Quitting sugar is, without doubt, the best thing you can do for your body.
In my guide The Nine Science-Backed Reasons to Quit Sugar Now I showed the research proving that sugar is directly responsible for damaging your body in nine extremely serious ways, specifically increasing your risk of:
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Rapid Weight Gain
- Hormonal Imbalance (specifically insulin, cortisol, ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin)
- Excess Acidity (particularly uric acid)
- Premature Ageing
- Liver Disease
- Alzheimer’s (and other brain diseases)
Yes, all of these are directly correlated to sugar intake.
In fact – this study attributed over 180,000 deaths per year just from excessive soda consumption.
BUT it can be EVEN MORE MOTIVATING to point out some of the amazing POSITIVE benefits that occur when you quit sugar, as well as the sickness, disease and conditions you’ll be avoiding!
The Six Most Amazing Things That Happen When You Quit Sugar
#1. Weight Loss
For decades we’ve been lied to, repeatedly told that eating fat makes you fat and that a calorie is a calorie, no matter where it comes from.
This has led to a food industry that has stripped fat out of everything and replaced it with sugar.
Everything packaged now contains a HUGE amount of sugar, meaning that the average person is now consuming over 300% more sugar than is safe every day – and little to no healthy fat.
As David Gillespie, author of the bestselling ‘Sweet Poison’ states:
“There are more than 3,500 scientific papers backing up the idea that it’s sugar, not fat intake, that’s our problem,”
David himself lost six stone (84lbs / 38kgs) over twelve months simply by quitting sugar.
Why? Because sugar causes rapid weight gain in four interlinked ways:
Elevated blood sugar not only has a huge knock on effect with insulin (see below) but it also completely disrupts your body’s regulation of the hunger hormones: ghrelin, leptin and adiponectin.
Adiponectin is the hormone that tells your body to burn fat for fuel. The more you have in your bloodstream the less likely you are to have excess body fat. Sugar suppresses this hormone. Studies have shown that the higher the person’s BMI, the less adiponectin is in the bloodstream.
Leptin and Ghrelin are responsible for letting your body know you are hungry, and that you are full. When you have excess sugar intake your leptin levels (that signal fullness) drops, and your ghrelin levels (that signal hunger) rises. It’s all backwards.
This is your hormones telling you to eat more, eat more often and then store fat. It’s no wonder hormone imbalance is the biggest cause of weight gain – and sugar is the biggest cause of hormone imbalance!
Fructose Turned to Fat
Almost all commonly used sugars are 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Glucose is the lesser of the two evils as it can be metabolised by lots of different cells in the body. But only the liver can metabolise fructose. And it is easily overloaded. Once it is overloaded, the fructose is converted and stored directly as fat.
Now, we consume a lot of table sugar, white sugar, brown sugar – which are all 50% fructose. But food manufacturers use almost exclusively fructose (think High Fructose Corn Syrup) in everything, from pasta sauce, to soda, to yoghurt, to salad dressings. Meaning a lot of our sugar intake is 100% fructose! No wonder we’re getting bigger.
As I detailed in my guide on why you need to quit sugar last week:
“Sugar messes with your insulin levels, making you insulin resistant.
When we eat a sugar-rich meal, or suck down a soda, glucose levels go up.
When there is excess glucose in the body, the body recognises this as toxic and rapidly releases insulin to clear the glucose from the bloodstream and into your cells.
Without insulin our blood would easily become toxic.
With a health balanced diet this mechanism works perfectly, as it has evolved to do.
However, we’ve broken this mechanism with our modern, sad western diet – packed full of sugar, carbs and grains that spike blood sugar like nothing else.
When the system is broken cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, meaning the body has to produce more to get the same effect. And then because you become resistant (insulin resistant) you have to make more, and more, and more…
The worse it gets, the worse it gets.
This is what leads to type 2 diabetes.
Aside from clearing glucose from the bloodstream, insulin is also responsible for sending signals to our fat cells telling these cells to collect fat from the bloodstream, store it and to avoid burning the fat that is already being carried.
