serve with avocado for a healthy fat source)
- Breakfast Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding (use date syrup or liquid monk fruit as the sweetener)
- Lunch Sweet Kale Salad with Creamy Dressing served with grilled salmon or your choice of lean protein
- Dinner Instant Pot Easy Chicken & Sweet Potato Dinner
- Breakfast Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
- Lunch Easy Clean Eating Chicken Salad served on greens or cooked quinoa (leftovers from Monday)
- Dinner Vegan Lentil Coconut Curry served with rice
- Breakfast Overnight Protein Oats (leave out the maple syrup or honey, top with sliced banana instead)
- Lunch Salmon Salad with Mayo served on top of greens or cooked quinoa, rice, or wild rice (be sure that the relish for the salad is sugar-free)
- Dinner Crockpot Chicken Thighs with Green Chiles served with rice and steamed veggies
- Breakfast Strawberry Beet Smoothie
- Lunch Salmon Salad with Mayo served on top of greens or cooked quinoa, rice, or wild rice (leftovers from Thursday)
- Dinner Instant Pot Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup (leave out the coconut sugar)
- Breakfast Acai Smoothie with Coconut
- Lunch Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad
- Dinner Instant Pot Salsa Chicken served with canned beans, guacamole, and cooked rice
- Breakfast Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
- Lunch Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad leftovers from Saturday
- Dinner Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
Sugar Free Snacks
- Air Fryer Kale Chips
- Garlic Roasted Chickpeas
- Peanut Butter Chia Pudding
- Keto Deviled Eggs
- Sugar Free Pomegranate Popsicles
- Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding (use date syrup or liquid monk fruit as the sweetener)
Other simple snacks with no added sugars include:
- Hard-boiled eggs,
- Baby carrots with hummus,
- Greek yogurt with berries,
- Handful of almonds or other nuts or seeds,
- Apple and nut butter (check the label to make sure there are no sugars in the ingredients),
- and leftovers from breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Problems with Sugar
Sugar harms our health by sabotaging weight management, increasing inflammation, and leading to addiction.
1. Overweight & Obesity
When you consume sugar, whether natural or refined, your body has to go through a variety of metabolic processes. First, your blood sugar levels raise. Your pancreas gets the signal to produce insulin, whose job it is to send the sugar to your cells for use or to be stored as fat.
The issue with sugar and weight management primarily comes when we consume more sugar than needed for cellular function. Insulin will move the excess sugar to be stored as fat for a rainy day (or, at least one when there’s no food available!)
In addition, the constant stress of insulin secretion in response to blood sugar swings from simple sugars plays a key factor in the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. When you’re stressed, your body naturally feels unsafe and is more likely to store food as fat in the event that you need glycogen to fuel your muscles (if you’re running from a tiger) or if a famine is on the horizon (if there’s not enough food to sustain health).
The dramatic blood sugar spike and drop from consuming sugar can trigger your body’s stress response, which includes an inflammatory response. If your blood sugar is constantly spiking and crashing, you’re experiencing inflammation each time.
Living in a constant state of inflammation can cause a multitude of issues like autoimmune diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders. A low diet low in sugars and therefore lower in inflammation is the best PCOS diet and is also good for keeping hormones in balance.
Most of us try very hard to steer clear of harmful addictive drugs. We know they’re bad for us and that they hijack the body to make us crave them. But if you’re not considering sugar to be one of these addictive drugs–think again!
Sugar and sweeteners have a hyperpalatable taste that trigger your brain’s reward center, eventually rewiring your brain to seek out these substances to continue reaping the dopamine rush. So, make no mistake, sugar can be highly addictive. If you think you are addicted to sugar, then you should read my article about how to beat sugar addiction.
You should also check out my full list of sugar-free diet benefits.
What is the difference between sugar-free and no-added sugar?
Being sugar free can mean different things to different people. For some, it may mean no processed sugar, but natural sugar is allowed. For others, it may mean cutting processed sugar and limiting natural sugars as well. And for a few, it may mean no processed sugar, no natural sugar, and no natural sweeteners either (i.e., stevia, monkfruit, yacon syrup). Read more about doing a sugar detox if you want to go cold turkey.
For this article, we’ll go with the moderate approach of cutting processed sugar and limiting natural sugars from fresh fruits as well. This means limiting fruit to several servings a day or less, and reserving natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar to special occasions.
What is the best way to cut sugar out of your diet?
Keep in mind that sugar is an addictive substance, so you could be breaking an addiction. Don’t get too hard on yourself if you fall back into old habits. With patience and consistency, you can stop sugar cravings and adjust your taste buds.
Try one of these strategies based on the Abstainer vs. Moderator theory, and know that you can always switch if you’re not seeing results:
- Moderate: Limit all sugars (natural and processed), but allow healthy treats and indulgences. This approach will look different for every Moderator. As a Moderator, you enjoy having sugar in your diet, and it doesn’t make you crave or obsess over it like you would if you cut it completely. Allow yourself to eat fruit, use honey or maple syrup to sweeten healthy treats, and use stevia or monk fruit. See my list of the safe sweeteners.
- Abstain: Completely eliminate all sugars (fruit, coconut sugar, sweet veggies) and sugar-free sweeteners (stevia, monkfruit, etc.) An Abstainer may even take it a step further by cutting out hyperpalatable foods or things with a ‘sweet’ taste such as nut butters, coconut, or vanilla. Abstainers know that if they allow anything sweet, the cravings will just continue. Indulge yourself with fat and 100% dark chocolate, but be careful not to label it as a reward. Check out my sugar detox plan.
Can you eat potatoes while you’re avoiding sugar?
Whether or not you should eat potatoes on a sugar-free diet depends on your reason for the diet. If you are looking to retrain your tastebuds and simply ensure a longer, healthier life, then potatoes are a nutrient-dense food to enjoy.
However, if you’re going sugar-free to help balance blood sugar, be mindful of including potatoes too often. Potatoes are relatively high on the glycemic index, meaning that they cause a sharper rise in blood sugar. Someone looking to keep blood sugar stable should focus on protein, fat, and non-starchy veggies.
Learn more about natural sugars vs. added sugars.
Can you lose weight on a no-sugar diet?
A sugar-free diet can certainly help you lose excess weight and achieve your weight loss goals. As described earlier in this blog post, sugar is either used by cells for energy or is stored as fat. Going sugar-free allows your body to use all the sugar it’s given (from starchy veggies or fruit) and minimize the likelihood of any being stored as fat. Moreover, you can lose inflammation weight by reducing your sugar intake.
There are health benefits to cutting back on sugars in your diet, especially added sugars. Use this post and diet plan as guidance to help with a no sugar diet.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.