The drawbacks of sugar consumption are plenty. Learning about these effects would lead many to refrain from excess sugar consumption. Even so, some feel they are not completely free of sugar. If you have ever wondered how long does it take to detox from sugar, then you are at the right place!
The daily sugar consumption of an average American range around 18-20 teaspoons which is almost double the amount recommended for men and triple the amount recommended for women. Excess sugar intake has been linked to many chronic illnesses, hence it is not a surprise why many seek to reduce their sugar consumption. Sugar detoxes have grown in popularity as an antidote to excessive sugar consumption.
Sugar detox is when you avoid consuming sugar, specifically added sugar, for at least a week and up to a month in order to reduce sugar intake, overcome sugar cravings, and improve overall health.
To clarify, not all sugar is bad. In fact, the human body requires a certain amount of sugar to carry out various natural processes. Sugar is a compound that occurs naturally in various foods including vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Problems arise when excess added sugars are included in our diet. Added sugars are often hidden in foods that may not even taste sweet such as sauces, salad dressings, and bread. Foods that seem healthy can actually be loaded with sugar. Taking this into consideration, a sugar detox is a good thing to do from time to time.
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A Complete Sugar Detox
You cannot totally rid your body of sugar, if you could, you would die. Nevertheless, it is a wise choice to eliminate some of the excess sugars from your diet. Sugar is a substance that encompasses several different chemical compounds that are similar in structure and have some similar properties. The sugar that is essential for providing energy to the cells in our body is glucose. We can obtain glucose directly from sugar, starch, or by the process of breaking down fats and as a last resort, from proteins.
Stopping sugar altogether is a tough process. Even more so because this substance is addictive and abruptly quitting would lead you to crave it even more. How long does it take to detox from sugar may range from as short as a couple of weeks to even up to a year? It really depends on how dedicated you are to resisting it. It would always be a struggle in the beginning. Someone who has been taking more sugar for a longer time would require a longer period of time to totally overcome the cravings.
On average, it should take you at least 21 days to a month to do a full sugar detox. During this time, you’re advised to consume whole, unprocessed foods and avoid anything with refined or added sugar. If you crave something sweet, eat fruits. They would satisfy your sweet tooth without jeopardizing your detox plan.
The first two weeks would be the most difficult part of a sugar detox. But like any withdrawal, it gets easier with time. Once you get over the withdrawals you won’t crave sugar as much anymore.
A couple of months into a sugar detox and you would notice various other positive changes in your body. It’s a process but if you keep at it you will feel much better in the long term. Sugar is an addictive substance because it makes you feel good, and no different than any other substance, especially when it comes to people who become easily addicted.
Why Is Too Much Sugar Bad?
Your body is a machine and it needs fuel in order to function properly. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be eating processed foods loaded with sugar all day long. Sugar can lead your blood pressure up which could trigger diabetes or heart disease as well! What we need instead are healthy fats such as those found naturally occurring within eggs yolks (a great source for protein), fish oils/fish meat, etc. If these aren’t available then olive oil works just fine too.
The health dangers of glucose stem from having too much of it. The body releases extra insulin to remove the extra sugar from the blood. Over time cells become less and less responsive to insulin until you end up with type 2 diabetes mellitus. You are also likely to become overweight. Excess sugar and insulin insensitivity would predispose to various other serious medical conditions that can be easily prevented if you control your sugar intake.
High sugar intake has been linked with conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, and heart diseases. Sugar may also reduce your energy levels, cause brain fog and lead to reduced alertness and fatigue.
Cutting added sugar from your diet may help protect against chronic disease development and enhance your overall health.
About 10% of the US population is addicted to sugar. This is because sugar induces rewards and cravings that are similar in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs. Studies have found that sugar triggers the release of dopamine in the same area of the brain implicated in the response to addictive drugs.
Sugar can also induce the release of endogenous opioids in the brain, which leads to a rush that causes future cravings. That isn’t all, eating too much sugar regularly results in you becoming tolerant to it, causing you to require more to get the same effect.
Therefore, if you are one who regularly consumes sugar and processed food, it is time you take a closer look at your diet and cut down on excess added sugar. A sugar detox is also a wise choice.
Tips to Detox From Sugar
One of the most important things when embarking on a sugar detox is making sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not just because it’s trendy. Here are some tips to make your journey easier.
