You've probably asked yourself this before. So, what would happen if you didn't eat any kind of sugar for an entire year? To answer this, we must first understand what years of sugar eating have done to you until now. There are so many types of sweeteners on the market nowadays, that no matter where you turn, you are more than likely to bump into sugar. Too much refined sugar, such as that found in sweets, sodas, pasta, white bread, and generally all products that label themselves "low-fat" and "fat-free" such as snacks, yogurts, fruit juices, energy drinks, sauces, and most packaged foods, will make you ADDICTED to it.
There is a reason why sugar is often considered a 'drug', and that is because it promotes your addiction to it by raising your blood glucose levels, triggering your abnormal insulin surges - basically making you hungry and fat. Additionally, it also greatly contributes to inflammation in your body, increases your triglycerides, and reduces your good cholesterol levels (HDL). This is why many scientists say that sugar is a "slow-acting poison". So, if you’ve been eating refined sugars for years now, you are addicted to a slow-acting poison.
IS ALL SUGAR BAD?
Sugar is the key culprit in high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. It also plays an important role in cancer development, as if that wasn't enough. There are many sugar varieties out there, such as:
- Sucrose - from sugar cane or sugar beets
- Fructose, dextrose, maltose - from fruit and starchy plants
- Lactose - from dairy products
Unused sugar makes you store fat and gain weight. Like all complex sugars, sucrose gets broken down during digestion in 2 simple sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose gets transported by your insulin to your cells for energy. If this is not burned, it gets stored as fat. Sucrose and lactose also break down into fructose, which people think it's good for them because it is naturally found in fruit. However, fruit has a low concentration of fructose in comparison to processed foods such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, or agave syrup.
Fructose is transported to your liver where it gets converted into triglycerides. These are the fats in your blood that are associated with heart disease. They also boost your insulin production to very high levels, which promotes diabetes. Additionally, fructose makes mineral absorption difficult and impairs your immune system. Fructose contributes to fat gain and obesity just as much as glucose.
So, can you completely give up sugar? If you live on meets and water, perhaps. But that's not a good idea. Most food naturally contains sugar (fruit, veggies, grains, dairy, etc.). So if you don't want to consume ANY type of sugar at all, well, your diet would be extremely restricted which will result in malnutrition. But, if you stop adding sugar to the things you eat and eat only naturally occurring sugars, you will experience multiple health benefits.
REFINED SUGAR-FREE DIET BENEFITS
It's not at all easy to just stop eating sugar since it's found in all packaged foods and drinks. Sugar really seems to be everywhere. But if you stop adding sugar to everything you eat and drink, start cooking your own foods and only eat fresh foods, you will be successful and experience the following benefits.
Since we've established that sugar is like an addictive poison, the very first thing you'll experience is withdrawal. You will most certainly experience headaches, weight loss from the elimination of extra water and triglycerides in your system, and your blood sugar levels will drop. However, once the detox symptoms pass, you will start feeling better and stop craving sugar. You'll slowly lose your "sweet tooth" and find that foods like fruits and veggies with naturally occurring sugars in them taste sweeter than you remember.
Most people think that sugar equals energy, which is a common misconception spread by the wide consumption of energy drink and caffeinated beverages when energy levels drop. But without sugar, your energy levels will significantly increase naturally. Because what sugar actually does, is that it inhibits your body's ability to keep your energy stores full. Additionally, you will not experience the ups and downs of your blood sugar levels, so you will be less likely to 'crash' before the end of your day.
Eating sugar makes you crave more sugar. And eating sugar doesn't mean take spoon-fulls of white or brown sugar, but eating foods that come with high-fat, high-carb, and most processed foods. Once you go on a sugar detox and stop eating the refined-sugar packed foods, your body won't have to struggle to burn extra calories. Your cravings and hunger will be significantly reduced and you will start losing weight steadily without any dramatic weight fluctuations.
