Is A Sugar Free Diet A Good Idea? | Q&A Weekly Roundup

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With every type of diet seemingly out there – and many pushed as trend diets – it can be very confusing to decide exactly what and how you should eat in order to maintain the healthiest body and lifestyle. One of these questions is whether attempting to completely cut sugar out of your diet is a good idea. We address that issue in this week’s Q & A, as well as giving some of our thoughts on how to build muscle as a vegan, and what it can mean for your body to amp up your protein intake. As usual, we hope that these answers give you some helpful pointers and inspire you to ask your own health and fitness questions if there are things you’ve been wondering about and didn’t know where to ask!

Here’s the short list of questions based on topic:

  • Is A Sugar Free Diet A Good Idea?
  • Can You Build Muscle As A Total Vegan?
  • Is The BuiltLean Program Metabolic Resistance Training?
  • Exercises To Do With Joint Pain
  • What is the Best Anti-Cancer Diet?
  • Question #1 | Is A Sugar Free Diet A Good Idea?

    Question: What do you think of sugar free and flour free diets? Do they really help with weight loss? – Brennan

    Answer: Hey Brennan, to add to what Kwesi said, I do think low sugar diets can definitely help with weight loss because they help control your hunger. I think going completely sugar free is just too tough, but low sugar should be helpful (under 10-20 grams of sucrose). I would exclude fruit sugar from this category because fruit (like berries) also has fiber and is nutritious. A couple pieces of fruit can likely help you. In terms of no flour, as Kwesi mentioned, there are many different types of flour including oat flour, rye flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, or millet flour. I think as a rule of thumb the less processed the food you are eating and the less number of ingredients it has, the better. Keep in mind, creating some restriction in a diet makes sense, but when it becomes too restrictive too fast, you may be setting yourself up to not succeed.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #2 | Can You Build Muscle As A Total Vegan?

    Question: Nice article (See: Complete vs. Incomplete Protein Sources), and from this I have some doubts; so, I can still build muscle by totally going vegan? Is it easier building muscle with animal protein. I mean, I guess it’s easier to chomp on a 16 oz. steak than eating like a whole bucket of almonds and spinach. Just saying. – Charles

    Answer: Hey Charles, Nate may want to chime in, but getting enough protein to build muscle from vegetables can be really tough, so yes, animal protein and dairy makes it much easier. Most studies show somewhere around 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight as a good amount for building muscle. You would probably have to eat a truck worth of broccoli to get that amount, or less jokingly, a lot of complimentary protein… it’s just tough to do, but it is feasible. FYI, we have a muscle building protein article coming out next month you might want to check out.

    –Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #3 | Is The BuiltLean Program Metabolic Resistance Training?

    Question: A couple of questions concerning your system…

    #1. Is it considered to be MRT (Metabolic Resistance Training)?

    #2. What happens at the end of the cycle of training? Any further programs available? I only ask because everything that I have read says that you need to change things up about every 8 weeks or so.

    Thanks! – Michael

    Answer: Hey Michael, thanks for your interest in the BuiltLean Program. To answer your first question, yes, I would consider the program as metabolic resistance training (see: metabolic training 101). You get solid cardiovascular and strength benefits – it challenges the metabolic system for sure. In my opinion, MRT is really semantics for an intense full body strength training workout. Usually will want to change up your program after 4-6 weeks. The BuiltLean Program changes every two weeks, but still retains some consistency. From week 4 to week 5 it changes more dramatically. After you are done with the program, you will be able to leverage all the nutrition guidelines you’ve learned and also the workout templates I provide. For more detail, you can check out this answer in our Customer FAQ.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #4 | Exercises To Do With Joint Pain

    Question: Hi, please could you help me with exercises to do because I have had my knee reconstructed. I’ve had my cruciate ligament rebuilt and want to return to my sports, including boxing and snowboarding, but have put on nearly 3 stone. The excess weight is making it really painful to run, skip, etc. – Matthew

    Answer: Hey Matthew , to add to what Kwesi said, I would definitely focus on the nutrition and start a simple full body workout routine for the purpose of keeping your lean muscle. Losing the excess weight will put significantly less pressure on all your joints. Here are some exercise ideas (which you should get approved by your doctor) – exercise ball squats, assisted lunges, stationary rowing, walking on an incline treadmill, or up a hill, stationary bike are a few to consider. They may seem like “light” exercises, but the idea is that as you get leaner by losing fat and your knee further strengthens, you will be able to choose harder exercises.

    – Marc ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #5 | What is the Best Anti-Cancer Diet?

    Question: Hello Marc! This is an informative article! Thank you.
    Recently I have been reading about the probable reasons for cancer development, and most doctors suggest that the consumption of food that creates an acidic environment is one of the major factors for the development and sustenance of cancers. In fact, a few websites also list that an anti-cancer diet should have a minimal consumption of dairy and meat. In an attempt to lose fat and build muscle, I have increased my protein consumption (mainly dairy and meant), but I am disturbed after reading about the body pH and the effect of meat and diary in this regard. Could you please share your views on this? – Smitha

    Answer: @Smitha – Wow, that’s a great question and unfortunately one that no PHD, MD, medical, or health professional could answer definitively. We don’t know what the optimal anti-cancer diet is. I would talk to your doctor about your concerns and see what he/she says. With that said, I’m happy to share my opinion. I think if you do eat meats, it’s ideal to focus on grassfed animals. Eating fish in particular is associated with good health. Dairy is a bit more complicated, but I would consider yogurt, which is easier to digest. When you do choose milk, choose the organic variety like Organic Valley. Finally, if you eat enough veggies and have a balanced diet, the acidity of the meat should be balanced out. Also consider lifestyle may have an impact such as stress and sleep, so minimizing stress and getting more sleep can likely be helpful. I also wouldn’t attempt to lose fat and build muscle at the same time for reasons I list here => Can You Lose Fat and Build Muscle At The Same Time?. Maybe one of these days we’ll explore all the research and see what an “anti-cancer” diet looks like based on what research is available. I do know the Harvard Healthy Eating Pyramid was created in large part as a “heart healthy” diet based on research.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

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    14 Comments on “Is A Sugar Free Diet A Good Idea? | Q&A Weekly Roundup

    1. uncadonego
      October 19, 2012 #

      I was thinking it would be a nice touch if the titles of these weekly Q&A roundup questions would hilight so that we could open the original article in a new tab. Just a thought.

