I Tried A No-Added-Sugar Challenge For A Month—Here’s What Happened


Let me again up a bit. By the top of final 12 months, I craved Halo Top or ice cream most nights after dinner…and gave into that craving extra usually than I might prefer to admit.

So I made a decision to take management of the scenario by doing the sugar-holic’s equal of dry January: a no-added-sugar January.

The “added” half is essential—fruit and different meals with naturally occurring sugars have been okay. The USDA recommends getting not more than 10% of your energy from added sugars—which comes out to a max of 40 grams if you happen to’re consuming about 1,600 energy a day. (The common American exceeds that each day restrict by about 30%, in response to the latest stats.)

Whereas a banana’s sugar comes with vitamins like potassium and fiber, the high-fructose corn syrup in one thing like soda is simply empty energy. “They don’t really give your body anything of value,” says Angela Lemond, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And, bummer alert, they’ll put you at a better threat for scary situations like diabetes, autoimmune illnesses, and most cancers.

Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame or stevia) and alcohol sugars (like erythitrol) aren’t essentially higher. While something accepted by the FDA is, in reality, secure, Lemond says these sugar substitutes may cause gasoline, bloating, and diarrhea. She provides that some analysis suggests synthetic sweeteners could improve cravings for candy meals. (Hmmm, so maybe my semi-recent weight-reduction plan soda behavior had one thing to do with my adult-onset candy tooth?)

My objective with this problem was to “reset” my style buds in order that I did not really feel like such a slave to my cravings—and Lemond says I used to be onto one thing: “We crave what we eat, so if we start slowly changing the types of foods that we’re eating, you’re going to find that your taste buds will change.”

I figured that if I observed every other optimistic results within the course of, hey, all the higher.

So I had 1 final cookie on New Year’s Eve and braced myself. Here’s how my month of no-added-sugars went.

I spent plenty of time getting cozy with ingredient lists

As somebody who’s lined well being and vitamin for years, I knew that I used to be going to should keep away from extra than simply sweet and cookies since many meals that do not style candy secretly pack sugar. Still, I needed to brush up on all the totally different names for added sugar (there are greater than 50!)—and spend plenty of time googling elements I did not acknowledge.


At eating places, I used to be the annoying one who requested if there was a menu itemizing all the elements in every dish. But these steps have been so crucial.

Name a meals, and you’ll in all probability discover a packaged or restaurant model that comprises added sugar—together with soups, sauces, salad dressings, sandwich bread, even roasted veggies at health-food eating places (keep in mind: honey is a type of added sugar, too—and it would not have as a lot dietary worth as we have been led to imagine, Lemond says). In truth, typically it was almost not possible to search out comfort meals that did not comprise “evaporated cane juice” or “maltose” (I am taking a look at you, turkey bacon and sandwich bread).

I want I may say there have been some meals I used to be stunned that I may eat, however…there simply weren’t. I did discover a number of packaged meals that have been okay (you will discover my favorites beneath). But I actually needed to make my very own bread every week to have the ability to eat the goodness that’s carbs. Which brings me to my subsequent level…

I turned a meal prep grasp

I like cooking, however I’ve all the time been good at developing with excuses to order supply. (I’ve to stroll to my canine. Or work out. Or possibly I used to be simply too exhausted from work.)

But provided that I knew most eating places use added sugar, oh, on a regular basis, I knew I needed to kick my takeout behavior. So for the primary time in my life, I began meal prepping.

I will simply say this proper now: If you hate cooking, the no-added-sugar problem in all probability is not for you. But I discovered myself actually wanting ahead to Sundays with my Instant Pot and my stand mixer. (Yes, I understand how lame that sentence sounds to anybody who considers cooking a chore.)

It was superior coming residence to actually scrumptious meals like beef-barley soup, coconut-curry hen, or kale-sauce pasta. Suddenly, I did not should waste any psychological vitality throughout the week determining what I used to be going to eat as a result of I might already selected Sunday. Very rapidly, I spotted what number of recipes I wanted to prep upfront to feed my husband and myself on weeknights (2, so I had some selection however I may really eat every little thing I made), in addition to all the different logistical particulars concerned in meal planning. 

