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How to Stop Sugar Cravings

How to Stop Sugar Cravings

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How to stop sugar cravings

Do you find yourself having cravings for sugar? Or maybe it's just cravings for carbohydrates in general like breads, pastas, and cereals? If so you're not alone.

MOST of us experience cravings like this at times, and MANY of us experience this a LOT, even though we know sugars and carbohydrates that act like sugar (those that process very quickly in the body), are really bad for us.

So why do we get these kind of cravings and what exactly can we do about it?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It processes extremely quickly in the body, turns into glucose, and is stored as fat if we aren't running a marathon at the time we're consuming it.

But there's more to sugar, and carbohydrates, that isn't talked about a lot in the world of weight loss and fitness.

It's the link between carbohydrates that process really quickly in the body (sugars, breads, cookies, cakes, pastas, etc.) and how they affect the brain.

The role of carbohydrates essentially is to help the body to generate energy and produce muscle. They produce muscle via the insulin increase that happens when we consume them. The insulin helps to build muscle by transporting amino acids (the basic builders) directly to the muscles.

That is, all amino acids except one.

One is transported directly to your brain via the insulin increase.

You know that rumor that chocolate increases your mood?

Well - it's no rumor.

The one amino acid that bypasses this entire process is Tryptophan. Tryptophan goes straight to the brain, increasing our seratonin levels, resulting in a mood boost. Most antidepressants perform exactly the same way, increasing seratonin levels in the brain to make us feel better.

One of the big differences between anti-depressants and carbohydrates however is the length of time this mood boost lasts. The carbohydrate-induced boost is temporary at best. Then what results is a rapid drop in insulin, producing a rapid drop in seratonin.

What do we do then? We reach for more...

And so the cycle begins.

Additionally, studies have shown that individuals that go long periods without eating are more likely to reach for foods rich in quickly-processing carbohydrates over other protein-rich or slow-burn carbohydrate foods.

The theory is that the body is looking for foods that will replenish low insulin levels rapidly. It's looking for foods that give it the "biggest bang for the buck", the quickest replenishment of insulin. Essentially your body wants to seek normalcy and seek it as fast as possible. Carbohydrate-rich foods will accomplish that.

These same individuals who fast and then reach for quickly-processing carbohydrates will also tend to consume more calories on average than those who didn't fast. And I'm sure you've heard of popular diets that encourage intermittent fasting. But a short-term fat-loss solution like that may lead to super huge cravings that ultimately have you reaching for the sugar, derailing your progress altogether (see: How to Stop Binging).

So now that you know how quickly-processing carbohydrates effect the body, what can you do to prevent or reduce those cravings that send us off the edge?


1) Eat several small meals throughout the day.

By keeping your insulin levels fairly regular your body won't be craving carbohydrates a ton before your next meal. You're more likely to not reach for the quickly-processing carbohydrate rich foods as well as consume less calories overall.


2) Eat slowly processing carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates laden with sugar.

Vegetables should be a staple in your diet. You can eat copious amounts of fibrous vegetables in particular. They will fill you up, give you a steady energy source to draw from, and provide many vital nutrients to feed muscle growth and assist with fat loss.


3) Avoid foods that spike insulin levels.

Foods that process quickly in the body, producing a sugar-like insulin response, should be avoided as much as possible. These include foods with flour such as breads, crackers, and cookies. The longer you go without them, the more your insulin levels will stabilize, and the less you'll crave carbohydrate-dense foods.


4) When you do have cravings, don't try to fight them off. Feed them!

Just make sure you're feeding them with foods I referred to in #2 (see: How I use Vegetables to Stay on My Diet).


I know I say this all the time, but it's true - the key is consistency. The longer you go without bad carbohydrates in your diet the less you'll crave them, as long as you're consuming plenty of the good ones (see: Gylcemic Index of Vegetables).

What do you do to combat your cravings?

Let me know in the comments below.

With love,

Kristin

Author: Kristin Shaffer
kristin@figureandbikini.org

Member Comments

Great article! Before I adopted this lifestyle, I went from one craving to the next because I would starve myself thinking it was "good" to be hungry but then crash and eat half a bag of tortilla chips (they're healthy, right? whole grains and all...) or chocolate chip, ice cream, etc. I have found since adopting this lifestyle that when I do let myself get hungry, the cravings come back and often persist even after I've eaten. Your advice to eat every three hours is spot on! That, for me is the biggest way to prevent them. However, when they do come, I try to drink coffee, and remind myself that I will be eating again in less than three hours. I also will make a chocolate protein shake for one of my meals if I am having a bad craving for sweets and that helps too.
--missymoyo

That's wonderful Missymoyo! Thanks so much for sharing your strategy. I drink coffee as well to help with any cravings when they come on. I suppose I'm a bit of a coffee addict. ;)

With love,

Kristin
--fabeditor

Great article! I'm not too big of a sweets person, but my cravings involve salty, crunchy things and bread/pasta carbs. Dried fruit or veggies is preferable for me.
--sleekgeek

Thanks sleekgeek! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

With love,

Kristin
--fabeditor

Love this article! I've always wanted to figure compete. Tried it a couple of times and gave up after week 3! The workouts were ok, but the food was so difficult to stick with. I am now into my 7th week and I'm doing great! Lost 11 lbs and my body fat has dropped a good 4%. I must say that I do not crave sugar or bad carbs like I use to. Would a few cookies tempt me? YES! but it is so much easier now to say no thank you. When I'm feeling like I want to grab something stupid, I get a nice big glass of water and chug it! LOL Dena
--Dena Bippart

So glad you enjoyed this Dena! And good for you on your journey to compete. That's SO exciting!

If I can be of assistance at all please don't hesitate to contact me.

With love,

Kristin
--fabeditor

Thank you! I do have a question for you. I needed to add alittle more carbs to my diet for energy. Rice was constipating me and yams were so gassy!! LOL Any suggestions? I was slacking with taking me probiotics, not sure if that would help if I stay consistant on them.

--Dena Bippart

Veggies... lots of them. :) Seriously you can eat a boat load of vegetables.

There is always oatmeal... one of my favorites.

With love,

Kristin
--fabeditor

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