7 day sugar free meal plan for more energy

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Although sugar provides a quick boost of energy, later on it can lead to the dreaded crash in your blood sugar, leaving you feeling even more groggy than when you started. The truth is, most people eat more added sugars than they realize. The average American adult consumes 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day, according to the CDC. This is much more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 6 teaspoons for females and 9 teaspoons for males. While added sugars certainly don’t need to be avoided completely, focusing on consistent meals and snacks that contain complex carbohydrates balanced with protein and healthy fats will keep you fueled throughout the day.

In this plan, we put together a week of delicious recipes to help give you a little extra pep in your step by focusing on foods that provide energizing nutrients without spiking your blood sugar. We set this plan at 1,500 calories per day, which is the level at which most people lose weight. We included adjustments to 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day for those with different caloric needs.

Related: The #1 snack when you need an energy boost

Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars – What’s the difference?

Natural sugars, such as those found in fruits and vegetables and unsweetened dairy products, such as plain yogurt, are more nutritious than their added sugar counterparts. This is because foods that contain natural sugars also contain more nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, which help improve your health and regulate blood sugar better than purely added sugars. Added sugars, as the name suggests, are added during processing and do not provide nutritional benefits. While it used to take some research to distinguish between added sugars and natural sugars when grocery shopping, the good news is that the nutrition label makes it easier by stating the amount of added sugars per serving, according to the FDA. However, it can be helpful to look at the ingredients list before buying processed foods because there are many names for ingredients with added sugars.

What are complex carbohydrates?

Simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, are broken down easier and faster by your body – they contain one or two sugar molecules bound together. Honey (fructose and glucose), table sugar (sucrose), and dairy products (lactose) contain simple carbohydrates. Conversely, complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients and take longer to digest, so they help keep you feeling full and don’t cause the same fluctuations in blood sugars as simple carbohydrates. Grains, beans, fruits and vegetables contain complex carbohydrates. Many carbohydrate foods contain a mixture of carbohydrates. For example, fruit contains natural fruit sugar (fructose, a simple carbohydrate) as well as dietary fiber (also a type of carbohydrate). The healthiest carbs include unrefined, plant-based foods that are low in added sugars or not high in added sugars and are high in fiber — they’re called “complex carbs” and they’re all you could use more in your diet.

Best foods to boost your energy:

Prioritize nutrient-dense foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein to help your blood sugar stay even throughout the day:

  • complex carbohydrates

    • Whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, pasta, and couscous)

    • Legumes (beans and lentils)

    • Starchy, high-fiber vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, and winter squash)

  • protein

    • Meat

    • Poultry

    • Fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids such as sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel

    • Nuts and seeds

    • Nut butter (check the nutrition label and choose without added sugars)

    • egg

  • vegetablesEspecially leafy and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale

  • Whole fruit

  • Unsweetened dairy products

    • Milk

    • kefir

    • plain yogurt

    • cheese

  • Foods that contain natural caffeine

    • coffee

    • Green tea

    • yerba mate

    • cocoa

How to prepare your meal week:

  1. Make your oatmeal, quinoa, and oatmeal blend for breakfast on days 2 through 5.

  2. Make chicken and white bean soup for lunch on days 2 through 4.

  3. Make sweet potato and black bean chili for dinner on days three and four, and lunch on day five.

Day 1

A blue bowl filled with chicken and vegetables and a smaller bowl with sauce

A blue bowl filled with chicken and vegetables and a smaller bowl with sauce

Breakfast (395 calories)

AM Snack (121 calories)

Lunch (359 calories)

BM Snack Meal (181 calories)

  • 8 pecan halves

  • 1 dried apricot

  • 1/2 ounce cocoa nibs

Dinner (452 ​​calories)

Daily totals: 1,508 calories, 83g fat, 93g protein, 102g carbs, 22g fiber, 1440mg sodium.

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the clementines at breakfast, the yogurt at your morning snack, and the pecans and cacao nibs at your afternoon snack.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase blueberries and yogurt to 1 cup in a morning snack, increase cacao nibs to 1 ounce, walnuts to 16, and apricots to 14 in an afternoon snack, and add 1 serving of whole-wheat baguette at lunch.

the second day

BBQ Shrimp with Garlicky Kale &  Parmesan couscous - herb

BBQ shrimp with garlic couscous, parmesan and herbs

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 serving of mixed oats, quinoa and chia

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

  • 1 coffee cup 1 tbsp half and half

AM Snack (192 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

  • 1/2 ounce cocoa nibs

Lunch (368 calories)

BM Snack Meal (214 calories)

Dinner (414 calories)

Daily totals: 1497 calories, 55g fat, 104g protein, 159g carbs, 28g fiber, 1,546mg sodium.

