Dutch man gives up sugar for one month and loses eight pounds (2024)

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.

Sacha Harland on day one of his healthy eating experiment, where he eliminates sugar and alcohol for a month

Sacha is determined to give the challenge his best attempt but finds sugar is in almost everything he consumes

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.


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Foods he can eat: Fresh fruit, fresh vegetable; oily fish such as salmon; nuts; eggs; yoghurts

Foods he has to avoid: Processed food such as pizza and burgers; alcohol such as beer and wine; snacks like chocolate bars and popcorn.

'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.

Sacha visits sports physician Jessica Gaal to test his overall health and fitness before embarking on the plan

The results showed thatSacha's body was healthy but some values, including his cholesterol, were high

'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

Sacha looks worried when the dietician explains the dangers of sugar to him



WEIGHT 179lbs 169lbs

BODY FAT 15.5% 14.2%

BLOOD PRESSURE 135/75 125/75

CHOLESTEROL 4.6 mmol/L 4.0 mmol/L

HAEMOGLOBIN 10.6mmol/L 10 mmol/L

'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.

Sacha goes through a roller-coaster of emotions, admitting he is baffled by the experiment (left) and says that the new diet has made him 'more irritable' and that 'it's bad for the people around me' (right)

In the video he says: 'This is only week one I'm getting cranky already'

Sacha Harland documented his attempt to buy a drink with flavour that did not contain sugar - and ended up with water


Day 1

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Whole grain rice with chicken, vegetables and spices for taste

Dinner: Spinach with salmon, lemon juice and spices for taste

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 2

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Tuna salad

Dinner: Whole grain rice with tilapia filet, lemon juice and spices for taste

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 3

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Beef salad

Dinner: Rice pancake with beef, fresh vegetables, bean sprouts, avocado

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 4

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Salad with grilled vegetables and olive oil

Dinner: Spinach with salmon, lemon juice and spices for taste

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 5

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Whitebait with green beans

Dinner: Whole grain rice with tilapia filet, lemon juice and spices for taste

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 6

Breakfast:Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Whitebait with green beans and salad

Dinner: Whole grain rice with chicken, vegetables and spices for taste

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Day 7

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit, coffee, orange juice

Lunch: Tuna salad

Dinner: Rice pancake with beef, fresh vegetables, bean sprouts, avocado

Snacks during the day: Unsalted cashews, walnuts, bananas, apples.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit

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.

Dietician Marlou Bosma tells Sacha that sugar is bad, explaining 'sweet things make you crave for more'

A healthy diet should include 'olive oil, oily fish, nuts, not too much alcohol and enough variation,' she says

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 finds that his new diet has a huge impact on his moods, saying: 'I'm more irritable. It's bad for the people around me'

Sacha gets teased by his friend who purposely buys a chilled bottle of beer knowing full well he can't have one

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.

There are days when Sacha finds the sugar withdrawal tough especially when he is around some of his former favourite foods

Sacha admits that he didn't realize just how much a difference cutting out sugar and alcohol would make

'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.'

Pleasant surprise: The Dutchman says he gets up easier and has energy to spare

Towards the end of the video presenter Boris asks Sacha what he thought of the experience. He says that the experience was 'very hard' and that he has a choice to eat healthy and have a Mars bar 'now and again'

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.'


G&T contain four teaspoons of sugar


Four teaspoons of sugar or 36% of daily intake

Taking an average of the sugar content in 250ml of Freeway Original tonic water (8.9g) Sainsbury's Indian Tonic Water (19g), and Schweppes Indian Tonic Water (13g) added to the zero grams in gin, a glass of gin and tonic contains roughly 18 grams of sugar; or four teaspoons.


7.5 teaspoons of sugar or 60% of daily intake

Vodka's sugar content is pretty much zero. But taking an average of 250mls of Tesco Cranberry Juice Drink (18.3g), Sainsbury's Cranberry Juice Drink (23.8g) and Ocean Spray Chilled Original Cranberry Juice Drink (30g) and you're looking at roughly 30 grams of sugar in each drink.

