Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, lowering your intake of added sugars not only promotes weight loss, it can also benefit your health in many other ways.
Consuming too much sugar can increase your risk of developing several conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, severe fatigue, and inflammation. Eating too much sugar can also affect your sleep, mood, skin, as well as the production of hormones in your body.
Believe it or not, we’re addicted to sugar. We have a craving for sugar, we have sugar, it makes us feel good and energized, and then we crash and feel a strong need to have more sugar. It’s an endless cycle.
What’s even worse is that many people are not aware of the amount of added sugars present in the foods they consume from morning until night. Foods such as bread, ketchup, pant-based milk, and salad dressings may not taste sweet, but they’re a rich source of sugar.
The thing is that the more you’re exposed to foods packed with sugar, the more difficult it is for you to stop consuming them. The reason for this is that sugar stimulates your brain’s reward system. Sugar can also induce craving that’s similar in magnitude to the craving addictive drugs induce (1).
One study has indicated that foods containing added sweeteners and fats show the greatest addictive potential (2).
Restricting your intake of added sugars can help protect you from developing certain conditions, such as those mentioned above, make you look better, and improve your overall health.
Going on a sugar detox, which is a wellness trend that has recently grown in popularity, can help you cut out added sugars from your diet.
A sugar detox involves refraining from consuming sugar for a week and up to one month so as to reduce sugar cravings, lower sugar intake, and improve both physical and mental health.
Before we share the 4-week sugar detox meal plan, we’d like to emphasize that the goal of a sugar detox is to give you control over foods containing added sugar and help you redefine your relationship to sugar during the four-week period and after it.
When you’re on a sugar detox, you’re required to avoid consuming starchy vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, desserts, and sugary sodas during the first three days. What you can consume is protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.
For instance, for breakfast, you can eat three eggs. For lunch, you can eat 6 ounces of tofu, fish, or poultry and a salad. And dinner is an extended version of lunch, but you can eat spinach, kale, or broccoli instead of salad. When it comes to snacks, you can eat peppers with hummus or nuts. And when it comes to what you’re allowed to drink, you can drink plain water as well as unsweetened black coffee and tea.
During the first three days, you’re not allowed to consume artificial sweeteners because when you do so, this causes you to overeat and store more fat.
Begging with the fourth day, you can include one dairy food and one apple in your menu each day. You’ll notice that foods containing natural sugars, such as apples, almonds, and onions, taste sweet. You can also include unsweetened and full-fat dairy, crackers rich in fiber, and vegetables high in sugar, such as carrots. During the first week, you’re also allowed to drink three glasses of red wine at the maximum.
During the second week, you can include an additional serving of dairy, berries high in antioxidants, and starchy vegetables.
During the third week, you can add more fruit and grains, like quinoa, barley, and oatmeal. During the third week, you can drink four glasses of red wine, and each day, you can eat one ounce of dark chocolate.
During the fourth week, you can consume two starchy foods a day, such as rice and bread. You’re also allowed to eat a sandwich and drink up to five glasses of red wine a week.
You’re going to love week four because, during this week, you’re allowed to have a piece of cake or ice cream once or twice a week. Consuming such desserts is allowed in week four since, at this stage, you’ll no longer have an addiction to sugar, so having a dessert once or twice a week won’t send you back to the old cycle.
In addition, once you’ve completed the four weeks, you can eat whatever fruit you want.
If you wish to prolong your sugar detox, consult your doctor first so that you can be sure that this is safe for you. And if you do extend it, you may see that you need to make other changes to your lifestyle and eating habits, such as keeping your body adequately hydrated every day and getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Going on a sugar detox can help you:
It can also help curb your sugar cravings, reduce your risk of developing diabetes, and improve your oral health.
In addition, reducing your added sugar intake can benefit your heart health, too. In one study, consumption of added sugar has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases mortality (3).
