According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men should limit their daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (about 36 g or 150 calories), while women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (about 25 g or 100 calories) daily.(1)
Guess how much sugar Americans eat?
The CDC estimates that men eat about 19 teaspoons while women get about 14 teaspoons daily, and that’s more than twice the safe limit in both cases.(2)
Excess sugar consumption is a significant health problem, as many studies have found a link between high added sugar intake and increased risk of a wide range of different health issues:
- Excess weight and obesity
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Cognitive decline
- Some types of cancer
Long story short, it’s essential to limit your intake of this ”sweet death” and do a quick sugar detox every once in a while to help your body minimize the damage done. A sugar detox is a short 7-day period of total abstinence from all foods and drinks with added sugar. During this week, your body will have enough time and energy to cleanse itself and reset sugar dependence, giving way for healthier habits to form.
Here’s everything you need to know for a successful 7-day sugar detox.
Sugar Detox Prep
To ensure your sugar detox will be as smooth and pleasant as possible, you’ll need to prepare a few things beforehand.
1. Get ready for daily sessions of intense exercise
Studies indicate that short sessions of moderate to intense physical activity significantly reduce sugar cravings, especially in overweight people.(3)
Check the condition of your running sneakers, wipe the dust off your yoga mat, maybe invest in a fitness tracker. What’s your preferred kind of physical activity? Get ready to practice it daily during your 7-day sugar detox!
2. Throw away artificial sweeteners
This tip may sound counter-intuitive, but artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are actually bad for your sugar detox. Studies indicate that they may do more harm than good, increasing sugar cravings and sugar dependence.(4)
It’s as if your brain feels tricked by the sweetness without the calories it’s used to, so it urges you to find them elsewhere. For an easier sugar detox, it’s better to avoid that.
Go cold turkey and curb your sugar cravings with healthy meals like fresh fruit!
3. Avoid stress and restore inner peace
Many people are prone to bingeing on foods rich in sugar when they feel stressed, and there’s a scientific explanation for that. Sugar has stress-reducing properties due to its ability to inhibit the secretion of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone.(5)
The solution is simple: find a sugar-free stress-reducing activity that works for you. This way you’ll have a ”plan B” ready for when the everyday troubles try to seduce you into a bowl of chocolate ice cream before bed.
Common stress-reducing activities include:
- Drawing and painting
- Going for a walk
- Playing with a pet
- Cuddling with a spouse, friend, or pet
- Taking a relaxing bath
4. Plan for the worst when you are at your best
According to the theory of ego depletion, willpower is a finite resource that you can use up. Using up most of your willpower leads to a state of inner depletion, in which your self-control becomes impaired.
It’s relatively easy to avoid eating the sweets on your kitchen table in the morning, but it gets SO much harder to fight the temptation after some 10-12 hours of resistance.
Before starting your sugar detox, we recommend getting rid of everything with sugar in your home. For example, give this food as a sweet gift for your friends or donate it to your local food bank.
Scientists are currently arguing whether ego depletion is real or not(6), but it’s always better to plan for the worst, just in case.
5. Sleep well every night
Studies have confirmed that sleep deprivation increases cravings, impairs willpower, and generally promotes weight gain.(7)
What do you have to do to sleep well every night during your upcoming 7-day sugar detox?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Work smart and plan your tasks to avoid working at night
- Don’t use your smartphone or laptop several hours before sleep
- Avoid drinking coffee and tea 4-5 hours before going to bed
7-Day Sugar Detox Diet Plan
Of course, eating and drinking the right stuff during your sugar detox is essential for success. Here are our favorite tips and meal ideas for an easier and tastier sugar detox!
1. Spice up your meals and sugar-free desserts!
One huge reason why people have trouble going through a sugar detox is that sugar-free food tastes a bit boring if you’re not used to it. This is especially true when it comes to desserts.
Here’s the good news. Studies reported that sprinkling up your desserts with cinnamon and vanilla significantly compensates for the lack of sugar in them.(8)
The same logic applies to coffee, so consider topping your morning latte with ground cinnamon if you’re used to adding sugar to your hot drinks.
