What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar?
A Closer Look at Sugar Addiction
Generally speaking, many people get addicted to sugar when their diet is loaded with processed sugar. Typically, current eating patterns in America exceed the recommended daily amount. Sugar addiction starts from intense cravings that continue regularly. These sugar cravings tend to cause you to eat too much sugar, which then causes even more cravings, and hence creates a vicious cycle. Sugar cravings are about much more than just simply consuming more sugar than what is recommended; the complete guide to what causes sugar cravings breaks it down even further with details on everything you need to know about your cravings.
In the sections below, we explain what happens when you quit sugar and how kicking your sugar addiction can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar?
Now that you have a bit of information about sugar, cravings, addiction, and what causes the myriad of issues from consuming too much of it, now is the time to take a deeper look into what happens to your body when you stop eating sugar. Listed below are some aspects of health that you should expect to change and improve when giving up sugar in your diet.
1. The Cravings Will Start
One of the first and most noticeable things you may discover when you stop eating sugar is the intense cravings. Generally speaking, the cravings could tempt you to eat or drink something sweet and sugary, but this varies with your level of dependence. In addition to the cravings, if you have a sugar addiction, there is a chance that you can experience some sugar withdrawal symptoms. These include headache, lethargy, nausea, a foggy mental state and more. The first day or two after you stop eating sugar is usually the most challenging, but once you overcome this initial stage, you should start to notice some of the health benefits.
2. Improvements in Cardiac Health
Your heart health is one of the first systems to face issues when your diet is high in sugar. For starters, the consumption of sugar increases inflammation in your body, which can lead to heart disease and other conditions. When you stop eating sugar, there are a few ways that your heart can be affected, several of which are described below.
High blood pressure is a common condition among individuals who consume large amounts of sugar. Even if the consumption of sugar does not directly lead to high blood pressure, excess sugar can lead to obesity, which is strongly associated with high blood pressure. Also, increased salt intake tends to lead to an increased sugar intake. This combination can lead to major effects on blood pressure. While cutting out sugar from your diet may not directly affect your blood pressure immediately, it can have secondary benefits that will help to reduce your blood pressure. To play it safe, consider cutting both sugar and salt from your diet as much as possible.
Though cholesterol is often viewed negatively, this substance plays a vital role in the stability of your cells. However, high cholesterol levels are increasingly common for adults, and it is a leading cause of stroke and heart disease. Throughout your life, inflammation damages the arterial walls in your body, which causes micro-scarring. When this happens, small bits of bad cholesterol (LDL) molecules attach to the scarred areas and begin to build up. This buildup is called atherosclerosis, and it is a leading cause of heart attacks for adults.
When you cut sugar from your diet, however, your body may adjust to the change by increasing your good cholesterol and decreasing the bad. While the types of foods you eat and your level of exercise help to determine this, the better you eat, the less sugar that you should be taking in day after day.
5. Heart Rate
Increased sugar consumption can impact your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is usually a measure of your fitness level, or simply the measure of how efficient your heart is at pumping blood to the body. The more times it beats, the harder the heart is working to meet the needs of the cells and tissues. A lower resting heart rate means your heart can effectively pump blood throughout the body without any problems. However, there appears to be a link between the consumption of sugar and resting heart rate. A recent study found that an increased resting heart rate is associated with poor blood glucose control, meaning a higher resting heart rate is associated with diabetes.
6. Effects on Obesity
Adult obesity affects roughly 36% of Americans, and sugar is one of the contributing factors. Obesity can be defined in different ways, but the most common way to define it is with the body mass index. The body mass index (BMI) is a comparison of your height and weight, and it produces a numerical value. A BMI of greater than 30 is considered obese. One of the contributing factors to obesity is the consumption of sugar.
7. Fat Storage
You eat food throughout the day to refuel your energy levels so that you can maintain your health. Those fuels include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates get broken down into sugars like glucose. Sugar is needed by the body, especially the brain. However, the typical American diet includes excess sugar, and when you overconsume sugar, your body stores the extra as fat. Even if you are eating a very low-fat diet and you consume more sugar than your body requires, it will convert the excess to fat and store it for a later time. This can be frustrating in any weight loss program. If you stop eating sugar, however, you should expect your fat storage to slow down. This is encouraging for anyone looking to lose weight or simply wanting to stop gaining weight.
