He Quits Sugar, Alcohol and Junk Food for a Month and Here’s What Happened
We have all heard about the negative effects sugar has on our body and why we should be cutting it out entirely from our diet.
To see if eliminating the sweet stuff really makes a difference, Dutch man Sacha Harland attempted to live for a month without consuming sugar or alcohol.
The experiment has been documented in a six-minute Lifehunters video that takes the viewer through his emotional journey and resulting gratifying results: weight loss of ten pounds and decreased blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
The 22-year-old from The Hague, Holland, who ended the month-long experiment in September, says one of the most surprising thing things he noticed was the adverse reaction his body had when sugar was reintroduced into his system.
He told FEMAIL: ‘I got arrhythmia twice in one and half weeks when I started eating sugar again.
‘I also had trouble sleeping; I couldn’t fall asleep before 3am or 4am. It’s not in the video because we had stopped filming,
‘This was an interesting thing; it [his body] wasn’t used to sugar any more and it came in like a drug.’
The DJ and producer says the experience was tough as it altered his moods and made life considerably more difficult when it came to mealtimes.
He continues: ‘I was really grumpy in the first few days and all my friends were saying the same thing.
‘I couldn’t eat what I was usually eating, I was constantly focused on what I could eat and what I could not and it was a bit hard to get used to it; it took like a week or a week and a half.
‘After a week or two it gets easier; the first couple of days I didn’t have a complete diet planned out so I had to find out by myself what meals to make and what to eat and what not to eat.’
To make things easier for himself Sacha devised a week’s worth of meals which he then rotated throughout the month.
‘After a week or two I had a couple of meals I could eat regularly and that made it a lot easier,’ he continues.
‘I repeated the things I already eaten because it was for me the easiest way to survive the month.’
When asked what he missed the most during his month of abstinence, his answer is rather surprising.
‘The hardest part was letting go of the normal stuff I was used to; not so much the burgers but things like peanut butter was tough, because its one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast
Now I know that some things are bad I am aware of more things than I was before this experiment. So for me it’s easier for me to not eat sugar.
The first couple of weeks after the diet ended It was like an eating party for me, I had ice-cream and sweet things on my bread in the morning.
In the footage, day one kicks off with Sacha visiting a sports physician to have his weight, fitness, heart and lung capacity and haemoglobin levels checked before beginning the experiment.
Sacha also reported having high cholesterol, which he hoped the new diet would fix.
His blood pressure, he goes through an ECG and his blood sugar levels are also scrutinised.
The video then cuts to the presenter called Boris, who details all the foods that Sacha will have to give up for that month.
These include ice tea which has ten lumps of sugar a bottle, tomato soup with five lumps of sugar per bowl and packets of stir-fry sauces, with 15 lumps of sugar per packet.
With sugar present in most processed foods, it becomes clear that Sacha will have to be extremely careful for his attempt to be successful.
Sacha’s first meal on day one is a bowl of fruit, some eggs, and yoghurt – a fair representation of the foods he will be eating for the next month.
Shunning all foods with added sugars, Sacha opts for fresh vegetables, fruits and water when eating out.
On day four, he explains on camera how his new diet is affecting him.
‘This is only week one and I’m getting cranky already,’ he reveals. ‘It’s really difficult.’
He then visits a dietician where he learns the true negative effects of sugar.
Speaking on camera, Marlou Bosma says: ‘Sweet things make you crave for more. Your blood sugar rises, insulin is created to bring it down. Then you want sweet things again.’
‘Sugar wants vitamins, it makes you tired. Alcohol does that you, you dehydrate. You will feel fitter after a month without sweets, alcohol and preserved foods.
The dietician continues to expound on the adverse effects of sugar.
‘A lot of food products have emerged in the last 30 years,’ she says. ‘And food is available on every street corner.’
‘What is important for eating healthy’? Sacha asks the nutritionist.
‘Vegetables, fruit, high-fibre bread,’ she replies.
‘Unsaturated fat is good for your heart. People are afraid that fat is bad but unsaturated fat is healthy. Olive oil, oily fish, nuts, not too much alcohol, and enough variation.
‘You can have a snack, or a glass of wine or beer, but only now and then.
Sacha keeps a video diary, where he documents what he is feeling.
When out he observes the prevalence of junk food – with fast food restaurants and sweetened fizzy drinks readily available everywhere.
He struggles more to stick to his new diet when he is out with his friends – a visit to the cinema is made harder as he is unable to partake in popcorn or beer, opting for just a bottle of water instead.
And pizza is a no-no at his friend’s house; he has to have a salad.
But on day 25 of the experiment, Sacha turns a corner.
He explains: ‘I have just made breakfast and I want to share something with you,’ he says to the camera.
‘This is the first time since I started that I don’t want sweet stuff in the morning.
The last week is almost over. I get up easier and have energy to spare. That was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t think it would make this much difference to my physical constitution.’
With the month up, he visits the same sports physician again to see what has changed.
He is pleasantly surprised to discover that he has lost weight, his blood pressure and cholesterol levels have down, and his blood sugar has lessened.
The video concludes with him saying: ‘I am baffled what this month has done to me. After a month without unnatural E numbers and added sugar I feel fitter. I also have more energy and have lost eight pounds.
‘My blood pressure went from 135/75 to 125/75, my cholesterol went down eight per cent from 4.6 to 4 and my blood sugar is considerably less.
Summing up his experience, he says: ‘The beginning was very hard. But eventually I detoxed from the sugar and it went very well.’
Commenting on Sacha’s experiment and eventual results, Dr Stuart Farrimond told FEMAIL: ‘Sacha’s story demonstrates the incredible effects that changing our diet can have on our health, vitality and wellbeing.
‘Increasingly, research is showing us that added sugars contribute to health problems and our ever-growing waistlines – but it isn’t just sugar that is the bogeyman.
‘Sacha ditches all processed foods and in doing so he also ends up eating less saturated fat, less salt, fewer refined ingredients and fewer additives.
‘By replacing his old processed foods with wholesome, nutritious alternatives, he gives his body the fuels and nutrients that it needs to function at its best.
‘By following his example, many of us could achieve similar – if not better – results. And as he has discovered, our tastes really are trained by our eating habits, so take heart: by sticking at it one day breaking that bad habit will get easier.’