Cut the Sugar

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Nutrition, Training

My first hand experiences, coupled with all the reading and research I’ve done on sugar the last couple of years has me really down on it’s consumption by anyone at any time.

I honestly believe that it’s not really fit for human consumption.  That is, of course, if optimal health and maximal performance are something that interests you.

It’s been said that one teaspoon of sugar lowers your immune system response for four hours.

Hell, just about anything physical ailment you can think of is made worse by sugar.

Do you have any of the following?

•    A cold
•    Joint pain
•    Adrenal fatigue
•    ADD,
•    Cancer
•    Kidney or liver problems
•    Osteoporosis
•    Chronic fatigue
•    Fungus or parasites (as over 90% of all people do)

Sugar will only increase your suffering and make it harder to get better, no matter what it is you are dealing with. Literally every single organ in the body is negatively affected by sugar.

Like just about every other manmade food, sugar is unhealthy. Now, I know some people think sugar is natural, but it isn’t. Four hundred years ago sugar wasn’t even available. There was no such thing. We ate nothing but wholesome, nutritious foods that came from the earth naturally. The only food that came close was real, raw honey (which looks nothing like the stuff you get in most grocery stores).

One hundred years ago, the average person used to eat four pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average person consumes over 150 pounds of sugar per year, on average, with some people going as high as 295 pounds per year!

No wonder people are fat and sick.

For all of these reasons and countless others, I can no longer, in good conscience, recommend the consumption of sugar anymore. It’s too dangerous and causes far too many health problems.

That means no more pre, during or post workout shakes containing any sort of sugar like dextrose, waxy maize, maltodextrin, etc. People may think and even argue that these aren’t the same as table sugar. But once they get inside the body the adverse health reactions they cause will be the same.

You could still have a high quality, organic protein shake from grass fed whey or brown rice. But skip the sugar. If a guy looking to gain weight needs to add carbs to a protein shake throw a mashed sweet potato or some oats in there.

About a year ago I took the majority of my coaching clients off sugar. I also recommend that most members of the Renegade Inner Circle do the same.

What we have been doing is what everyone from Arthur Saxon to Vince Gironda to Arnold did post workout; simply eating some carbs like rice or potatoes. That’s a far healthier and better option than slugging a big glass of man made sugar.

You could go with something like sushi or some chicken and a sweet potato. Sure, the white rice in the sushi is technically a “faster” carb but I don’t think it will really make any difference in the end. As long as you refill your glycogen stores between the end of your last workout and the start of your next one you’ll be fine. All the crazy hype about the fastest acting carbs and all that is wildly exaggerated.

Truth be told, from what we have learned about the body, pre workout carbs really won’t hit the blood stream for a few hours anyway, so that whole practice is counterproductive and useless. It’s all just marketing hype to sell workout drinks.

I actually have all my coaching clients go into a workout on little to no carbs and then consume the majority of their carbs later in the day after training. There’s literally zero difference in performance. The added benefit is increased GH secretion and improved fat loss over the course of time.

The one situation where I still recommend a simple sugar is in the rare case of the painfully skinny ripped guy who just needs more easily consumed calories. For a few months, just to get the first 15-20 pounds on him, I’d let him do a post workout shake with some Swedish oat starch, then eat a meal with rice or potatoes an hour later. The skinny fat guy (aka a TRUE hardgainer) doesn’t get the same treatment simply because sugar will only make him fatter. Yes, even if it is post workout. Sugar is sugar.

How to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth
I love me some sweets. I can’t lie. So of course I need to find some way to get my fix. That’s why my favorite carbs are organic Garnett yams. When picking them make sure you get the reddest ones you can find. The redder the better. If they’re too yellow they will taste like carrots.

Wrap them tightly in tinfoil and bake in the oven on 450 for 90-120 minutes. When they’re done they should be like baby food and taste like sweet potato pie. I just scoop them out and mash them up with cinnamon. It’s like a dessert.

If you really wanted to get crazy you could mash them up and put them in a bowl in the freezer for a while. Then whip up some raw cream and top them with that for even more of a dessert.

Organic, raw honey is really the only healthy sugar alternative. It has prebiotic, immune and health supporting qualities to it. It can’t be cooked with since it’s unstable in heat. But you can make some delicious raw desserts with it. Something simple like mixing raw honey, raw cream and cocoa powder makes an incredible chocolate mousse.

Organic maple syrup is okay for occasional use in a dessert (like some of the delicious ones we have in the Renegade Recipe Guide) or on pancakes. Agave is not.

