Sugar is one of the most pervasive substances in our society. 95% of Americans consume it every single day, and yet we know so little about what it does to us. Many people assume that sugar is just a natural part of life, like water or air, but the truth is that many studies have shown how closely related sugar consumption can be with heart disease and other serious health conditions. For this reason alone, cutting back on your sugar intake could lead you to an improved quality of life. This article is going to give you the lowdown on what a 40-day sugar fast rules are all about, why it’s important to partly avoid sugars during the 40 days of fasting, and how you can go about making that transition.
What Is The 40-Day Sugar Fast?
The 40-day sugar fast is an initiative created by Wendy Speake which works on the premise of abstaining from sugar for 40 days to free oneself from cravings for it. It is designed to help individuals kick their sugar addiction and focus more on their spirituality (1).
There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding the consumption of sweet foods during this time; merely guidelines that one should follow.
This challenge has three primary goals:
- Complete a 40-day sugar fast, which means removing all forms of added sugars from your diet. That includes natural sugars in fruits, honey, syrups, etc. It also helps if you avoid sugar-free products that still contain artificial sweeteners.
- Break the emotional connection between food and feelings by identifying your triggers for emotional eating and dealing with them.
- Lose weight, gain energy, breathe better, sleep more soundly and have a healthy relationship with food as you go about living your normal life outside of the fast days.
While not everyone may relate to the spiritual aspects of this fast, there are some benefits to be had from a low-sugar diet.
What To Eat On The 40-Day Sugar Fast?
This diet requires you to eliminate all refined and added sugars from your diet. You may also have to cut out high-glycemic foods.
The challenge is to avoid all added sugars for 40 days, including:
- Agave Nectar
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Juice Crystals
- Cane Sugar/ Refined Sugar
- Caramel Flavoring or Coloring
- Corn-Based Sweeteners Like: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) /Corn Syrup Solids
- Maltodextrin and Modified Food Starch in Packaged Foods
- Sorbitol and Mannitoland (most sugar alcohols)
- Corn Syrup
- Fruit Juice Concentrates/Paste/Syrups/Sugars
- Glucose Syrup
Here are some easy swaps that can help you cut back on your sugar intake:
- Eat fresh fruit instead of candy bars
- Drink water instead of soda and fruit juice
- Swap out the artificial sweeteners in your tea or coffee for natural sugars like cinnamon. You could also try stevia, which is considered a herbal alternative to sugar and safe for diabetics as it does not raise blood sugar levels.
What Are The Benefits of Eliminating Sugar From Your Diet?
There are many health benefits of a low sugar diet.
Here are the most notable ones:
Many people have a hard time losing weight because they are addicted to sugar. When you eat sugar, your body produces insulin which stores the glucose as fat. This makes it very difficult to lose weight when you’re eating too much sugar regularly.
If you want to get rid of stubborn fat and start sculpting that six-pack, try going low-carb or going completely without sugar for a few weeks and see how your body responds! After a while, your cravings will decrease, and you won’t feel like eating all the sugars anymore (6).
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Controls Blood Sugar Spikes
Many people who suffer from diabetes often have a hard time controlling their blood sugar levels after every meal. For many diabetics, having sugary drinks or desserts can be life-threatening. If you are one of those people who struggle with regulating blood sugar levels, try eliminating all sugars for a few weeks or months and see how much your blood sugar levels improve.
Decreases The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
A healthy diet may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (12). This means that limiting sugars allows individuals to decrease their chances of type 2 diabetes if they already have prediabetes.
Protects Against Cancer
Sugar feeds cancer cells, which makes it easier for them to grow and divide into new cancer cells (8). A study conducted on mice by scientists at UCLA showed that inflicting tumors with glucose increased the severity of malignant brain cancer (5).
Speeds Up Recovery Times
Have you ever noticed that people who don’t eat many sugars tend to heal faster? Have you also noticed how some people always get sick right after they have overindulged in desserts and sugary drinks? Research links high blood sugar to impaired immune system response (2). This, in turn, slows down recovery time and wound healing. If you want a faster recovery, try going without sugars for a few weeks and see how much better your body feels!
Sugar allows bacteria, which is responsible for tooth decay, to grow in our mouths resulting in cavities (7). As soon as we finish eating foods with lots of sugar, our mouths start producing acids that cause tooth decay.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
When you don’t consume foods with sugars, your body starts producing HDL cholesterol which is the “good” kind of cholesterol instead of LDL. If you are healthy, your LDL level should be less than 100 mg/dL while your HDL level is 40 mg/dL or higher. According to some studies, consuming more sugar is linked to high blood triglyceride levels, low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of bad cholesterol, which can all lead to heart problems in the long run (11).
