If your waist keeps expanding despite your best efforts, “a gentle sugar detox can make all the difference,” insists nutrition expert Tosca Reno, mega-selling author of The Eat-Clean Diet. “There’s sugar in 80 percent of the food on supermarket shelves. So we may not realize it, but most of us are in the grips of sugar addiction.”
Studies show that, like opioid drugs, sugar hijacks the brain’s pleasure center, stoking constant cravings. The average person now consumes 152 pounds of sugar per year, an excess that wreaks havoc on body chemistry and leads to fatigue, rapid belly fat storage, blocked fat loss, and a high risk for many diseases. Yet most diets feed the addiction or do little to soften withdrawal. “I saw the need for a plan that feels good and gets the job done,” says Tosca, who created Strike Sugar 2.0. Women are raving. “They tell me their cravings are gone and they’re vibrating with energy and radiating joy and health.” They also shed up to 12.5 pounds a week!
Tosca’s strategy is simple and soothing: You enjoy five to six small sittings a day, each packed with protein, good fat, fiber and antioxidants. These nutrients make meals and snacks exceptionally filling. Plus, you get one every two to three hours, “so there’s no hunger, no psychological sense of going without. It keeps you calm and comfortable—and I’ve found that’s the key to success when weaning off sugar,” says Tosca, 62, who shed 84 pounds and stumbled onto a new career as she experimented with ways to break her own sugar addiction years ago.
If results seem dramatic, here’s why: Scientists say sugar’s impact goes far beyond empty calories. All the sweets and processed carbs we eat gradually damage cells, making it hard for the hormone insulin to get sugar inside of them to be burned for energy. We make more insulin to force the sugar in, but no luck. Our cells, starving for fuel, trigger intense cravings for carbs and sweets. Meanwhile, all that unburned sugar circulates in the blood through our entire systems, causing inflammation and damage, “even in the brain,” notes Elizabeth Bradley, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. Unburned sugar is finally stored as belly fat. We grow tired and foggy, and diabetes and other diseases may take hold.
How can you restore fat burn?
When scientists at Skidmore College tested a plan similar to Tosca’s, folks not only lost up to 72 pounds in 12 weeks, they “cut levels of insulin in half,” reports study head Paul Arciero, PhD. That’s more than common diabetes drugs! “When insulin comes down like that, it means the body is handling blood sugar much better, which brings down cravings and inflammation. It also means fat burn, especially around the abdominal area, goes way up.”
The secrets that make Tosca’s approach so effective? First, it gently cuts blood sugar–spiking foods that would do more damage. Second, it delivers lots of protein in small, steady doses. Arciero explains that the body can use small doses most effectively, absorbing maximum amino acids to repair sugar-damaged cells. Cells heal — often in about four weeks, the length of Tosca’s detox. And all the while, magic happens. “Many people immediately feel less hunger and more energy and start losing weight,” confirms Dr. Bradley. “I just had a patient in constant fibromyalgia-like pain try protein-rich mini meals. The pain just went away. The results are very impressive and gratifying!”
Does a sugar detox work?
“Before Tosca’s sugar detox, my cravings never let up,” shares Stefanie Rodriguez. Her weight crept higher, and she hid in loose clothes — but couldn’t escape her aches, pains, and exhaustion. A pal suggested Tosca’s plan, and the California mom, 38, began whipping up protein-rich mini meals — like turkey lettuce wraps and herbed yogurt on detox bread. “I can 100 percent say I never felt hungry and my cravings vanished in days!” After four weeks, “my waist was already 7.75 inches smaller.” Amazed, she kept at it and has traded her old size 18s for 10s.
Then there’s Debi Stevens, who says both keto and intermittent fasting made her cranky and failed to get rid of her “menopause belly.” She found Tosca’s Facebook page. Intrigued, she joined a group using the Strike Sugar plan. She batch-cooked things like chicken dishes and healthy meatballs so she’d always have heat-and-eat meal options on hand. “It was so doable, and my body responded,” recalls the Oregon grandmother, 59. “The cravings for mocha lattes and popcorn went away, and my mood, memory, joint pain and energy all got better. Even my menopause ‘sweats’ have stopped.” Of course, it’s how fast her tummy disappeared that has people begging for her secrets. Down four jean sizes in 40 days, “it’s almost completely flat now. It’s absolutely fantastic,” she laughs. “I’m telling everyone who asks about this!”
What does a Strike Sugar 2.0 detox look like?
To try Tosca’s approach, enjoy five to six meal sittings, one every two to three hours. Make meals with 4 ounces of lean protein, unlimited low-starch veggies, and a little good fat; for snacks, have 2 ounces of protein plus fat and veggies and fruit. Add half a cup of quinoa daily; skip dairy except full-fat Greek yogurt. Aim for 64 ounces of water daily; a cup of coffee or tea is fine. Always get a doctor’s okay to try a new plan.
BREAKFAST: Stir two eggs, optional cooked lean protein and chopped veggies in mug; microwave one to two minutes.
LUNCH: Mix one pouch of salmon, three tablespoons of almond flour, and one egg. Form patties; cook in olive oil. Serve over salad.
SNACKS: Two to three times a day, have a serving of fruit with nuts, fruit with Greek yogurt, or veggies with hummus.
DINNER: Sauté grass-fed lean beef with veggies and seasoning. Serve with half a cup quinoa.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.