The Reality
Listen, I know that not everyone reading this is going to banish sugar from their diets instantly and never touch it again. We’re all going to slip up once in a while at a holiday gathering or a party. Knowing that, I think it’s doubly important to eliminate the regular consumption of workout drinks and other forms of fake sugar. Save it for the special occasions when you want to have a slice of organic pumpkin pie or chocolate cake. That makes a lot more sense. Ideally you’d never even want to do that but that’s probably asking a bit too much. I know I won’t be able to never have another slice of pie from now ‘til eternity.

Just remember, that it’s not remotely healthy and some forward thinking doctors have even classified sugar as a poison.

Let that sink in for a minute and go dump out your bottle of dextrose in the meantime.

Leave a Reply

44 Responses to Cut the Sugar

  1. Brandon Cook April 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Man that’s crazy! Sugar is baaaad. We all know it, but don’t want to listen. ;)

    I do think sugar is a poison and a drug that our society has become addicted to. You can see some people salivating and foaming at the mouth at the mere thought of eating some cake or dessert. haha

    I’ve been using a juicer and blending up pineapple, grapes, carrot, celery, cabbage, etc. and mixing it with honey and aminos for workout drinks. I figure those are all natural sugar, vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals.

  2. Chris April 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Great post, I cut sugar out a little while ago and have been feeling great. Recently i’ve been eating mostly fruits post workout, am i better of focusing more on rice and potatoes? thanks

  3. Kyle R April 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    I have been trying to cut out sugar after I came across you recommending it from an older article. I just never knew why. So coming across this article today was awesome! I actually revisited this site about 5 times today hoping that you had put up a new article…..and then this was the one you chose to talk about. Amazing!

    But man, cutting sugar is hard. I’m a fat kid at heart so honey has been my go to drug! How do you view honey as a post workout snack?

  4. Gary Deagle April 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Good stuff. Just had me a shake and some sweet potatoes for my post workout. The awesome fact is the sweet potatoes just plain taste better and are more enjoyable to eat than some carb powder.

  5. Raymond- ZenMyFitness April 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Yeah of all the foods that I have dropped in the last 2 years I zero in on anything that has sugar and try to get rid of it in my diet or at least minimise at every instance.
    Nearly every day now I make my own foods especially desserts and enjoy the fact that I’m in total control of what goes into it, which make me a lot happier.
    Between some of your Renegade raw recipes and Dave Ruel ones I get my sweet fix most of the time.

  6. Ricardo April 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Hey Jason,

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve very happy that you posted this.. I’ve been on this tip for years and my results show in terms of health, performance, strength, etc. I barely consume any sugar PERIOD!! With the exception of raw organic honey.

    I would suggest you read “the p.h. miracle” by Robert Young if you haven’t already and recommend it to your viewers. A lot of people (including most trainers) seem to think that when gaining weight regarding diet that an 80% high alkaline diet will not get them the gains they need.. well science is proving otherwise again and again. Turns out that you recover MUCH faster on a alkaline diet which leads to strength gain, better absorbed nutrients, minerals, protein, calcium etc. and ultimately lean muscle.

    Thanks bro. keep doing what your doing.


  7. Nate April 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Hey Jason,
    What do you think about organic raisins along with some good whey for a post-workout shake?

  8. John Z April 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Jason, great work as always. Whats your take on greek yogurt? With fruit, it provides pretty close to a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. Without fruit, carbs are greatly reduced. What do ya say? Thanks dude…

  9. Jason April 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Love your work! But I’m a bit confused by this article regarding dextrose and maltodextrin. The Prograde Workout product has both of these listed in the ingredients portion. Not trying to cause static, just sayin.

  10. Tim April 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Is it fine to snort? Sike. It really is a poison though. As knowledge increases, more and more people will learn about its harmful effects. As always, good read!

  11. Mateusz April 2, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Totally agree. Throwin in some fruits in the post workout will fuel muscles up fast enough. I cut sugar off in february and now I’m far leaner.

  12. Gianni April 2, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    Man I wish this article was published sooner, I got 2.5kg of WMS for post workout. It’s the only unnatural sugar I (now previously) purposely consum/ed!

  13. Julio G. April 2, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Jason, many “health” pages say that maltodextrin is present naturally in milk… I only take milk (raw milk) on a smothie (raw milk, 2 bananas, 1 pear, whole grain cereals and a teaspoon of cinnamon) for breakfast as I have difficulties eating a lot of solid food on the morning.
    Is really maltodextrin naturally present in milk? I use it (the milk) to get some proteins in the morning because I don’t like any sort of protein powder.

  14. diego April 2, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    love this article. with all the fast acting carb recommendations out there, i felt like i was the only one not doing it. just never really felt right to me. stoped taking all this simple sugars a while back and have never felt better. only sugar i get are from fruits. usually have a banana and whey while leaving the gym then head home for a real meal which consists of pork tenderloin and sweet potato. even as an athlete who trains alot for his sport i skip the gatorade during practice and games, which everyone else takes, for water and bcaa and feel much better. good job jason!