On weekends, since we could not eat out—one thing we sometimes love doing—I might make a particular dinner, like do-it-yourself pizza. And typically I might invite associates over for the event (our social life did, admittedly, take a little bit of successful throughout this month).

I will positively proceed meal prepping, however now I can incorporate some lower-sugar recipes into the combo, too.

This is your physique on sugar:

Keeping a stash of whitelisted snacks saved my life

Okay, possibly that may be a slight overstatement. But I had a rocky begin wherein I severely underestimated the quantity of added-sugar-free meals I ought to deliver to work and intense hanger ensued.

I began to order my favorites in bulk and preserve a stash at my workplace in order that I might have them helpful always. Some of my favorites:

  • Larabar Gluten Free Bar, Apple Pie, $16 for 16 bars, amazon.com
  • Classic Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs by Justin’s, $6 for 10 packs, amazon.com
  • Wonderful Pistachios Roasted and Salted Pistachios, $26 for 24 packs, amazon.com 

Finding a number of eating places which are clear concerning the elements they use was additionally key as a result of it helped me decide a number of go-to meals for these days once I wasn’t capable of deliver my lunch (you probably have Sweetgreen or Mulberry & Vine in your space, 10/10 would advocate).

And when all else failed, I knew I may seize a banana and a plain Greek yogurt from the native comfort retailer.

I did not discover an enormous change in my vitality ranges 

People requested me so much if I “felt better” throughout my month with no added sugar. And the reality is that I had a chilly for a few weeks throughout the experiment, so…no, probably not. I did not discover any optimistic modifications in my pores and skin, both (and I used to be so hoping that this experiment would enhance my complexion).

That stated, I did really feel extra satiated by my do-it-yourself, no-added-sugar dinners than I did by the takeout I might eaten beforehand—so I wasn’t as tempted to raid the pantry or the freezer afterward on the lookout for one thing candy to finish the evening with.

And once I went again to consuming sugar, I did discover that I simply felt ickier on days after I had actually indulged. Almost like a low-level hangover.

Even although I did not, Lemond says others may discover extra steady vitality and blood sugar ranges, amongst different advantages. It simply will depend on the particular person and what their weight-reduction plan seemed like beforehand.

I did, nonetheless, lose 7 kilos

To be clear, I did not got down to lose any weight. Every time I used to be hungry, I ate one thing. I made that pizza I discussed on 3 separate events (1 time with stuffed crust!). I had a small piece of do-it-yourself bread with nearly each lunch and dinner (I used to be giving up sugar, so I positively could not nix carbs, as nicely—I am not a robotic). And I nonetheless had “dessert” once I was craving one thing candy (therefore the aforementioned bowls of blueberries and yogurt).

When I weighed myself 2 weeks in, I had misplaced six kilos. And within the final 2 weeks, I misplaced one other pound. A yoga instructor even advised me I seemed slimmer towards the top of the experiment. Lemond says weight reduction usually does happen when individuals minimize out added sugars, however that it is not a assure (once more, it relies upon how a lot added sugar you have been consuming earlier than—and apparently the reply was so much for me!). She provides that if you happen to do reduce weight, it is prone to be round your midsection.

But what about my sugar cravings? 

Toward the top of the month, issues like coconut Larabars began tasting super-sweet to me, way more so than they’d earlier than. Even Justin’s peanut butter began to really feel like an indulgence.

I am joyful to report that, post-experiment, I nonetheless haven’t got the burning need for sweets each single evening that I did earlier than. When it does strike, I usually discover myself reaching for fruit and feeling glad afterward (who am I?!). And once I eat one thing savory—like bread or soup—I can inform instantly if it has added sugar as a result of it tastes off to me.

Of course, I used to be curious to see whether or not ice cream would appear unbearably saccharine since I might gone so lengthy with out it. But once I lastly handled myself to a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough, it tasted…actually good. What can I say? You can take the ice cream away from the lady, however…

The article “I Tried A No-Added-Sugar Challenge For A Month—Here’s What Happened” initially appeared on Women’s Health

Robin Hilmantel for WomensHealthMagazine.com from prevention.com

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