How removing sugar from your diet can immediately improve your life: a personal story.

Recently I had a bit of a health scare, probably the worst of my life so far, and I have promised myself to stay off the sugar. By sugar I mean chocolate, candies and all the other compacted, simple and fast carbohydrates.

Research is relatively clear and pretty vast: sugar is addictive, leads to a vicious spiral of hormonal, immune and other more known changes in the body. [I am leaving 4 links in the references, if someone wants to dig in deeper.]

Now, one and a half month later I am going to summarise my first month off the sugar. The good and the bad (and some ugly).

I used FitBit HR™ to track my movement/sleep/exercise & endurance stats, FitBit Aria™ to clock in my weight and fat. Finally, I used Clue to track my menstrual cycle, mostly as I expected my cravings to change as I went through the luteal phase towards my period. I am a big follower of quantified self, and do experiments on my body performance quite often. So, I will treat this one as just another experiment.

Sugar does initially help with lowering stress, but then it locks me in, and all of the bad comes to the surface.

Increasing amounts of sugar kept my body in a state of constant urge to get even more of it. Similar to any other addiction, it lead to exhaustion, problems with long term memory, prolonged concentration, digestion, pain in the joints when doing sport, mood swings, negative emotions, headaches and more of the annoying stuff.

One month ago, when I decided I would stop eating processed sugar, because of the severity of my scare, I did not have any classic withdrawal symptoms (headaches, bad mood, sweet cravings, fatigue), which made this chocolate free time easier and even fun.

I continued drinking 2.5L of water per day, walking minimum of 10k steps per day (something I am increasing), doing sports 3–4 times per week.

What I noticed:

(I) I stopped being extra hungry (for me, as the day progresses, I used to get increasingly hungry)

(II) I feel the taste of food more (I am able to taste sugar in many things I did not notice)

(III) I started appreciating salt more (but not eating it more)

(IV) I do not experience my usual IBS-like symptoms (I think my immune system is finally having a well-deserved rest)

(V) I lost 6 kgs, reducing my body fat by 3%

(VI) My hair is not as greasy (saving on the shampoo)

(VII) I sleep 10% less on the average, feeling rested

(VIII) My resting heart rate has gone down by 12%

(IX) I walked ~4k steps/day more than before

(X) I swim 15% faster

Let’s see what long term impacts will this decision have on me, and how good will I be in following it up.

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If you want to read more:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25879513/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303703/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26376619/