Vodka and cranberry (left) contains 7.5 teaspoons of sugar and a rum and co*ke (right) has seven teaspoons

RUM & co*kE

Seven teaspoons of sugar or 55% of your daily intake

Normal rum is again, minimal sugar but cola's a different story. Taking the average of 250ml of Coca-Cola (27g), Pepsi (28g) and Tesco Classic Cola (27.2g) you end up with a sugar intake of around 27.5 grams.

There is only a quarter teaspoon of sugar in a small (125ml) glass of red wine


1.5 teaspoons of sugar or 2.5% of daily intake

The sugar content of white wine depends on how sweet it is.

According the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), there are 1.4 grams in 147ml which means that for a small glass of wine (125ml) you're looking at around 1.25 grams a glass. According to UK-based HAMS (Harm Reduction for Alcohol) a small glass of white wine contains 1.5 grams of sugar.


Quarter teaspoon of sugar or 2% of daily intake

The USDA claims there's just under 1 gram in a glass of small red wine (125ml) which means there's about a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar in your glass. According to HAMS. a small glass of red wine contains 5 grams of sugar. Bubbles are your friends: According to FatSecret.com there is only one gram of sugar in a glass of Prosecco.


No teaspoons or 1% of daily intake

Beer tends to be pretty low on sugar levels. A look at DB Breweries - which manufactures Amstel, Tiger, Sol and Heineken - nutritional breakdown reveals that there is less than a gram of sugar for each drink.


Sugar is made up of 50 per cent glucose and 50 per cent fructose but has no nutrient value at all.

You could live quite happily without any added sugar as we get natural sugars from many other foods.

There are many names for sugar – maple syrup, honey, molasses, brown sugar, agave syrups, high fructose corn syrup, barely malt, cane sugar, dextran, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin, Ethyl Maltol and lactose. These all affect the body in the same way so don't be fooled.

Carbohydrates, (think flour, pasta, bread, sugar, vegetables, beans, grains and starchy foods such as potatoes) get converted into glucose, providing us with energy.

Glucose is used to create energy - which is great if you are about to run a marathon - but as our lives our far more sedentary coupled with the high levels of sugar we consume, we fail to 'burn' this off.

Glucose is harmful in our blood stream so our pancreas secretes a hormone called Insulin. Insulin transports the glucose to either fat stores or to be used in our muscle just in case we need to 'run', but sadly for us, fat stores are the more common destination. The results not only mean a larger waistline, but high levels on insulin production have serious implications for our overall health.

Fructose is now deemed to the most damaging sugar forms. Drink your fruit in fruit juice and a high concentration of fructose floods the liver.

Do the sugar swap: Simple ways to cut down on sugarconsumption

Original: 200ml glass of orange juice (18.4g sugar, 85 calories)

Swap: Two clementines (10.4g sugar, 50 calories)

Sugar saving: Two teaspoons.

Original: Two 50ml scoops Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough (21g sugar, 230 calories)

Swap:Two 50ml scoops Haagen Daz Vanilla (12.3g sugar, 216 calories).

Sugar saving:2 teaspoons.

Original: Snickers bar (21.7g sugar, 245 calories)

Swap: Slice of toast spread with a 15g spoon Nutella (9.9g sugar, 174 calories)

Sugar saving:Three teaspoons.

Original: 40g Cheerios (8.3g sugar, 151 calories)

Swap: 40g Shreddies (6g sugar 148 calories) Without milk.

Sugar saving:Half teaspoon (without milk)

Original: 50ml Irish cream (9.8g sugar, 166 calories)

Swap: 250ml can slimline gin and tonic (trace sugar, 94 calories)

Sugar saving: Two and a half teaspoons.

Original:125g pot of low fat raspberry yoghurt (16.5g sugar 126 calories)

Swap: 125g fat free Greek yoghurt with 80g raspberries and Stevia sweetener to taste (7.8g sugar 92 calories)

Sugar saving: Two teaspoons.

Original: Slice of jam and buttercream victoria sandwich (17.8g sugar, 216 calories)

Swap: Cream horn (8.7g sugar, 197 calories)

Sugar saving: Two teaspoons.

Original: Cheddar and pickle sandwich (7.5g sugar, 422 calories)

Swap: Prawn sandwich (2.4g sugar, 392 calories)

Sugar saving: One teaspoon.

Dutch man gives up sugar for one month and loses eight pounds (2024)


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