  15. Paul April 2, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Great article once again. I’ve been off of sugar for some time and can tell when I do have some in a piece of cake or pie. One question, what are your thoughts on the natural sweetner Stevia?
    Thanks much,

  16. maureen April 2, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    whats wrong with a organic blue agave.. I thought that was a good substitute

  17. Sean April 2, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Great point Jay!

    It’s funny how training and nutrition is coming full circle back to eating REAL food and putting the WORK back in workouts.

    I recently ditched the sugary pre and post workout drinks and regular protein powders, (especially since all the recalls) and now have a post workout smoothie of grass fed whey, 1 banana, frozen mixed berries, flax meal, frozen spinach, creatine and greens powder.

  18. AJ April 2, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    You’re right, it takes roughly 2 hours for any food consumed to hit the blood stream.
    I have a question. You don’t mention fruit at all in the post, and I was wondering how you felt about consuming fruit. I know a lot of fruit is packed with vitamins and antioxidants, but fructose is a type of sugar. Id really like to hear what you think about it.



  19. carlos April 2, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    So what about sucralose its in my protein shake.

  20. Adrià April 2, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks Jason, it’s a great article. I would like to read more about the subject, so I would be really grateful if you can post the references or send them to me. Specially I’m interested in the references that supports the following sentences:

    “one teaspoon of sugar lowers your immune system response for four hours”

    “every single organ in the body is negatively affected by sugar”

    “The added benefit is increased GH secretion and improved fat loss over the course of time.”


    “some forward thinking doctors have even classified sugar as a poison.”

    Thanks for all Jason, I always learn something from you.

  21. Eric April 2, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    I ditched eating carbs in the daytime outside of some incidental amounts in vegetables or a piece of fruit. Never felt better, had more energy or been leaner. I don’t doubt sugar is a poison. Anytime I eat very much I feel terrible afterwards like I have a mild hangover.

  22. Denise April 2, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I used to have tonsilitis alot when I was a child and even into my 20s. Luckily, the doctor that I went to see knew that tonsils were so important and would not take them out. Through my own research and elimination of sugar from my diet I found that I eliminated my tonsilitis. I now only eat natural products with natural sugar. I find my tonsils are still sensitive if I am overly stressed and sometimes I get a bit of a sore throat, but I take grapefruit seed extract and it gets better. I used to get tonsilitis so bad that I couldn’t even talk and sometimes it would be a week or more before it was better. I would be very sick.

  23. Claudia Hall Christian April 2, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    *applause* I couldn’t agree with you more. Sugar sucks and is amazingly ubiquitous in our world. We were vegan for a few pre-beekeeping years. It was nearly impossible to find anything that was sugar free. Let me know if you’d like more honey.

  24. zidan40o0 April 2, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    great post as usual , i don’t eat that much of sugar anyway as i pretty much eliminated it from my diet and i substitute it with organic carbs like raisins, dates,figs , honey , it tastes much better than sugar , and yeah i have been calling it poison since the day i stopped drinking soft drinks which was like 5 years ago.

    of course i admit that from time to time i eat me some chocolate or peanut butter , but that is rare.

  25. Chris Norton April 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    If you’ve listened to/read any of what Jason has written you would know that change is eminent. He has changed his mind so many times about so many things that I can’t keep count. Some people would look at this as a negative, but I differ. I see this as an open-minded person coming across new information and having the humility to broadcast it to his followers. This is no exception. 

    This recommendation is by far the biggest and most important that Jason has ever given. From men like Weston Price, Peter Cleave, Dennis Burkett and countless others, we read of the destruction that this simple white substance has caused. They saw how population groups living in all parts of the world enjoyed superb health for millennia and then they observed how sugar, canned vegetables, vegetable oils, and other fake and processed foods turned these people into your typical Westerner in less than a generation. 

    Let me be clear that when I say sugar I mean the man-made, processed stuff and not any sort of wholesome natural sugar like that found in fruits. The low carb mantra “sugar is sugar” is no more true than “fat is fat”. There are huge differences in sugar AND fat from whole foods than there is from processed foods. 

    In light of all of this praise, I can’t honestly go without saying that I agree with the consumption of a man made processed “protein powder”. Who ate protein powder before the last 100 years? Sugar has been around longer than protein powder, how is it safe? It’s not! If someone needs more protein get it from something natural, eat some food! It’s just like all this craziness about taking fish oil. What makes more sense than taking a pill? Eat a piece of frigging fish! 

    We are the only species on earth than doesn’t know instinctively what the heck we are supposed to eat, yet we are the smartest? Let’s start using our brains for a little more than watching the next episode of Dancing with the Stars. 