So guess what happens when we have a ton of excess insulin in the body all of the time?
When insulin levels are chronically elevated, much of the energy in our bloodstream gets deposited as fat and stored.”
Sugar causes insulin resistance, full stop. Insulin resistance rapidly leads to a lot of fat storage, full stop.
Get off the sugar!
Inflammation Causing Visceral Fat Formation
When you become insulin resistant your body will now need to produce more insulin to manage the sugar in your bloodstream. This has a knock on effect and it snowballs. The more insulin resistant you are, the more insulin you need to produce. This overstimulates your immune response as your body needs to deal with the excessive insulin in your system. The over-stimulated immune response causes massive inflammation – and inflammation leads to the accumulation of visceral fat (the toughest to get rid of!).
And guess what happens when you have extra visceral fat? Your body becomes less responsive to insulin…meaning more insulin needs to be produced…
And this is on top of all of the other issues above contributing in their own way to fat production and storage!
When you quit sugar these four things begin to subside immediately.
They don’t immediately become 100% fixed, but the benefits start to be felt and seen right away, getting better and better over the next few weeks.
Insulin levels will return to normal, hormones will start to rebalance, inflammation will start to subside, and because fructose will be consumed at levels the body can handle, there will not be this rapid fat formation.
If you replace the sugar with healthy fats – you will see these benefits double, as metabolism speeds and the pancreas starts to be able to access stored fat for energy again instead of glucose as it’s first port of call.
Eat more fat, eat less sugar and thrive!
#2. Clear Skin
According to NutritionSecrets.com:
“In a process known as glycation, sugar attaches to the collagen in our skin and other parts of the body. This causes inflammation and reduces the effectiveness of both collagen and elastin, the proteins in our skin that help it stay youthful. When these don’t work so well, your skin no longer looks supple and youthful. Instead it begins to look dull, dry and…old!”
This has been proven.
Research published in the medical journal ‘Age’ studied 600 men and women and found that those who had higher serum blood sugar levels had a higher perceived age than those with lower blood sugar.
In other words, the more sugar we consume, the older we look.
When you quit sugar, the inflammation disappears and the collagen can work as normal again, reducing fine lines, allowing more elasticity and giving you more of the youthful look.
In an indirect sense, sugar causes huge oxidation in the body, reducing the length of our telomeres, rapidly speeding the ageing process from the inside out.
You’ve just got to quit the white stuff if you want to keep your youthful appearance for as long as possible.
Related Guide: Lemon & Ginger Scrub for Dry Skin
#3. Better Moods & Clearer Thinking
Sugar seriously disrupts proper brain functioning. According to Jordan Gaines Lewis at TheConversation.com:
“repeated access to sugar over time leads to prolonged dopamine signalling, greater excitation of the brain’s reward pathways and a need for even more sugar to activate all of the midbrain dopamine receptors like before. The brain becomes tolerant to sugar – and more is needed to attain the same “sugar high”.
It literally is physically addictive, and withdrawals from sugar, the same as any other addictive drug, lead to foggy thinking, mood swings, memory loss and more…until you get your next hit.
Sugar has also been proven to elevate cortisol levels, the stress hormone, leading you to feel anxious and stressed even when there is nothing to stress about!
According to Dr Robert Lustig in his book Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar:
’It’s no coincidence that desserts spelled backwards is stressed…Cortisol (a hormone we release in response to stress) specifically increases our desire for comfort foods. Over several years, prolonged cortisol release leads to excessive intake of high-fat and high-sugar foods.’
Recent research from the American Academy of Neurology involving 263k people showed that “consuming sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults”.
And according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry – diets highest in processed foods (which they found were heavily loaded with sweet foods) had a 58 percent increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods — think veggies, fruits and fish – had a reduced risk for depression of 26 percent.
When you give up sugar, this disappears and in it’s place comes clearer thinking, better, more stable moods, sustained mental energy and more positivity.