Go Cold Turkey
Many might suggest that you should gradually decrease your sugar intake rather than stop it abruptly. However, in the case of sugar, gradually stopping it would only make you crave it more.
Finding Someone Who Is Also on a Detox
Having a friend or an individual with the same goals will help to keep you on track with your detox plan and keep you accountable throughout your sugar detox journey.
It’s best to avoid weeks where you’re busy with dinners or plans with friends. For the majority of your detox, it would be easier if you ate at home or brought prepared food with you so you’re never stuck in a situation that forces you to break your detox.
No Added Sugar
Be sure that there are no added sugars in your diet. This includes cane sugar, stevia, or coconut sugar which are sometimes used as alternatives to regular sugar but have similar effects as sugar. Also ditch all forms of sugary beverages such as soda, yogurt, or even kombucha.
Eat Fresh, Whole Foods
It is important that you continuously consume fresh and whole-food during your detox so that you’re not hungry and tempted to binge on junk food. Also, avoid processed food as they are usually packed with added sugars.
Snack in Between Meals
This may not seem like the most conventional advice but snacking helps to keep you sated and not hungry. Snack on fruits such as strawberries or grapes in between meals even before you start getting hungry so you’re always full and are not tempted to take a cheat meal.
Clean Out Your Fridge and Pantry
You should do this before you start your detox. The last thing you need is candy or a granola bar staring at you in your face, tempting you while you’re on your detox.
This is key. Being well hydrated not only helps curb the cravings, but it also balances your blood sugar and improves your overall well-being.
It might come as a surprise to many, but there are actually support groups that help those with a sugar addiction. A group of people is more powerful than you trying to do it on your own. You could also share tips and techniques to overcome the side effects.
Side Effects of Sugar Withdrawal
Of course, going completely cold turkey on added sugar is going to have some side effects especially if you are one who consumes a lot of sugar on a regular basis. If you cut added sugars from your diet, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Low mood
- Intense cravings for something sweet
- Lethargy or fatigue during the first few days
- Intense cravings for other carbs
Benefits of Refraining From Sugar
The health benefits that come from a sugar detox outweigh its side effects. The benefits experienced are evident within the first week of detox. The body has a remarkable pace for recovery when you remove the source of the problem. Some of the benefits include:
- Clearer Thinking- Excess sugar causes lethargy and sometimes even brain fog. A detox would clear up your brain fog and result in clearer thinking. By the end of the detox, you would experience a calmer and clearer demeanor.
- Increased Energy Levels- In the first few days you may feel tired, lethargic and drowsy but do not quit just yet. As the week progresses, you’ll feel more energetic and clear-headed. It’s an amazing feeling and a big motivator for those who feel tired all the time.
- Better Sleep- Although there isn’t much research done on this, many who have gone on a sugar detox report to have a better sleep schedule as opposed to their normal sleep pattern.
- Lesser Cravings- This is one of the most obvious changes. If you’re one who is always craving something sweet, you’ll notice that these cravings almost completely disappear by the end of your detox. When you eat something that is sweet, it will taste so much sweeter and sometimes, you might not even like it anymore.
- Reduced risk of developing illnesses- Excess sugar causes many illnesses. Aside from being predisposed to these illnesses, consuming excessive added sugar also suppresses your immune system thus reducing your body’s ability to ward off diseases.
Sugar-free diets are usually healthy but they may not be suitable for children, teenagers, or pregnant women who require added vitamins and minerals.
Reducing your sugar intake is an admirable goal. How long it takes to detox from sugar differs with people but what is more important is sustaining a low sugar diet. If you practice a sugar detox and binge on sweet snacks once the detox is over then it defeats the whole purpose of detox. Restrictive diets are a tough process so don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip during the journey. Each small step will build upon the last, leading you to a healthier tomorrow.
How long does it take to withdraw from sugar?
It should take you at least 21 days to a month to do a full sugar detox. However, the duration differs with people. It depends on how much and how frequently you were consuming sugar prior to the detox.
How can I flush sugar out of my system fast?
Besides completely refraining from sugar consumption, drink plenty of water and try to consume fresh and whole food. Also, avoid processed food as it may contain added sugars.
What happens when you quit eating sugar?
Immediately after quitting sugar, you may experience the sugar withdrawal stage where you can have symptoms of depression, anxiety, brain fog, and cravings, alongside headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.