    I want to applaud Jason for really bucking the trend and telling the truth about the harmful effects of sugar. 

  26. Jack Yomunnie April 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Don’t fruits have some kind of sugar in them? I personally think it is hard to cut out all the sugar in the food I eat. It will taste like watered down chicken. Eating clean is all great, but cutting out the energy drink and all them food that gives me a sugar hugh is just too crazy. I believe balance is everything. Eating it in moderation is ok. What you think Jason?

    • David - The Natural Health Service April 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Fruits contain fructose and glucose in varying proportions. But they also contain fibre and other nutrients, so are good in moderation.

  27. AJ April 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I was diagnosed with MS in February and my internist doctor had me cut out dairy and sugar. One of my test came back that I do have inflamation going on a the molecular level. Food allergies believed to be a big part of my inflammation.

  28. Don Johnson April 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Great Article, Jason. I have also developed a love affair with the sweet potato. I like the raw cream idea, and will have to try it.

    I also respect when you say “I can no longer, recommend…”. It’s nice to see we all keep learning.

  29. Benny April 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Hi Jason

    Are your thoughts about Vitargo s2 the same as sugar?


  30. Jeff April 3, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I just went over this very topic last night with my class…we were discussing the digestive system and intro into nutrition…and I fully agree with Jason…fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs, mostly sugar, make you fat…all this processed crap is the real culprit behind America’s growing obesity problem…Problem being it’s very easy to eat a lot of carbs and a bit more difficult to consume high amounts of fat…they’re just too filling…but you could slam a lot of sugar and still be hungry, and in the process consume way to many calories…

  31. Jeremy Priestner | Art of Lifting April 3, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    Jason, what’s you’re stance on the consumption of fruits? They contain sugar, but also healthy nutrients and vitamins.

    In my years of training experience, I have seen that eating less fruit is one of the best things to do for fat loss. It seems counterintuitive by modern standards, but if you look at hormones it all makes sense. Eating fruit spikes insulin levels and leads to fat storage.

    What is your experience with fruit?

  32. Nick Efthimiou April 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Any evidence on the claim the one teaspoon of sugar lowers your immune system response for hours?

  33. Sarah Davis April 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    The only sugar I consume comes from whole fruit (apples, berries) and some dairy.

    Jason – Are these ok to eat?

  34. Matt April 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Awesome article – I couldn’t agree more. I’m glad you touched on the relation to sugar and the immune response. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even cancer cells feed off excessive blood sugar. After learning so much about sugar the past six months I’ve cut it out of my diet also – to the best of my ability. Low and behold this is the first winter I haven’t been sick in years.

    For another way to satisfy a sweet tooth: apple slices drizzled with honey or try a celery stick with organic almond butter topped off with honey.

  35. Sam- Look Like An Athlete April 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I agree that sugar should not be consumed, period. It’s hard but simply decreasing our intake is a big step. A friend years ago had a habit of drinking a liter bottle of cola. He was on the heavy side. I told him to eliminate that as soon as possible and keep working out. Result, he lost 30 pounds in less than 3 months. That sugar filled substance was probably on a path of killing him.


  36. Wood April 6, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    And what is with Your former recommendation eating a lot simple sugar (dextroz) before working out?

  37. Nick April 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Another interesting and valuable post – thanks Jason.

    I’d second Chris Norton, Jason is not afraid to evolve and nothing is written in stone – it’s one of the things I like about his style. As a honey recommendation, I don’t think it gets much better than Manuka… On the subject of sugar, I gave it up a while back. However, my neighbour works for a candy company and often gives me some of her products (the cupboard is getting kinda full of dusty bags of sweet things). The one time I did try a boiled candy sweet it totally fried my brain and made me feel like I was going to go into some kind of sugar induced seizure. That’s what happens when you dump that cr*p on a clean and healthy body!

    See all those obese people? Sugar is what made them.

  38. DReed May 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I started noticing last year when I would eat processed sugar my legs would itch shortly after I had eaten little amounts of candy. I do not itch after eating any fruits. I started trying to eliminate processed sugar but it is really hard. Still working on it and will continue for as long as it takes. My itching does stop if I stay away from the candy.

  39. Pearson May 6, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    Hi Jason. On ditching the dextrose postworkout, could one add coconut milk/oil to your protein shake? Would it have any bad effects?

  40. The_Lazy_Nerd June 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    It’s sad that people don’t recognize how bad sugar is for their health or well-being be it physical mental or even emotional. I really don’t understand it when responsible people do that to themselves I really don’t.

  41. Matt July 16, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Hey Jason,

    I am hypo-glycemic, how can I cut back the sugar but still stay on this regime? Obviously if I feel an attack coming on I will need to break the rules