Here’s a not-so-fun fact for you: sugar is addictive and toxic in a lot of ways. Even worse is that it’s in a lot of the food we buy.
It’s largely why we’re seeing a huge spike in obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses. It’s also why cutting out sugar and carbs, or at least most of it, away from your daily diet is so, so hard to do.
The good news is there are ways on how to completely detox your body from sugar in only 7 days. One of them, and probably the most important, is making that decision. You being here probably already means you did. So, kudos to you!
Still, there’s more to be done and my goal is to give you the information you need to help you flush all that sugar away from your system.
In this article, I’ll give you 13 ways you can do just that, as well as answer some of the questions you might have about sugar, starting with:
Why is quitting sugar so hard?
One reason is that it acts sort of like drugs. That’s why it’s been commonly compared to cocaine and heroin.
In fact, an actual scientific research has made that association and suggests that excessive sugar intake has similar effects as drugs when it comes to the reward system of your brain (i.e. dopamine pathways).
Basically, you feel happy or “high” when you eat sugar but the more sugar you eat, the more your brain becomes more tolerant. Consequently, it releases less dopamine overtime, making you want sugar even more, sometimes to the point of dependency.
That’s the addiction cycle in a nutshell.
Another reason is chronic stress.
Regardless of what form it takes, long-term stress amplifies the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Per study, elevated levels of this hormone seems to tell your body to specifically crave sugary and fatty food.
So, the longer you stay stressed, the longer those sugar cravings persist which, by the way, may just as easily evolve to dependency.
What happens to your body when you stop eating sugar?
Well, since sugar acts like a drug of sorts, quitting it will likely give you the same side effects as quitting the illegal substance. Initially, the common side effects include:
- Mood swings
Sometimes, quitting sugar might even come with anxiety and depression.
I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s easy. It probably won’t, especially if you’ve been dependent on sugar for a long time. What I will tell you, however, is that these side effects won’t last.
After about 7 days, you’re going to start feeling better. You’ll feel more energetic, your mood will stabilize, and you’ll be happier. You might even lose weight and stop craving sugar.
I guess that’s enough questions and answers for now.
Here’s how to detox your body from sugar:
1. Quit cold turkey
Just. Like. That.
I’ve seen people, some of them are even my friends, quit drugs the same day they told themselves they’d stop — and they stayed sober ever since. You can do the same thing with sugar, too.
Here’s the thing though: this doesn’t mean you stop eating carbs and sweets altogether.
Rather, this means you should stop eating junk food, processed and packaged food, and even low-carb food with artificial sweeteners. These foods have a lot of sugar in them, some in plain site while others are hidden away.
Plus, there’s plenty of sweet whole foods that are actually good for you. Which brings us to…
2. Eat more fruit
“Wait, fruit? Aren’t they loaded with sugar?”
Well, yes. Also, sugar is sugar and it’s the same calories every time.
But here’s the thing though: Fruit isn’t just sugar. It’s whole food, meaning there’s fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in there, too.
The fact that those nutrients are naturally part of fruit makes it painstakingly hard to consume excess sugar from just fruits alone. The fiber alone makes you feel full faster and for a longer time, so you inherently eat less sugar (and calories).
Plus, the World Health Organization specifically mentions “free sugar” — the kind that’s artificially added to processed food and drinks — in their guidelines on unhealthy weight gain. This does not include the sugar that’s naturally found in whole food.
So, anytime those sugar cravings hit after you quit, have an apple instead.
3. Drink more water
I’ve had people ask me, “can you flush out sugar by drinking water?”
Yes but there’s more to it you need to know.
Drinking water inevitably also creates more urine and some of your excess sugar will come out with it. That’s basically how your kidneys filter out toxins.
But I think the best part about water is that it helps stop you from taking too much sugar in the first place — and when you’re detoxing, that’s vital.
We’ve got a piece on how to lose weight by drinking more water that I highly recommend you read but, essentially, doing so will help you eat less food because it curbs your appetite (particularly if you drink it before meals). And with less food, you inherently put less sugar in your system.
4. Get 7-10 hours of sleep
According to the SleepFoundation, teenagers and adults will need anywhere between 7-10 hours of sleep per day. But what happens when you don’t?
A study says that lack of sleep results in higher levels of cortisol, increased hunger and appetite, as well as decreased glucose tolerance.
Remember when I said stress and high levels of cortisol make you want to eat more sugary food? Apparently, sleep deprivation can lead to that, too. And, needless to say, so does hunger.
So, if you truly wanted to sober up from your sugar addiction, counting sheep definitely works.
5. Sweat it out
And by that, I mean with exercise.
I don’t think you need me to tell you about the benefits of regular exercise but what I will tell you is that a lot of those same benefits help rid your body of unnecessary sugar.
For instance, Johns Hopkins Medicine says that moderate aerobic exercise helps you get better quality sleep. Although, you might want to avoid exercising when it’s close to bedtime as it may end up making falling asleep more of a challenge.
Also, research shows that moderate- to high-intensity exercise lowers cortisol levels at night. Meaning, you’re more relaxed and get better sleep, and you crave less of those notorious midnight snacks.
