How do you actually stop eating sugar and why does it even matter, especially if you're looking to achieve a weight loss goal? Today I'm breaking down the super simple 2 step process of how you can quit sugar easily and achieve your weight loss goals!
*I also have a video version of this article, so if you want to follow along with the video, scroll down!
What Is Sugar?
Technically, all carbohydrates will break down into sugar. Sugar is the most basic building block of carbohydrates and the body breaks down all (digestible) carbohydrates into sugar. This means sugar can technically come from healthy sources such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
But unless you are extremely carbohydrate sensitive, these aren't the types of sugars you need to be worried about when working toward a weight loss goal. When we're talking about "quitting sugar", we're focused on the dense and refined sources of sugars, such as cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, high fructose corn syrup and coconut sugar.
What Happens When You Eat Sugar?
When you eat sugar, the body releases the storing hormone insulin. The more insulin the body releases, the harder it can be to switch back into lipolysis (aka fat burning). Foods that contain high amounts of fiber and less sugar, such as whole fruit or vegetables, will cause the body to secrete much less insulin than foods that contain low fiber and high sugar, like fruit juice or added sugars. With this in mind, one of the main goals with weight loss is to help the body get back into fat burning as quickly as possible - which is where greatly reducing or removing dense sources of sugar can be very helpful.
What Foods Have Sugar?
Foods that are high in sugar include (but are NOT limited to) honey, maple syrup, fruit juice, soda, cookies, ice cream, sweetened coffees, cane sugar, agave syrup/nectar, coconut sugar/nectar, high fructose corn syrup, protein bars, cereals, most bread, most salad dressings, sweetened yogurts and coffee creamers.
Why Do We Crave Sugar?
If we can understand why we crave sugar, then we can understand how to stop craving sugar and finally achieve and maintain a weight loss goal. It all comes down to some basic physiology: Our body always wants to maintain a steady blood sugar level. When this dips down, we enter into a lower blood sugar state and sometimes even hypoglycemia. When blood sugar dips, the body sends urgent signals to eat something to bring blood sugar back up - cue hanger and immediately searching your pantry for chocolate.
Ironically, what can typically cause these low blood sugar states is eating foods high in sugar or high in refined carbohydrates. This causes a spike and rapid fall in blood sugar and increased sugar cravings as a result. (Watch the video below for a more details breakdown of this phenomenon).
How To Quit Sugar In 2 Steps
Now that we know what causes sugar cravings, we can jump into the two step process of stopping sugar cravings.
Step 1: Start your first meal with protein, fat and fiber
Each of these food components specifically aims to balance blood glucose levels and boost satiety (aka, that sensation of feeling full and satisfied after a meal). Protein signals the satiety hormone peptide YY, fat signals the satiety hormone CCK and fiber acts on the stretch mechanism in the stomach to tell your brain that you don't need to keep eating. So not only do each of these food components help you feel full and satisfied, none of them will spike blood glucose levels either, which helps to keep blood glucose levels stable (bye-bye sugar cravings!).
Step 2: Don't add any added sugars
As we've noted, the more added sugars you use, the more likely your blood glucose levels will go on a wild ride and stimulate more sugar cravings. So by focusing on protein, fat and fiber rich foods and NOT adding sugar, you're able to feel full and satisfied without triggering sugar cravings.
A Day Of Zero Sugar Meals
Not eating added sugars for a day can actually be surprisingly easy and delicious! Check out my example meal plan below. You can also find my full 7 Day Detox with zero sugar recipes, additional strategies and meal plans HERE.
Dinner: Zucchini Sundried Tomato Lasagna
Autumn Elle Nutrition