Sugar withdrawals

Mar 3, 2011
California's Central Coast Wine Country
Thanks to DNA and the example set by my parents, I'm a sugar addict. It's not uncommon for me to eat a brand new pint of Haagen Das right out of the container. Or eat an entire box of Nabisco vanilla wafers in one sitting. God, I love those things. Some nights I consume 2,000 calories of junk, even after a full meal just 90 minutes earlier. Gross.

Even so my cholesterol levels are always in the healthy range, my A1C good, and my weight in the healthy range. Go figure. Perhaps it's my lifetime of hardcore cycling. Even at age 69 I still try and ride 150 to 175 miles per week - all of it with lots off climbing. I guess I'm burning all this junk off.

Regardless, I'll be 70 in March and am looking to have a really good year on the bike in 2023. I'm a big powerful clydesdale; 6'5" and 230 to 240 pounds. Raw physical power has always been my strength but as I age I can tell I'm losing some of that power.

Nine days ago I decided to eliminate all junk food and added sugar from my diet. I haven't even had a single cookie or soda. The morning yogurt I eat is now the low sugar kind. My goal is to lose about 30 pounds so I can improve my power to weight ratio. Riding bikes brings out an insatiable competitive nature in me.

The sugar withdrawals I'm experiencing are INSANE. I've had a headache for all of the last week, I'm constantly dizzy, my hands are shaky, etc. I feel like crap. It's like I'm coming off of some kind of illegal drug.

Anyone else experienced something like this?

I post this because we are approaching the "New Year's Resolution" time. Consider it a public service announcement. :)

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No, but I’d like to commend you for doing that you need to do now now instead of later. So many of us wait until it’s last minute.

I realize cold turkey can be best, but I have to wonder if it is always best.

Any chance maybe some pasta might tide you over? Some simple stuff, to help adjust, rather than a couple weeks of misery.
I went on the "Primal Diet" several years ago as a jumpstart to get off sugar. At that point, I wasn't consuming a ton of it - rarely drank soda, desserts in moderation (no full pints of ice cream) but fairly frequent. Stopping by the local bakery on my days off was more or less routine.

Although I didn't quite have the headaches you're describing, the deep craving for sugar was absolutely there. I recall a few days into the transition (7 or so?) a commercial for 7-11 Slurpees came on the TV. Soda really wasn't something I drank often at all, but all of a sudden by brain was screaming "You need to get in the car and go get one of those NOW!". It was really quite shocking. I rode the cravings out, and around the 2-week mark I couldn't care less about sugar.

Fast forward to today, and I still don't eat a lot of sugary junk - current season aside. I find that my threshold for sweetness is far lower. I still enjoy something like a pain au chocolat (preferably with no icing sugar) sometimes, but sweets like nanaimo bars and the like are just off-putting.
17 months ago (July 2021) my Dr. advised me to lose 20 pounds. He suggested banning carbs.
I did so and included big sugar intake reductions.
LSS: I lost 29 pounds. He acted blown away during my July 2022 annual physical.
"97% of patients can't do what you did", was his exact quote.
The carb pangs were horrible. Discarded pizza crusts on the sidewalk looked appetizing.
I'd miss exits on the highway whilst dreaming about bread.

I can only suggest Colloidal minerals and vitamins as supplements to help reduce pangs.
Also, employ a rule such as, "No food after 7PM", or some such, just to reduce the number of hours in the day you need to manage.
Diet is too complex to chat about here. Obviously, eat less. Eat mo veggies.

I sure don't envy your sugar joneses.
Good for you Scott! You’ll thank yourself later for riding this out. Everything I’ve read shows big health benefits to a low carb/sugar diet. Don’t know how long cravings will last, maybe others here know. I cut back years ago and rarely have dessert or sweets, but pasta is still my weakness.
Sugar free peanut brittle and dark chocolate almonds from See's candy shop help me with my cravings. ;)
Fruit and RAW honey! These are not the same as processed sugar in the human diet. Plenty of people will tell you they are, but international studies say otherwise.

You'd be amazed at how satiating a couple tbsp of honey and a few cups of fresh pineapple are to that sweet tooth!
A couple years ago I tried something like that. Sort of a daytime routine of only protein and veggies with a dinner that was more balanced with carbs. I had crazy sugar cravings, no headaches, but I was really tired during the day for the better part of a month. Felt fantastic afterwards, and ended up dropping my BMI down to 10% and dropped my weight 30lbs. Stick with what you're doing now. You'll thank yourself in a month.
I went out and bought another gallon of eggnog in sympathy.
Son of a gun!

I buy the light egg nog, lactose free. Mix 50/50 with Half and half and add spices. Cuts the sugar back a bit. Scratches the itch.

I am a breadaholic.

I have been better so far this Christmas. But I hear you guys. Refined White Sugar is indeed straight up poison.
Perhaps it's my lifetime of hardcore cycling.
No, it's your genetics. Congratulations, you won the lottery in that department!

In addition to good genes, It's also the fact that you may have not experienced high loads of stress for extended periods of time on a regular basis throughout your life.

If you want to quit anything, not just sugary foods, try and taper off. The cold turkey approach doesn't work. Eat less and less sweets. Even if you drink soda, try and drink as much water as possible in-between.

When you quit cold turkey, you experience sudden withdrawal, and you will eventually relapse. Tapering off slowly guarantees good results.

I quit smoking fifteen years ago. Before that, I tried a few times and I relapsed. The cravings and bad habits were there. I started with cutting down one cigarette every 3 days, then when I was done with that I moved down to every two days, then I cut down one every day. I got to the point where I was smoking a couple a day, than one a day that I split in two halves. Slowly I lost my appetite for cigarettes and completely quit without ever having the desire to touch a cigarette. It's been fifteen years and I don't miss smoking at all, and it bothers me if people around me smoke. In fact, my sense of smell is so good that I smell cigarette smoke from pretty far away.

I hope this advice can help you in some way, and congratulations on being and staying healthy!
Good on you when I did it I’m down nearly a100lbs.
30days in you will feel the benefits. If I were to supplement it would be with apple, rice even white I would not go pasta peanut butter would be good just be mindful of calories.
what do you feed with when you out on the bike??