How Long Does Withdrawal From Sugar Last?

Timeline of Sugar Detoxification and Its Effect

How Long Does Withdrawal From Sugar Last?

Many sugar cravings stem from a blood sugar imbalance. When your body ingests sugar, your blood sugar spikes, and your body releases insulin to lower it to a safer level.

If the insulin brings your blood sugar level a bit too low, as often happens, your body craves foods that will raise it and increase your energy. Thus, sugar is a tricky food.

When we talk about sugars from a health perspective, what we are usually talking about is added-sugar which is the refined sugar added into things bread, candy, and soda. This includes table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and white flour.

Whether or not you can actually become addicted to, or physically dependent upon, added-sugar depends largely on your definition of addiction. But it does appear that many people experience withdrawal- symptoms when they give it up.

You're on a blood sugar roller coaster, and it's hard to get off it. The moment you withdraw excessive intake of added sugar, the more you crave for it.

As advised by most health experts, the key to balancing blood sugar is to eat foods that prevent too much insulin from being released, such as protein and healthy fats, and consuming only small amounts of sugar (if any).

It's also important to eat regular meals and snacks because blood sugar drops when you skip a meal.

Sugar causes a release of endorphins in the brain. These are your body’s natural opioids. It’s possible that your body craves these extra opioids when they’re gone, causing withdrawal. Sugar also causes a release of dopamine, which plays a major role in habit formation.

If you have eliminated all sources of sugar from your diet, including fruit and dairy, then you may be experiencing the keto flu.

People on a ketogenic diet consume less than 10% of their calories from carbohydrates per day—which may be less than 20 grams of carbs.

Without access to sugar or other carbohydrates, the body has no source of glucose. Glucose is fuel for our cells, and without it, we begin to starve.

Saying sayonara to sugar is no piece of cake. It is a process you have to endure because while you detoxify your body from it, you will look for it even more. So sugar is an addictive food hard to withdraw from our system —literally and figuratively. Those cravings don’t go away overnight especially when you see it. So it is a battle between saying no and saying yes.

Signs and Symptoms

Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers. There are billions of these molecules at work all the time, sending messages throughout your nervous system that allow you to eat, think, move, breathe, etc.

Sugar also triggers a release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to cravings.

Common Symptoms

People may want to reduce their sugar intake to promote their overall health. However, doing so can cause some unpleasant but temporary sugar detox symptoms. If you cut added sugars from your diet, you may experience:

  • Intense cravings for something sweet
  • Intense cravings for other carbohydrates, chips or pasta
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • cravings for sweet or high-calorie foods
  • headaches
  • lack of energy
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • stomach cramps
  • anxiety

Within days of giving up sugar, these symptoms can become so unbearable that we end up binging. Binge-eating is part of a vicious cycle of sugar dependence and withdrawal. After a binge, people often feel guilty, depressed, and angry. So how do they make themselves feel better? They eat more sugar to get those endorphins flowing again.

Endorphins make you feel better while you are eating, but they don’t stick around for long. Some also experience ketosis feelings. Basically, ketosis feels the mild flu. These symptoms typically go away on their own after about a week. It just takes time for your body to adjust to its new reality.


Coping for sugar detoxification depends on your motivation and determination. How you cope with the symptoms of sugar withdrawal will depend on your goals and reasons for reducing your sugar intake. A strong goal for this kind of transition requires you to give your body time to adjust.

If you are doing a low-carb or keto diet for weight loss purposes, you can consider altering your approach. A low-carb diet has many of the same health benefits as a keto diet, including weight loss. The only difference is that your body will not enter a state of ketosis. Ketosis can lead to rapid weight loss, but it is usually temporary.


It is important to talk to your doctor before beginning a low-carb or sugar detoxification. This kind of body adjustment is usually healthy, but it can be dangerous for certain people. Because these types of sugar-free lifestyles are so restrictive, they can lead to depression.


Sugar withdrawal doesn’t really require long-term treatment, because it will pass relatively quickly if you are consistent. The main problem people face is sustaining a low-sugar diet. These restrictive diets are too much for most people, so don’t feel guilty if you fall off the wagon.

If going sugar-free for three weeks is going to make you binge next month, try a less drastic diet. Added-sugar might be hard to let go of, especially since it has been part of your lifestyle for a long time.

It is at the same time not that long to take if you are willing to make it less to zero in your diet. Moreover, added sugar is unnecessary. Fruits and vegetables already have enough sugar that our bodies need. Anything in excess, as they say, is bad.

So avoid anything processed when you can.

A diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help you sustain a healthy weight while giving the body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Try to avoid processed foods, as they tend to be packed with added sugars. Instead, get your sweet fix from something that contains fiber, berries, oranges, or apples.

Final word

Eating behavior is important. If you have to set a goal to detoxify your body from added-sugar, you need to make changes in your eating behaviors. Old habits are hard to break, especially quitting comfort food and processed food and drinks.

Instead of detoxifying drastically that can hurt you emotionally and physically, start with small changes. Take small steps and be proud of it rather than guilty about the changes yet to be made.

A gradual adjustment is better than nothing and it can take you straight into a healthier you.

You may also start by still enjoying yourself eating your favorite smoothies and juices, your favorite desserts, and other comfort foods in your mind that gives you satisfaction and relieves you from stress by adjusting sugar ingredients from them.

Don’t you know that you can actually replace the added-sugar with something nature can provide? All-natural, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The miracle berry from richberry. As mentioned and suggested, you can still enjoy eating your comfort food, and drinks without added sugar. Try consuming them with richberry and experience a whole lot of surprises you can give yourself into.


Here’s How Long Cutting Out Sugar Results Take to Actually Show


The benefits of a sugar detox and 7 tips for how to do one effectively, according to dietitians

How Long Does Withdrawal From Sugar Last?

The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons of added sugar per day — a far cry from the recommended amount of six for women and nine for men. As an antidote to excessive sugar consumption, sugar detoxes have grown in popularity.

To be clear, not all sugar is bad. In fact, it occurs naturally in many types of vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy. But, health problems arise when most of our sugar comes from added sugars, those in cookies, cakes, bread, plant-based milk, condiments, and more.

So from that perspective, a sugar detox could help you reduce your added sugar intake and in turn embrace a more nutrient-dense diet. Here's what you need to know before trying a sugar detox. 

What is a sugar detox? 

A sugar detox is when you abstain from eating sugar, specifically added sugar, for at least a week and up to a month in order to reduce sugar intake, curb sugar cravings, and improve overall health.

There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to sugar detoxes, but your focus should be on cutting out added sugars from your diet: that means paying attention to nutritional facts and avoiding sugary sodas, most desserts, processed foods, and even some condiments ketchup, which can include four grams of sugar per tablespoon.

«There's now lots of emerging research that too much sugar can lead to heart disease and cancer and inflammation,» says Lisa Young, RDN, an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. «So while you might not see the results of cutting out added sugar tomorrow, over time, it's a very big positive for your health.» 

In fact, a 2017 study estimated if Americans cut their added sugar intake by 20% for 20 years, about 20 fewer people per 100,000 would develop type 2 diabetes , and 10 fewer per 100,000 would develop heart disease. These effects increased the more added sugar was cut. 

Note: Due to the lack of clinical studies examining sugar detoxes, there is no clear recommendation for how long you should detox whether that be 7, 21, or 30 days. Instead, Young suggests you start your sugar detox by aiming for a minimum of one or two weeks without eating added sugar.

You might think of detoxes as a short-term mission, but the goal of a sugar detox is to help you re-assess your relationship to sugar in the long term. For some, that means cutting added sugar their diets indefinitely, and for others, it may mean re-introducing it in small amounts post-detox. Over time, reducing your added sugar intake can lead to multiple health benefits. 

Additionally, your sweet tooth could be impacting your heart: A 2014 study found people who consumed between 17% to 21%  of their total daily calories from added sugar had a 38% greater risk of dying from heart disease than people who ate less added sugar — about 8% of their total calories. 

Important: Nutritionists say many people can benefit from embarking on a sugar detox, but if you have a history of eating disorders or an «all or nothing» mentality when it comes to food, a sugar detox might not be right for you.

Understanding sugar withdrawal 

However, cutting out sugar is harder than it seems. Many people begin to feel sugar cravings and withdrawal symptoms a few days into a detox — similar to the craving and withdrawal cycles seen in those quitting nicotine.

«Sugar is a substance that has been shown to release dopamine and opioids in the brain, both of which have addictive potential,» says Ilene Ruhoy, MD, a board-certified neurologist and the founder of Center for Healing Neurology. 

Receptors in the brain are rewired to compensate for the release of these extra neurotransmitters. Therefore, it's possible when you reduce your sugar intake, your brain craves the extra opioids and dopamine, resulting in withdrawal symptoms. 

Symptoms of sugar withdrawal can include: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability

Sugar withdrawal symptoms can last between a few days to a week, but there are steps you can take to mitigate them. 

