Exactly What is a Sugar Detox and Who Needs One?

When most think of ‘detox’ they don’t normally think of a food product. But in light of recent research as well as anecdotal reports of feeling addicted to sugar, it’s no surprise we now see the term ‘sugar detox’ as a form of improving our health.

Many begin searching for a sugar detox in hopes of getting off sugar to kick-start weight loss or help go sugar-free to manage a condition. At TRUEWELL the first step to beginning an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle is quitting sugar. This is because sugar, refined carbs, and processed junk foods are extremely inflammatory.

what is a sugar detox and who needs one

But there are several nuances to getting off sugar and defining a legit answer to, ‘what is a sugar detox?’

Definition: What is a sugar detox?

As is the case with any detox, removing sugar from the body through diet allows the body to rid itself of the substances that are creating metabolic chains of events that affect our health negatively.

Sometimes this is the constant reinforcement of the addictive loop, and sometimes it’s the spike in insulin and consequent hormones.

Therefore a sugar detox can be thought of as the act of ridding your body of sugars to attempt to ‘reset’ it.

However, a sugar detox is normally done with one of two goals in mind. If these goals are clearly defined, it’s way more likely you’ll be successful with a sugar detox.

an apple in one hand and a donut in another hand

The goal of a sugar detox

The point of the whole process is to get rid of sugars and foods your body metabolizes like sugar so that your brain, taste buds, metabolism, and insulin response can ‘reset’ itself to behave more closely to normal.

What’s interesting about a sugar detox is that every single person going into one has a different goal for doing it.

Aside from FOMO, many people start a sugar detox as a type of ‘reset’ from eating terrible at the holidays, on vacation, or after a long period of ‘falling off the wagon’. Some people have also found their skin looks terrible and that sugar is the culprit.

Others need or want to kickstart weight loss, or for personal or medical reasons.

But the real deep down goals are what determine whether or not someone is actually successful with a sugar detox.

Those goals of a sugar detox are:

  1. To reset because of any reasons above—meaning the end-goal is to simply get off sugar for a week (or however many days the detox is).
  2. To truly quit sugar and refined carbs because of a medical condition they are trying to manage, for weight loss, or simply because they also believe sugar is toxic and want to follow an anti-inflammatory dietary style and lifestyle for amazing health.

Who is a sugar detox for?

With these goals in mind, truly a sugar detox is for anyone. The consumption of sugar by humans didn’t actually begin until the mid-17th century and was fueled through slave labor.

But many people believe it’s not detrimental to their health simply because food companies use it and the government says it’s ok.

After years of fighting addiction to it in addition to years of formal education and deep dives into peer-reviewed studies on sugar, it’s clear that nobody needs it and the gradual inoculation and acceptance of it into our food system is one of the great tragedies of our time.

person doing a sugar detox, pushing a way desserts and eating healthy

Who should do a sugar detox:

That being said, a simple sugar detox is a great option for those wanting to do a reset and start making more healthy food choices to improve overall health or even kickstart weight loss (and hopefully follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle).

Who should not do a sugar detox:

A sugar detox not a good option for two groups of people:

1-those who truly feel hooked on or addicted to sugar.

The reason why is that nearly all sugar detoxes fail to take that addictive possibility into account. They’re recipes and meal plans that are extremely restrictive, and will eventually create a rebound of cravings and bingeing.

If you are hooked on sugar or addicted to it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. (I’ve been there and done it about 57 times over.)

*The key here is knowing where you fall on this. If you’re not hooked, you can successfully detox for 7 (or however many) days the sugar detox plan dictates just fine. If you do feel addicted, you will need a totally different method for quitting sugar and doing a sugar detox, which is called ‘sugar deprogramming’.

2-You also should not do a sugar detox if you have any sort of metabolic issue

This is because removing sugar and refined carbohydrates very quickly (especially if you’ve been consuming high amounts) can sort of ‘shock’ your body to respond with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

This is most especially true if you already have a hypoglycemia issue AND if you are on medications to lower blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia can be life threatening, so if you fall into this category, it’s best to work personally with a doctor or nutritionist that can help you manage this to avoid a hypoglycemic situation.

healthy food to help quit sugar

How does a sugar detox work?

The basics of a sugar detox require that all sugar (added, refined, unrefined—ALL of it), as well as refined carbohydrates be removed from the diet for a specified period of time.

This can range from 7 days to 30, depending on the source of the sugar detox.

Most sugar detoxes will also require removing dairy and fruit because both of these contains sugars as well.

The sugar detox plan will usually have recipes that contain protein (meat or plant-based), a ton of vegetables, and healthy fats.

There are some sugar detox plans that will also include complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, or lentils.

How do I start a sugar detox?

If you feel like you’re a good candidate for a sugar detox (per the guidelines above), the best place to start is a meal plan with recipes designed to minimize any side effects from coming off sugar and refined carbs that quickly.

If you identify with simply wanting to do a 7-day sugar detox, get our Basic Sugar Detox Kit here to get started: 👇

what is a sugar detox and who needs one

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what is a sugar detox and who needs one
Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Author: Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Laura is a Nutrition Specialist and Certified Health Coach with a Master of Science in Nutrition. Her goal is to help women reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and regain natural energy with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet + Lifestyle.

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