7-day sugar free challenge

If you’ve been on social media this month, you may have seen that it’s sugar free September. To celebrate, we thought that it would be fitting to set a Low Carb Program 7-day challenge. On the 23rd of September, we’re inviting you to join us in going sugar free for 7 days.

Why go sugar free?

A high intake of sugar is associated with a wide variety of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes [1] and heart disease [2], so the less we consume, the better. Cutting out sugar can also be a great way to kickstart your weight loss. This is because when you consume sugar it gets taken up into your bloodstream. Sugar levels in the blood, also known as blood glucose levels, have a direct impact on the level of insulin that is present in the bloodstream. The role of insulin is to take sugar out of the blood as, in high concentrations, sugar can cause damage to blood vessels [3]. Some of the sugar is then kept in muscle and liver cells in its storage form. However, the rest of the sugar will be turned into fat for long-term storage. Cutting out or reducing sugar means that this process of insulin spikes and sugar storage as fat is less common.

Cutting out sugar can also have a profound effect on your energy levels and mood [4]. This is related to the previously mentioned mechanism of blood glucose levels rising, followed by insulin spikes. When you feel tired and eat something sugary, you may get an initial boost of energy and feel great! However, once the aforementioned insulin pulls glucose out of your blood, you may end up feeling tired and hungry. As a result, it’s easy to once again reach for sugar to give you some quick-release energy. You can see how this might become a vicious cycle.

Cutting out sugar can also be immensely beneficial for your teeth [5]. It’s well known that sugar causes tooth decay and many dentists are now suggesting not only sugar but also carb reduction. There is even some evidence that cutting sugar can help with certain skin conditions [6].

How to go sugar free

Sugar free can mean different things to different people. For us, going sugar free means a diet free of refined sugar products like fruit juices, sugary fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, sweets and ice cream. It also means reducing or eliminating processed foods such as high carb flours, rice and bread. You can start small by simply reducing the amount of sugar in your tea or coffee, or by looking at where most of the sugar in your diet comes from and reducing or eliminating this.

When going sugar free, the idea is to focus on real whole foods rich in nutrients, while minimising your intake of processed foods. As your blood glucose levels are no longer subject to large peaks and troughs, it’s likely that you’ll start to feel better in yourself.

Our sugar free challenge starts Monday, and over the next 7 days we will be supporting you along the way. Look out for our top tips, recipes and more information. Is this the challenge you’ve been waiting for?

Follow us on social media @lowcarbprogram and use the hashtag #7daysugarfree or share your progress in the discussion section of the app to be a part of the movement!

 

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References:

[1] Malik, V., Pan, A., Willett, W. and Hu, F. (2013). Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(4), pp.1084-1102.

[2] Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516–524.

[3] Kolluru, G., Bir, S. and Kevil, C. (2012). Endothelial Dysfunction and Diabetes: Effects on Angiogenesis, Vascular Remodeling, and Wound Healing. International Journal of Vascular Medicine, 2012, pp.1-30.

[4] Spruijt-Metz, D., Belcher, B., Anderson, D., Lane, C., Chou, C., Salter-Venzon, D., Davis, J., Hsu, Y., Neuhouser, M., Richey, J., McKenzie, T., McClain, A., Goran, M. and Weigensberg, M. (2009). A High-Sugar/Low-Fiber Meal Compared with a Low-Sugar/High-Fiber Meal Leads to Higher Leptin and Physical Activity Levels in Overweight Latina Females. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(6), pp.1058-1063.

[5] Moynihan, P. and Kelly, S. (2013). Effect on Caries of Restricting Sugars Intake. Journal of Dental Research, 93(1), pp.8-18.

[6] Mahmood, S & Bowe, W. (2014). Diet and Acne Update: Carbohydrates Emerge as the Main Culprit. Journal of drugs in dermatology, 13(4), 428-35