benefits of quitting sugar

Most of us know these days, that we should be cutting back our sugar intake. It can be hard to do though if you don’t know where sugar is hiding. Believe me, it is everywhere. But do you know how many other benefits there are to quitting sugar?

It’s also beneficial to your health to cut back on refined and processed carbohydrates.

Did you know carbs are converted to sugar
in your body in order to be processed?

But today, we are talking about sugar.

Hidden Sugar

Our diets have changed immensely in the last 200-300 years. In the ‘olden days’ we used to have 2kg of sugar per person per year. Sugar was a luxury only the rich could afford.

The average Australian now eats 14-16 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The recommended daily limit for added sugar for adults advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is 5 teaspoons per day.

supermarket shelf

Sugar is readily available these days as it is added to most of the processed and packaged foods you find on the supermarket shelf. Many of these foods are marketed as being ‘healthy’ but are far from it.

Avoid processed foods and you will
significantly reduce your sugar intake.

How to Calculate Added Sugar

There are 4.2g of sugar in one teaspoon. To calculate added sugar in foods you divide the sugar content by 4.2.

So, if you ate 100g of Cadbury chocolate which has 53.1g of sugar per 100g you would have eaten 12.64 teaspoons of added sugar. That 100g of chocolate is half sugar!
53.1 divided by 4.2 = 12.64

Examples of Added Sugar

Here are just a few examples of how sugar is hidden in the food you buy. This illustrates 3 basic meals in one day.

Kelloggs Sultana Bran – 29g of sugar per 100g = 6.9 teaspoons of sugar
Milk for your cereal – 2 teaspoons of sugar
350ml Glass of orange juice – 7.6g per 100ml = 6.3 teaspoons of sugar
Ham salad sandwich – 6 teaspoons of sugar
Sausages and mashed potato for dinner – 10 teaspoons of sugar

cereal bowl

This is just a small illustration of how quickly sugar can add up in your day. Now, there are no added snacks or chips, or biscuits in the above illustration yet it still shows that with a perceived ‘healthy’ 3 meals a day you have consumed 31.2 added teaspoons of sugar.

It’s important to know how to read food labels so you can make smarter choices about what you are buying in the supermarket.

lady reading food label

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

The simplest solution is to stop eating processed and packaged foods such as bread, grains, cereals. And focus on real, whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. This includes animal meat, low-carb fruit and vegetables.

Benefits of Quitting Sugar

There are many health benefits to quitting sugar beyond weight loss. Let’s take a look at the big ones.

1. Improved Sleep

Sugar decreases the absorption of magnesium which is an important electrolyte we need for a good night’s sleep. Sugar also influences how deep we sleep as well as restlessness.

benefit of quitting sugar - better sleep

2. Clearer Skin

Excess sugar can cause breakouts, redness, premature wrinkles and reduced elasticity. It can also hinder collagen production. Cut the sugar and your skin will glow.

3. Clear Mind

Quitting sugar means no more brain fog. Your blood sugar levels stay consistent throughout the day which helps with focus and concentration.

4. No Cravings

The sugar addiction cycle is real. You eat sugar, your blood sugar levels spike, then they fall rapidly. This creates hunger and cravings for more sugar and the cycle is repeated. Our body has no natural ‘off’ switch for sugar. We don’t get a signal for when we’ve had enough as we do with protein or fat.

quit sugar - donuts

5. No Hunger Pangs

Did you know sugar stimulates your appetite? If you ditch the sweet stuff, you’ll find you won’t be hungry all the time.

6. More Energy

No sugar means no hormonal rollercoaster rides. You’ll have more stable energy levels and no mid-afternoon slumps. This means no desire to go looking for a sugary pick-me-up!

7. Weight Loss

Sugar is full of empty calories and has no nutritional value. Eating sugary foods regularly will mess with your body’s insulin production. Insulin resistance leads to fat storage.

quit sugar - weight loss

8. Improved Mental Health

Many studies have found a link between diets high in sugar and depression1. Eating too much sugar triggers imbalances in certain brain chemicals. These imbalances can lead to depression2. Reducing your sugar intake also decreases anxiety, mood swings and gives you more mental focus.

9. Improved Relationship with Food

Are you an emotional eater? Rather than reaching for the chocolate or ice-cream for that dopamine hit, try a sugar-free treat instead. Or distract yourself until the craving passes. After the sugar-high comes the inevitable crash, making you feel worse than before. You’ll experience more hunger, irritability, headache, fatigue, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.

10. Improved Digestion and Gut Health

Sugar can seriously mess with your gut microbiome. Gut bacteria ferment carbohydrates, including sugar. Reducing sugar intake means a reduction in bloating and gas.

11. Reduced Risk of Metabolic Diseases

Removing added sugar from your diet means less pressure on your cardiovascular system. Your pancreas gets a break from continually producing insulin day after day which eventually leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance will often lead to type 2 diabetes.

12. No Joint Pain

Insulin is also a driver for inflammation. Reducing sugar keeps your insulin in check. Many modern diseases are caused by chronic inflammation. Including autoimmune diseases, arthritis, PCOS and other inflammatory conditions.

13. Lower Blood Pressure

Reducing your sugar intake will most likely improve your high cholesterol and blood sugar.

As you can see there are many health benefits to quitting sugar. Just remember to eat real food rather than processed ones and you’ll be well on your way to living as healthy a life as possible without all that excess sugar.

It can be hard to kick the habit. But, just remember how you feel whenever you eat sugar. The headaches, 3pm slumps, lack of concentration, lethargy. There are lots of reasons to kick it to the curb.

  1. Dietary patterns and depressive symptoms in middle age
  2. Sugar intake and depression
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