Side Effects of a Sugar-Free Diet and Ways to Counter Them

Excess sugar consumption has been related to multiple medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases. Eliminating sugar from your diet is the surest way to reduce these risks, but the road to a sugar-free life is not entirely easy. There are quite a few side effects that you may be affected with if you exclude sugar from the diet, and here we have discussed some of them.

1. Possible side effects of a sugar-free diet
Studies show that sugar tends to affect the brain much like any other addictive substance. Since an average American eats nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar every day, you can expect there to be quite a few withdrawal symptoms:

  • Our brains have a reward system necessary for survival. Food acts as a reward, and when you eat something sweet, it stimulates this reward system. Sugar addiction is real, and it helps in the release of dopamine. When you eat sugar regularly, the brain becomes tolerant of it, and you keep craving it to simulate the same effect. It also means that when you suddenly cut out sugar from your meals and start a sugar-free diet, the cravings become more intensified.
  • Cutting down on sugar may affect energy levels as well. A lot of low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet, permit only limited sugar consumption, especially in the form of natural sugars present in fruits. If you opt for a low-carb diet with little to no sugar, there is a higher risk of low blood pressure or hypoglycemia, resulting in fatigue, lack of concentration, and headaches.
  • Sugar detox may also have mental symptoms, and the severity of such symptoms will depend on the amount of sugar you had been consuming. Stress may trigger these cravings further, and you are likely to feel down when on a sugar-free diet. Feelings of anxiety are also common, and these are often accompanied by restlessness and nervousness. There may also be alterations in sleep patterns and cravings for other kinds of foods like potato chips, pasta, or bread. It also results in a lack of focus, making it hard to concentrate at work.
  • When you begin a sugar-free diet, you will find headaches becoming quite common, along with nausea, tingling, lightheadedness, and dizziness.

2. Countering the side effects of a sugar-free diet

  • Focus on eating more proteins in every meal. This helps cope with hunger cravings, and you will not be tempted to buy a candy bar or a can of soda. You must focus on adding mean meat, poultry, and fish to your diet.
  • Increase dietary fiber by eating more fiber-rich foods. These are wholesome, more satisfying, and will keep cravings at bay. Since dietary fiber helps control blood glucose levels, it also helps you prevent headaches and nausea.
  • Drink a lot of water as it is essential when you boost your fiber intake to avoid constipation. Besides, we often confuse thirst for hunger, and drinking water will not only suppress hunger pangs but also prevent overeating.
  • Studies show that artificial sweeteners can encourage cravings and dependency, so stay away from those.