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It was over a business meal in a fancy Buffalo, New York, restaurant that the hottest new weight-loss and insulin-control program was born. The program is called Sugar Busters.
More then 300,000 copies of Leighton Steward Morris' book Sugar Busters: Cut Sugar to Trim Fat have been printed and shipped since Ballantine published the book in May. That was enough to drive the book to the top of bestseller lists from New York to Los Angeles.
The Sugar Busters diet is nothing if not simple. It restricts very few foods: potatoes, corn, white rice, bread from refined flour, beets, carrots, plus sugar in most of its forms. Moderate amounts of fructose and lactose are fine.
Counting calories or weighing or measuring is not a part of the Sugar Busters plan. "We want you to look at portion size," says Morrison Bethea, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon and one of three co-authors of the book. "We are giving you a nice way to figure this out. Do you know what a dinner plate looks like? It's got a flat bottom and flared sides. Your meat and two or three vegetables ought to fit neatly on the bottom of the plate. It shouldn't be stacked. It shouldn't be up on the sides."
Dr. Bethea says they have been very pleased with the response of people with diabetes to the program. Still, "we caution anyone who is diabetic who goes on Sugar Busters to consult with a physician. If you are taking insulin, you need to let the physician know so it can be adjusted. If you are on an oral hypoglycemic agent, you may not need it any longer. We are not saying to go out and treat yourself. This needs to be done in concert with your physician."
Sugar Busters is not a low-carbohydrate or high-fat diet. The diet is about 40 percent carbohydrate and 30 percent or less fat, of which no more than 10 percent should be saturated fat.
"You might be eating more protein than normal," says Luis Balart, MD, another of the book's co-authors. "We are not saying no carbohydrates. We are saying choose the correct carbohydrates."
"Because of the grain, Sugar Busters is also a high-fiber diet," Sam Andrews, MD, the third co-author. "We encourage people to eat whole grain, and whole grain is really high fiber. By increasing fiber you do several things. You decrease the glycemic index, you promote good intestinal function, the fiber itself can help lower your triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar, maybe even contribute to some weight loss."
Sugar Busters is, of course, a low-sugar diet. "If you eliminate sugar from your diet, you do lose your taste for sugar," Dr. Andrews maintains. "It takes a week or so. Once you do that you don't have to rush to the cookie jar after you eat supper."
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