What to Expect When You Give Up Sugar for a Month
So, you’ve decided to do a no sugar month. Congrats! Deciding is the first step toward a successful self-experiment. It seems easy to skip over the candy, baked goods, and sodas, but it’s more complicated than you might think. Here are some common things to expect when you give up sugar.
Before we dive in, know that the difficult aspects of a no-sugar experiment are temporary, some lasting only a few days or less. Knowing that the benefits are just around the corner will help you get through it!
Expect to mess up
After the first few days of no sugar, you’ve eaten healthy, and you generally feel great about your food choices. Maybe you had high protein breakfasts, a veggie-heavy lunches, and a big salads for dinner. All is well until you casually scan the ingredients label on your dressing, and there it is, staring back at you: cane sugar. Oh, and that hot sauce you put on everything? Sugar is the second ingredient.
As it is, giving up sugar isn’t a matter of passing up the soda aisle and calling it good. It takes time to develop a sense of what food items contain sugar and which ones are good to go.
Tip: Read every label, and give yourself some grace! It’s okay and expected to mess up, especially as you’re learning. If you make an oops, you can pick up right where you left off.
Keep your baking addiction going by using a natural, plant-based cup-for-cup sugar substitute in place of sugar in your favorite recipes!
Possible sugar withdrawal symptoms
Sugar has been found to have similar properties to addictive substances, which could explain why many people have such a tough time quitting sugar.
And as with other addictions, researchers have found patterns of withdrawal in animals when restricting sugar.
The first day or two of eliminating added sugar from your diet are easy street. You store a fair amount of glycogen, which is stored glucose, in your liver and in your muscles. At the earliest stages, you are using up your supply, and you feel fine.
Then, when the glycogen runs out, it gets real.
When you first start experiencing the effects of cutting added sugar, the most noticeable symptoms involve your mental state. You could feel effects like:
- Feelings of anxiousness
- Sadness, or even weeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Cravings for sweet foods or carbohydrates, like bread, rice, and pasta
- Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
People coming off of high sugar consumption can even feel a few days of flu-like symptoms.
The good news is, it’s temporary! It can last a day, it can last a few days. But know that you’ll come out on the other side better than you were before.
Sugar and carb cravings
A few days into your no sugar month, you can expect sweets to call your name like never before.
What’s happening? Your brain runs on glucose, which is the form of sugar that your bloodstream delivers to your cells for energy. Your body gets glucose from sugar and carbohydrates. When your body is used to a plentiful supply of sugar, and your consumption drops suddenly, your body will start sending you signals to go get more sugar and carbs.
The beautiful thing is, humans can run on alternative energy sources. Our bodies can burn dietary fat for energy. Our bodies can dip into our stored energy (aka burn body fat) for energy, which is a common goal when starting a no sugar month anyway.
Your cravings will level out as your body adjusts to not having regular glucose surges.
Giving up sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets. Check out Lakanto® baking mixes, sweeteners, breakfast items, and even chocolate. Stock up and you’ll be ready when those cravings hit!
Depending on how much sugar you were consuming before your no sugar experiment, you may feel steadier energy once you get over the initial hill of giving up sugar.
Glucose (sugar) is quick energy, but it goes as quick as it comes. Your afternoon soda might give you a feeling of a quick pick-me-up, but it won’t last long. After the sugar runs through your system and the excess is stored as glycogen or body fat, you feel just as sluggish as you did before. And what do you do next? Grab something sweet!
When you give up sugar, you might find that after a few days, your energy feels more steady. When you don’t have the highs and lows of high sugar foods, your body gets energy from the quality protein, longer lasting carbohydrates, and healthy fats you’ve been eating. Some people report a reduced buzz-and-crash cycle and instead, more even energy throughout the day.
If you feel like you need an afternoon pick-me-up but you don’t want the sugar, mix up a matcha latte sweetened with monk fruit, which won’t put you on the spike-and-crash cycle like sugar-sweetened drinks might.
When you get off of the sugar rollercoaster, you tap into mental clarity that you don’t experience when your brain is busy telling you to go get more sugar. Once your body trusts that you’re properly fueled without sugary foods, you can devote that mental energy where it belongs – your work and your to-do lists.
Possibly less inflammation
It is well established that sugar is an inflammatory food, and since inflammation is at the root of a lot of health conditions, you might notice improvements in some struggles you’ve been having. You could see improvements in your skin, digestion, mood, and more.
Your results depend on how much sugar you were consuming to start, along with your individual inflammation levels and the effects it was having on your body. But when it comes to giving up added sugar, there aren’t any downsides. So, why not try it and see if you notice any improvements?