Cravings can be the result of many causes, it could be physiological like hormonal changes, eating habits, genetic make-up or even psychological – do you eat out of stress, boredom, or when your upset? Cravings can also be the result of bad dieting! Use these five tricks to satisfy your cravings and keep you in diet control.
Tip #1 – Follow A Low Carb Not No Carb Diet
Dieting for prolonged periods on low carbs, or no carbs can lead to feelings of fatigue, low energy and subsequent sugar cravings. Although you may believe you’ll eventually adjust to a low carb diet, it may not happen. Some people just function better when they’re on a moderate carb diet versus an extreme low carb diet.
Instead of sticking to a low carb diet all the time, try upping your carbs to a more moderate level, or try carb cycling! Carb cycling fluctuates between a low and high amount of carbs throughout the week. The low carb days will help facilitate body fat loss, by reducing your muscle glycogen level and tapping into fat utilization as energy. The high carb day will help up-regulate metabolism, and muscle anabolism. Perform a carb cycle by having a high carb day every 4 to 5 days, which will also help satisfy cravings and keep your metabolism healthy!
Stick with low glycemic, high fiber carbs that will fill you up and provide a sustained release of energy. This will help to maintain your blood glucose balance and reduce hunger.
Tip #2 – Give into Small Portions
By continually resisting your urge to give-in to your craving, you could end up binge eating, way more to make up for the fact that you are not getting what you really want. To avoid diet melt-down, occasionally give in to eating that food you are craving, just make sure it is a small portion size. Try a small-sized candy bar, or the kids meal at your favorite fast food place instead of the oversized options. Additionally try using a diet that allows you to cheat here and there – have a once a week cheat meal, or try using a macro-style diet that gives you more freedom in your choices, or try re-feeding which can be accomplished through a carb cycle or simply by using a re-feed day once per week.
Tip #3 – Balance Your Hormones
Estrogen problems? Experiencing stress? Hormone fluctuations of estrogen, cortisol and serotonin can cause sugar cravings to ensue. Cortisol levels can rise, and as this hormone goes up, serotonin goes down. Decreased serotonin can result in the stimulation of appetite and sugar cravings! Why do we crave sugar? Because it is a quick fix that can provide a satisfying but short-term solution to curb appetite and raise blood glucose quickly when the body thinks it needs it. The result, however, can lead to a cyclic energy high and energy low—further increasing your carbohydrate and sugar cravings.
One study at MIT showed that 19 normal weight women increased their calorie intake by upwards of 1000 extra calories daily, which were predominantly from carbs during PMS. This increase in calorie intake was associated with a low serotonin level. The study found that a carbohydrate-rich, low protein beverage of about 30 g decreased negative mood after 180 minutes and reduced carbohydrate cravings at 90 min. The beverage was designed to increase the ratio of tryptophan—the precursor to serotonin production—to large neutral amino acids, which can block tryptophan uptake and absorption by the brain.
Thus, during PMS, consuming small doses of high fiber carbs (i.e., oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, veggies, fruits) throughout the day can help improve mood by elevating serotonin and subsequently reducing the onset of cravings! High fiber diet can also help reduce toxic estrogen metabolites and help keep your hormone levels balanced.
Tip #4 – Eat Regularly
If you are not eating at regular intervals throughout the day, you could be causing your blood sugar levels to drop, and when this happens your food cravings will go up. Make sure to eat every 3 hours, and be sure your meals consist of fiber rich carbohydrates like non-starchy green vegetables – kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, essential fats like flax, coconut, avocado or nuts and of course high quality protein like whey, red meat or poultry, which can all have a satiating effect. In fact, protein not only can reduce hunger and appetite also has a thermic effect in the body. It takes more energy to burn off protein than it does carbohydrates – just another reason to eat more protein!
Tip #5 – Go to the Gym, Meditate More
Working out and meditation can help you deal with your cravings! When stress goes up, sugar cravings can double or triple in response to increases in cortisol! When cortisol goes up, mood depresses along with blood sugar. This can result in cravings, energy lows and compulsive eating causing you to reach for anything and everything to make you feel better quickly.
One study showed that women who were experiencing high levels of stress, craved sugar and also had significantly higher waist circumferences and higher levels of the hunger hormone leptin! When leptin is high, cravings for sweets are also high!
Exercise and meditation can help you not only take your mind off of your craving but you also cause the release of endorphins that actually counteract the feelings of hunger, including norepinephrine. Activity triggers fat burning hormones and shuts off the pathways that result in fat storage and cravings. The more active you are the higher your metabolism.
Be Fierce and Rule the World,