Going #carbfree or #sugarfree seems to be a common trend these days. And luckily, there are many ways to do it to fit your lifestyle, and maximize your energy everyday.
You might even be wondering, "I thought we needed sugars for energy?" Guess what, you're right! However, new research is showing that there are ways to go completely carbohydrate free, like the ketogenic diet, and still feel energized.
But, the jury is out on whether keto is the way to go for everyone. And since no diet can fit each body, making sugar-free fit for you is an important part of a sustainable meal plan.
This only scratches the surface of sugar-free diets, however this seems to be a common theme among the most popular diets today.
Refined Sugar Free
This would fall into a category similar to the Paleo diet. This style of eating means you refrain from eating anything that includes refined sugar.
What has refined sugar?
- White sugar (...yes, we know it's pretty obvious)
- Most bread/pastries
- White pasta
- Fancy molasses
- Aunt Jemima's Maple Syrup (and the other brand name/no name alternatives)
- Granola Bars
- Milk chocolate (and even many 70-85% dark chocolates)
... if it comes in a package, it's highly likely that there is refined sugar in there somewhere!
The benefits? If you're trying to cut down on the sugar that is in your food, this is a great place to start! It forces you to read ingredient labels (look out for glucose, fructose, syrups, cane sugar, molasses)!
The down side? If you crave foods that are high in refined sugar (think, that post-dinner ice cream, or morning muffin), this can be tricky. You might even experience withdrawal symptoms that feel similar to the flu. Don't worry, these will go away pretty within a few days.
Sugar + Sweetener Free
Here, you also remove any added sweetener, regardless if it's processed or natural.
In addition to the list above, this also means that you remove natural sweeteners like:
- Agave syrup (which should be removed from your diet, regardless)
- Maple syrup
- Cane sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Date sugar
The benefits? This is basically the next level up from refined sugar free and can help with long-term sugar cravings. You know that 3 PM slump? It's not just the coffee, it can also be the crash from your maple and cinnamon oats.
This also means that you'll focus on high-fibre alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth - like fruits! Be sure to eat the skins on apples, pears, peaches, etc. to get the full benefits. Berries are our favourite for a quick sweet kick.
The down side? Again, if you're new to this "no sugar" thing, this can be difficult. You'll also need to be a bit more creative when eating out or baking, and finding alternatives like monkfruit sweetener or using stevia (which, we'll be honest, isn't our favourite taste).
No Carb/Low Carb
This diet is probably seen as the most extreme, and is closest to the ketogenic diet. The difference between "eating keto" vs. no-carb is that here, we don't emphasize fat consumption to act as the energy replace glucose.
Here are some of the things you'll reduce or give up:
- Grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa
- All fruit
- Starchy vegetables like sweet and regular potatoes
- All packaged breads
- All natural sweeteners
- Possibly giving up peas, carrots, and tomatoes
The benefits? Weight loss. While you will need to replace these calories with vegetables, protein and healthy fats to feel satiated, there tends to still be a calorie deficit for most people.
Also, people notice a significant improvement in their energy levels after the first few days. This happens as your blood sugar levels balance themselves and utilize the glucose that you are consuming, efficiently.
The down side? This diet is very restrictive, and should be done under the guidance of an experienced practitioner. If you regularly eat even natural sweeteners, you may experience quite severe withdrawal symptoms that seem similar to the flu. If you continue to follow the diet, these will usually subside within the week.
If you're an avid exerciser (think running, spin, lifter, etc.), some people find that they have very low levels of energy for any high-intensity exercises. This does go away as your body adapts.
Find out what diet works best for your lifestyle by booking a nutritional consult with one of our personal trainers!