What Happens to Your Body When You Give up Sugar?

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To put it plainly, Americans are addicted to sugar. The sweet substance is a staple of the Western diet, with sugar cravings being a normal part of the average person’s daily food intake. Over time, a sugar-laden diet can lead to a whole host of consequences, including weight gain, excess belly fat, diabetes, and even increases your risk for heart disease. 

While it may be easier said than done, cutting sugar out of your diet and replacing it with nutrient-dense foods can have a dramatic impact on your overall health. Making this change can have near-immediate effects on your well-being, but let’s go into further detail on how giving up sugar affects your body.

For those who regularly treat themselves to a sugary drink, snack, or meal, giving up sugar will likely be a tough challenge to overcome. Sugar, after all, is addictive. When giving up something your body is addicted to, there will be a rough transition period where symptoms will include exhaustion, headaches, brain fog, and irritability. Just as someone who goes through withdrawals from drugs, giving up sugar will have similar effects. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Consuming sugar signals your brain to release dopamine and serotonin, the hormones that are responsible for pleasure. This constant activation of the body’s reward system will have your body becoming used to the consistent temporary boosts of feeling good. If you give up sugar, your body will notice it’s no longer being given those shots of feel-good hormones, which will lead to unpleasant withdrawal for both your body and brain. Thankfully, these effects are only temporary, and after a week or so, you will begin to improve your energy levels and overall mood.

Eliminating sugar from your diet can also have a distinct effect on your sleep quality. While it won’t solve all of your sleep problems, you may notice a change in falling into a deeper sleep more often. Sugary diets can have an impact on your degree of slow-wave sleep, which is the restorative sleep that helps you remember memories and information learned throughout the day. It can also help reduce the number of times you wake up during the night, leading to better sleep quality over time. 

Having a diet high in refined sugars gives your body ample opportunity to store the sugar you don’t need as fat. While we eat throughout the day to refuel our energy levels, this includes consuming carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates get broken down into sugars like glucose, but by adding extra refined sugars to our daily diet, we are getting far more sugar than our body needs for fuel. With all that extra sugar floating around, it will eventually be converted into fat. Cutting out sugar will have a powerful impact on your fat storage, slowing it down to a rate where you will be able to maintain a healthy weight. 

With products loaded with refined sugars lining the shelves of grocery stores, it can be hard to completely up the sweet stuff. Even when you do give it up, it’s an uphill battle to overcome the withdrawals. However, the benefits of giving up sugar are clear and can be worth it if you’re willing to make the sacrifice. 

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