The NSNG lifestyle: Is “no sugar, no grains” for you?

Salmon on a plank, part of the NSNG diet plan

Salmon on a plank, part of the NSNG diet plan

There are no exceptions to doing your homework, especially when looking at a diet that sounds good like the “no sugar, no grains” (NSNG) diet plan.

Another diet trend? Yes, you can drive yourself crazy when it comes to picking a healthy eating or a weight loss diet. Should you go with the Mediterranean diet? Perhaps the Paleo diet? Should you cut out fat? Maybe you should avoid added salt? With so many options, the best thing you can do is educate yourself and work with your doctor to find a nutritional plan that fits your health and weight loss needs.

Even if you aren’t a diet connoisseur, you’ve probably heard the anti-grain (bread, pasta), anti-sugar (soda, candy) talk somewhere before, so a diet based on those concepts can be appealing.  Before you jump right in, though, you should know what this no sugar, no grains diet plan is really about and what, if any, research is behind it.

Don’t forget to ask your doctor before starting any new lifestyle or nutritional plan.

The No Sugar, No Grain Diet Concept

The NSNG diet is often associated with celebrity trainer Vinnie Tortorich, who made the nutritional plan popular through his clientele, but it has existed in the form of the Whole30 diet since 2009.

The basic diet plan is about avoiding grain products and sugar for at least 30 days, but some programs also include dairy and legumes in that list of items to stay away from. Ultimately, supporters of the no sugar, no grain programs believe in focusing on whole foods, and eliminating processed products, much like the belief system Paleo dieters subscribe to.

The initial problem with the NSNG plan is there is little to no research looking specifically at its effects on health.  

Like many new diets, the philosophy behind the no sugar, no grain diet plan was created using individual theories and studies. In this case, the program tends to focus on the glycemic index and foods that have been linked to inflammation.

What the Glycemic Index Has to Do with the NSNG Plan

Whether you call it the no sugar, no grains diet or the Whole30 plan, this style of eating has a lot to do with something known as the glycemic index.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the glycemic index, also known as “GI,” measures how carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar levels. Foods with high GIs raise the blood sugar more than foods with low GIs. Simple, right?

Well, not so fast. Depending on what your fitness and lifestyle goals, how you use the glycemic index changes. If you’re using it for recovery during and after intense workouts, you want more high GI foods. If you’re using it for weight loss (like with the NSNG diet), you’ll want low GI foods.  If you’re diabetic, you’ll also want to stick to low GI foods.

The no sugar, no grains plan eliminates grains and sugars because they tend to be high GI foods, and high GI foods have been linked to increased body fat storage.

What Inflammation Has to Do with NSNG

The glycemic index is only one part of the NSNG diet. Followers of the Whole30 version of the plan cut out sugars, dairy, legumes, and grains because they have been linked to inflammation in the body.

What’s more, growing concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have led consumers to be wary of certain whole grains, making the diet even more popular.

Back in 2012, Australia made the news as research came out showing dangerous side effects from the consumption of GMO wheat.

Australia, the first country to grow the product, was slated to start human trials when data revealed GMO wheat could cause life-threatening liver changes in test subjects. Genetically modified wheat was just one of a number of GMO crops already on the market. GMO tomatoes, corn, and soy have mainstream since the early 1990’s.

Will I Lose Weight on the No Sugar, No Grain Diet?

Paying attention to your blood sugar and inflammatory foods is never a bad idea, but only your doctor can tell you if the NSNG diet is for you.

Chances are you will see some weight loss progress. Cutting out sugar and grains probably means a serious cutback in junk food, so that alone might make a big impact on your waistline.

Just remember, most experts don’t recommend cutting out one food group entirely.

Eliminating something completely might cause serious nutritional deficiencies, and that could set you back in your health and weight loss goals.

Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet plan.  Just because something sounds good, or is being picked up by a bunch of celebrities, doesn’t mean it’s good for your health–or for your pant size!

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