You’re trying to eat healthier, but your sweet tooth is demanding more sugar.
If you’re addicted to sugar, it might take some time for those cravings to subside.
It did for registered dietitian Cassie Bjork.
Are you addicted to sugar?
When she was studying nutrition, it was easy to see that snacks, sweets, and sodas, were loaded with sugar and empty calories.
But she couldn’t stop. Every time she tried to cut back or give up those sugary snacks, cravings kicked in, and she ate more.
And that’s a problem when you’re trying to shred fat, build muscle, or transform your body.
From a body composition standpoint, too much sugar can lead to weight gain and a rise in body fat percentage. But the impact of too much sugar, is a lot worse than that.
Too much sugar also raises your risk for a long list of health problems like:
- Heart disease
- Liver and kidney damage
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of cancer
The truth about sugar cravings
If you’ve been used to chowing down on sugary cereals, yogurts laced with high-fructose corn syrup, or a little oatmeal with your brown sugar, your sugar craving is probably pretty strong.
Ever feel like this when a sugar craving hits?
- You pace back and forth trying to resist the urge to find the nearest vending machine and gobble up a candy bar.
- You get headaches, jitters, or easily irritated without a sugar fix, and contemplate raiding the secret stash of goodies you planned to save until you reached your goal.
- Or maybe you’re about to dig into a massive dessert, even though you know it’s going to blow your calorie limit for the day
There’s a reason. Research suggests that sugar may be just as addictive or even more addictive than cocaine. One-lab controlled study found that sugar stimulates a pleasure response in the brain, that requires more and more sugar to achieve the same effect over time.
“This research has revealed that sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive,” says Dr. Serge Ahmed.
Fortunately, you can curb your cravings for sugar and learn to eat healthier.
You just have to get a little creative about how you sweeten your foods.
10 Creative Ways to Sweeten Your Food Without Sugar
When a Team RSF member Monstruggle Ro hit a rough patch of sugar cravings during an 8-week shred, she reached out to the group for help.
“Guys, can I add honey or agave syrup to my Greek yogurt?” she asked. “It's not in my plan but I'm getting tired of the flavor. Sometime I just mixed with my fruit, but it's not enough.”
No surprise that a lot of people have been-there-done-that and served up some great ways to sweeten food without added sugar.
Some of these methods can be used to sweeten Greek yogurt, but are also effective ways to sweeten other foods like oats, cereal, and smoothies without adding calories:
1. Sugar-free maple syrup
3. Sugar-free coffee syrup
5. Lemon extract
6. Lime extract
9. Vanilla extract
Lower-Calorie Ways to Sweeten Foods
When you’re dieting to shred fat, get lean, and lose weight, every calorie counts. It’s why all my plans recommend prepping meals in advance, weighing food to control portion sizes, and keeping a food diary.
Zero-calorie options to sweeten your food are your best bet to satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your diet.
However, there are some low-calorie options to consider to sweeten food, but you’ll need to subtract those calories from somewhere else on your meal plan. Some options include:
- Honey (20 calories per teaspoon)
- Agave (21 calories per teaspoon)
- Peanut butter (90 calories per tablespoon)
- Mango (99 calories per cup)
- Blueberries (85 calories per cup)
- Protein powder (around 100 to 150 calories per scoop)
- Banana (100 calories per medium banana)
- Almond butter (98 calories per tablespoon)
Curb Sugar Cravings
Every calorie counts when you’re dieting. Alternatives to sweeten your food can help curb sugar cravings..
If you’re just beginning the journey of trying to break a sugar addiction, hang in there. The first few days or weeks can be tough.
But it gets easier. Stick to eating more whole and unprocessed foods, be consistent with meal timing, and drink 3 to 4 liters of water a day, and your sugar cravings will subside.
If that’s still not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, and you’re thinking about demolishing an entire carton of ice cream, go here first. You’ll find healthy dessert recipes, packed with protein, you can make at home.
Looking for a meal and training plan to transform your body? Start here.
1. Schaefer, A., et al. (2016). Experts agree: Sugar might be as addictive as cocaine. HealthLine. From: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#1
- Yang, Q., et al. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular disease mortality among U.S. adults. JAMA Internal Medicine. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24493081
- Ahmed, S., et al. (2007). Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLOS One. From: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000698