Tips for cutting sugar for athletes

Hello No Sugar November participants!

You have come to the 10 day mark in your 21 days of cutting out added sugar, which means you are HALF WAY THERE! I want to applaud those who are going strong. I found this helpful article for athletes who are looking to detox from sugar from Diane Sanfiliippo, a well known real food blogger and podcaster who has a "21 Day Sugar Detox" program. Keep up all the amazing work you are doing, and let me know if you have any concerns at this point in the challenge!


Flexibility–in balancing your plate, in adjusting your workouts, and in managing other lifestyle factors like workout timing and sleep–is essential for a successful 21DSD.

Pay attention to your body. If something doesn’t feel right to you, change it up, and track how you feel.

Yes, this means writing things down! What’s your mood is like? What have you been eating (including when and how much)? What is your sleep hygiene and quality like (for more healthy sleep tips, check out this video)? How have your workouts felt? All of these details give you insight into what your body does or doesn’t need.

If you’re a member of the Online Program, or you’ve got a copy of The Daily Guide, use the journal sections provided to track your sleep, mood, energy, and exercise. As you move through the program, these journal entries offer a great touch point to see what’s working and what isn’t.

As Gretchen Rubin says, “You manage what you measure.” So, measure what’s happening with your body, and be open, willing, and flexible to making the adjustments it’s asking for.

This means that you might need to scale back on your workouts for a time. It might mean you need to dial in on your sleep hygiene (getting to bed at earlier, sleeping in a cool, dark room), or even move an evening workout to the morning, so you’re not jacking your cortisol (aka, your stress hormones!) up too late in the day.

It might also mean that you need to…


You’ve identified it: something feels “off.” Maybe you’re feeling junky during or after your workouts while on the 21DSD. Maybe it’s taking you more time to recover than it did pre-detox. Maybe you’re not lifting as heavy as you did last week.

Take a look at your plate. What’s on it?

If all you’ve got is a big piece of meat and a pile of green veggies, you probably need to add more carbohydrates to your meal! We’re talking starchy vegetables, like butternut squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or plantains. You could even add some gluten free grains, such as white rice.

Timing-wise, adding these foods into your pre- and/or post-workout meals will help replenish muscle and liver glycogen (your body’s stored form of carbohydrate). That’s where your body turns for quick fuel to power you through your more physically demanding workouts.

If you’ve got a copy of the Daily Guide, open up to page 22. Have the Online Program? Check out the Resources section for the “Building Your 21DSD Plate” PDF. Now, take a look to the right of each plate. See those Activity Carbs? That’s for you!

Without some kind of Activity Carbs making it onto your plate, you’re liable to feel knocked on your butt post-workout, and recovery time may take longer than you’re used to. So go ahead! Add a ½ cup of sweet potato, with a little ghee and a few pinches of sea salt to your plate, and see how you feel during and after your next workout.

Remember: listen to your body. What’s it telling you? The folks who are most successful on this program – athletes and otherwise – are those who pay attention to their bodies, and tune in to the signals it’s sending. Sometimes, that means more carbs. Sometimes, that means more calories, period.

If you find you’re needing more calories, try adding an extra tablespoon or two of fat to your meal. Whole food fats, like grass fed butter or ghee, olive oil, or even nuts or nut butters, are all great ways to get in additional calories – and nutrition – with a meal.

If for any reason you can’t enjoy some of the foods above, and your workouts and recovery are suffering, be flexible! While you’re on the 21DSD, taper your workouts to a point where you’re feeling good and not totally depleted.

Be mindful, track your progress, and remember: this program is only for 21 days. In that time you’re tackling a ton of things to improve your health for the long haul.

You’re knocking out your sugar and carb cravings. You’re resetting your palate. You’re developing new healthful habits that will keep you eating well for a lifetime. You’ve got a lot going on! Be respectful of your body, and know that modifying your workouts for a short period of time is a-okay!


We all know how important hydration is, and yet, many of us still don’t get in enough water each day. Be especially mindful to replenish fluids and electrolytes during and after a workout. Dehydration can exacerbate other symptoms you might experience early on in your 21DSD – such as headaches, brain fog, or dizziness – and we don’t want that!

Some folks may be used to rehydrating during and post-workout with sports drinks like Gatorade, which are not permitted on the 21DSD. Don’t let organic varieties fool you, either – they still contain sugar, sweeteners, and other potentially junky additives.

Instead, here are some great options to consider, in place of your old sports drinks:

  • Add a few pinches of sea salt to your regular water, with a squeeze of fresh lemon for Vitamin C (great for recovery!)
  • Drink unsweetened 100% coconut water (up to 8 ounces per day)
  • Drink unsweetened 100% maple water (up to 8 ounces per day)

You can also add 100% coconut water or maple water to a homemade, post-workout shake. Pro Tip: freeze coconut water or maple water in ice trays, and use that in your shake in place of regular ice!

While on the 21DSD, be sure you look at the ingredients in your usual protein powders, shakes, and supplements. If any of the ingredients are on the No list, these products are out for the duration of the program.

When it comes to a post-workout shake, making your own from real-food ingredients is your best bet. Ultimately, you may find they recharge you even better than their more processed counterparts.

In most cases, you’ll want to look for 100% whey protein, 100% egg white protein, etc. – essentially, ones that are made from a single-ingredient, and are whole food-based. It keeps things simple!


Friday's Training:


Build to a Heavy Complex:

1 Hang Power Clean

1 Power Clean


"Power Bar"


9 Hang Power Cleans (135/95)

12 Push-ups

15 Deadlifts (135/95)