8. Improved Brain Health
Sugar addiction can have behavioral and neurochemical effects.The way your brain functions is deeply impacted by substance dependence. With that said, you should notice some changes when you stop eating sugar. These changes will vary for each person, but some aspects are similar to everyone. Those changes are mentioned below in the continuation of our list.
9. Cognitive Function
Your cognitive function is at great risk when you eat high amounts of sugar in your diet every day. For one, it may seem that consuming sugar can help to pick you up when you are feeling lethargic, but the opposite is true. When you stop eating sugar, you should expect mental clarity to improve, and you may even feel a bit sharper as a result. While it may not be an immediate response, your patience will pay off in the end, and your mental health should benefit from this lifestyle change.
10. Effects on Behavior
Another element of your mental health that is involved in sugar consumption is your mood. Your general effect, or your mood, is usually noticeable from the various highs and lows when you eat sugar. Some people may call it being “hangry;” however, it is more appropriate to call it a sugar craving or addiction. When you stop eating sugar, you should notice that you have a better mood in general, and your mood swings should be better controlled as a result.
11. Your Cravings Should Diminish
Sugar cravings can cause a lot of issues in your daily life, and they are generally compounded by increased consumption. Yes, it is a vicious cycle, and the continued intake of sugar has many implications. Consider taking a look at our guide regarding what to eat when craving sugar.
Naturally, if eating sugar has caused addiction and intense cravings, the most logical conclusion is to stop eating it. While this appears to be an easy task, there are barriers that can prevent your overall success in quitting sugar.
For starters, many manufacturers add sugar to foods to improve flavor. Most restaurants also add sugar to dishes for similar reasons. Also, foods and beverages that are advertised as being sugar-free typically contain artificial sweeteners, which are much sweeter than regular sugar. With that said, if you can overcome these barriers and withdrawal symptoms, then you should notice a great difference in your cravings when you stop eating sugar.
12. Improved Energy Levels
Sugar is an energy source that your body uses throughout the day. However, consuming sugar is not a good long-term option for your energy levels. The primary fuel sources in your body are sugars (the result of breaking down carbohydrates), fats and proteins. Typically, fats are the fuel source for long duration activities at lower intensities. This means that much of your activities throughout the day should be fueled by fat. However, sugar is responsible for providing quick bursts of energy. Typically, your brain uses glucose as an energy source, and your quick bursts of energy are fueled by sugar.
So what happens to your energy levels when you stop eating sugar? In general, you should expect no more sugar highs or lows. This is all made feasible with a well-maintained blood sugar level. The more stable your blood sugar levels, the better your energy levels are throughout the day. Once you cut back on sugar and you make it through the initial stages, you should start to notice that you no longer have a craving for a midday pick-me-up.
How to Avoid Sugar
Now that you have information on what happens when you stop eating sugar, it’s time to make quitting sugar a reality. For this to be a successful journey, consider the tips below.
1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
If at all possible, consider avoiding artificial sweeteners whenever you can. When you stop eating sugar, your brain will more than likely crave something sweet initially, and consuming artificial sweeteners can increase the cravings.
2. Read all Food Labels
By law, every packaged food product you purchase should contain a list of ingredients. The best way to avoid sugar is to carefully read your food labels and ingredient lists to ensure that added sugars are not included.
3. Prepare Your Own Food at Home
The best way to ensure that you are not consuming any sugar in your meals is to prepare your meals at home. Whenever you eat at a restaurant, you should expect some hidden sugar included in your food. Preparing your meals at home is the best way to avoid this.
4. Swap Soda for Carbonated Water
If you like drinking soda, then consider making the switch to seltzer or club soda. Many carbonated water options now include natural flavors as a way to enhance the water you drink. The best part about these is that they include no sugar or sweeteners. That said, we advise double-checking the labels to make certain.
5. Clean Out Your Kitchen
If you want to avoid sugar, then you need to get rid of it in your home. This should be considered rule number one when it comes to avoiding sugar from here on out. If you are to succeed in your journey to stop eating sugar, then you need to eliminate all temptations as soon as possible. This should start with your kitchen pantry.