Curious about intermittent fasting and sugar?
Hi, I'm Netta.
Here are the answers to some of the questions I'm often asked about intermittent fasting (IF) and sugar.
If you don't find the answers to your questions here, please click here and send me a message.
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Intermittent fasting (IF) has existed for thousands of years in many cultures and religions. In fact, you’ve been doing it naturally all your life!
IF is simply a pattern of eating and not eating.
When you don’t eat for a period of time, for example, when you’re asleep, you are actually fasting, and this fasting time allows the body a much-needed healing rest.
Your body, especially your digestion, your organs, your brain, your blood, and your hormones, all get a chance to do their job in peace.
We need that metabolic rest. The human body isn’t designed to be fed continually. So taking a conscious pause from eating gives the body the time it needs to rest and heal itself.
Intermittent fasters refer to the period of time when they do eat as their “window”. The length and timing of the window is an individual choice that can vary from person to person.
We've been told for decades that we need to eat every few hours in order to keep our metabolism working properly, but that's been shown to be a myth.
Most of us have spent years eating frequent meals and snacks, and we still feel hungry!
But what if we looked at food and hunger differently?
Actually, what you eat and how often you eat plays a big role in how hungry you might feel.
When you eat refined or processed sugar (or starchy foods like flour), the sugar quickly turns into glucose in your body. This causes your blood glucose levels to rise.
This makes your pancreas produce insulin so that the blood glucose levels come down again.
Every time you eat sugary and starchy foods, your body reacts in the same way: up and down, up and down.
It’s a bit like a rollercoaster! (And over time, it can make you feel sick!)
After you eat sugary and starchy foods you might feel like you're hungry… but in fact, it may be just your blood glucose levels crashing. So you automatically want to eat something… anything!
But if you ate just a couple of hours ago, how can it really be hunger?
It’s probably not… But sugar’s making your blood glucose levels spike and crash, and this is making you think you’re hungry.
Watch this short video to learn more:
When you’re fasting, you’re not eating. Naturally, this keeps your blood glucose levels stable.
But if (during your window) you eat foods that spike your blood glucose, your pancreas will produce insulin in order to stabilize your blood glucose.
Sugary and starchy foods create an insulin response more than other types of foods.
That may be why you feel “hungry” relatively soon after eating.
Even if it may be a fall in blood glucose rather than real hunger, this physical response can make fasting really difficult.
Hunger isn’t part of fasting. Nor is suffering.
A lot of new IFers are attracted to the “eat what you want” approach of IF. Yes, it’s a wonderful, freeing approach!
But the problem is that “eat what you want”, for many people, includes sugar. And that continues the cycle of feeling hungry and getting cravings. IF is so much more difficult when that’s happening.
So here’s my secret: Change what you want to eat!
The key to an easy and natural IF lifestyle is to eat nutritious foods that don’t spike your blood glucose levels or your insulin.
You don’t need to eat less – you need to eat in a way that nourishes you and keeps you feeling satiated for many hours.
Sugar doesn’t do that. It does the opposite: It doesn’t nourish you AND it makes you feel hungry.
No, don’t worry! I’m not telling you what you can or can’t do. We can decide together what foods make you feel good – really good! – and what keeps your cravings alive and makes fasting so much harder.
Nothing is forbidden or forever!
I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor and I don’t claim to be, so I won’t be giving you a meal plan or giving you permission (or taking it away).
But what you will get from me is guidance, support, and accountability. Because I've been fasting and living happily sugar free for so many years, I have real-life experience to help you get to the heart of what's keeping you so attached to sugar.
I get it: So often, we turn to sugary foods when we feel stressed or tired or emotional, or we need comfort or a treat.
That's totally understandable!
Then we feel guilty or frustrated because it derails our weight loss or shortens our fasting hours.
So what's the solution?
Together we can go deeper into your relationship with sugar so that you can finally let go of it and find other healthier ways to meet your valid emotional needs.
My goal is to guide you until you feel that you don't want, need, or miss sugar anymore.
Imagine finally feeling confident to make your own choices and decisions instead of feeling powerless over your cravings!
You know how we were told for decades that to lose weight, we should count calories, burn calories, and cut calories! Calories in, calories out… right?
And where has that got us?
Collectively, we’re sicker and fatter than ever before.
Many studies have shown that the whole notion of calories is flawed.
Not all calories are created equal. And not all calories affect your hormones, especially insulin, in the same way.
When you eat anything, particularly sugary and starchy foods, your body produces insulin.
Insulin has two main jobs:
- to bring your blood glucose levels back down from a spike.
- to allow cells in your muscles, liver and fat (adipose tissue) to take glucose from the blood and use it as a source of energy so that the cells can function properly.
The cells either use this glucose for energy right away, or they convert it into body fat for long-term storage.
You need a small amount of glucose in your blood, but you don’t need a huge quantity.
If you eat foods that stimulate the production of insulin (like sugar does), then your body is more likely to store body fat. This can happen even if you eat foods that are low in calories but high in sugar.
When your pancreas produces insulin repeatedly over a long period of time, your cells can stop responding to the insulin. This is called insulin resistance, and it can cause a lot of metabolic health problems.
