Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms: How To Quit Sugar?

Sugar might be the sweetest thing to eat but when it comes to health it has a bitter reputation for the adverse effects it can cause. The first, most crucial, and challenging step is to decrease added sugar now that everyone is becoming more health-conscious and attempting to make dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

Even if we are successful in reducing the amount of sugar in our diet, a sugar detox can still cause unpleasant symptoms. Let’s examine the symptoms, the causes of these symptoms, and treatment options.

In this blog, we have covered:

What is Sugar Withdrawal or Sugar Detox?

Let’s first examine what sugar detox is before delving into the causes of our sugar withdrawal symptoms and how to handle them. As the name implies, this approach entails lowering or altogether eliminating added sugar from the diet. By lowering the risk of heart disease, enhancing oral health, and reducing calories, sugar detox is known to improve overall health.

Added sugar itself has no benefits beyond providing empty calories, so cutting calories leads to weight loss and weight management. 

Although it may seem simple to go on a sugar detox, many people find it to be a challenging effort because eliminating sugar can cause a variety of problems, including cravings, headaches, and vomiting. 

Natural sugars on the other hand are found to be beneficial for health, unlike added or artificial sugars. Sugars that occur naturally include lactose, which can be found in milk, and fructose, which may be found in fruits. Cane sugar and maple syrup both include sucrose, sometimes referred to as table sugar.

Read More: Natural Vs Added Sugar: Which Is Dangerous?

Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal 

The duration and severity of sugar withdrawal symptoms might range from a few days to a few weeks depending on the individual. Both physical and mental symptoms may be present. The usual symptoms are- 

  • Headache
  • Weariness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impatience
  • Strong cravings 

The severity of these symptoms typically varies depending on the person’s eating habits and binging tendencies. Sugar dependence causes a vicious cycle of binge eating in which a person tends to overeat in order to feel good but then feels guilty and depressed afterward. The occurrence and intensity of sugar detox symptoms are greatly influenced by a person’s cycle of binge eating.

Major Causes of Sugar Withdrawal 

Here are five major causes of sugar withdrawal:

  • Dependence on sugar: Consuming sugar triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, our brains can become dependent on this dopamine release, leading to a cycle of dependence on sugar.
  • Blood sugar fluctuations: Consuming large amounts of sugar can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, which triggers the release of insulin to bring blood sugar back down. This can lead to blood sugar fluctuations and cause symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and cravings.
  • Inflammation: Consuming too much sugar can contribute to inflammation in the body, which can cause a range of health issues. Reducing sugar intake can help lower inflammation levels, but can also cause temporary discomfort as the body adjusts.
  • Gut health: Excessive sugar consumption can negatively impact gut health by altering the balance of gut bacteria and promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. When sugar intake is reduced, gut bacteria can undergo changes that may lead to digestive discomfort.
  • Addiction: In some cases, excessive sugar consumption can lead to addiction-like behavior, making it difficult to reduce or eliminate sugar intake without experiencing withdrawal symptoms of sugar. Overcoming sugar addiction may require professional help and support.

Sugar’s Impact on the Brain 

Sucrose activates the sweet taste receptors in our mouth, which causes the brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that aids in the transmission of signals between brain nerves, or neurotransmitters as they are known in science. 

Ever wonder why dopamine is often referred to as the “Reward chemical”? because when we are exposed to pleasurable stimuli, our brain releases dopamine. The rewarding effects of dopamine are mostly felt in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and pleasure.

Simply explained, rewarding behavior frequently motivates us to repeat our acts, which results in the release of dopamine and the need to eat food like junk food or sugary foods.

The chemical balance in the brain is altered when dietary sugar is eliminated or reduced. Hormonal regulation, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting are all regulated by dopamine. Since dopamine levels drop when sugar is removed from the diet, several brain pathways that are normally working are likely impacted, leading to the symptoms. 

Know More: Is Sugar an Electrolyte?

Sugar Withdrawal Treatment 

Since the symptoms of sugar withdrawal go away after a few days or a week, there is no specific treatment for them. However, there are some suggestions to lessen the likelihood of these symptoms appearing or to treat those who already have them.

