By now, most of us realize just how bad sugar can be for the human body. Heart disease, an expanding gut, kidney stones, liver damage, and breakouts are just some of the side effects of consuming too much of the white stuff—not to mention the harm it does to your teeth. That doesn’t make sugar evil, per se, as it’s just one part of the dietary puzzle, but it does mean it’s worth double-checking that you’re not over-indulging on sweets.
Unfortunately, quitting sugar isn’t always easy (though we’ve got advice on how to do it). Motivational YouTuber Matt D’Avella realized some of those challenges when he decided to quit sugar for 30 days. Of course, that meant ditching obvious sources, such as ice cream and chocolate, but as D’Avella started reading labels, he realized how much added sugar is in breakfast cereal, bread, and even protein bars. “All this stuff needs to go,” he says.
Experts don’t totally agree—you don’t need to ditch added sugar entirely, but you should probably keep it under 9 teaspoons (or 150 calories, or 36 grams) a day. Sugar tastes good, though, so it’s included in a lot of places you wouldn’t think. Cutting back can give you cravings, headaches, fatigue and cramps.
D’Avella was lucky that he wasn’t consuming too much sugar to begin with, so even though he had some initial cravings, they weren’t incapacitating. He cut back on fruit at the same time, substituting more salads and greens, and eating more complex carbs. Meals like curried cod with rice and sauteed kale pretty well defined his 30 days.
By the end, he says his energy levels had stabilized; he wasn’t riding the highs and lows of blood sugar fluctuations any more. He also noticed his “dad gut” started to shrink. “It didn’t disappear,” he says, “but the tide had turned.” Now that he’s completed his experiment, D’Avella plans to ease sugar back into his life, starting with a once-a-week cheat meal.