If You're Looking For A Reset, Consider J.Lo's No-Carb, No-Sugar Diet

mbg Editorial Assistant By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Editorial Assistant
Eliza Sullivan is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She has bachelor's degrees in journalism and english literature from Boston University.

Graphic by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

In 2019, J.Lo had a big year. So big, in fact, that her diet ranked twice on the list of top 10 diet searches of the year.

In January, to kick off the year, J.Lo and fiancé (though at the time still boyfriend) A-Rod launched into a 10-day challenge, wherein they cut out carbs and sugar. Ranking at No. 8 and No. 10 as "no carb no sugar diet" and "JLo diet" respectively, their challenge (which they posted on Instagram) went viral, having a second boost in search after they challenged other celebs, including Today show host Hoda Kotb. Kotb then challenged her fellow Today show hosts, and the diet (apparently) had a lot of people curious.

What does a no-carb, no-sugar diet look like?

The 10-day challenge is based on a more general no-carb diet but ups the ante with the no-sugar limit too. A no-carb diet is pretty strict on its own and is a more extreme form of a low-carb diet that includes also restricting even "healthy" whole grains and some fruits and vegetables.

Here's a breakdown of the foods you should plan to cut out and the ones you'll become very friendly with when trying a no-carb diet.

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Foods to avoid:

Sugar: Sugar is, technically, a carb and thus inherently cut out in a no-carb diet.

Refined grains: This includes grains like wheat, rice, barley, and rye along with more processed products like pastas and breads.

Packaged processed foods

Hydrogenated oils

Starchy vegetables: This includes things like potatoes, peas, or corn.

Alcohol: This one seems to be a personal choice, with some guidelines allowing for dry wines or tequilas. Basically, it's up to you. (Here's how to pick healthy options if you do choose to drink.)

Foods to eat:

Meat: Specifically leaner meats like turkey, chicken, lamb, and game meats like venison.

Fish: Salmon, shrimp, cod, crab, and even sardines are good options.

Eggs: Some versions emphasize the egg-white route, but there's no need. Whole eggs can be just as healthy.

Vegetables: Just be sure you're choosing low-starch options! Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, zucchini, mushrooms, and more fit the bill.

Fruits: Same as with veggies, it's important to prioritize fruits that are also lower in carbohydrates. Big winners would be coconut and avocado, which also pack healthy fats.

Nuts and seeds: Again, be conscious of your choices and keep them low-carb. Think almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pistachios.

Legumes: This depends on you and your goals. If you're looking to use this diet for weight loss, you should consider cutting them out too.

Dairy products: Don't be pulled in by low-fat or diet labels in the dairy aisle. Those options often have more sugar, and it's better to just have the original.

Oils and fats: The usual healthy oil suspects, like coconut and olive oils, in particular, crop up on this list. But they also say that butter and lard are allowed, so there's some flexibility here.

If you want to do your diet more like J.Lo, there's a bit of extra planning to do. According to the discussion on the Today show, the list of things you have to avoid on the J.Lo challenge includes cutting out bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, milk, yogurt, and caffeine in addition to the things already restricted by a no-carb diet. 

It does, however, explicitly allow blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries along with occasional indulgences in sugar-free products like sugar-free Jell-O or protein pancakes with sugar-free syrup. 

When looked at specifically in regard to J.Lo's 10-day challenge, the diet also goes hand-in-hand with regular gym sessions. All of J.Lo's posts about the diet last year were from the gym, as were A-Rod's, though for this couple, gym selfies are pretty normal.

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How is it different from the ketogenic diet?

The primary difference between a no-carb, no-sugar diet and the keto diet is the level of restriction. If you truly dedicate your diet to a no-carb scenario, it's more restrictive than keto, which allows for around 50 grams of total carbohydrates each day. This allows the body to enter natural ketosis, the namesake (and goal) of going keto.

The other key component of keto is an emphasis on also eating a high-fat diet, which is not necessarily a component of the no-carb, no-sugar model. However, in limiting carbohydrates, one may inadvertently begin to eat a high-fat diet as well.

What do functional medicine doctors have to say about it?

The basic concept of the diet isn't a bad one, but it's how you execute it that matters.

"If used as a reset and opportunity to get back in the game, then this is great!" Wendie Trubow, M.D., told mbg. "If used as an excuse to load up on carbs and sugar afterward, then that defeats the entire purpose of the removal," she concluded.

It's important to remember that cutting out carbs and sugar (and caffeine, if you so choose) "cold turkey" may result in some withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms include headaches and irritability, so be prepared. But you can look forward to the benefits, which makes it worth it (and there are some great tips that can help you better manage quitting).

You shouldn't use the diet as an excuse to binge afterward, but it can be a good starting point for health. It may be able to help you curb sugar cravings in the long run or serve as a catalyst for learning some new healthy recipes.

If this sounds too extreme for you, we have tons of information and plans for people thinking about the keto diet, from how to do keto if you're vegan or vegetarian to a list of keto-friendly foods and our beginner's guide to keto.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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