Here's a not-so-fun fact: sugar is addictive and toxic in numerous ways. Worse, it's found in a lot of the food we eat.
It is largely responsible for the significant increase in obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses. It's also why eliminating sugar and carbs, or at least the majority of them, from your daily diet is so difficult.
The good news is that there are methods for completely detoxing your body from sugar in just 7 days. Making that decision is one of them, and it is probably the most important. You're probably already doing it because you're here. So, congratulations!
Still, there is work to be done, and my goal is to provide you with the information you need to flush all that sugar out of your system.
In this article, I'll give you 13 ways to do just that, as well as answer some of your questions about sugar, beginning with:
Why is quitting sugar so difficult?
One reason for this is that it behaves similarly to drugs. As a result, it has frequently been compared to cocaine and heroin.
In fact, a scientific study has found that excessive sugar consumption has similar effects to drugs in terms of your brain's reward system (i.e. dopamine pathways).
When you consume sugar, you feel happy or “high,” but the more sugar you consume, the more tolerant your brain becomes. As a result, it produces less dopamine over time, increasing your desire for sugar to the point of dependence.
In a nutshell, this is the addiction cycle. Chronic stress is yet another factor.
Long-term stress, in whatever form it takes, increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol. According to one study, high levels of this hormone appear to tell your body to crave sugary and fatty foods.
So, the longer you are stressed, the longer those sugar cravings will last, which, by the way, can easily lead to dependency.
What happens to your body when you cut out sugar?
Because sugar functions similarly to a drug, quitting it will most likely result in the same negative side effects as quitting the illegal substance. The following are some of the most common side effects:
- Mood swings
Quitting sugar can sometimes cause anxiety and depression.
I'm not going to lie and tell you that it's simple. It's unlikely, especially if you've been sugar-dependent for a long time. What I will tell you is that these side effects will not last.
You will begin to feel better after about 7 days. You'll have more energy, your mood will be more stable, and you'll be happier. You might even lose weight and lose your sugar cravings.
That's probably enough questions and answers for now.
Here's how to cleanse your body of sugar:
1. Quit cold turkey
That's exactly what it is.
I've seen people, some of whom are even my friends, quit drugs on the same day they promised themselves they would stop — and they've stayed clean ever since. You can also do the same thing with sugar.
But here's the thing: this doesn't mean you should stop eating carbs and sweets entirely.
This does not mean that you should stop eating junk food, processed and packaged foods, or even low-carb foods with artificial sweeteners. These foods contain a lot of sugar, some of which is visible while others are hidden.
Furthermore, there are a plethora of sweet whole foods that are actually beneficial to your health.
2. Consume more fruits and vegetables
“Wait a minute, fruit? Aren't they high in sugar?”
Yes, indeed. Also, sugar is sugar, and it contains the same number of calories every time.
But here's the thing: fruit is more than just sugar. It's whole food, which means it contains fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Because those nutrients are naturally present in fruit, it is extremely difficult to consume an excessive amount of sugar from fruits alone. Because fiber makes you feel fuller faster and for a longer period of time, you naturally eat less sugar (and calories).
Furthermore, in their guidelines on unhealthy weight gain, the World Health Organization specifically mentions “free sugar” — the kind that is artificially added to processed foods and drinks. This does not include the sugar found naturally in whole foods.
So, whenever you get a sugar craving after quitting, eat an apple instead.
3. Increase your water consumption
“Can you flush out sugar by drinking water?” people have asked.
Yes, but there's a little more to it than that.
Drinking water will inevitably result in more urine, some of which will contain excess sugar. That is how your kidneys remove toxins.
But the best part about water, in my opinion, is that it prevents you from consuming too much sugar in the first place, which is critical when detoxing.
We have a piece on how to lose weight by drinking more water that I highly recommend you read, but in essence, doing so will help you eat less food because it suppresses your appetite (particularly if you drink it before meals). And when you eat less, you naturally consume less sugar.
4. Get 7 to 10 hours of sleep.
Teenagers and adults, according to the SleepFoundation, require between 7 and 10 hours of sleep per day. But what happens if you don't?
According to one study, a lack of sleep leads to increased cortisol levels, increased hunger and appetite, and decreased glucose tolerance.
Remember how I said that stress and high cortisol levels make you crave sugary foods? Sleep deprivation, it appears, can also contribute to this. And, of course, hunger does as well.
So, if you truly want to get rid of your sugar addiction, counting sheep is a great way to start.
5. Work it out
I'm referring to physical activity.
I don't think you need me to tell you about the benefits of regular exercise, but I will tell you that many of those same benefits aid in the removal of excess sugar from your body.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, moderate aerobic exercise can help you sleep better. However, you should avoid exercising right before bedtime because it may make falling asleep more difficult.
In addition, studies show that moderate- to high-intensity exercise reduces cortisol levels at night. That is, you are more relaxed and sleep better, and you crave fewer of those notorious midnight snacks.