Another benefit of exercise that’ll help you cope with the side effects of sugar detox is that it improves mood. Plus, exercise alone requires energy, so you’re essentially burning sugar when you do it.
You don’t necessarily have to go straight to the gym though. Start slow with walking 15-20 minutes per day and move on from there.
6. Take up a hobby
This is serious advice. Research has shown that you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices whenever you’re bored. Of course, this includes snacks with ungodly amounts of sugar.
So, keep yourself busy with a hobby.
Not just any hobby though. Do something you actually enjoy. Because if you don’t, well… you get stressed and you end up craving sugar anyway.
For me, it’s learning new musical instruments, cooking, and just straight up annoying my wife and dogs (lol).
7. Don’t drink your sugar (and calories)
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), drinks are the leading source of added sugars with soft drinks unsurprisingly at the forefront.
In fact, a can of soft drinks already packs 9 teaspoons of sugar. If you’re a woman, you’ve already gone overboard and if you’re a man, that amount of sugar is your limit (per the AHA) and we both know you’re having more sugar elsewhere.
And you know what else is loaded with sugar? Energy drinks. Fruit juice. Beer. That coffee you just picked up at Starbucks.
What I’m trying to say is if it’s liquid and it’s flavored, keep a safe distance.
8. Eat just the right amount of protein
Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates, so eating more of it will help you fight your sugar cravings. This advice has been said probably a million times and it makes sense, too. The more protein you eat, the less hungry you become. And when you’re not hungry all the time, you eat less sugar.
However, this also doesn’t mean that you solely eat protein. Protein has its limits, too.
Per the protein leverage hypothesis (LPH), the satiating effects of protein stops when your body realizes it’s had enough of it. So, when you’ve had your fair share of protein, eating more of it won’t make you less hungry.
On that note, what you can eat more of when you’ve maxed out the benefits of protein is fiber. This brings us to the next tip on how to completely detox your body from sugar in only 7 days.
9. Eat more fiber veggies but avoid the starchy kind
Vegetables are generally rich in fiber. As previously mentioned, this can ultimately help you stop eating excess sugar.
However, not all vegetables are equal and it’s all because of starch.
Like fiber, starch is another type of carbohydrate found in vegetables. The difference, however, is that your body can digest starch whereas it can’t process fiber. Essentially, this means starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn have more influence on your blood sugar. You’re going to want to avoid those while you’re detoxing.
On that note, load up on green leafy vegetables instead. Broccoli, celery, and mushrooms work, too. These vegetables are high in fiber but generally have fewer carbohydrates.
10. Fat is your friend
But not just any type of fat. You’re specifically going to want unsaturated fat (i.e. “good” fat).
Per research, this healthy kind of fat promotes satiety which can help you eat less calories and, hopefully, less sugar. Moreover, the same study found that polyunsaturated fat had a more intense influence on fullness compared to the monounsaturated kind.
Regardless, both types will make you feel less hungry whereas saturated fat (i.e. “bad” fat), especially those with added sugar, will only do the opposite.
So, in the context 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 dropping carbs.
11. Try not to use artificial sweeteners
When you’re trying to bring down the axe on sugar, you might be inclined to replace it with artificial sweeteners instead. I’m telling you right now: DON’T.
While they may have significantly less carbs and calories, artificial sweeteners can actually make you even more hungry according to research.
So, that diet coke you just bought? It’s not helping. In fact, that might make things worse. Have plain water or milk instead.
12. Have an emergency food pack
This will likely be one of the most important pieces of advice that I need you to remember.
During the 7 days that your body is detoxing, it will undergo uncomfortable changes that you’re going to feel.
Particularly if you’ve already messed up your insulin sensitivity from eating too much sugar over an extended amount of time, you will experience sharp drops in blood sugar. This might come with headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, and/or hunger.
When this happens, you need to have some sort of food pack or snack ready. Fill your pack with foods rich in protein, healthy fat, and fiber. When I went through this, my pack had nuts, meat jerky, and fresh fruit but feel free to experiment with what suits your preferences.
13. Relax and be happy
In other words, don’t stress. If you’re already stressed, then destress.
Stressing over things you can’t control will only elevate your cortisol levels and make you crave sugary food, so don’t.
Instead, distract yourself with things that make you feel happy and relaxed. Exercise, a hobby, and sleep — some of the previously mentioned ways to detox your body from sugar — will certainly help but you could also go on a long drive to the beach, go camping, or whatever it is that fills your soul.
In a nutshell, the best way you can free yourself from the proverbial chains of sugar is to eat a healthy balanced diet. This means replacing the junk and packaged food you were so used to with nutritious whole food that’s packed with protein, healthy fat, fiber, and yes, a little bit of sugar. Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of water, too!
Also, you need to keep your stress levels under control. Chronic stress might actually be the leading cause of why you’re so hooked on sugar in the first place. So get some sleep and stop worrying too much.
Aaaand… this is where I take my leave. If you know other people who might need help controlling their sugar intake, don’t hesitate to share this with them.