To make it 1,200 calories: Discard pears in your morning snack, walnuts in your afternoon snack, and strawberries in your breakfast.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase the amount of yogurt and strawberries at breakfast to 1 1/4 cups, increase cacao nibs to 1 ounce at morning snack, increase walnuts to 1/2 cup at afternoon snack, and add 1 serving of basic green salad with vinaigrette to dinner.

day 3

sweet potato &  Spicy black beans

Sweet potato and black bean chili

Photographer / Antonis Achilles, Prop Designer / Kay Clark, Food Designer / Emily Nabors-Hall

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 serving of mixed oats, quinoa and chia

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

  • 1 coffee cup 1 tbsp half and half

AM Snack (233 calories)

  • 1/2 cup of hummus

  • 1/2 cup small carrots

Lunch (368 calories)

PM Snack (271 calories)

Dinner (323 calories)

Daily totals: 1504 calories, 51g fat, 91g protein, 187g carbs, 49g fiber, 1812mg sodium.

To prepare 1200 calories: Reduce the hummus to 1/4 cup at your morning snack, and omit the whole-wheat baguette at lunch and the blackberries at your afternoon snack.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase the chickpeas and carrots to 1 cup at a morning snack, the almonds to 1/2 cup at an afternoon snack, and yogurt to 1 cup at breakfast.

the fourth day

chicken &  White bean soup

Chicken and white bean soup

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 serving of mixed oats, quinoa and chia

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

  • 1 coffee cup 1 tbsp half and half

AM Snack (305 calories)

Lunch (368 calories)

BM Snack Meal (195 calories)

Dinner (323 calories)

Daily totals: 1499 calories, 49g fat, 81g protein, 192g carbs, 38g fiber, 1547mg sodium.

To prepare 1200 calories: Skip the morning snack.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase the amount of strawberries to 1 cup at breakfast, increase the peanut butter to 1/4 cup at a morning snack, double the serving of chicken and white bean soup at lunch, and increase the popcorn to 3 1/2 cups at an afternoon snack.

Day 5

chicken &  Skillet spinach pasta with lemon and lemon parmesan

Chicken and spinach skillet pasta with lemon and parmesan

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 serving of mixed oats, quinoa and chia

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

  • 1 coffee cup 1 tbsp half and half

AM Snack (265 calories)

  • 1 cup of blueberries

  • 1 ounce cacao nibs

Lunch (323 calories)

PM Snack (271 calories)

Dinner (334 calories)

Daily totals: 1,503 calories, 61 grams of fat, 74 grams of protein, 177 grams of carbohydrates, 46 grams of fiber, 1,283 milligrams of sodium.

To prepare 1200 calories: Avoid eating blueberries in your morning snack and almonds in your afternoon snack.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase the amount of yogurt to 1 cup and strawberries to 1 1/4 cups at breakfast, double the amount of chili at lunch, and double the amount of blackberries at an afternoon snack.

the sixth day

Salmon pesto

Salmon pesto

Will Dicky

Breakfast (350 calories)

  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin

  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter

  • 1 small banana

  • 1 coffee cup 1 tbsp half and half

AM Snack (206 calories)

Lunch (345 calories)

PM Snack (171 calories)

  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

Dinner (446 calories)

daily totals: 1,518 calories, 77 grams of fat, 77 grams of protein, 141 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of fiber, 1,322 milligrams of sodium

To prepare 1200 calories: Skip the morning snack and yogurt for your afternoon snack. Cut the apricots into 6 pieces.

To prepare 2000 calories: Increase the almonds to 1/2 cup, add 2 clementines at lunch, increase the apricots to 1 cup.

the seventh day

Air fryer greek turkey burger

Air fryer greek turkey burger

Breakfast (293 calories)

AM Snack (233 calories)

  • 1/2 cup of hummus

  • 1/2 cup small carrots

Lunch (269 calories)

PM Snack (271 calories)

Dinner (445 calories)

Daily totals: 1,510 calories, 79 grams of fat, 76 grams of protein, 131 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of fiber, 2,157 milligrams of sodium

To prepare 1200 calories: Skip the morning snack and blackberries for your afternoon snack.

To prepare 2000 calories: Add a small banana to breakfast and a whole English muffin, increase the hummus and carrots to 1 cup at a morning snack, and increase the almonds to 1/3 cup and substitute with a large apple at lunch.

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