For example, it can lead to storing more fat around your vital organs (visceral fat), a thicker waistline, higher blood pressure, and higher hemoglobin A1C levels that can lead to diabetes.
Intermittent fasting, combined with cutting sugar, can help prevent and reverse these symptoms.
It can be.
If you stop yourself from eating, even if you’re hungry, that can be unhealthy.
If you’re eating foods that aren’t particularly nutritious, especially when they’re processed by the food industry or full of sugar, and you find yourself on a sugar roller coaster, then that can be unhealthy.
If you feel the need to snack often because you get energy slumps or you’re always hungry, that can be unhealthy. And if your snacks are sugary or starchy and constantly spike your blood glucose and your insulin, that can be unhealthy too.
Fasting isn’t unhealthy, but using it as a way to punish yourself, or with any other type of negative approach, can be unhealthy.
We’ve been told for so many years to eat “little and often” - but this advice is actually contrary to human biology! It does keep the processed foods industry and the diet culture in business, though …
Intermittent fasting is a very powerful and natural tool that allows your body to function as it’s supposed to.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can stabilize blood sugar levels, increase resistance to stress, suppress inflammation, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve resting heart rate, and improve brain health and memory.
I was amazed when I first started reading more about intermittent fasting. What I learned went completely against what I’d always been told and what I believed!
That’s why I’m passionate about helping other health-conscious people like you to understand the power of intermittent fasting and the freedom and joy of a sugar free lifestyle.
I've read dozens of books and watched hundreds of videos about sugar and intermittent fasting. But I don’t want you to have to spend hours and hours figuring out confusing info.
So I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 books about sugar and intermittent fasting, just for you!
Some of the books are science-based, and some are more anecdotal. I loved them all, but I suggest you start with ONE. It doesn’t matter which one. The important thing is for us to educate ourselves, as consumers, patients and voters.
Take it from me as a teacher: Knowledge is power!
Studies show that gut health is central to your general health.
Sugar and processed foods starve the good bacteria that keep your gut happy, and feed the bad bacteria that give you cravings, mood swings, and a ton of other health issues.
There are many kinds of well-known fermented foods and drinks, including kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt.
Fermented foods, when made correctly, are full of gut-friendly good bacteria. And they taste great, too!
When I cut sugar and started to eat more fermented foods, I couldn’t believe what a difference it made to my health!
My mood stabilized, my inflammation went right down, my sleep got better, my digestion went back to normal, I lost my extra pounds, my skin cleared up, I could think more clearly… It’s amazing!
That’s why I teach about gut health and how to make your own fermented foods. I think you’ll fall in love with them, just like I did!
But first: cut sugar.
It’s the ONE thing you can do now to help you feel healthier and more energetic.
Watch this short video to learn more:
To be honest, I think most of us are addicted to sugar in some way.
But some people’s brains are more susceptible to the effect sugar has on them.
Brain scans have shown that it’s possible to become addicted to sugar… and even flour.
In fact, scientists have found that the way we become dependent on drugs is no different from the addiction we may form with foods made from sugar and flour.
Here’s the thing: Sugar, flour, and drugs are all powdery substances that have been refined and purified to hit the brain in a really powerful way.
Sugar and flour activate dopamine, the feel-good hormone in our brain.
It’s such an intense reaction that our brain tries to regulate the stimulation so that we can feel “normal” again. Which means that over time, you need more stimulation to get that same “high”.
In technical terms, this is called “downregulation”. In other words, the dopamine receptors downregulate and become less responsive to our sugar and flour intake.
So we become desensitized to the “high”, and we need more and more sugar.
Not everyone reacts this way, but many people do.
Is sugar really “addictive”?
There isn’t a one-size-fits all answer – it depends who you ask! Experts are divided on the subject.
I discuss this question in Episode #26 of the Life After Sugar podcast. You can listen to it here:
Are you really a sugar “addict”?
You may feel like you’re addicted to sugar and processed foods, but addiction is on a sliding scale.
Some people can moderate and eat a little sugar from time to time, and some people feel better being abstinent. It depends on so many factors.
Do you think that you're a moderator or an abstainer? This is the topic of Episode #12 of the Life After Sugar podcast. You can listen to it here:
What I’ve found is that most of us have an unhealthy dependent relationship with sugar and processed foods.
And this is at the heart of what “life after sugar” is all about.
Letting go of sugar is the most effective way to live an easy and natural intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Once you address this, you can feel confident with the food choices that you make, and feel healthier and happier.
Yes! This is my passion!
This is why I created the After Sugar Club.
It’s where you'll get personal step-by-step guidance from me to help you make small but powerful mindset shifts. And you'll finally experience an easy and natural intermittent fasting lifestyle and feel healthier with more energy and confidence... and less sugar!
We’ll use a simple framework I developed over the last 7 years of my sugar free intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Together, we’ll design a flexible and easy way of fasting, eating, and living that fits you.
With my support and guidance, within just a few short weeks you too can experience the sweetness of an easy and natural fasting lifestyle!
Want to learn more?
Click the green button below to get my list of top 10 books about intermittent fasting and sugar: