Fighting the fads: Sugar-free diets


There have been a lot of media articles recently discussing the benefits of a sugar free diet.

In nutrition , the term ‘sugar’ is the common name for ‘glucose’, which is the simplest form of carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates, such as starch (found in foods like pasta and rice) are simply chains of glucose joined together: think of it like a pearl necklace, with the individual pearls being glucose and the whole necklace being starch.

A sugar-free diet would involve cutting out all refined sugar such as those found in chocolate and cakes. But to entirely eliminate sugar, you would also have to eliminate nutritious foods including fruit, vegetables and milk. Cutting out these foods to avoid sugar is certainly not recommended.

Bizarrely, many of the ‘sugar-free diets’ promoted by health and wellness bloggers advocate the use of ‘sugar alternatives’ including honey, agave nectar, date syrup etc. These are all simply glucose with a different name and have equal amounts of calories to regular refined caster sugar.


Some food manufacturers have cottoned onto the confusion surrounding sugar. Such companies often pride themself in offering ‘coconut blosson nectar’ or ‘all natural manuka honey’ in their products. It must be remembered that this is still quite simply sugar. Gram for gram all sugars (regardless of how ‘wholesome, natural and healthy’ they may sound) have the same number of calories (3.75 kcal/g).


Disguising sugars as something else adds to public confusion and can create unecessary fear around food. At a time when childhood obesity is on the rise, food manufacturers have a duty to be transparent about the sugar content of their foods rather than ‘sugar-coating’ the issue.

🍭 🍦 🍫 WHO SHOULD FOLLOW A SUGAR FREE DIET?🍭 🍦 🍫 There is no reason for anyone to go sugar-free, and it is simply impossible to do so as sugar occurs naturally in many foods.

Having said that, it is important to remember to limit the amount of added sugar you consume. This includes the sugar that is often hidden in foods, such as bread, cereal, condiments such as mayo or ketchup and also fruit juices.

The recommended daily limit for added sugar is 30 g/day for women (6 teaspoons) and 34 g/day for men (8 teaspoons)


It is important to remember that the brains’ preferred fuel is glucose, meaning that in order for the brain to function at its optimum, your diet requires an adequate amount of sugar (in line with the recommendations).


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