7 tips to detox from sugar 

Adding certain foods to your diet can help curb sugar cravings and make saying goodbye to added sugars less painful.  Here are some tips to combat sugar cravings: 

1. Eat breakfast

Eating breakfast with proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods, and healthy fats can keep blood sugar balanced and prevent sugar cravings throughout the day. 

2. Start small

If quitting cold turkey is too difficult, gradually reduce added sugar intake before cutting it out entirely. «There's nothing wrong with having a couple of teaspoons of added sugar a day if you stop there,» Young says. 

Note: Two teaspoons of granulated sugar roughly equates to eight and a half grams. 

3. Eat more healthy fats 

Eating healthy fats those in nuts and fatty fish can help reduce cravings for sugary foods. Try adding some natural (read: no added sugar) nut butter into your diet, or adding a serving of avocado to your lunch. 

4. Add protein 

Adding extra protein keeps you full and subsequently reduces food cravings. A small 2017 study of people with type two diabetes found a low carbohydrate, high fiber, fat, and protein diet increased feelings of fullness and reduced sugar cravings.

5. Snack on fruit

Embracing natural sugars found in fruits watermelon, berries, and bananas can help satisfy your sweet tooth. «Opt for foods fruit that will give you sweetness with fiber to keep your blood sugar steady,» says Young. 

6. Swap your drinks 

Fruit drinks and other packaged beverages can be a sneaky source of added sugar. Replace sodas and lemonade with club soda, unsweetened tea, or just plain water. 

7. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate sugar cravings, so be sure to drink 3.7 liters of water per day for men, or 2.7 liters for women. 

Insider's takeaway 

A little bit of sugar isn't a bad thing — but if you find yourself feeling dependent on sugary foods, a sugar detox could help you address your cravings and embrace healthier eating habits.

If you do decide to do a detox, be sure to up your intake of protein, healthy fats, fruit, and fiber and drink plenty of water to keep withdrawal symptoms headaches and irritability under control.


Sugar Detox (Withdrawal Symptoms & How-To)

How Long Does Withdrawal From Sugar Last?

How I went from sugar addiction to zero sugar cravings. If you’re ready for a sugar detox, this is for you.

We’ll take a science-based look at sugar dangers, sugar detox withdrawal symptoms, and how and how long to do it. At the bottom, I’ll share a sample sugar detox diet.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission when you shop through them – thank you. 

Sugar addiction was something I struggled with for many years. Moving from sugar addiction, which included feeling control around sweets, deprivation and binging, to intuitive eating really was life-changing. So today I’m sharing tips on how to detox from sugar, overcome sugar addiction, and what to symptoms to expect while detoxing from sugar. 

I always assumed I “just had a sweet tooth”, yet in retrospect, I see what I had was an addiction. As someone who had a serious sugar addiction and hasn’t had a sugar craving in years, I hope I can shed some light on detoxing from sugar. 

Dangers of Sugar

When I refer to “sugar” in this post, I’m referring to added or refined sugar, you’d find in processed foods and desserts. Natural sugars those found in fruit are healthy for most people, so there’s no need to avoid them. 

While we all know that sugar is a source of empty calories that can lead to weight gain, and causes cavities, there are other dangers you may not be aware of. 

According to The Diabetes Council, 90% of Americans consume more than the recommended amount of sugar per day. 

  • A higher intake of added sugar is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. (JAMA Internal Medicine)
  • Sugar is an immune system suppressant. Just 100 grams of sugar can suppress white blood cells functioning by 40% for at least 5 hours. (Daily Mail)
  • Glucose can increase cortisol (the “fight or flight” stress hormone) levels by nearly 4 times. (Hormones and Behavior) 
  • A significantly increased risk of certain types of cancer is associated with high levels of fructose intake. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) 

How Long Should You Detox From Sugar?

This will depend on your personal goals. Just need a reset after too much indulgence? 5 days is fine. 

However, if mine, your relationship with sugar has become a habit or physical addiction, 30 days is a good start. Many people find that it takes about a month to break a habit, however, other research suggests it may take much longer. Furthermore, to break a habit, one must replace it with another behavior. 

Sugar Detox Withdrawal Symptoms 

Numerous studies have found that added sugars can produce changes in neurochemistry and behavior similar to those of other addictive drugs. When initially cutting out sugar after long-term use, one may experience withdrawal symptoms. Sugar detox symptoms should resolve within a few days, but may include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Nausea 

How to Detox From Sugar

Overcoming sugar addiction is part physical and part psychological. I’d say the psychological element is the most difficult, and in order to move beyond it you must change your subconscious feelings about food. Let’s take a look at how you can take care of your body and mind during your sugar detox. 

