Addicts and Anecdotes

By Emily Beers

In Nutrition

January 27, 2016

PDF Article

(Corrects to clarify relationship between blood sugar and sleep.)

More and more, science is confirming what athletes report anecdotally: Avoiding sugar can dramatically improve health and performance.

The first week was hard. Really hard.

“My body told me it wanted sugar,” said Tanya Chick.

An athlete at CrossFit E-Town in Evanston, Illinois, Chick said she was addicted to Trader Joe’s freeze-dried mangoes. Chick’s mango fetish came to an end the moment she signed up for her affiliate’s No Sugar November nutrition challenge last fall. She said conquering her sugar addiction was difficult, but soon her cravings went away and she started feeling better, sleeping better, performing better.

An Oct. 26 study in the journal Obesity supports Chick’s anecdotal evidence from the November challenge. In “Isocaloric Fructose Restriction and Metabolic Improvement in Children With Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome,” Dr. Robert Lustig and company replaced foods with added sugars with other foods but kept caloric intake steady for participants. The resulting data indicated health markers improved dramatically in the study’s 43 subjects after just 10 days of following a low-sugar diet.

“It’s hard to put into words what (avoiding sugar) does to you. It just makes you feel better,” Chick said.

Chick might not have the words to describe exactly how reduced sugar consumption affected her, and many affiliates only have anecdotal evidence to justify the success of no-sugar challenges, but researchers are providing more and more backup. The science is sound, Lustig said, and has helped bring the negative consequences of consuming added sugar into the mainstream.

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3 Comments on “Addicts and Anecdotes”


wrote …

is so HARD without sugar but after is so GOOD :-)


wrote …

While I agree that sugar is awful, the interpretation of Afaghi et al. 2007 is erroneous:

Similarly, a 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article —“High-Glycemic-Index Carbohydrate Meals Shorten Sleep Onset”—looked at the effects of eating sugar before bed. The research concluded sugar consumption negatively affects sleep-onset latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep).

In the study, a high-GI meal (there was no sugar, the independent variable being studied was rice) 4 hours before bed decreased the time to fall asleep (which might be interpreted as a "negative" change, but really, you want to fall asleep fast.

Full text is available:


replied to comment from Hannah Lederman

Hi Hannah.

Thank you for spotting and noting the error. We've updated the article with corrected information.

Please accept our apologies!

Mike Warkentin
Managing Editor
CrossFit Journal

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