A common New Year’s resolution is cutting out sugar and all things bad. But what actually happens to your body when you cut out sugar and do we actually need some sugar in our system to have a balanced diet? 

Natural sugar can be found in a lot of food like fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, and even some grains. But manufacturers have started adding other forms of sugar into pre-packaged and processed food. An apple can have around 20grams of natural sugar but it is good for your health and an apple can satisfy your hunger. Whereas added sugars add extra calories but have no extra nutrition, they are essentially ‘empty calories’. If you are planning to cut out sugar you should do your research on what foods have additive sugars and which ones don’t.

Cutting out all sugar can be difficult since natural sugars are found in most foods and we don’t recommend cutting out all sugar in your diet since this can prevent you from having a balanced diet and can cause bad cravings which may cause you to binge. 

Your body uses enzymes in its small intestine to break down sugar into glucose. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem since glucose from carbohydrates are stored as energy sources which your body can use up when needed. But excess glucose will be converted to fat, which can then lead to weight gain if you aren’t watching how much sugar you are eating.

The first week

During the first week, you may face bad withdrawal symptoms these will most likely include headaches which are similar symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. You may feel other withdrawal symptoms but you need to remember that these are only temporary. If you have given up all sugar (including fruit) and you feel that you can’t shake these withdrawal symptoms try eating a piece of fruit to take the edge off. Studies have shown that when someone tries to cut out sugar from their diet you get similar effects too if you were coming off drugs which include symptoms of exhaustion, headaches, brain fog and irritability.

After the first week, your body will start to adjust to not having as much sugar in its system and the symptoms should start to clear up. You may also notice an improvement in your skin since you won’t be eating refined sugars which can trigger inflammation in the skin.

Benefits

Cutting out sugar can also improve your sleep over time. This is because foods that contain lots of sugar lowers your slow-wave sleep (SWS) so by eating less sugar it will reduce the number of times you wake up during the night. You may also lose weight when you cut out sugar but sugar itself doesn’t make you gain weight, eating an excessive amount of sugar will. If you are cutting out sugar to just lose weight don’t expect crazy results as cutting sugar is just one element that contributes to weight loss. 

Overall, cutting out sugar from your diet can have many health and lifestyle benefits but if you are looking to lose weight you may want to incorporate some form of exercise to help you along the way. You may feel some withdrawal symptoms at the start, depending on how much you used to rely on sugar but these will pass after a week or so and you will have more energy, clearer skin and be sleeping better.