Step 1: Detox Your Pantry 

Identify where the added sugars are coming from in your diet. It’s often secretly lurking in peanut butter spreads, yogurt, crackers, bread, and other refined products. Swap them out for healthier choices Protein Oatmeal instead of cereal. 

Step 2: Hydrate with Sugar-Free Beverages 

  • My stevia-sweetened Lemon Apple Cider Vinegar Drink is great for detoxing. It’s sweet and tasty, but very low calorie and with no added sugar.  
  • Make a big pitcher of Fruit Infused Detox Water to sip on throughout the day. This Cranberry Detox Drink is tasty too! 
  • End the day with a hot cup of tea. Lavender Tea is calming. You can also try our Dandelion Root Tea which supports liver detox. 
  • If you’re used to sugary beverages, try making some healthier swaps. Get flavored sparkling water instead of soda, and make your coffee creamy and sweet with a few drops of stevia and some warm oat milk. 

Step 3: Nourish

  • Fill up on colorful, fresh foods and plenty of veggies, protein, fiber, and healthy fats avocados. Buddha Bowls and Soups always make me feel good. Ensuring you’re getting enough nutrition, vitamins, and minerals can help curb cravings. 
  • Snack on fresh fruit. Naturally sweet, fruit can help satisfy sugar cravings. 
  • Try this Chocolate Maca Smoothie that tastes a chocolate shake and may support hormone balance. 
  • There’s no need to feel deprived while avoiding added sugar. A couple of squares of dark chocolate or a homemade Bliss Ball can really help curb cravings. 
  • If you’d to really reset your system, fasting can help. I recommend Prolon, which is a fast with food, and has helped several friends and myself overcome cravings. Click my affiliate link below for 10% off.

Step 4: Move

Exercise is your friend. If you’re detoxing from sugar and not feeling great, don’t stress about getting in an intense workout. A gentle walk will improve your mood by releasing endorphins. 

Step 5: Embrace a Gratitude Mindset

It’s very difficult to replace a bad habit with a healthier lifestyle choice if we don’t enjoy it. You can retrain your palate to enjoy healthier foods you may not have d in the past. Get excited about feeling better and taking better care of yourself! 

I find meditation to be a useful tool in changing subconscious thought patterns and breaking unwanted habits. 

At the height of my unhealthy relationship with food, I thought of food in a negative way. I was so obsessed with it, that I would not even eat a banana, because it had “too many carbs and too much sugar.” 

When I changed my perspective to understanding that food is good, beautiful, nourishing, strengthening, things changed for the better.

While I no longer crave or even really enjoy sugary foods, I feel no guilt about eating a few bites of cake (that’s all I want) on a birthday, or even a double scoop of gelato on vacation.

I don’t believe in having any foods “off-limits” as we often want the things we cant have. It’s the forbidden fruit syndrome. 

I started to think an athlete. Rather than dieting and exercising, I started training and eating. Can you feel the difference? The former is restrictive, while the latter empowering. 

Think, know, and feel this: “I feel best when I nourish my body and mind with whole foods. Sugar and processed foods make me feel sick, and I’m tired of feeling sick.” 

If you feel control around sweets or crave them daily, I know how you feel. Breaking a sugar addiction can be hard at first, but follow my sugar detox tips and you’ll be on your way to freedom. 


What happens when you stop eating sugar? A MD explains

How Long Does Withdrawal From Sugar Last?
Sometimes, making healthy choices is easy—I mean, it doesn’t sound so terrible to take more baths, have more orgasms, or go on more vacations in the name of wellness, right? But in other cases, cutting back on sugar, doing what’s good for you can be really rough.

Sure, you ly know by now that phasing out the sweet stuff is a good idea, but the prospect of making such a massive dietary change is enough to freak anyone out. If you've delayed your plans due to fear of the unknown, don't stress—according to Ian K.

Smith, MD, breaking up with added sweeteners isn’t as torturous as it sounds, even for the most hardcore dessert-lover.

«If you’re able to gradually reduce your sugar intake and replace it with something else, you can stay off of it [indefinitely].»

“The truth is, if you’re able to gradually reduce your sugar intake and replace it with something else— more fiber and more protein—you can stay off of it [indefinitely],” says Dr. Smith, the author of the book Blast the Sugar Out.

He adds that it really helps to know what to expect during the course of a come-down, so that if you do hit a rough patch, you’ll have the foresight to not let it throw you off course altogether. Because the end result is pretty, well, sweet.

First thing’s first: According to Dr. Smith, no one can technically “quit” sugar, since it’s the fuel our bodies run on and is present in lots of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Instead, it’s about learning how to eat the sweet stuff in moderation, since even if you think your diet’s healthy, you’re probably getting more sugar than you should.

