January 27, 2016
(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.