We quit sugar for 30 days and this is what happened
White, refined sugar is the root of all evil – that’s a common phrase among the healthy people who are conscious of what they put into their bodies. And while this is pretty true, another well-known fact is that sugar is added to almost everything and it’s hard for you to can’t escape it.
In this article, we’ll see why sugar has negative effects on our bodies and how our 30-day Sugar-free challenge went. The up and downs, the cravings, the results, the final thoughts and of course our recommendations.
Is Sugar Bad for You?
Yes, it is. Every research ever made on refined sugar comes to the same conclusion – we must avoid it as much as possible. It’s bad for our skin, teeth, heart, and liver. It might lead to weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and depression. And it doesn’t even have any nutritional value. You won’t get your daily dose of minerals, vitamins or micronutrients from sugar.
Even though some say you can eat 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day (6 for females and 9 for males), very few of us stick to this amount and consume more sugar. And that’s when the problems come. Sugar is added to almost everything that comes in a package or a box. It’s in almost anything you can get from a fast-food joint and is added to most beverages, too. So even if you think you just have a teaspoon in your coffee, the numbers add up pretty easily. Most of the time we don’t realize how much sugar the food we eat contains.
Is All Sugar Bad?
No, but you shouldn’t eat too much sugar even if it’s the ”healthy” kind. Fruits, for example, contain fructose which is healthy in moderate amounts. But fructose is also added to many other foods and that leads to some negative effects. Fruit sugar as it’s also famous as, while absorbed from fruits is easier to digest. Not only because it’s natural but because it’s very hard to overeat with fruits as they keep you full. The liver is the only organ that metabolizes a significant amount of fructose even though it’s used by almost every cell.
When fructose is in the form of added sugars, results may be quite dramatic. Levels of VLDL (that’s the bad cholesterol), insulin, and blood levels of uric acid can rise dramatically. These and more may come as a bonus to the weight gain and fat accumulation.
30-Day Sugar-Free Challenge
Reading and studying about all of this was leading us towards a hard challenge – 30 days without sugar. We have done other challenges before this one but this one was definitely the hardest – we love sweets. However, after all the December festivities and the huge amounts of chocolate we had then, we made the decision to just be brave and quit it! (For 30 days at least.)
What Did We Do?
The idea was to be as radical as possible and we excluded not only refined sugar but also fructose as well. No more chocolate (we are obsessed with Lindt), sweets, not even honey. We also removed most fruits (except for berries) from our diets.
We were left with veggies, berries as fruit, potatoes, nuts and homemade dishes which were all sugar-free. As Bulgarian yogurt is much better than every other yogurt on the market, it had a place on our table as well. Our main protein source was sugar-free, gluten-free, all organic protein powder.
What to Expect?
I thought that by radically removing all sugars from my life, I was going to go through the biggest body and brain transformation in my life. My energy levels would increase to the roof and I would sleep for 6 hours and feel fresh like a cucumber. My weight would reduce, as well as the fat levels, my skin would glow, and my brain would be like a Swiss watch. That’s what I thought…
What Happens after 30 days without Sugar?
The results, however, were not as impressive as I had imagined.
Yes, I lost 2 kilos while gaining a bit of muscle-mass but that could be due to the exhausting workouts. Without sugar, everything else tastes better and even the organic gluten-free protein excites me. But it’s good to know that even though some days can be hard, after the first week you will stop having any cravings for chocolate and etc.
Feeling full most of the time
When we don’t eat sugars, we generally eat healthier foods that keep us fed for a longer period. That’s why I didn’t have the constant need to snack on something. The need to finish your meal with something sweet also disappear in a couple of weeks.
When we can’t eat sugars, we have to think of something different. Quite some new foods are now in our arsenal because of this experiment. And there are tons of sugar-free recipes out there so you won’t have to eat only salad if you take on this challenge.
Feeling of missing out
When we have other people around us (especially our parents), it’s hard to explain why we do what we do. We had a few situations where we had to refuse a delicious-looking dish from a mother/grandmother because it had sugar in it. Everyone was calling us crazy and at times you feel the pressure to give in.
Fewer cravings after the challenge
Once you go through 30 days without sugar, your body adapts easier to the change. The cravings are less and even after the experiment is over, you don’t want as many sweets as you did before. It’s like a fresh restart of your body and you feel great about it.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The results were not as dramatic as I had hoped. There are a few days where you feel a bit down and mostly because of the habit you want something sweet to cheer you up. But that imaginary boost of energy is not worth the amount of refined sugar that you will get from a packaged dessert.
I tried to enjoy the process and I was hard on myself to be strict and to follow along. The experiment was successful for both of us and we will definitely do it again someday. However, with a few very significant changes.
What we found out we missed the most was not the chocolate itself or the incredible Swiss temptation Lindt. It was actually the healthy kind of sugar – bananas and honey. Sweets that are actually good for you in moderate amounts.
Our recommendations start with the simple logo – Just Do It. You need a little bit of research before that and to read the labels of everything you buy carefully, especially in the beginning. After you get used to the foods, everyday gets easier.
You don’t have to be that radical – you can include natural fructose but you can reduce the amount. For example, if you work-out bananas are good for you, but keep it one per day.