I am a marketing professional from India holding a postgraduate degree in Management. I am a health-conscious individual.
I am always fickle on health matters. I try many new things but often give up midway without going the full distance. Therefore, most of my friends and family never took my sugar-free diet seriously.
However, things are slowly changing, as I have stayed off sugar for over four months; my resolve is only getting stronger with every passing day.
I only stayed away from added sugar. I keep off any concentrated and man-made form of sugar. I stay off white crystal sugar, jaggery, palm sugar, and fruit juices. Natural sugars in their original form, as found in fruits and other foods, are perfectly fine with me.
The 3 Benefits of Quitting Sugar
- Improved energy levels.
- Weight loss.
- Better sleep.
I have attempted to look at the science behind sugar addiction. Please note that I am not a medical professional. I am merely a health enthusiast.
1. Improved Energy Levels
This is the huge benefit for one to feel it to believe it. It is normal for most people to feel a bit tired in the late afternoon hours. I used to have such problems and I would often dismiss it as an inevitable outcome of ageing or other lifestyle factors.
Nowadays, I do not feel tired at all and there is no drained out feeling either. My energy levels stay consistent from morning till evening. Sugar is usually associated with instant energy, but the absence of it makes me feel more energetic. I know this sounds paradoxical.
So my inquisitive mind started searching for answers. I found the answer in the connection that exists between blood sugar levels and insulin secretion. Whenever we take chocolates or other sweet stuff, our blood sugar shoots up. Our body has an inherent control mechanism by releasing insulin to contain the blood sugar level. Insulin also helps in converting glucose into energy.
What happens from now on is interesting. The high blood sugar level drops as the pancreas secretes more and more insulin. The secreted insulin continues to be at an elevated level even after the blood sugar drops back to normal levels. This results in blood sugar level dropping further to below normal levels. This is when we feel tired and crave for more sweet stuff.
When we have another sweet, we would feel better and the cycle starts all over again. A person addicted to sugar would not always have high blood sugar levels as one would expect. His blood sugar level would vary oscillating between a very high and a very low level. This wild oscillations in sugar level become the cause and effect of sugar addiction.
Without added sugar, there is perfect harmony and balance in our body as the insulin secretion would be only moderate. There are no major spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. This explains why we feel good when we stay off added sugar.
2. Weight Loss
I am not an obese man by any definition of the word. I used to weigh around 68 kg or 150 lbs before I started my diet experiment. Now I weigh 64 kg or 141 lbs. It is not a significant reduction, but I never needed one. Much of this reduction has happened around my belly area and so this is a welcome change.
There is a direct correlation between insulin levels and obesity. The more insulin the body has, the more fat that it accumulates. The weight gain would not be uniform and concentrated around the belly area. So if you have not thought of quitting yet, quit now for this one reason.
3. Better Sleep
This is a positive effect I had felt soon after quitting sugar. I used to sleep for just five hours a day. This has improved to five and a half hours per day now. I hope that this could touch six hours soon.
Another important benefit in this diet experiment is the improved quality of sleep. I get up feeling fresh these days. Earlier, I used to I get up with a heavier feeling or tiredness.
A sugar-free diet is also expected to promote hair growth and arrest hair loss. However, I am yet to see a noticeable change in reversing hair loss. I have probably started this diet too late in my life (late forties). I guess giving up the sweet stuff earlier could have helped. Anyway, there are so many other benefits for me to feel good.
Blood Sugar Levels and Insulin
I was sharing my diet experience recently with an elderly couple who are our family friends. They are a couple in their sixties known to us for over two decades. Among the two, the husband does not bother much about his diet, whereas his wife used to be very watchful of her diet. When they both had recently done a fasting blood sugar test, the sugar level was found to be higher for the aunt as compared to the uncle.
Narrating the tests, he told me, "One should not take such diets seriously. See, my fasting blood sugar level was lower than that of my wife. She is the one who avoids sweet stuff and I don't. Probably, one need not abstain from food that they enjoy."
I asked him about the doctor's assessment of the reasons for such a difference. The doctor did not seem to share any specific reason for the same.
This sets my mind thinking. A person addicted to sweet stuff is like a factory producing insulin at a faster pace. While performing a fasting blood sugar test, he would not have had any food or sweet stuff for a long time. With a higher load of insulin because of his sugar addiction, it is natural that his blood sugar level would drop faster than someone who is not addicted to sugary stuff.
The blood test results could mislead without taking into account how much it fluctuates and our food habits.
Temptations and Cravings
The cravings have completely disappeared now. I no longer miss sweets, chocolates, ice creams or pastries. The world is a generous place with enough sweet stuff that we don't need added sugar.
Fruits, sweet potato, yogurt and tomato taste sweeter now than before. My taste buds have become a lot more sensitive and appreciative of the good things in life. I love my coffee without sugar these days. I hope to stay this way forever. I wish you can quit sugar today and make your life sweeter.
How does one know if there is a need to quit sugar?
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Do you feel tired during the course of the day?
- Do you feel good after taking a soft drink, chockalate or other sweet stuff?
- Do you often get up in the morning feeling groggy?
Interpreting Your Score
If you got 0 correct answers: You are doing fine and may not need a major dietary change.
If you got 1 correct answer: You can consider quitting sugar for a better health. You are doing fine anyways.
If you got 2 correct answers: You should quit sugar.
If you got 3 correct answers: You must definitely consider quitting sugar at once.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Please share your valuable feedback.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on January 10, 2019:
Kenna, I agree exercise is important. I am a bit on and off in following my exercise schedule. This is an area that I would try to achieve better consistency this year.
Kenna McHugh from Northern California on January 09, 2019:
It sounds like your time off sugar is paying off in dividends. I am happy for you. I eat well, so sugar has never been an issue. I eat fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. Exercise is important, too.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on December 29, 2018:
Eurofile, great decision by you to stay off added sugar. I avoid fruit juices too as they are concentrated forms of sugar. I am fine with natural sugar in its original form. That never affects our system like added sugar does. Trying to quit natural sugars or carbs make quitting added sugar harder. Imagine having to eliminate fruits, rice and wheat from our diet! I guess it is enough if one quits added sugar.
Liz Westwood from UK on December 28, 2018:
This is an interesting article at a time when the negative aspect of sugar is being more widely reported. I stopped adding sugar many years ago in drinks or to cereals and have not bought granulated sugar for a very long time. Now the spotlight is beginning to shine on natural sugar as well. Fruit juice is being highlighted as high in sugar.