Have you ever tried to cut out sugar from your diet?  If you have, you may have found it a very difficult task. When you reduce your sugar intake, your body craves it even more and you may even experience sugar withdrawal symptoms from doing it. Sugar withdrawal symptoms can have severe impact on your mental and physical health, which can make it harder for you to continue your sugar detox.

When you consume sugar your brain releases dopamine into the bloodstream, this is considered the “happy” hormone. The release of dopamine in your body leads you to a state of euphoria, where you can feel more energized and generally happier.

However, high consumption of sugar results in the same effects as illicit drugs do. It creates and addition in the body. Once your body’s receptors get accustomed to the high amounts of sugar you consume they require more sugar to reach the same euphoric state and therefore achieve the same level of satisfaction. This happens mainly since it appears your body does adjust to how much sugar you eat just like it does with drug use.

When you first decide to end your sugar addiction it can seem like a daunting task. You may experience severe withdrawal symptoms or you can go through it without any problems. Everyone experiences these symptoms in a different way.

Here are the 9 sugar withdrawal symptoms you should be looking for:


1. Cravings & Hunger

This is the first sign of sugar withdrawal that you’re likely going to suffer from. When cutting out sugar from your diet, your body is likely to get massive sugar cravings. This happens because your brain craves that dopamine release to get into the euphoric satisfaction state.

Most people will experience hunger, and feeling like you want to have as much food as you can, which in turn leads to binging.

These cravings, although intense, will probably subside within a week. Some people may experience this symptom for a lot longer. However, don’t despair as it will go away.

2. Bloating & Nausea

You may experience symptoms of bloating, nausea or even diarrhea when you cut out sugar. This happens due to the changes happening in your gut bacteria. When your body is accustomed to foods that are high in sugar, your microbiome has a certain type of bacteria.

When those same foods are removed, the microbiome in your gut starts to change and kill off some of that bad bacteria. This results in digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, nausea and in some cases constipation.


3. Headaches

sugar withdrawal

Another part of your body that suffers from sugar withdrawal is your nervous system. All the gut bacteria and dopamine fluctuations make your nervous system more prone to headaches. And these can even become migraines.

Although these can be painful and uncomfortable, headaches usually go away after a few days.


4. Muscle pain

sugar withdrawal

Just like headaches, your nervous system can make you have muscle aches and pains. But it isn’t just due to this. Another reason for muscle pains has to do with the water weight you lose when you cut down on sugar. Losing weight like this means you may be losing hydration and nutrients in your muscles like magnesium, sodium and calcium.

When this happens, sometimes you can even feel your muscles cramping a lot more, as well as feeling a bit sore. To avoid this make sure you are getting plenty of water and eating the right foods to supplement that loss.

5. Mood Swings

As you can guess, when your brain isn’t releasing dopamine into the bloodstream your body receptors aren’t getting to that euphoric happy state. This means you won’t be too happy without the “happiness” hormone. Your mood will fluctuate.

Besides, with all the fluctuation happening in your gut microbiome and in your dopamine levels, your nervous system is likely to be in distress. This can make you feel a lot of anxiety and can even lead to irritability.

Even if this seems like a bad trade-off, cutting sugar out of your diet is the right option since these sugar withdrawal symptoms will go away naturally as your body adjusts to your new lifestyle.

6. Fatigue

Fatigue is also one of the major side effects of cutting out sugar. This happens because of the energy loss during this process.

Our bodies use carbohydrates as fuel for energy by breaking down the sugars in them. In other words, our energy comes from glucose in our bloodstream. When your body goes from consuming high levels of sugar to none at all, all the extra energy your body had from the excess glucose is gone.

This is a symptom many people suffer from right after cutting out sugar. It mimics the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, like tiredness and lightheadedness.

You may feel like you should do something about it but in reality it’s not your blood sugar that’s low, it’s just lower than what it used to be, and your body takes time to adjust.

The best way you can combat fatigue in this process is by resting and not pushing yourself too hard, at least until your body gets accustomed to it.

sugar withdrawal

7. Chills and shakiness

Just like fatigue, you may experience symptoms of shakiness and chills. This happens mainly because of the sugar levels in your blood. The same way you feel lightheaded by lowering your blood sugar levels, it can also make you feel cold or get chills.

In combination with how susceptible and sensitive your nervous system is, this can result in shakiness. With the addition of irritability and anxiety you may no even feel like yourself.

Again, just give the process the time it needs to succeed. Your body will naturally adjust to your new diet. Some people may take longer than others to overcome all of these sugar withdrawal symptoms.

8. Depression

Since your body is craving dopamine, as you go through this process, you may become depressed. With regular sugar consumption you feel happier, this is because your brain is releasing dopamine hormone into your bloodstream, which helps lift your mood. This is why you generally feel happy when eating sugary foods like ice cream, for example.

When you combine this simple fact with the anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, chills, digestive issues, etc, you can understand why you are so prone to depression while your body is adjusting to these changes.

9. Poor Sleep

When going into a sugar detox, your sleeping patterns may change. This can result in poor sleep quality. These hormonal and microbiome changes can make your brain function in a different way and therefore diminish the amount of REM sleep you are getting each night.

You may have a harder time falling asleep or be wide awake throughout the night.

Having poor sleep and not resting enough can aggravate your depression, anxiety and mood swings. Therefore making it harder to go through a sugar detox.


How does it start? What are the stages your body and mind go through?

Even if you feel daunted by the amount of side effects you’re going to get from a sugar detox, these symptoms are only temporary and usually will go away in a couple of weeks.


Stage 1. Just starting out

When you make the decision to cut out all the sugar from your diet you start off incredibly motivated. Just like when you make a New Year’s Resolution and jump im the gym for the first on January 1st, it may seem like it’s going great and easy to keep up. But even if you don’t feel it right away, the symptoms will start to kick in. When they do, try to maintain your high levels of motivation and make sure you are keeping the end resulting in mind, so you don’t give in halfway through.


Stage 2. Cravings start

sugar withdrawal

This may happen a day or two after you’ve started this sugar detox. Sugar cravings, as we’ve discussed, can be the hardest part when you start out on this journey. Your body will keep asking for more sugar and you’ll get hungrier. Don’t give in to temptation just yet, as this is only temporary and you’ll start to feel better once your body gets accustomed to new changes.

You may also be experiencing some light headaches, irritability, anxiety and digestive issues such as constipation. These symptoms may have started to appear sooner but you only now are you realizing their existence.


Stage 3. Symptoms at their peak

By this point all you have to do is stay focused on your motivation. The symptoms you may have started to feel will be at their peak about 3 to 4 days into it, of course it may change depending on how your body processes the changes.

You may have intense fatigue and feel like you can’t do anything. Your sleep may now be disrupted, and you’re having difficulty concentrating on simple tasks. You digestive issues have gotten worse. And if cravings haven’t subsided by this point, they may be at their worst at this stage.


Stage 4. You start to feel better

Once all the symptoms you’re feeling subside, which should take about a week, you’ll feel a lot better. Typical results of people who have cut out sugar from their diets are weight loss, better skin, better sleep, a boost in energy levels and just an overall state of wellness.


If you’ve been thinking about going sugar free, just know it is a great decision in terms of long term health. All of these sugar withdrawal symptoms are only temporary and it is worthy to go through it all.

If you want to see other posts like this check out: 5 Easy Ways To Cut Down Your Sugar Intake