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Drink More: Sugar-Free Electrolyte Drinks

Tips to Subsist Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms 

  • Eat balanced meals- Proper menu planning is the key to long-term sugar reduction. A feeling of fullness and a decrease in cravings can be achieved by including complex carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in the day’s meals.
  • Fill up on dietary fiber – Fiber is crucial for regulating blood sugar levels. Thus, increasing your intake of fiber can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
  • Add magnesium-rich foods – Magnesium is a mineral essential for maintaining blood sugar levels and regulating insulin production. Magnesium is also necessary for the activation of serotonin, widely known as the “happy hormone.” Thus, including foods high in magnesium in the diet can aid in reducing cravings and mood swings. 
  • Increase your protein intake- As foods high in protein promote satiety. Increasing protein intake makes you feel fuller for longer, which reduces binge eating.
  • Hydration-  It is impossible to overstate the advantages and necessity of being hydrated. A healthy lifestyle transition starts with hydration. People frequently confuse thirst for hunger and tend to overeat, consuming unnecessary calories. Dehydration can also result in fatigue, headaches, and vertigo. Keeping a water bottle nearby and occasionally drinking water will help ease the sensations. 
  • Taking it slow- Slow and steady wins the race; abruptly drastically reducing sugar can exacerbate symptoms. The idea is to gradually cut back on additional sugars. This not only lowers the likelihood of getting symptoms but also makes it easier to maintain good habits.
  • Sleep quality- High-quality sleep has been associated with better health outcomes. Lack of sleep causes the hunger hormone ghrelin to be stimulated more, which causes sugar cravings, especially for sweets or foods high in sugar because they rapidly lift one’s mood.

Prevention of Sugar Withdrawal 

Here are some tips to prevent sugar withdrawal:

  • Gradual reduction: Gradually reducing your sugar intake over time, rather than quitting cold turkey, can help prevent the shock to your system that can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
  • Balanced meals: Eat balanced meals that include protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This can help keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce sugar cravings.
  • Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are often high in added sugars, so try to avoid them as much as possible. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help reduce sugar cravings and alleviate symptoms of dehydration that can be mistaken for sugar withdrawal symptoms.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep can help regulate hormones that affect appetite and mood, reducing the likelihood of sugar cravings and withdrawal symptoms.


Sugar reduction causes a variety of changes in the body that cause a variety of symptoms. Consistency and making baby steps toward a goal are the keys to maintaining any dietary alteration for a longer period of time. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help to lessen the symptoms of sugar withdrawal. 

There is nothing to worry about since these symptoms often only last a week or two. Simply try to concentrate on maintaining a healthy diet and treating these symptoms without medication, unless they are very severe in which case you might need to see a doctor.

Sugar Withdrawal Related FAQs

What are some common sugar withdrawal symptoms?

Common sugar withdrawal symptoms include headaches, mood swings, fatigue, cravings for sweets, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms usually occur within the first few days of reducing sugar intake and can last up to two weeks, but gradually improve as the body adjusts to the lower sugar intake.

How long do sugar withdrawal symptoms last?

Sugar withdrawal symptoms typically last for a few days to two weeks. The duration of symptoms may vary depending on the individual’s sugar intake, overall health, and level of physical activity. Gradual reduction of sugar intake may help alleviate symptoms.

How do I cope with Sugar withdrawal symptoms?

To cope with sugar withdrawal symptoms, it is recommended to stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and reduce stress. Gradual reduction of sugar intake may also help alleviate symptoms.

Can sugar withdrawal symptoms lead to depression?

There is no conclusive evidence that sugar withdrawal symptoms can directly cause depression. However, the mood swings and irritability that may accompany sugar withdrawal could potentially exacerbate existing 0 depression in some individuals.

How can I prevent sugar addiction?

To prevent sugar addiction, it is recommended to limit processed foods and sugary drinks, consume a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, stay hydrated, and engage in regular physical activity. It may also be helpful to identify and address emotional triggers for overeating

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