While you start looking good on your sugar detox, your insides will benefit from it as well. Once you cut sugar out of your diet, your tummy and bowels will be able to reset their processing properties and you will digest better and eliminate waste more efficiently. Your body will go back to its natural rhythm and you will feel great because of it.
Once you survive the first week of sugar withdrawal, you will experience mental clarity and improved focus. It takes a bit to get there because you've programmed your body to get its energy from sugar until then, but as soon as the withdrawal symptoms pass and your body had a chance to reset itself, the mental fogginess and lingering headaches will disappear. You will be more focused and productive because your body will put more energy into your cognitive functions than sugar burning.
Your overall health will be significantly improved thanks to the positive improvement of your sleep quality. Because your insulin and blood sugar levels are balanced and regulated, you will develop healthy sleep patterns that will provide you with consistent energy and reduce fatigue. You will fall asleep faster and wake up naturally and full of energy.
HOW TO QUIT SUGAR
If you're thinking to go on a sugar detox for a week or a year, these tips will be very helpful for you. But you should consider quitting sugar for good. You shouldn't make this just a detox diet, but an actual lifestyle change, where you don't consume any type of refined sugars. Don't fall into the trap of switching sugar for artificial sweeteners either, that can make things worse. Artificial sweeteners can be very dangerous and they also promote hunger and more sugar cravings. And because they are often times sweeter than natural sugar, it can dull your taste buds and you won't be able to benefit from the sweet and natural taste of fruits that contain naturally occurring sugars.
Don't stop cold turkey
Many people take a radical approach to detox dieting, but that's not a good idea. You should make a lifestyle change, not a short-term move that will not lead to any significant results. Since going sugar-free leads to sugar withdrawal anyway, you don't want to make the headaches, mood swings, and anxiety crazy-intense. Take one step at a time to adjust to this life change and make small but significant changes.
Say NO to sugary drinks
Beverages like soda, fruit juice, iced tea, sports drinks, etc. are basically liquid sugar packed with calories that don't even satisfy your hunger or thirst. Give them up and swap them for water. You can still have your 5 o'clock tea without any sweetener in it. Likewise, if you can't give up your coffee, at least stop adding sugar and milk to it. You will notice significant results very quickly by doing that.
No more sweet treats
Give up the refined-flour treats that are dense in added sugars, such as pastries, muffins, cookies, and white-bread. These give you energy that doesn't last and mess with your digestion and blood sugar levels. Instead, go for whole grains that are absorbed slowly to provide you with steady energy during the day.
Don't put sugar on it
If you add sweetener to your coffee, tea, or anything you eat - stop it! This bad habit will cost you your health over time. Since you shouldn't stop cold turkey, you should gradually reduce the amount of table sugar you use and look for healthy replacements. If you are used to honey or sugar with your tea, add a slice of orange in it instead to sweeten it up a bit. This will also make it less likely for you to experience intense sugar cravings.
Protein and fats
A sugar detox is a perfect time to indulge in more protein and healthy fats. Eat more nuts, olive oil, avocado, eggs, legumes, and turkey. These will give you enough energy for the day if you have a high-protein breakfast, and keep you satiated, preventing your blood sugar from rising and falling throughout the day.
All sugars and sweeteners come with a health risk, but in moderation, naturally occurring sugars like the ones in fruit and veggies are necessary for proper nourishment, especially since these foods contain other nutrients that your body needs in order to survive. Make sure you cut all refined sugars from your diet and you'll experience weight loss, improved digestion, and more energy. Additionally, you will enjoy an anxiety-free life with easier mornings and a deeper and more relaxing sleep at night.
The best part is that once your body gets used to running on a sugar-free diet, you will stop craving it and even start hating on it. Those who eat a refined sugar-free diet can detect the smallest amounts of sugar in food and they either enjoy it if it's naturally occurring or outright hate it if it's refined because the taste is sickening. Embark on this quest to improve your health and eliminate all refined sugars from your diet, and you'll feel better and become healthier!