Jennifer Lopez is basically a superhero when it comes to health and fitness, so it might come as a surprise that she, like many Americans, struggles with sugar addiction.
It’s no secret that sugar isn’t good for your health, as it has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, skin issues such as acne and wrinkles, as well as other signs of accelerated aging. It can also be damaging to your liver and brain and might fuel the growth of cancer.
Experts claim that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine and national surveys have found that sugar intake it alarmingly on the rise — something that Lopez can personally attest to.
The 49-year-old and her boyfriend, Alex Rodriguez, recently campaigned for the world to join with them in giving up the sweet substance in addition to carbohydrates for 10 days. While she admits it wasn’t easy, even leading her to experience some pretty undesirable withdrawal symptoms, the superstar reveals the cleanse was life-changing — especially because she learned that she was totally “addicted to sugar.”
During an appearance on “Ellen,” Lopez explained to host Ellen Degeneres that her trainer, Dodd Romero, suggested the program in preparation of an upcoming movie role as a stripper. “He said, ‘You know what, let’s do something, let’s take it [up a notch],’” she explained. “Because I’ve been working out, I work out a lot, I try to stay healthy. And he’s like, ‘Let’s do something to move the needle a little bit.’”
To her horror, the trainer, who knew that sugar and carbs were “most” of Lopez’s diet, suggested she cut them out. “I was like, ‘Completely?? Like cold turkey?’ And he’s like, yes. Ten days. It was really hard.”
In a previous telephone interview with “TODAY Show,” Lopez detailed the super hardcore diet, meant to “reset” her body in order to get her “one healthier carbs and healthier things that have sugar in them.” "Anything that has sugar and carbs in it, you cannot have," she explained. This includes no fruit and zero starchy-veggies. "Now when I go back to eating fruit in 10 days, it's going to taste like an ice cream sundae!"
It was the sugar withdrawal that impacted Lopez the most, and it was like nothing she ever experienced before. “Not only do you get a headache, but you feel like you’re in an alternate reality or universe,” she said. “Like you don’t feel like yourself. You realize that you’re addicted to sugar.” Lopez confesses that she thought about it “all of the time,” obsessing about when she could have it again and planning out her meals.
She explained that while cutting her vice was “really hard in the beginning” and took a lot of discipline, it wasn’t so bad by the end of the 10 days. In fact, once she was allowed to indulge in sugar again, she wasn’t even that interested. Her trainer suggested she take five days off the program and then start it up again — and she wasn’t opposed. “And I was like, you know what, I want to do it again. I wanted to do it again," she expressed. "So it’s something that I, I guess, get used to a little bit.”
One of the things that motivated her to keep going on the cleanse, was how her body felt as a result. “What happens is, it takes down the inflammation a little bit,” she said. “So all of a sudden you start feeling really small, and less swollen, and it feels good. You get addicted to that feeling too.”
Lopez also revealed during her “TODAY” interview that after just five days she started shedding “a bunch of pounds” and losing inches because “once you get rid of that sugar and those carbs it just starts coming off." "Halfway through, five days through, I see a difference already," she revealed.
Lopez offered fans tons of updates throughout the process, sharing with them exactly what she was eating — things like cucumbers and red pepper, tuna poke, canned tuna with mustard, onion and celery, green beans and yellow peppers —how the cleanse was making her feel, and motivating photos and videos of her rock hard figure in workout gear.
So should you quell your sugar addiction by joining J.Lo in her #10daychallenge? According to nutritionist Keri Gans, RDN, it might not be such a great idea for most people. She previously explained to LIVESTRONG that while food with added sugar and processed carbohydrates may be worth ditching, not all sugars are bad for you — and some are even good.
"Fruit, for example, has naturally occurring sugars and is packed with vitamins and minerals," she explained. As for carbohydrates, she is adamant that it's almost impossible to avoid consuming them, as most vegetables contains a three gram serving. "Our bodies number one source of fuel is glucose and that comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates," she explains. "I would not advise anyone to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet, it is simply a matter of choosing healthier carbs" — such as 100% whole grains, fruits and veggies.
If you do decide to take on the Jennifer Lopez challenge, be forewarned — especially if you are one of those people who is really addicted to sugar. Eliminating carbs and sugar altogether could leave you feeling "sluggish, irritable, fatigue, perhaps constipated and bloated... and maybe even nauseous!" according to Gans.
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.