If you are tired of falling in and out of the latest diet trend, then this challenge is for you. Instead of an all or nothing mentality, this dietitian is giving you an approachable, realistic and sustainable plan. Enter, the 21 Day Added Sugar Challenge. Yes, you can have a cookie. Intrigued? Join me below in learning more.
What is the 21 Day Added Sugar Challenge?
It’s a mindset shift.
It’s a community of like-minded friends committed to achieving their personal goals, together.
It’s, most importantly, sustainable.
There’s a big difference between added sugars and natural sugars, and this challenge will help you identify those.
Added sugars are ADDED to foods, meaning they are not naturally present in the genetic makeup of the food. Added sugars enhance palatability of foods (aka sweetness) but do not offer significant nutritional benefit.
Natural sugars are inherent in the food, like fructose and glucose in fruits and some vegetables. These are not added into the food. Foods that contain natural sugars contribute as a whole a plethora of beneficial nutrients to humans.
While added sugars are OK in moderation, excessive intakes have been linked to a list of preventable diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more.
So, what exactly does the added sugar challenge consist of then?
A framework, guided by me, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer, to help you reduce your intake of added sugars in a realistic way.
Did you know the average American consumes between 60 and 70grams of added sugar each day?
That far supersedes the American Heart Association Recommendation of 25 grams a day for women and 37.5 grams for men!
The 21 Day Added Sugar Challenge is intended to help guide you in making more informed choices when it comes to not only what foods to purchase, but also what hidden ingredients have added sugar in then as well.
Women following this challenge are recommended to consume under 25 grams of added sugar a day.
Men following the challenge should consume under 37.5 grams.
How do I know how much added sugar is in the food I’m eating?
If you are eating a packaged food, it will say right there on the nutiriton facts panel.
A recent change went into effect that now requires all packaged foods to list under the total sugars the amount of added sugars present in the food.
Here’s a sample of what the new packages will look like compared to the old:
If you are following a recipe, most cookbooks and online bloggers do provide nutrition information with their recipes.
For instance, you’ll see here that my Oatmeal Peach Cobbler Bake has the nutrition provided and it reads “10 grams of sugar”.
Since the online format for presenting nutrition facts hasn’t caught up with the national legislation, the amount of added sugar present in the Shaw Kitchen recipes are significantly lower than what is presented in the nutrition facts.
Because I often use natural sources of sugar and only a small amount of added sugar to sweeten the foods.
For instance, the peaches in the above oatmeal bake contribute nearly 50% of natural sugar, so the total amount of added sugar for the dish is only 5 grams.
What are some common types of added sugars found in foods?
Brown rice syrup
High fructose corn syrup
You may also be surprised, but many sneaky sources of added sugars are found in:
Toddler Nutrition Bars
Will I lose weight on the added sugar challenge?
You may, you may not.
This is not the prime goal of the challenge though.
If your diet is heavy in added sugars right now and you make these modifications to decrease them without filling it up with calorically dense but nutritionally devoid ingredients, then yes, you should lose weight!
Long gone are the days when we equate a 3500 calorie deficit to losing a pound of body fat.
I’m sorry, but genetics, body composition and environmental factors make that archaic equation a little outdated.
However, a more nutritionally dense diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains will certainly lower inflammation and boost your metabolism, resulting in weight loss for many.
Bottom line: after 21 days on this challenge, you should walk away feeling empowered about the food choices you are making and confident in your health.
What can I eat on the added sugar challenge?
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks!
Seriously, this isn’t a fast or anything like that.
It’s about eating foods that nourish your body when hungry, stopping when full, and having a sweet in moderation.
Here is a sample shopping list to get you started!
To give you an idea what a meal plan look’s like for someone eating around 1500 calories a day, checkout this guide:
*Remember, caloric needs vary for each individual. If you are interested in finding out your true needs, consider a personalized nutrition assessment.
What are some healthy snacks to eat that will satisfy my sweet tooth?
Some of my go to, no-recipe recipes for sweet snacks are:
-100% Dried Mango Wedges
-100% Dried Apricot
-1/2 cup frozen Wild Blueberries with 2 TBSP Whipped Cream
-1 date with 1 TSP Natural Chunky Peanut Butter
-1/2 cup Honey Bunches of Oats with Almond Milk
My favorite low-sugar recipes are:
Plus, my friend has over 25 more here too!
How should I track my daily intakes of added sugar?
Whatever is realistic for you!
Some of my clients like the My Fitness Pal (though it doesn’t separate added sugars out), while others prefer plain old pen and paper.
Some like to make a note in their cell phone.
Some recent APPS (available on both Apple and Android) I like include Fooducate and Shopwell. These help identify the amount of added sugars in common foods.
Bottom line here: Do what works for you!
I’ve also put together a detailed guide to help walk you through the challenge!
What about fitness? Should I move on this challenge?
I firmly believe that the basic tenants of every long-lasting behavior change involve finding a balance between nourishing your body, nutritionally and physically.
While I’m a big proponent of walking and hiking (I do have a 2.73 mile a day challenge going for 2020), I highly encourage you to find what works for you.
If you’re looking for some simple movements to get you started, checkout my list below for simple swaps to boost your metabolism!