Enhances Mental Health
Do you ever find yourself craving sugary snacks when you’re feeling down? Studies link consumption of high-sugar products like soft drinks to an increased risk of depression (9). If you want to improve your mental health, try eliminating all sugars for a few weeks and see how much better you feel!
Boosts Energy Levels
Cutting down on sugars will help your body function properly throughout the day without feeling exhausted after every meal. To have enough energy to last throughout the day, you need a good balance of protein and complex carbs, which can be found in foods such as nuts, eggs, whole grains, and vegetables (3).
In general, those who don’t consume too many sugars have a faster metabolism! Since our bodies do not use sugar for energy very well, we tend to burn calories a lot faster after every meal since our bodies start using fat instead of sugar once there’s no more glucose available. This is why it’s recommended that people with fast metabolisms eat little to no sugars, otherwise they may gain weight quickly.
How To Successfully Transition To A Low Sugar Diet?
When it comes to going on a low sugar diet, there are definitely some things you need to keep in mind. First of all, you can’t do this overnight since your body will crave those sugars from the foods you consume every day. For you to successfully cut down on sugars without feeling too hungry or tired, start by consuming less than 20 grams of carbs per day and take it from there.
In addition, follow these tips to guarantee success during the 40-day sugar fast:
Learn To Read Labels For Hidden Sugars
Food labels are very important when it comes to learning how much sugar you are actually consuming. You’d be surprised at how many products contain sugars in the form of natural sweeteners, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice crystals, and fruit concentrates! These sugars can add up quickly, so make sure that you always take a look at your food labels before throwing them into your grocery cart.
Don’t Wait To Get Too Hungry Before Eating
One of the biggest mistakes people make when on a low sugar diet is waiting too long before eating. This is extremely counterproductive since you’re more likely to overeat and go overboard with your daily limit once you finally sit down for lunch or dinner. What’s more, skipping meals reduces diet quality and may harm your health over time (10). Try eating every 2-3 hours to avoid this problem and stay energized throughout the day.
Treat Sugars As A “Cheat”
When you’re on a low sugar diet for 40 days, it’s only normal to have some cravings every now and then. The best way to deal with this is by treating yourself with healthy sugars from fruits, berries, and raw honey.
Make sure to include some of these sugars during every meal in order to satisfy your cravings for something sweet without going overboard with your daily limit. You can also use these natural sweeteners to improve the overall taste of your favorite dishes.
Increase Your Intake Of Healthy Fats
To have enough energy and reduce cravings on a low sugar diet, you need to increase your intake of healthy fats from fish, nuts, and healthy oils such as coconut oil. In addition, try adding some butter onto your steamed veggies, as they will also give you that natural sweetness without all those extra calories. Remember that this is not a low-fat diet, so don’t be afraid of getting plenty of good fats into your daily meal plan.
Most types of alcohol contain high amounts of sugars (4). Furthermore, it impairs your judgment and makes you more inclined toward unhealthy food choices. If you absolutely have to drink alcohol, make sure that you only do so if it’s an occasional thing and not an everyday event.
Are There Risks Associated With A Low Sugar Diet?
Yes, there are some risks involved in following a low sugar diet. First of all, if you don’t ensure you’re getting enough calories, you may end up feeling tired and hungry most of the time. You also need to make sure that your food choices are healthy in order to stay energized throughout the day(no fast food).
Too few sugars can make you feel weak, in addition to having mood swings. Last but not least, this type of diet is not suitable if you’re doing high-intensity workouts because it eliminates high glycemic carbs that would otherwise fuel your workouts. If you decide to follow a low sugar diet, it’s a smart idea to monitor your caloric intake to ensure you’re getting enough energy from nutrient-dense foods each day.
The Bottom Line
The 40-day sugar fast is a low-sugar diet with some very obvious health benefits that you may benefit from. Just follow what’s outlined above to get started on your own healthy low sugar diet.
If you want your weight loss plan to be efficient, don’t forget to do some exercise on the regular basis. Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 40 Day Sugar Fast Sign Up — Wendy Speake (n.d., wendyspeake.com)
- Acute hyperglycemia impairs IL‐6 expression in humans – Spindler – 2016 – Immunity, Inflammation and Disease (2016, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats – Disorders of Nutrition – MSD Manual Consumer Version (2019, msdmanuals.com)
- Chemical Composition of Alcoholic Beverages, Additives and Contaminants (1988, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Combination treatment targeting glucose in advanced brain cancer shows promising results in preclinical study (2017, newsroom.ucla.edu)
- Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies (2013, bmj.com)
- Role of Sugar and Sugar Substitutes in Dental Caries: A Review (2013, hindawi.com)
- Sugar And Cancer – The Good, The Bad And The Future (2019, worldwidecancerresearch.org)
- Sweetened Beverages, Coffee, and Tea and Depression Risk among Older US Adults (2014, journals.plos.org)
- The effects of skipping a meal on daily energy intake and diet quality (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)