You should probably know by now that cutting back on the sweet stuff will do your body a lifetime’s worth of benefits, but what if you were told to quit sugar entirely? That’s enough to freak any sweet tooth out.
But if you’ve been wanting to do a sugar detox for a certain period of time, say, a week, or a month, or even up to a year, you’ll have to be aware of the many changes your body will go through so you can prepare well for these phases and not just give up altogether.
Before you begin, it’s important to note that when talking about quitting sugar, it means cutting out added sweeteners or processed sugar products. Naturally occurring sugars from fruits are totally fine. Experts also recommend weaning yourself off the addicting effects of processed sugar by reducing intake by 20% every seven days over the course of five weeks.
Here’s what happens when you quit sugar from a week to a year:
You’re most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms during the first 3-5 days of quitting sugar. People typically get headaches, decreased energy levels and mental alertness, as well as gastrointestinal issues.
Research has actually found that these reactions are similar to how your body reacts when you quit drugs. Dopamine levels drop, while acetylcholine, a brain chemical that regulates pain perception, rises – and this combination of body changes likely precipitates the withdrawal symptoms.
Experts say these reactions are only temporary, and can usually be managed by eating some fruit to take the edge off.
You’ll realize you’ll have steadier energy levels at this point as your body has learned to cope without the sugary hits from sodas or doughnuts that previously gave you quick jolts of energy.
Your relationship with sugar also progresses from physical to mental. You are more aware of how much sugar you’re consuming and be more mindful of your food choices.
Your palate quickly adjusts to eating less sugar that a glass of pinot noir can actually taste more like cotton candy. The chocolate cookie you used to binge eat can now taste sickly sweet. However, be warned, your palate just as quickly adjusts to eating sugar again, so if you want to keep up with your sugar detox, better keep away from the sugary treats calling your name.
Your sugar crashes and mid-day humps will become less intense and less frequent at this point. You’ll experience a greater sense of mind and body balance, such as being able to clearly tell the difference of your body being hungry and feeling full.
You’ll also experience fall asleep much easier and lesser night-time awakenings.
A year of no sugar actually clears up your skin. Sugar disrupts your body’s hormones that usually cause acne breakouts. You’ll experience lesser puffiness and an overall better complexion.
You might also drop some pounds as your mind and body are more in sync with hunger and satiety signals, you have a lesser tendency to overeat or eat when you’re not truly hungry.
Your energy levels will remain at stable thresholds with no sudden drops or spikes, causing you to be more mentally alert and productive.