      1. October 19, 2012 #

        @uncadongo – Thanks for the suggestion. In order to have them click and open in a new window, I would have to create a separate post for each question/answer. What we can do is create links so that they skip to the actual question lower on the page. I’ll talk with our Associate Editor Amanda about whether we should implement this in the next couple weeks. Thanks for the suggestion. On a related note, I’ve also been contemplating creating a searchable Q&A database, but I think that’s a little ways away.

    2. Seb
      October 19, 2012 #

      good info!!!

    3. tim
      October 21, 2012 #

      Mark, I was hoping you go share your thoughts on granola and muesli. I was also hoping that you could give us a standard for when buying granola and muesli products, such as how much sugar they should contain, how many calories, etc. Thanks and keep up the good work.

      1. October 25, 2012 #

        @Tim – I’ve added your suggestions to our new ideas database. May take some time to get to it, but we will get to it. In short, granola, and more generally grain consumption is a subject that requires some exploration. Grains have anti-nutrients that can sometimes cause gastro-instestinal distress. If they are prepared correctly, however (sprouting/soaking etc.), they can become more nutritious and digestible. Generally speaking, the less sugar the better and if there are gluten free varieties, you can get those as well.

    4. Vic Virzera
      October 21, 2012 #

      Hi Marc:
      Just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your continuous choice of great topics and research. It has got to be so challenging to keep up such a great site.
      Thanks for the volumes of good info.

      1. October 22, 2012 #

        @Vic – Thanks a lot. It has been much tougher than I imagined to consistently create high-quality articles, but I think it’s well worth the effort and I and our team of contributors really enjoy it!

    5. Bryce
      October 23, 2012 #

      I have questions about sugar. When articles discuss sugar and how bad it is for you, are they referring also to natural sugar which is found in almost everything? When someone says I’m on a sugar free diet, does that mean free of ‘processed’ or ‘added’ sugar, or free of all types of sugar? Is it bad for the body to eat too much natural sugar, i.e. eat too many berries throughout the day?

      This is one area where I’ve always been confused with. When tracking my calories and nutritional info, I always noticed my grams of sugar eaten throughout the day was quite high, although it almost all came from natural sugar.

      1. October 25, 2012 #

        @Bryce – That’s a GREAT question and one that I’ve added to our Q&A Weekly Roundup list. In short, processed sugars are the types of sugar that should ideally be avoided. Think sugar in candy, or added sugar in fruit drinks etc. Natural sugars, especially from fruit, are totally ok in moderation (3-5 servings), because they typically have fiber to slow down the digestion of the carbohydrate. At the end of the day, fat loss is primarily about calorie intake, but controlling sugar intake can help control hunger and allow fat stores to more readily release fat (insulin is more controlled). Hope that’s helpful! We definitely need to explore this concept of different types of sugars, how they affect insulin and fat storage, so thanks for the question. I’ve added it to our “new ideas” article database.

    6. Charles
      October 24, 2012 #

      Thanks for the response on building muscle by only going vegan Mark. I can’t wait for the protein article! Keep up the great work on this site.

    7. Roshan
      October 24, 2012 #

      Hi Marc,

      Apart from weights at gym i do cardio after warm up everyday at gym. Mostly running on treadmills at 7-8 mph for 10-15 mins. I also do light compound exercises to increase metabolism twice a week.
      I take whey protein before gym and after gym workout. I have lost weigh, at 5’7″ i weight 63.3 Kg but with weight I have lost lot of muscle also :-( I don’t feel that I am loosing strength as I am able to do more weights comfortably. I have lost lot of muscle mass despite having increased my diet (I don’t take any other supplement just Whey Isolates powder, I have carbs mostly in form of bread, potatoes and wheat). I asked some of my friends at gym who suggest that doing cardio results in muscle loss too.
      I wanted to know if its all right to include cardio everyday in exercise regime? Or I should only do like brisk walk or some light form of cardio?
      Does doing cario results in muscle loss as well along with the fat loss? Can you please suggest as i have lost lot of muscle from my biceps, shoulder and back :-( I am confused if its because of cardio or weight training ?

    8. Sam
      October 25, 2012 #

      I am 14 years old and have been working out to get stronger. I have been tracking what I eat but I feel like it is not necessary for someone my age who is still growing. I always eat healthy foods such as a salad every day, oatmeal, wheat bread, olive oil, chicken, etc. Do you think I would be ok not tracking and just eating a lot of those healthy foods? Also do my percentages really matter as long as I get sufficient protein and I stay arounbd 25-30% of healthyfats


      1. October 25, 2012 #

        @Sam – I don’t think tracking your food intake every day is necessary, but I think doing it for a few days, or a week is a really smart idea. You should be able to get a lot stronger without gaining muscle as well due to neuromuscular adaptation (efficiency of your brain sending nerve impulses to your muscles) because you are young.

    9. November 3, 2012 #

      Low sugar is the best option and all natural products is the way to go. Refined sugars are going to take you down an unhealthy path. Check your local healthy food store/market for an all natural sweetener. Berries have been beneficial to me when I crave something sweet, plus they are high in fiber. Raspberries are good fat burners too.

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