Sugar is one of those things that you know is bad for you, but you still can’t seem to stop consuming it. The sugar high you get right after consuming your favourite cupcake or chocolate shake is just too great to give up on. In fact, our diets are almost designed in a way that makes skipping sugar next to impossible.
Even if you avoid the obvious sugary foods and beverages, there is no guarantee that you have completely cut sugar out of your diet. Supposedly, healthy snacks such as packaged fruits juices and nutrition bars usually contain almost as much sugar as a can of soda or a bar of chocolate. This means you have to make a lot of informed choices if you genuinely want to cut back on sugar.
How Much Sugar Should You Consume?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that only 6 to 10% of your daily calorie intake should come from sugar. To put this into better perspective, here is a breakdown:
- 150 calories for men (equivalent of 9 teaspoons)
- 100 calories for women (equivalent of 6 teaspoons)
A 12-oz can of Coke contains 140 calories of sugar, whereas a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar. A second can of Coke or two consecutive Snickers can put you over the safe limit for sugar consumption even if you don’t consume any more sugar throughout the day.
That being said, even though it is safe to get up to 10% of your daily calories from sugar, you don’t need it. There is absolutely no benefit of consuming added sugar. On the contrary, it can actually be harmful.
You see, the consumption of sugar in itself is a vicious cycle. When you consume even a small amount of sugar, it triggers your taste buds and causes you to crave even more sugar. More likely than not, people tend to give in to these cravings and consume even more sugary foods and beverages.
What Happens When You Completely Cut Out Sugar?
Completely cutting out sugar from your diet can be very beneficial for your health. Here’s what happens as soon as you stop eating sugar altogether.
After 20 Minutes
Depending on how much sugar you consumed on a regular basis, this may be a slightly tough time. Similar to alcohol, the more sugar you consume, the more sugar you crave. However, it is essential to keep to remember that most of it is in your head.
Your body hasn’t had the time even to notice that you have cut out sugar yet. It’s your mind that knows you are planning on doing so. Therefore, it may increase the craving for your favourite sugary food or beverages. The only thing that will get you through this period is strong willpower. So try not to give in to your cravings, and soon, this phase will be over.
After An Hour
By now, your brain would have better adjusted to the situation, and you may not crave those muffins as much anymore. This is when your sugar cravings start to decline at a moderate pace, and you may also feel more energized and productive. Your urge to eat anything sugary would have also decreased significantly in the past half hour.
After A Day
An entire day went by without you consuming any sugar. Without the intake of any sugary foods and drinks in the past 24 hours, your body’s cravings would have shifted towards more nutrient-dense foods such as fibre, protein, and healthy fats.
Ideally, you should have been filling up on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats ever since deciding to give up on sugar. If not, start right away. These foods help you stay more healthy, active, and productive and are a much better alternative to sugar. This will also help your blood sugar stabilize and make your mood swings more manageable. Your sugar cravings would have also reduced drastically.
After Three Days
This is when your body starts to notice that it isn’t getting any sugar. As discussed before, sugar addiction is almost as bad as alcohol addiction and can be just as difficult to give up. So, this is when you may start experiencing some withdrawal symptoms, and things may take a momentary unpleasant turn.
You may experience sugar cravings, nausea, headache, and maybe even anxiety and depression. This happens because sugar has a direct effect on your dopamine levels. These side effects usually taper off within a week without sugar.
However, if you were too addicted to sugar, it may take a little longer than that. It is essential to stay hydrated during this time and maintain willpower when you feel like reaching for something sugary.
After a Month
Believe it or not, things would have changed completely. Whether you consumed moderate amounts of sugar previously or were utterly addicted to it, a month after giving up sugar, your cravings for sugary foods and beverages would have vanished entirely. Instead, you may strangely find yourself craving fibre-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables and healthy proteins – foods that are actually good for your health.
After A Year
Being able to go without sugar for a whole year is a huge accomplishment. If you’ve been able to do that, congratulations. Your body is now better equipped at functioning on essential nutrients and no longer stores sugar and coverts it into fat. Your health has also improved drastically. You may also notice that your overall energy levels, mood, and sleeping patterns have also improved.
As you can see, giving up sugar is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. So start cutting it out to reap all of these fantastic benefits.