The Sugar Busters Diet: What Is It?

Sugar Busters diet is a hotly-debated topic in the scientific community. Some people think its effective to improve health.
The Sugar Busters Diet: What Is It?
Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor

Written and verified by the nutritionist Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

If you want to know about the Sugar Busters diet, we need to start with the motto on the cover of the book: “Reduce sugar to reduce fat”. This is exactly what this type of diet is about. It proposes that you eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates in order to achieve a healthy and balanced diet.

Too much sugar can increase body fat deposits, resulting in being overweight or obese. In fact, Thomas, Elliot and Baur from the University of Sydney, classified the Sugar Busters diet within the “glycemic index diets.”

These meal plans assign a value to carbohydrate source foods. They do it according to their ability to increase blood sugar and, consequently, insulin levels.

Salas-Salvadó, in his book on Nutrition and Clinical Diet, points out that a diet with a high glycemic index can increase the fat in the blood. Then, it raises the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, not everyone agrees. Keep reading for more details!

How does the Sugar Busters diet work? What should be considered?

Before we talk about the rationale for the Sugar Busters diet, first, let’s review what the glycemic index (GI) is. According to Hernández and other nutrition expertsthe GI is a value that quantifies the response of a food to increase blood sugar and insulin values, comparing it to white bread or glucose.

According to Sellmeyer in the magazine American Clinic of Nutrition, the lower the GI, from 1 to 55, the healthier a diet to prevent and control chronic diseases.

The Sugar Busters diet eliminates all the simple and refined carbohydrates and sugars. Also, 40% of the calories in the diet should come from foods with low GI carbohydrates and sources of fiberThe remaining 60% of calories is distributed in 30% from proteins and 30% from fat, mainly unsaturated.

The authors of the Sugar Busters diet didn’t specify serving sizes for each food. They only recommend that the plates aren’t too full, and that each serving is reasonable.

Different types of cakes and candy.

Some foods you can eat on the Sugar Busters diet

The Sugar Busters diet includes foods with a low glycemic index. In other words, with carbohydrates that transform into sugars that are absorbed slowly and gradually. Here are some of them:

  • Non-starchy vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, bell peppers, zucchini, among others.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, green beans, among other legumes.
  • Fruits: Watermelon, strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, apples, etc.
  • Whole grains: Oatmeal, pearl barley, whole wheat rye bread, oat bran, buckwheat, and brown rice.
  • Low-fat dairy: 1% milk, nonfat yogurt with no added sugar, lean cheeses.
  • Proteins: Poultry without skin, seafood, lean meat, eggs, fish, among others. Also, it’s recommended to remove the visible fat and to not fry them.
  • Fats: Canola oil, soy, corn, cotton, tree nuts, olive oil.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose, aspartame, stevia, and more.

Also read: Five Tips to Help You Choose Carbohydrates Wisely

Some foods to exclude from the Sugar Busters diet

These types of diets exclude refined or high-sugar foods, such as honey, syrups, and starchy vegetables. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Vegetables with starch and sugars: Baked potato, beets, raisins, cassava, bananas, peas, among others.
  • Refined cereals: Wheat flour, pasta, white bread, white rice, rice flour and its derivatives.
  • High GI fruits: Mangos, kiwis, ripe bananas, pineapples, etc.
  • Sweet foods: Cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, donuts, muffins and pastries in general.
  • Drinks: Fruit juice, sports drinks, soda, sweetened carbonated drinks and sweet tea.
  • Processed foods: Fast food, potato chips, cookies, snacks, canned foods, and similar foods.
  • Processed meats: Sausages, pastrami, ham, salami, among others.

Advantages of the Sugar Busters diet

The Sugar Busters diet has some advantages over other diets, ranging from practicality to specific health benefits.

Prevention and control of certain chronic diseases

The Mayo Clinic staff explains that consuming foods with a low glycemic index, which are part of the diet, helps prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Thomas, Elliot and Baur concluded that a low GI diet, shortly after consuming it, improved total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in obese people. In addition, body weight, fat mass, and body mass index decreased. A meta-analysis also showed improvement in insulin and triglycerides in obese people when they ate low GI-diets.

However, other studies are somewhat contradictory when monitoring the low GI diet in the long term. The results revealed negligible weight loss during obesity treatment. Several researchers have also found no relationship between the GI and the decrease in cardiovascular risk.

Favorable nutritional contribution

The Sugar Busters diet has lots of fiber, bioactive compounds like antioxidants and vitamins, which support various functions of the body. Most of your calories, fiber, and vitamins come from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Low fat intake

Although this diet doesn’t emphasize eating less saturated fat, including olive oil, seed oils with polyunsaturated fatty acids and eating lean meats increases the unsaturated-saturated ratio. In fact, this is beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular health.