While there are lots of methods for kicking the habit— a three-day starter detox—Dr. Smith recommends weaning yourself off over the course of five weeks, decreasing your consumption by around 20 percent every seven days.

By the end, you’ll have shaved off about two-thirds of your average sugar intake from when you start. And as long as you stay under the recommended daily intake of 25 grams on most days, you can still have ice cream every now and then.

Not so bad, right?

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Week 1: Expect less energy and 'withdrawal' (but it's temporary!)

Okay, let's get the bad news the way first: Dr. Smith warns that you should brace yourself for withdrawal symptoms during the first three to five days of reducing sugar.

“The first thing people notice is they typically get headaches, similar to caffeine withdrawal,” he says.

“They also report having decreased energy levels and mental acuity, as well as gastrointestinal distress.”You've

It’s not totally clear why this happens from a biochemical standpoint, but research shows that giving up sugar creates a similar reaction in the body as ditching drugs. Dopamine levels fall, while acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates pain perception, rises—and this chemical combination is said to be linked to withdrawal symptoms.

Science aside, it’s important to remember this phase is only temporary. Dr. Smith says, “Not everyone experiences it, and if you do, you have to believe that it’s going to get better.»

If it all becomes too much to bear, he recommends eating some fruit to take the edge off—some options are lower in sugar than others, so stock up on options that won't give you a glycemic spike.

Photo: Stocksy/Natasa Mandic

Week 2: Your energy returns, but your sugar cravings persist

By the time your second week starts, your brain fog has probably lifted and you've ly got a lot of your energy back. But your body might still be wondering where all the sucrose went.

“In week two, most people talk about residual cravings,” Dr. Smith explains. “They’re beyond the withdrawal symptoms, but they’re missing certain types of sugary substances.” (Hey, it can take a while to acclimate to keto «fat bombs» if you’re used to Chunky Monkey.)

To combat this, he says, make sure you’re eating plenty of protein, healthy fats, and fiber with each meal, which will help you feel fuller, longer. Healthy snacks will also help— the smoothie Karlie Kloss swears by when she’s jonesing for dessert.

Photo: Stocksy/Ellie Baygulov

Week 3: Sugar 'withdrawal' should be over

You’re halfway through the game, which means you’ve ly ditched the biggest sugar offenders. Maybe you’ve given up rosé for LaCroix, switched to unsweetened almond milk, or stocked up on plain Greek yogurt rather than fruity flavors.

Prepare to be rewarded for your efforts. Week three is when you really start reaping the benefits of that low-sugar life. “People usually have no cravings, no symptoms, and are losing weight,” Dr.

Smith says. (That's because excess sugar is stored in the body as fat—and when the surplus goes away, so does the weight gain.) “They feel energized and encouraged that they can actually do this.

You may also find your taste buds are hyper-sensitized to anything sweet at this point, making cupcakes a lot easier to turn down when they cross your path.

Photo: Stocksy/Jennifer Brister

Week 4: Your sugar levels are low, but you've never felt better

After a month, the game you're playing with glucose is more mental than physical. “This is a psychological week—that final, purifying push,” Dr. Smith says. “While you’re still having some sugar, the amount you’re having is less than any of the previous weeks.”

Now's the point in your detox when you might be hearing that sweet siren song in your head.

Turn down the volume by scouring nutrition labels for sneaky, hidden sources of sugar to ensure you're not inadvertently feeding your sweet tooth.

You might want to start with your salad dressings, juices, and instant oatmeal. For this week, you should also favor low-glycemic fruits and opt for zero-added-sugar meals as much as possible.

Photo: Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic

Week 5 and beyond: Maintaining your low-sugar habits

By now, you’ll probably find that your relationship with sugar is a lot healthier than it was when you started—you’re more of a friendly acquaintance than an obsessive stalker. “From a psychological standpoint, you realize you don’t need sugar anymore,” says Dr. Smith. “You also understand the affect sugar once had on your body, because you feel so reinvigorated in week five.”

Going forward, it’s okay to have some sugar here and there, but to think of it as a treat, rather than a mainstay of your diet. “Portion control is very important, and you want to stay away from added sugars,” he advises. “But after five weeks, you should have no problem making smart decisions.”

Celebratory unicorn lattes for everyone! (Just hold the sprinkles.)

Originally published April 11, 2017; updated August 10, 2018.

There are lots of reasons why sugar's not so hot—it screws up your complexion, messes with your sleep, and disrupts your gut, among other nasty side effects.  


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