Sugar Buster Diet Guidelines
Dr. Bagnato will ask you to follow the popular Sugar Busters diet before surgery. The Sugar Busters diet involves avoiding refined sugars and processed carbohydrates in favor of more whole grains and high-fiber vegetables. The diet also encourages supplemental exercise. In addition to helping you maintain your weight or lose weight before surgery, following the Sugar Busters diet will help make the transition into your new, post-surgery lifestyle easier.
With the exception of white and red potatoes, corn, parsnips, turnips, beets, and rutabagas, you can enjoy all the vegetables you want while following Sugar Busters. Vegetables add low-calorie bulk to meals and are full of nutrients and water.
You may eat canned or frozen vegetables, but fresh is always the best choice. You can also enjoy pickled vegetables and olives as long as they don’t contain more than 3 grams of sugar per serving.
Beans are a great source of protein and starchy carbohydrates. If you eat beans in addition to 3 servings of starchy carbohydrates a day and find that you’re not losing weight, reduce your starchy carb intake to account for the carbs in the beans.
While on the Sugar Busters diet, you can enjoy 3 servings of fruit per day. Fruits that aren’t allowed are watermelon, raisins, bananas, and pineapple. One-hundred-percent fruit juices with no added sugar are permissible in moderation, but keep in mind that fruit juice counts toward your daily fruit consumption. Also acceptable are avocados, which are considered fruit, and no-sugar-added jellies and jams. If you find that fruit causes you digestive troubles when eaten with other foods, try eating them 30 minutes before or 2 hours after a meal.
The Sugar Busters diet allows you to consume 2 to 3 servings of starchy carbohydrates per day. This includes bread, grains, crackers, cereals, sweet potatoes, and pasta. As an example, your daily servings could be broken down as follows:
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ cup of oatmeal, cereal, pasta, or rice
- ½ of a small sweet potato or yam
Flour, Bread, and Crackers
Stay away from white, enriched, bleached, or refined flours in favor of products made with 100% whole-wheat, whole-grain, or stone-ground whole-wheat flours. You can also find whole-grain soy, rye, oat, and pastry flours. Sprouted-grain products are allowed as long as they don’t contain enriched flour. Corn flours and cornmeal should be avoided, which rules out corn tortillas (whole-wheat tortillas are permissible as long as they don’t contain enriched flour). Bread and crackers should not contain more than 3 grams of sugar per serving.
Cereal and Oatmeal
Oatmeal and cereal should be made with whole grains or bran and should meet the 3-grams-of-sugar-or-less requirement. Avoid instant oatmeal in favor of 5-minute, rolled, steel-cut, or old-fashioned oats.
Pasta and Rice
Pasta should be made of whole wheat or hard durum semolina and cooked al dente (that is, just a little firm to the bite). As long as they’re whole-grain, pastas made with non-wheat flours are permissible.
Acceptable types of rice include brown rice, brown or white basmati rice, and wild rice. Avoid white rice unless it’s basmati.
Protein is a filling nutrient that helps build muscle mass. To determine how much you need, divide your current weight by 2.2—the result is the number of protein grams you should consume each day.
Protein-rich foods include eggs, dairy, meat, and nuts. Choose lean proteins such as:
- White-meat poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Lean cuts of pork, beef, and lamb
- Turkey bacon
- Nut butters (with no sugar added)
Servings of meat should be no larger than 4 ounces. Also, avoid sugary and fatty deli meats.
You can also add no-carbohydrate protein powder to foods or beverages as a supplement. Keep in mind, however, that nearly all foods contain protein and need to be accounted for.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products that have no more than 3 grams of sugar per serving. Permissible dairy products include:
- Milk, cream, and half-and-half
- Cream cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Yogurt (unsweetened)
Milk can cause insulin spikes for some people. If you’re not losing weight, try cutting down your milk, cream, and half-and-half intake.
Fats and Oils
Healthy, natural fats are essential for health and allowed in moderation.
Natural fats include:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut and walnut oils
Man-made fats that should be avoided include:
- Hydrogenated oils
- Transfatty acids (commonly known as “trans fats”)
Natural and artificial sweeteners are permitted on the Sugar Busters diet.
Permissible natural sweeteners include:
- Trutina dulcem (kiwi sweetener)
- Agave nectar
Permissible artificial sweeteners include:
- Sweet’n Low (Saccharin)
- Splenda (sucralose)
- NutraSweet (aspartame)
As an alternative to traditional sugar substitutes, you may also use sugar-free pancake syrup to sweeten your foods and drinks. Corn-based sugars like high-fructose corn syrup are not suitable substitutes. Read labels on every food item you purchase—sugars can hide out in unexpected places.
The “sugar” category contains much more than just traditional white sugar. Some items that you might expect need to be avoided include honey, molasses, and corn syrup. There are also many lesser-known sugars that should be avoided, including:
- modified food starch
If you do find foods containing any of these ingredients, make sure that they’re listed near the end of the ingredients list and that the product contains no more than 3 grams of sugar per serving. As a general rule, avoid any ingredient that ends in “-ose.”
There are a couple of exceptions to the above rules. Fruit products (including tomatoes) are permissible as long as the sugar actually comes from the fruit. Check the ingredients list to make sure there’s no added sugar in products containing fruit. Also, dairy is permissible as long as the sugars come from lactose. Keep in mind that dairy products can stall weight loss, so try cutting them out if you find that your weight loss plateaus.
Condiments can be sneaky vessels for sugar, sodium, and fat. Here are a few common offenders and substitution options:
- Salad Dressing: Stick with vinegar-based salad dressings, as vinegar will lower the glycemic value of the food. Citrus juice has the same effect. You can use other types of dressing as long as they have 3 or fewer grams of sugar per serving.
- General Condiments: Make sure any ketchup, hot sauce, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and mustard you use are sugar-free. If you use condiments regularly, you may notice water retention and slowed weight loss. If this is the case, choose low-sodium condiments or use them less frequently.
- Spices and Seasonings: Many packaged seasonings contain a sugar called maltodextrin. Be sure to check the packages and make sure they only have 3 or fewer grams of sugar per serving.
- Thickeners: If you need to thicken your foods, avoid using cornstarch. Instead, use guar gum, arrowroot, whole-grain flour, or root starch. Pureed roasted garlic and vegetables are also flavorful thickeners for soups and stews.
The following snack foods are allowed in moderation. Keep in mind that indulging in them too frequently can trigger sugar cravings.
- Sugar-free candy
- Sugar-free gelatin
- Sugar-free ice cream
- Chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa
- Sweet potato chips (try Terra brand)
Whenever possible, avoid processed foods in favor of fresh foods. Also, fiber-rich vegetables make great snacks, as they’re filling and nutritious.
Try to consume eight 12-ounce glasses of water each day. In addition to water, the following beverages are allowed on the Sugar Busters diet:
- Sugar-free flavored waters
- No-sugar-added, 100% fruit juices
If you suffer from GERD or another reflux condition, avoid coffee and citrus juices, as they can aggravate your symptoms. Some studies also suggest that coffee can increase insulin production for some people, so cut back on it or eliminate it altogether if you find that you’re not losing weight.