It’s a practical diet

Sugar Busters is a type of diet that doesn’t require counting or measuring carbohydrates or calories. All you have to do is eat the foods and ingredients on the list, and avoid the ones that aren’t. You don’t need to know much about health to know how to follow this diet.

Parts of the mediterranean diet.

Disadvantages of the Sugar Busters diet

Some disadvantages of this type of diet are related to excluding some fruits and vegetables that provide important nutrients for your health. In addition, there are contradictions regarding its effects on some chronic diseases.

Excludes nutritious foods

This diet excludes foods according to their glycemic index. However, lots of them can be vehicles for important nutrients.

  • For example, mango and pineapple are a source of carotenoid precursors of vitamin A, vitamin C, like kiwi.
  • The fiber in some starchy vegetables, like cassava and peas, is also not in this diet plan.

Eating plan confusion

Information on the list of foods to include or exclude isn’t readily available. You have to scrutinize the guide book to figure out the allowed foods. On the other hand, the authors suggest decreasing saturated fat, but include butter and heavy cream.

In addition, although the Sugar Busters diet recommends food with a lower GI, some are close to or higher than the GI value of sugar.

Contradictions in scientific studies

Although the proponents of this diet applaud some studies that link GI diets with controlling some diseases, others don’t trust the results. Either the diets haven’t been tested in the long term or the results show no relationship between diet and improvement in symptoms.

Also read: 5 Recipes from the Mediterranean Diet to Help You Lose Weight

Is it possible to lose weight on the Sugar Busters diet?

Some clinical trials and others reported in the journal Clinical Nutrition determined that low-GI diets were able to reduce weight and body fat in obese patients for 6, 8, and 12 weeks.

In contrast, in a study with obese people following a GI diet, weight loss was negligible during the maintenance phase and at 36 weeks of the study.

Additionally, the Sugar Busters diet also provides a high amount of fiber, through fruits, vegetables, cereals, and whole grains. In this sense, some authors state that fiber reduces energy intake for several reasons:

  • Greater feeling of satiety
  • Decreases absorption in the small intestine
  • Increases fecal elimination of nutrients

Also, in the Journal of Nutritionthey report that the low carbohydrate intake with a high protein intake, characteristic of this diet, makes you feel fuller. Also, it reduces body fat and increases weight loss.

For many, the Sugar Busters diet is a healthy eating plan. After all, reducing sugar, increasing fiber, and consuming lean protein and less saturated fat are part of the World Health Organization’s recommendations for a healthy diet.

However, more long-term studies are needed to determine the direct effect of this diet on obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Philippou E, McGowan BM, Brynes AE, Dornhorst A, Leeds AR, Frost GS. The effect of a 12-week low glycaemic index
    diet on heart disease risk factors and 24 h glycaemic response in healthy middle-aged volunteers at risk of heart disease: a pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008; 62: 145-9.
  • Salas-Salvado, J., Bonada, R., Trallero, M. Nutrición y Dietética Clinica. Editorial Masson-Elsevier, Barcelona. 2006.
  • Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Baur L. Dietas de bajo índice glucémico o baja carga glucémica para el sobrepeso y la obesidad (Revisión Cochrane traducida). En: La Biblioteca Cochrane Plus, 2007 Número 4. Oxford: Update Software Ltd. Disponible en: (Traducida de The Cochrane Library, 2007 Issue 4. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.).
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  • Gargallo Fernández Manuel, M.; Breton Lesmes, I.; Basulto Marset, J.; Quiles Izquierdo, J.;Formiguera Sala, X.; Salas-Salvadó, J.; grupo de consenso FESNAD-SEEDO. Recomendaciones nutricionales basadas en la evidencia para la prevención y el tratamiento del sobrepeso y la obesidad en adultos (consenso FESNAD-SEEDO). La dieta en el tratamiento de la obesidad (III/III). Nutrición Hospitalaria. 2012, 27 (3), pp. 833-864.
  • Hernández, P.,  Mata, C.,  Lares, M., 3, Velazco, Y., Brito, S. Índice glicémico y carga glucémica de las dietas de adultos diabéticos y no diabéticos. An Venez Nutr 2013; 26(1): 5-13.
  • Leighton Steward, Morrison Bethea, M.D., Sam Andrews, M.D., Luis Balart, M.D. El Nuevo Sugar Busters. Ballantine Books. Random House Publishing Group22 jul. 2009 – 416 páginas.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.