Like the infamous Willy Wonka, many of us are sweet lovers. There’s something so indulgent and satisfying about splurging on that chocolate cake after dinner or treating yourself to a bowl of ice cream before bed. But research shows that Americans way overdo it on the sugar, leading to a whole slew of problems that we lament later. The CDC reports that the averaged American age six and older consumed about 14% of his or her daily calories from added sugars (meaning sugars and syrups that are added to food and drinks when they are processed, like sodas and packaged foods). That amounts to nearly 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which equates to nine and a half gallons of sugar in a year! Ugh.
Although cutting added sugars cold turkey may seem like a tall order, it’s a smart thing to do and here are eight legit reasons why.
8 Legit Reasons To Cut Sugar Cold Turkey
1. It’s the main culprit of weight gain.
If you’ve tried losing weight by counting calories but the scale won’t budge, added sugars may be to blame. Processed foods are full of them, even energy bars and protein drinks. Sometimes you think you’re being healthy by buying these products, but don’t be fooled—a lot of them still contain added sugars in the form of sucrose, maltose, dextrin, corn syrup, and honey. In fact, a Luna bar contains 10 grams of sugar—the same as a glazed donut.
Sugar is void of nutrients and when consumed, causes your body’s insulin levels to spike, which deposits energy into your body’s fat cells. Another way sugar makes us fat is when it is metabolized by the liver, it turns into fat and is secreted into the blood. (Source)
Bottom line: Swap out sugary drinks for water and opt for naturally-occurring sugars found in fruit.
Ever indulged in a sugar-eating frenzy and then paid the price for it later in an epic breakout? Surprise, surprise…high sugar intake has been linked to a higher risk of acne. Although acne has many complicated causes (like hormones and genetics), diet also plays a factor. When you consume sugar, your body’s insulin levels elevate and send a surge of inflammation throughout your entire body and causes your skin’s oils to spike in production. Too much oil clogs pores and follicles leading to breakouts and an unhealthy complexion.
Bottom line: Pass on the pie for clearer skin.
3. Too much sugar speeds up skin aging.
Who knew when we were pigging out on all that Halloween candy that it would one day cause us wrinkles. When you consume sugar, it attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates these degenerative molecules called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) and are linked to all kinds of debilitating diseases like diabetes and heart disease. AGEs damage the collagen and elastin in your skin causing wrinkles and saggy skin. No wonder they’re called AGEs.
Bottom line: Sugar damages your skin’s collagen and elastin, making you appear older than you are.
Sugar is misleading because the moment you eat that candy bar, the surge in blood sugar leads to a spurt of increased energy. Thus it’s called a “sugar rush.” But the rush of energy you get from a candy bar or soda is short-lived. Soon after the rush comes the crash, leaving you feeling drained of energy.
Constant blood sugar fluctuations can mess with your body’s natural energy levels.
Bottom line: Roller coasters are for amusement parks, not your body’s chi.
5. Simple sugars are highly addictive.
If you don’t think sugar is addicting, ask your brain. When you nosh on a sugary snack, it triggers the release of dopamine which sets off the brain’s pleasure center. The body likes pleasure, craves it even, and so if one sugary snack sets off our pleasure center, we want more. We also crave that short energy boost (or sugar rush) that sugar gives us and we want more. It’s an addictive cycle.
Bottom line: Sugar brings pleasure, we want more pleasure so we eat more sugar, thus the addictive cycle.
Because sugar affects your energy level and mood swings, it can also increase your risk of depression. A National Center for Biotechnology Information article references a study of over 69,000 women which demonstrated that those with high sugar intakes had a significantly higher risk of depression than those with lower sugar intakes.
Bottom line: Cutting your sugar intake may help you be a happier person.
7. Inflammation thrives off it.
There’s a reason why many people who suffer from arthritis and autoimmune diseases have cut sugar cold turkey—because sugar does a number on inflammation. Normal levels of inflammation are actually good for our bodies, as inflammation helps us heal from injury and sickness. But research is revealing startling links between sugar and inflammation.
Bottom line: If you suffer from inflammatory health issues, try cutting sugar cold turkey.
8. Cut sugar now, save your heart later.
Your heart might go pitter patter when it sees that fresh cream-filled donut in the display window, but the amount of sugar in that donut is the last thing your heart needs. When you eat a sugar-laden treat, the extra insulin in your bloodstream causes your artery walls to grow faster than normal and to tense up, adding stress to your heart and damage over time.
Bottom line: Extra sugar spikes insulin and stresses your heart, leading to permanent damage.
The case against sugar doesn’t look good. Most of us eat too much sugar and it’s taking a toll on our weight, energy, mood, skin, and organ health. If you don’t think you can cut sugar totally cold turkey, start by cutting it in half. The CDC recommends keeping sugar intake to under 10% of your daily calorie diet. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that means less than 200 calories should come from sugar. Look at where you’re at and go from there.