Related Guide: How Chronic Stress Effects the Brain
#4. No More Fatigue, Aches, Pains, Colds, Flu…
Sugar is possibly the most pro-inflammation food you can consume.
And in your body’s response to this inflammation visceral fat accumulates around your abdomen, which leads to a powerful immune response, where your immune system gets hyper-stimulated.
And when your immune system is stimulated, this triggers the body to create MORE inflammation, more visceral fat, more immune responses, more inflammation…
It’s a vicious cycle.
And this is when things start to get really bad, because when this abdominal fat accumulates it causes your body to respond much less effectively to insulin creating what’s called “insulin resistance”.
This means that the pancreas must produce even more insulin to break down your body’s high blood sugar and eventually a vicious cycle happens inside your body:
High blood sugar…
Leading to increased insulin resistance…
Leading to increased insulin production…
Leading to a over-stimulated immune response…
Which leads to huge inflammation…
Which then leads to increased visceral fat…
Which leads to MORE insulin resistance…
More insulin production…
And so on…
Eventually leaving your immune system seriously compromised, your body inflamed and leaving you open to a myriad of autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vasculitis and more.
So the inflammation caused by the sugar consumption is directly at fault for a weakened overworked immune system and excessive aches, pains, fatigues and coughs, colds & flu.
But when you stop the sugar consumption, the inflammation disappears!
The digestive system starts to heal, the immune system stops being automatically triggered, your blood sugar levels and insulin levels return to normal – and you begin to return to balance.
And when you’re in balance you thrive – with natural, sustained, all-day energy and vitality.
It all starts with quitting sugar…
#5. Other Food Cravings Disappear
According to Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame, sugar, or more specifically fructose (remember, most sugars are 50% glucose, 50% fructose) is responsible for ALL food cravings:
1. Fructose keeps us hungry:
Fructose stuffs with our appetite mechanisms. Once ingested, fructose doesn’t stimulate the release of the hormone leptin, which is the hormone that suppresses hunger once we’ve eaten enough, so we are kept hungry.
2. Fructose makes us eat more:
This is because fructose actually raises levels of the hormone ghrelin, giving us a rumbling tummy and increasing our appetite. We can eat and eat and never feel satisfied when our diet is full of fructose.
3. Fructose is highly addictive:
In fact, sugar has been said to be more addictive than cocaine! One study found that the intense sweetness from fructose stimulates the release of opiates in the body. Opiates control our reward behaviours, so we’re addicted and need to come back for more.
When you quit sugar, your other cravings will disappear too!
Related Guide: 10 Ways to Banish Sugar Cravings
#6. More Restful, Restorative, Peaceful Sleep
According to Mercola sugar consumption and elevated blood sugar levels will almost certainly lead to sleep difficulties:
…this will optimize your blood sugar, insulin and leptin levels and contribute to overall good health and restful sleep. Specifically, avoiding food for at least three hours before bed will lower your blood sugar during sleep and help minimize damage from too much sugar floating around. Additionally, it will jumpstart the glycogen depletion process so you can shift to fat-burning mode.
And it is a vicious cycle, because when you are deprived of sleep, your leptin and ghrelin levels (the hunger hormones) go wildly out of whack.
Your leptin levels (that signal fullness) drops, and your ghrelin levels (that signal hunger) rises!
According to this study, people who were sleep deprived for just two nights saw an 18% reduction in leptin and a 28% increase in ghrelin! Double whammy!
Sugar makes you sleep deprived, and being sleep deprived makes you crave sugar!
And this is further impacted by the fact that your brain is fuelled by glucose – so when there is a lack of sleep your brain cannot respond properly to insulin – making it crave more sugar just to keep you going!
Researchers have also found an association between obstructive sleep apnea and increased blood sugar levels, with severity of the sleep disorder being linked with increased levels of sugar consumption.
When you quit sugar, stabilise your blood sugar and insulin levels and balance your hormones (remember, sugar messes with your cortisol levels – the stress hormone that will also keep you up at night) and make restful, uninterrupted sleep a certainty.