Dietitian: Erin Dwyer Diet: I Quit Sugar (IQS)
So the 3 week challenge has well and truly passed and I am back to my regular eating pattern, but what has changed for me? I knew after reading Sarah Wilson’s first IQS book cover to cover that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the girl that loves her chocolate but what I found from sticking to this diet was rather interesting.
There were a few challenges with this diet, eating out was tricky – it turned out to be boring but do-able but my main struggle was not eating fruit. The IQS diet recommends complete restriction of fruit for the first 5 weeks of the diet and then re introducing it in week 6, after the sweet cravings have hopefully left. All I wanted during the 3 weeks was a banana, the perfect transportable energy provider that doesn’t cost a fortune.
Another drawback of the diet is the cost, nuts and coconut oil are expensive and I was going through them so quickly! Add in harder to find sugar replacement syrups and medjool dates after week 6 and your shopping bill is only going to increase.
So lets’ crunch the numbers and get to the results:
1. Weight loss
I was unsure of whether I would lose any weight on this diet considering the key to survival was replacing sugar with fat. When those cravings came out to play at around 8pm at night I reached for the brie rather than the chocolate. Soft cheeses are high in fat so it wasn’t a surprise to me that I lost no weight after 3 weeks of this diet. When I looked at my dietary analysis it was clear why I didn’t lose any weight, I was eating between 1000-2000 kJ’s more than my regular diet. (An average daily recommended kJ for a female is around 8700KJ)
2. Other nutritional factors
On analysis of my diet I found that I had almost halved my sugar intake (note, it wasn’t zero ‘because of my dairy consumption – lactose in milk being a ‘sugar’). The below chart shows where my kJ were coming from:
Regular dietary intake: IQS dietary intake
CARB 52% 30%
PROTEIN 21% 20%
FAT 27% 50%
3. Fatigue, vitality, happiness, sleep
I had no clinically significant changes to these after 3 weeks on IQS.
My pathology was interesting: My fasting glucose and insulin decreased 4 and 1.5 points respectively. My total cholesterol also dropped by 8 points and my LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol by 7, unfortunately my HDL (good) cholesterol also dropped by 2 points.
5. Microbiome – results pending
So what do I think of IQS?
IQS isn’t promoted directly as a weight loss diet – I’m finding it difficult to see how someone would lose weight undertaking this diet as overall fat has more calories than carbohydrates and from my results my daily calorie intake had increased. However it is difficult to say what would happen long term and I if had a bit more weight to lose to begin with. The diet does claims to improve your concentration, increase your energy, sleep better, clear up your skin and improve your mood.
The only real change I saw was to my skin, it definitely cleared up and it has definitely reverted back to its old ways of a few spots here and there most of the time after I stopped IQS.
Sleep, mood and concentration wise, I really didn’t notice any significant changes.
I was pleasantly surprised with the decrease in my cholesterol, as my intake in high fat foods was increased so much I thought my cholesterol might increase. There is new evidence coming to light about the possibility of a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet improving heart health but currently there isn’t enough evidence to support this. It is something that I will be looking further into however.
Removing my dietitian hat, I though this diet was hard. It was restrictive (the most common feature in any diet – and also what makes them hard to stick to) and eating lost its enjoyment for me as I was constantly checking labels and thinking about things I couldn’t have. I missed my fruit in the morning, my salad dressings, my friend’s birthday cake and my occasional weekend almond croissant treat. I surprised myself how much I didn’t crave chocolate though, I am a chocolate lover through and through but it definitely wasn’t top of my list to devour when the challenge was over.
The cravings have stayed away too, not only has chocolate not been in the house, I haven’t purchased it in my grocery shop either and I don’t miss it…Easter though tested things – (Addition: I ate a lot of chocolate on Easter Sunday, but honestly it was only because it was there…)
Will I stick to it?
To a certain degree yes I think I will, I’m definitely not giving up my fruit, the nutrients, minerals and fibre they provide are really important, so I will continue following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommendations of two pieces per day. I’m definitely back to limiting my nut consumption to about 30g/day…this way I’m not so sick of them but still getting my dose of healthy fats and nutrients they provide.
As for sweets I now think twice about going for that after dinner snack, asking myself if I really am hungry and what food would satisfy me, rather than going for the sweetest thing I have in my fridge and that is quite a big thing for me!
All in all, I’m glad I gave this a go. I wouldn’t want to be so restricted for long periods of time but I have learnt a lot about my own eating habits and I was able to practice my mindful eating skills on an everyday basis.
Cover image credit:http://www.bubblingwithenergy.info/product/fairy-floss-machine/