Exercise also improves mood, which will help you cope with the side effects of sugar detox. Furthermore, exercise requires energy, so you are essentially burning sugar when you do it.
However, you are not required to go straight to the gym. Begin slowly, walking 15-20 minutes per day, and gradually increase your time.
6. Begin a new hobby
This is important advice. According to studies, when you're bored, you're more likely to eat unhealthy foods. This, of course, includes high-sugar snacks.
So find a hobby to keep you occupied.
However, this isn't just any hobby. Make an effort to do something you enjoy. Because if you don't, you'll be stressed and crave sugar.
Learning new musical instruments, cooking, and simply annoying my wife and dogs are some of my hobbies (lol).
7. Do not consume sugar (and calories)
Drinks, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), are the leading source of added sugars, with soft drinks, predictably, at the top of the list.
A can of soft drinks already contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. If you're a woman, you've already gone overboard; if you're a man, that amount of sugar is your limit (according to the AHA), and we both know you're getting more sugar elsewhere.
And do you know what else is high in sugar? Drinks with a lot of energy. Juice from fruits. Beer. That coffee you just bought at Starbucks.
What I'm trying to say is, if it's liquid and flavored, keep a safe distance away from it.
8. Consume the proper amount of protein
Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates, so eating more of it will aid in the fight against sugar cravings. This advice has probably been given a million times, and it also makes sense. The more protein you consume, the less hungry you will be. And when you're not constantly hungry, you eat less sugar.
However, this does not imply that you only eat protein. Protein, too, has its limits.
Protein's satiating effects end when your body realizes it's had enough, according to the protein leverage hypothesis (LPH). So, if you've had your fill of protein, eating more of it won't make you feel any less hungry.
On that note, fiber is something you can eat more of once you've exhausted the benefits of protein. This leads us to the next point: how to completely detox your body from sugar in just 7 days.
9. Consume more fiber-rich vegetables while avoiding starchy ones.
Vegetables contain a lot of fiber. As previously stated, this can eventually help you stop eating too much sugar.
However, not all vegetables are created equal, and this is due to starch.
Starch, like fiber, is a type of carbohydrate found in vegetables. The difference is that your body can digest starch but cannot process fiber. Essentially, this means that starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn have a greater impact on your blood sugar. You'll want to stay away from those while detoxing.
Instead, eat a lot of green leafy vegetables. Broccoli, celery, and mushrooms also work well. These vegetables are high in fiber but low in carbohydrates.
10. Fat is your best friend.
But not just any fat will do. You'll want unsaturated fat (also known as “good” fat).
According to studies, this type of healthy fat promotes satiety, which can help you eat fewer calories and, hopefully, less sugar. Furthermore, the same study discovered that polyunsaturated fat had a stronger influence on fullness than monounsaturated fat.
In any case, both types will make you feel less hungry, whereas saturated fat (i.e. “bad” fat), particularly those with added sugar, will do the opposite.
In terms of how to detox your body from sugar, eating the right type of fat — such as those found in nuts, seeds, and some fish — will help you cope with the side effects of cutting carbs.
11. Avoid using artificial sweeteners.
When you're trying to cut back on sugar, you might be tempted to replace it with artificial sweeteners. I'll tell you right now: DON'T.
Despite having significantly fewer carbs and calories, artificial sweeteners, according to research, can actually make you feel even more hungry.
So, how about that diet coke you just bought? It's not working. In fact, doing so may aggravate the situation. Instead, drink plain water or milk.
12. Keep an emergency food supply on hand.
This is probably one of the most important pieces of advice I want you to remember.
During the 7 days that your body is detoxing, it will go through unpleasant changes that you will notice.
You will experience sharp drops in blood sugar, especially if you have already damaged your insulin sensitivity by eating too much sugar over an extended period of time. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, and/or hunger may accompany this.
When this happens, you must be prepared with a food pack or a snack. Fill your pack with protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich foods. When I was doing this, my pack included nuts, meat jerky, and fresh fruit, but feel free to experiment with what works best for you.
13. Unwind and enjoy your life
To put it another way, don't worry about it. Destress if you are already stressed.
Don't stress about things you can't change because it will raise your cortisol levels and make you crave sugary foods.
Instead, do things that make you happy and relaxed to keep yourself occupied. Exercise, a hobby, and sleep are all excellent ways to cleanse your body of sugar, but you could also take a long drive to the beach, go camping, or do whatever fills your soul.
In a nutshell, the best way to break free from the proverbial sugar chains is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This entails replacing the junk and packaged foods you've grown accustomed to with nutritious whole foods high in protein, healthy fat, fiber, and, yes, a little sugar. Oh, and don't forget to drink plenty of water!
You should also keep your stress under control. Chronic stress may actually be the root cause of your sugar addiction in the first place. So get some rest and try not to worry too much.
Aaaand… that's where I'll leave you. If you know of anyone else who might need help controlling their sugar intake, please share this with them.