One thing you should keep in mind if you’re planning to go on a sugar detox is that when eliminating sugar from your diet, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Fortunately, you can combat these symptoms and make your sugar detox easier by taking the following 8 steps:
Eating foods rich in fiber and protein is especially important if you’ve drunk or eaten sugar in large amounts early in the day. When these two are paired with carbohydrates, they can regulate your blood sugar levels.
In addition, eating foods high in fiber and protein during your sugar detox will keep you feeling full for longer and make you feel energized. So, make sure you include meals packed with protein and fiber in your diet, such as nuts, eggs, beans, legumes, fatty fish, broccoli, berries, or avocados. You can also pair foods rich in protein and foods rich in fiber. For example, you can pair peanut butter and an apple, eggs, and broccoli, or oatmeal and pumpkin seeds.
Eliminating all sources of added sugars completely from the diet does not work for everyone. Some people do best by cutting down on sugar gradually. For instance, if you’re the type of person who likes eating cookies or cake every day, try cutting back on such desserts first prior to cutting out other foods containing added sugars from your diet.
Staying adequately hydrated can help you reduce your sugar cravings. The best way to stay optimally hydrated is to drink plenty of water. You should also replace beverages rich in sugar, such as energy drinks and sodas, with water. This will help lower your intake of calories and added sugar and allow you to have regular bowel movements as well.
You’ve probably noticed that when you’re feeling stressed, you have a craving for sugar. It’s no wonder since sugar has a soothing effect on your stress hormones.
Instead of reaching for cakes, cookies, or artificially-sweetened drinks when feeling stressed, try to reduce your stress levels by talking to a friend, listening to music, going for a walk, reading a book, or doing anything that you know will improve your mood and make you feel relaxed.
Consuming healthy fats, such as those found in fatty fish, avocados, nuts, cheese, or chia seeds, can help curb your craving for sugar.
Regularly exercising during a sugar detox can help lower stress and increase energy. Exercising is especially important if you’re having low energy levels, experiencing fatigue, or having a craving for sugary foods as a result of feeling stressed during a sugar detox, as it can help you beat these side effects.
One study has found that brisk walking reduces cravings for sugary snacks in overweight people (4).
Not getting enough sleep can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms of reduction of added sugars, like low mood, fatigue, and cravings for sugary foods.
Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night can help you:
Cutting down on sugary foods can be hard, particularly if your diet included lots of them, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Here’s one little piece of advice: Write down the reasons why you want to give up consuming sugar. And any time you feel a craving for sugary snacks or begin adding foods or drinks rich in added sugar to your diet, remind yourself of these reasons.
Remember, the goal is to reduce your overall added sugar intake. Enjoying a dessert from time to time won’t make you abandon your efforts or adversely affect your health.
When you’re detoxing from sugar, you’re required to consume vegetables and foods high in healthy fats and protein. For instance, for breakfast, you can eat scrambled eggs, a veggie-filled omelet, unsweetened yogurt, berries, seeds, and nuts. For breakfast, you can eat a salad, beans, or lentils. And for dinner, you can consume brown rice or salmon with avocado or roasted vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, spinach, or cauliflower.
When it comes to snacks, it’s recommended that you eat hard-boiled eggs, yogurt with berries, or a green smoothie.
Since limited research examines sugar detoxes, there isn’t any clear rule when it comes to how many days you should sugar detox. You can detox for a week, 21 days, or 30 days. However, it’s best to go on a sugar detox with the aim of detoxing for one or two weeks while avoiding eating any foods containing added sugar.
In addition to the above-mentioned withdrawal symptoms you can experience when initially eliminating added sugar from your diet, it’s also possible to experience the following symptoms:
Depending on your sugar addiction and body weight, you can lose between 5 to 15 pounds during a 21-day sugar detox.
Drinking water is effective in helping the body remove excess glucose from the blood, particularly in people with diabetes. Additionally, in people having this condition, drinking water helps keep the blood rehydrated.
Drinking water also curbs your appetite by making you feel fuller and reducing your craving for sugary foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
In what follows, we’ve presented a list of foods containing no sugar or a small amount of it: