You spoke, I responded. Once again, I am blown away with your thoughtful, intelligent Sugar Impact questions. Here are my top FAQs from the recent group challenge. If I didn't answer your question, please ask in the comments below or on my Facebook fan page.
Xylitol kills bad bacteria in the mouth, so would it do the same in the gut?
One study found xylitol kills bad mouth bacteria while enhancing healthy gut bacteria, making it a win-win. Ideally look for a birch tree-derived xylitol; most these days come from corn. I prefer erythritol or a erythrtiol blend.
I'm confused about dairy. Is it ok to have heavy cream, sour cream or other full fat dairy as long as the sugar content is low?
Low-fat and non-fat dairy is almost higher in lactose (sugar) or added sugar. The key here is to read your labels and ensure no added sugar is slipping in. Full-fat dairy is usually more satiating and satisfying than low-fat or non-fat, so you eat less and enjoy it more. Don’t be afraid of the fat in dairy: it’s rich in fat-burning conjugated lineoleic acid (CLA). The sugar rules apply here. No more than 5 grams of added sugar per 100-calorie serving. Keep in mind too if you have dairy food intolerances, any kind of dairy becomes a no-go.
Can you eat Greek yogurt that has fruit in it already or is that loaded with sugars too?
Many fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts contain as much if not more sugar than a candy bar! You are far better off buying plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and adding your own berries (unless you are in Cycle 2 and/ or dairy intolerant).
I am interested in supplements that help curb sugar cravings.
What about diet soda?
See this recent blog. In short: no.
How can you convince your spouse that it is bad for them as well?
Be a positive role model. When you bypass high-sugar impact foods, you set an example for everyone at the table. And when your spouse sees how much better you feel and your fast, lasting fat loss, he or she will likely become more motivated as well.
Dark chocolate is supposed to be good, but what about the sugar?
Look for a low-sugar impact, high-cacao dark chocolate. Sugar Impact Diet rules apply: no more than 5 grams of sugar per 100-calorie serving. Chocolate is definitely a dose-dependent food. My two favorite brands are Chocolatree and Soma Chocolatemaker, both available to order online.
I always crave something sweet after eating a meal. Do I learn to deny myself or is there something healthy I can choose?
As you regularly incorporate the Sugar Impact Plate as your meals, cravings will subside. That's because my Plate provides the best foods in the healthiest amounts to balance blood sugar, signal your brain to stop eating, and burn fat. Hunger and cravings disappear!
As a nurse, don't take lunch until after 2 p.m. What can I snack on instead of sugary foods like crackers or sweets?
Thinking ahead becomes key here. My friend Dr. Mark Hyman keeps an emergency pack on him, and I recommend you do too. Keep non-perishable snacks like slow roasted or dehydrated nuts and seeds, grass-fed jerky, Virgin Diet All-in-One shake, and my Virgin Diet Bars on you at all times.
Is coconut sugar healthy?
It depends. I wrote a blog looking at coconut sugar here.
How are triglycerides and sugar linked? My husband has high cholesterol and I was wondering if going low sugar will help him.
Excessive sugar, particularly as fructose, raises triglycerides. Fructose goes straight to your liver, which can utilize a small amount but converts the rest to triglycerides (fat), which store compactly around your midsection. When people go low-sugar impact, they almost always improve their lipid profile.
What is the best way to get back on track after a sugar binge?
Start with the very next meal with low-sugar impact foods. If the binge has become really bad, get back on Cycle 1 and commit immediately.
How can I reduce cravings?
When you gradually transition into low-sugar impact foods, you will find cravings subside. Please see Sugar Impact Diet for specific strategies to conquer cravings, including my crave-busting Lemon-Aid.
Are sweeteners such as Truvia okay?
No. Most commercial alternative sweeteners contain maltodextrin (corn) or dextrose (sugar) as their first ingredient. They also contain nebulous “natural flavors.” Look for a 100% pure stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, or a blend with no bulking agents like maltodextrin. My Virgin Diet Sprinkles meet that criteria.
In addition to eliminating or reducing sugar in our diet now, what other ways can we repair the damage done by over consuming sugar for decades?
Transitioning into low-sugar impact foods will make a huge difference. You will notice an improvement in your taste buds, your mood, your hunger and cravings levels, and of course there's the “added bonus” of fast, lasting fat loss. Consistently getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep, controlling stress, and my 4 x 4 Workouts (grab a free one here) are further ways you can reverse that sugar damage and make your body more insulin sensitive.
Can I eat as much fruit as I want? Apples and bananas?
I have provided specific fruit guidelines for each cycle in my Sugar Impact Diet. Cycle 2 is most restrictive, and you will be removing medium-sugar impact fruits as well as berries during that cycle.
How do I quit eating late at night?
First thing: make sure you have done dinner correctly. Next, make sure you have done all your meals correctly. I often find skipping, under-eating, or eating the wrong kinds of foods sets clients up for late-night snacking. Another trick is to have a glass of water before bed, since thirst often comes disguised as hunger. One study at the University of Washington found a glass of water before bed curbed midnight munchies. Finally, find a non-food gratification that will help you drift into sleep. I take a hot bath with chamomile tea and a good (but not great) novel. When you're soaking in the tub, you're not going to find your way into the kitchen, right?
How much sugar is in a glass of wine? Am I a better to drink red wine than white wine?
It depends on the variety and brand. If you drink, I prefer red wine because it is higher in resveratrol. Wine, beer, and hard alcohol generally don’t have residual sugars, though some of the cheaper wines or sweeter wines do (it’s why quality matters). Keep in mind too that alcohol will knock you out of fat burning. I always add: If you don't drink, please don't start.
Can you give some suggestions to help with constipation? I purchased your fiber and add it to the shakes in the morning but for those of us with chronic constipation need some additional supplements. Can you recommend any?
See this recent blog. Magnesium before bed almost always gets things moving.
What's the best way to detox from sugar: cold turkey or gradual? I am having a really hard time getting sugar out of my system this time around and I know this is the key to unlocking my health but I feel like I need a 12 step program to get sugar out of my life for good.
Consider my Sugar Impact Diet your 12-step program! I teach you how to gradually transition off of sugar. No withdrawal, cravings, and other problems going cold turkey can create.
Sometimes when I eat sugary products as a candy bar my blood glucose the next morning will be much lower than I expected. Why?
Because insulin's job is to pull your blood sugar down when you eat a high-sugar impact food, though oftentimes this hormone overcompensates and pulls blood sugar too low. So your blood sugar spikes, then crashes. That's what I mean by a blood sugar roller coaster. What you want is nice, steady blood sugar levels, and that's what you get when your meals incorporate my Plate principles.
What is the best way to reduce sugar for teenagers?
Don't even let it into the house. Sure, they might get it elsewhere, but not keeping it around creates one less major obstacle. Keep healthier options on hand, including slow roasted or dehydrated nuts and seeds, hard-boiled or deviled eggs (if they aren't egg intolerant), nut butters, and nitrate-free jerky. And be your own example. If they see you living a healthy, happy low-sugar impact life, chances are they will become similarly inspired.
What do you recommend for quality supplements? I want to stop guessing what to buy at the grocery store and health food stores. Please help me!
For nearly everyone as a “base” supplement plan, I recommend Daily Essentials Packets. They contain all the essentials in one easy-to-take, no-sorting, grab-and-go packet.
Humans have been consuming honey for millennia. Why is it considered a bad sugar?
I wrote a blog weighing the pros and cons of honey here.
There appears to be information on the benefits of drinking a glass of water with the juice of a lemon each morning. Does this negatively affect blood glucose levels in a person with pre-diabetes or diabetes? Or do the benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning outweigh the detriments?
There’s an old wives’ tale that lemon juice lowers blood sugar. Well, it turns out, there’s some truth to it! My hero Tim Ferriss, infamous biohacker and author of The 4-Hour Body, experimented with it and discovered that having 3 tablespoons of lemon juice when he ate lowered his blood sugar peaks by about 10%. Grab my Lemon-Aid recipe in Sugar Impact Diet.
Why can some people eat sugar and never be over weight? I mean a lot of sugar, candies, pastries, soda, My grandparents eat it everyday in huge amounts and are in their 90's and very healthy.
Just because someone is not overweight does not make them healthy, as I explained in this blog about TOFIs. Sugar sometimes wreaks its havoc in subtle and other times not-so-subtle ways. Another thing to consider is that sugar consumption has skyrocketed over the past few decades, especially as high-fructose corn syrup. As I explained in Sugar Impact Diet, not all sugars are created equal, and the proliferation of fructose over the past few decades has created considerable health damage.
What is “natural flavoring”? Is it something I should always avoid or something I can allow in my food occasionally?
“Natural flavorings” is usually a proprietary term, meaning the manufacturer will not reveal what it is. If I see that on a brand I know and trust, of which I am certain it will not contain harmful ingredients like gluten or fructose, I have no problem with it. If I see it on a sweetener or other item in my grocery store, I almost always put the product back immediately.
© 2015 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food intolerances and crush their sugar cravings. She is author of New York Times Bestsellers The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast and The Sugar Impact Diet: Drop 7 Hidden Sugars, Lose up to 10 Pounds, Just 2 Weeks. JJ is also a frequent blogger at Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and other outlets as well as a popular guest on TV, radio, and in magazines. Learn more at www.jjvirgin.com.