Quick Start (Cheat Sheet) – A Hacker’s Guide to NSNG

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This quick-start is a simple introductory guide to get you started with No Sugar No Grain (NSNG).  The quick-start was created for people that go through life kicking butt and take initials (because you don’t have time to take names).  Face it, biology and nutrition are extremely complex, and we can spend days learning about it (believe me, you will).  This quick-start guide is like the fold out poster that came with your new printer or TV – it’s not meant to cover everything in detail.  We will cover the basics of NSNG to get your started and leave the complex or detailed explanations for the full-length in-depth posts, papers, sites, movies, presentations, etc. – which I will try to link to as much of them as I can from this page.

  • Starting NSNG: You want to be strict for first 21 days (3 weeks) – NO Sugar, NO Grain… Period.
    • We do this to get your body “fat adapted” and where you are getting your energy – that is from mostly glycolysis (sugar) to mostly ketosis (healthy fats).
    • In the first week you may experience “Keto Flu” as your body becomes fat adapted and you go through sugar withdrawal. Read more about Keto Flu and how reduce the effects here, here, or listen here.
    •  “Cheating” can prolong your sugar withdrawal and symptoms.  I recommend cutting the sugar to make the transition as quick as possible.
    • Once you are fat adapted and your body is producing ketones, you can start to increase your amount of net carbs per day.  Just remember to avoid the food groups on the “Do Not Eat” list.
  • Do Not Eat (this is the important list because it’s easy to remember and the basis for NSNG):
    • Sugar – Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Glucose Syrup, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Fruit Sugar, Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Agave Nectar, Palm Sugar, Coconut Sugar, etc. – A full list of sugars
    • Grains – wheat, corn, rice, oats, soybeans, beans, bread, pasta, tortillas, grits, barley, cereal, popcorn, etc. – More on grains
    • Tubers – potatoes (yes, this includes sweet potatoes), yams, etc. – More about tubers
    • Explanation:  We avoid things like grains and starchy tubers because metabolically your body treats them like sugar and has the same affect on you.
  • Eat Everything Else (i.e. things not on the Do Not Eat section above):
    • Vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, etc.
    • Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
    • Nuts and seeds – sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachios, etc.
      • Caution:  Peanuts are not a nut, they a legume (grain) – avoid them during the first 21 days, then they are OK to eat but your should do so in moderation.
    • Dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, etc.
      • Caution: Lactose is a sugar – if you consume tons of milk or soft cheese you may have to cut back if you are struggling to lose weight
    • Fruit – Avocado, berries, etc.
      • Note:  Most fruit have natural sugar so eat fruit that are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index (meaning they have little effect on blood sugar).
        • Rule of thumb: Glycemic index < 50 = GOOD,  Glycemic index 50 – 70 = CAUTIONGlycemic index > 70 = BAD.  Also, all fruit should be eaten whole, with their fiber, NOT JUICED! 
    • Fat – Olive oil, butter, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, nut butters (be careful to read the ingredient label to make sure it is pure nut butter and not filled with a lot of additives and other oils), lard, tallow, bacon grease, ghee, MCT oil, olives, full fat coconut milk
    • Click here for a food list showing if items are “Good”, “Bad” or “Use Caution”
  • Liquor
    • Do not drink: Fermented drinks (beer & wine) because they still contain sugar that was not converted to alcohol during fermentation.
    • Drink: Distilled liquors (vodka, whiskey, etc) because the sugar was removed during distillation.  Just be sure no sugar has been added back.
  • Suggested snacks to get started
    • Low glycemic fruit, cut veggies, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, full fat cheese, raw nuts, olives, pumpkin seeds, 85% or greater dark chocolate, deviled eggs (homemade mayo), pepperoni slices, coconut oil, avocado, lettuce rolled up with smoked salmon and full fat cream cheese, hummus and celery, pickles, shot of olive oil, coffee with heavy cream (or grass fed butter, MCT oil or coconut oil).
  • I’ve stalled, what do I do?
    • First keep in mind that biology works like biology, not like math. The number on the scale only shows you your mass. It does not tell you how much of that mass is water, food, waste, muscle or fat. Many things can cause you to retain water – stress, exercise, lack of sleep, hormonal changes (especially important for women). Secondly keep in mind that weight loss is not always linear or consistent – it’s normal to go a few weeks with no change. On average people will lose 1-2lbs a week, but that doesn’t mean the scale will drop every week.  If it has been over 6 weeks with no change at all it could be time to check how much you are eating and where your goals are.
  • What about cheat days?
    • Vinnie Tortorich has two great lines “You have to put life into living” (LiL) and “Its not what you eat between Christmas and New Year that counts, it’s what you eat between New Year and Christmas”.  That being said, having cheat days is not the way to go.  You can put LIL occasionally, but it’s not realistic to have a whole day of doing whatever you want.
    • Therefore, most of the time, I recommend treating NSNG like recovery from alcoholism or any other addiction. You won’t find an AA meeting where they advocate an occasional drink. While some people are able to do that and get back on the wagon, many aren’t and it becomes a slippery slope back to old habits.
    • As I mention above – try to have 21 or more days before you consider cheating to get your body adapted, so that when you do put LIL, your body can handle it better. Remember:
      • The first 3 weeks are hard and you have to want it
      • It really does get easier
      • You can’t keep going back and forth on NSNG – You can’t get “a little bit pregnant”, same type of deal!

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