Recommended spices and spiced desserts for your sugar detox plan:
- Cinnamon-topped oatmeal with dark berries
- Black coffee with cardamom or cayenne pepper
- Natural yogurt topped with vanilla and berries
2. Stay hydrated in a sugar-free way
Sweetened beverages are one of the greatest contributors to the increased sugar intake worldwide. If that’s not reason enough to ditch them at once, be aware that there’s scientific evidence pointing that long-term intake of sugar-sweetened beverages significantly increases mortality, primarily due to cardiovascular events. The higher the intake, the higher the risk.(9)
By the way, fruit juices aren’t a good option either, since they pack almost as much sugar as most sugar-sweetened beverages while lacking the dietary fiber of whole fruits. To illustrate the matter, studies have reported that eating more fruits is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while drinking plenty of fruit juices actually increases your risk.(10)
Recommended drinks for your sugar detox plan:
- Tap water or sparkling water (unsweetened)
- Water with fruit pieces or mint
- Herbal teas
- Unsweetened coffee
- Fruit smoothies (NOT juices)
3. Eat plenty of fresh fruit every day
In terms of excess weight and obesity, fruits are a bit of a paradox. They are naturally rich in simple sugars like fructose and glucose, but studies have confirmed time and again that high fruit intake is associated with lower body weight and better health in general.(11)
The trick is to eat your fruits whole. Fruit juices don’t have this beneficial action.(10)
Most likely, this is due to the fact that most fruits are rich in dietary fiber, natural vitamins, healthy phytochemicals, and various micronutrients. In other words, eating a lot of different fruits every day is a fabulous way to curb your sugar cravings and enhance your health at the same time!
Recommended fruits for your sugar detox plan:
- All citruses, especially oranges and grapefruits, due to their high satiety index and great nutrient profile(12)
- Apples are extremely filling too. Try baking apples with cinnamon for a delicious sugar-free snack.
- Green, slightly unripe bananas are rich in resistant starches that promote fullness and effectively reduce cravings.(14)
4. Fill up with healthy fiber
Sugar cravings get especially violent when you’re hungry. To keep hunger at bay, dietary fiber is probably the best option of all!(13)
Dietary fiber slows down the emptying of the stomach and increases average digestion time. As a result, you’ll get a consistent supply of energy from your meals throughout several hours, further delaying hunger and decreasing the risk of sudden sugar cravings.
Recommended fiber-rich foods for your sugar detox plan:
- Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that promotes satiety(15)
- Potatoes contain a lot of dietary fiber and resistant starch, both of which are associated with reduced hunger, decreased food intake, and enhanced weight loss(16)
- Beans and legumes are also filled with healthy fiber
5. Keep an eye on your intake of protein and healthy fat
Both protein and healthy fats provide you with plenty of energy and nutrients to live sugar-free without feeling a lack of energy or frequent bouts of hunger. Just like dietary fiber, these macronutrients support your sugar detox by keeping you full.
Recommended sources of protein and fat for your sugar detox plan:
- Fatty varieties of fish are a fantastic source of healthy fats, including beneficial omega-3 fatty acids(17)
- Avocados improve blood cholesterol levels and may reduce cardiovascular risk thanks to their monounsaturated fatty acid content(18). Try making salmon and avocado sandwiches for breakfast!
- Lean meat and poultry are excellent sources of protein. Grilled steak with vegetables on the side is an amazing combination of protein and fiber!
- Seeds and nuts are packed with both dietary fiber AND healthy fats, so keep a handful of them close at all times for when you find yourself longing for a quick snack throughout the day.
Common Sugar Detox Questions
If this is your first time doing a sugar detox, chances are you have a few questions on the matter. Here are some of the most common ones, answered for you!
Does sugar detoxification cause weight loss?
Yes, sugar detoxification leads to weight loss in most cases. Limiting sugar intake and opting instead for complex carbs and dietary fiber promotes fullness, reduces overall energy intake, and help lose weight in a healthy manner.(19)
What other benefits can cutting out sugar result in?
Besides weight loss, some other benefits of going through a sugar detox include improved mood, better sleep, and higher baseline energy levels. Many people also report they start noticing more nuances in food flavor and smell after cutting their usual sugar intake.