One of the most important parts of getting in great shape is understanding cravings and how they work in your body.
Even more important is having the knowledge to stop them dead in their tracks!
Today’s article is going to peek behind the curtains and break down everything you need to know about cravings. Its actually a really fascinating subject and deserves to be broken down in detail so you can overcome one of the biggest weight loss obstacles for most.
Ever been following a diet for a few days and then all of a sudden have an intense sugar craving where you NEED to chow down on ice cream or chocolate like your life depends on it? This is completely normal and soon you will know exactly how to counteract this so you can stay on track during your diet.
In a crazy paradox, most Americans are actually overweight and suffer from obesity but undernourished!
How in the world can this be? Poor food choices and not being able to control cravings are the giant culprit of the problem.
Its really easy to over consume sugar and processed foods because the majority of these foods have been stripped of fiber and water – two healthy substances that make you feel full.
You can eat 5 bags of potato chips and 2 pints of ice cream – but this won’t provide your body with the micro-nutrients and antioxidants it both needs and wants. This is when your cravings can get out of hand!
When you keep on consuming unhealthy foods when you are low in protein, fat, or a specific vitamin or mineral or antioxidant you tend to go on a cravings roller coaster as your body tries to give you mixed signals.
Let’s first break down the 3 most common cravings: Sweet, Salty and Savory and explain why you crave them
Humans are actually hardwired to prefer sweet tasting foods, and this dates all the way back to thousands of years ago.
Remember – we evolved from our ancestor’s brains thousands of years ago, and back then finding sugar and sweet tasting food was extremely hard to come by.
When we have a ton of sugar in our fridge and sweet tasting food we are very likely to binge out on it as we are hardwired to prefer sweet foods, and to stack onto this even further sugar and other carbs release the feel good brain chemical serotonin – which gives you a natural high!
Salty foods is another common craving. We have all had those days when we crave popcorn, potato chips, and many other canned, packaged and processed foods.
These are all foods loaded with sodium, and could be a sign that your body is low in sodium, especially in hot weather or especially if you are active.
Sodium also helps the body retain water – so if you find yourself craving salt it could mean you are dehydrated and didn’t properly replenish crucial minerals and electrolytes that your body needs for functioning optimally.
Savory foods are those extremely rich and decadent foods like guacamole, even sushi with spicy mayo and avocado, chocolate, peanut butter, fatty cuts of steak and meat, fried chicken, cheeses, etc.
These are the highest calorie foods in the world, and its no surprise that your body craves them as you start to diet as when your body does not get in as many calories as you are accustomed to it thinks its trying to “survive” and compensates by sending a signal to your brain to get in a surplus of calories!
There are many great ways to counteract this craving – and you will soon see many savory and decadent foods can be really healthy and fat loss friendly.
Stopping Sugar Cravings:
Sugar cravings is one of the hardest things to do, as its important to know that your brain still going to crave sugar from time to time.
The best thing to do is satisfy yourself with options that curb this sugar craving and are still fat loss friendly. We will get to that in a second, but the first course of action is Stability!
Keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day and eating a lot of high fiber foods is going to be the key to making sure you don’t have intense sugar cravings.
If you are someone who tries to go on a crazy low carb diet and then ends up binging on carbs later in the day you need stabilize your blood sugar earlier in the day. Here is what I recommend.
Start your day with a bowl of high fiber carbs and nutrition to keep your blood sugar stable and fill up on some carbs so you are less likely to crave pure sugar later in the day.
I recommend oatmeal or steel cut oats with some fresh sliced fruit. To add even more fiber to this meal you should mix in some sliced almonds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds. Starting your day off with 10-15 grams of fiber is a surefire way to eliminate sugar cravings in their tracks!
If you find yourself having intense sugar cravings later in the afternoon or night don’t panic – and fill up on something sweet that won’t crash your diet.
Eating sweet fruits like pineapple is a great option, along with watermelon, banana, and berries. You can also try a sliced apple with something savory like peanut butter or almond butter to kill 2 birds with 1 stone (sweet and savory craving)
Another thing that is really powerful is anytime you are craving some sugar drink a big glass of water, or even try coffee with cinnamon. Staying really well hydrated or having some caffeine does wonders for blocking sugar cravings and hunger in general.
If you don’t want to load up on caffeine try a big glass of hot green tea with lemon juice.
Stopping Salty Food Cravings:
The best way to eliminate salty food cravings is to stay hydrated and balance out your electrolytes if you are training a lot and exposed to heat throughout the day.
There are a few supplements that do a great job of accomplishing this. I recommend taking a BCAA supplement while you are training to ensure your body has the electrolytes and amino acids it needs and you stay hydrated.
Another thing that I recommend doing is taking a ZMA supplement at night. Magnesium deficiency is pretty common – and causes you to crave salty foods that will screw up your diet.
Another option for getting your magnesium in is consuming lots of almonds and dark leafy green veggies – both loaded with magnesium!
If you are desperately craving salty foods after all of this there are some amazing and healthy options.
Option #1 would be some slightly salty almonds, cashews, peanuts, or walnuts. Nuts are weight loss friendly and contain mono-unsaturated fats.
Another one of my favorite options loaded with fiber is edamame with sea salt. Edamame is loaded with protein and fiber and is a delicious and salty healthy snack.
If you are a sushi fan try some delicious sashimi with ponzu or kimchee sauce. Stay away from the spicy mayo and eel sauce!
Stopping Savory Food Cravings:
Savory food cravings are healthy, especially when you are dieting. When I recently took a trip to LA I found the most amazing vegan restaurant that did an incredible job of stopping savory food cravings in its tracks.
I had vegan nacho cheese tacos and they were absolutely delicious. Fresh guacamole and the cheese was made of out cashews! Chances are you might not have a delicious vegan restaurant in your vicinity so I wanted to give you a few other options!
Remember – when we are dieting we might have intense savory food cravings as these are the highest calorie foods in the world and it makes sense that when you deplete your body of its usual calorie intake it will crave more calories.
A really powerful snack that is both crunch and savory and not that bad for you when you are dieting is almond butter or peanut butter on some fresh carrots or celery.
Fresh sliced avocado or guacamole is another great savory food choice when you are craving something dense and caloric. Sometimes I get cravings for things like chocolate cake and ice cream and this does a great job of stopping that craving.
Did you know that you can even make avocado ice cream? Try out this simple recipe to kick those ice cream and sweet dairy food cravings to the curb!
Avocado Ice Cream Recipe
- Blend avocados, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon zest, and lime zest together in a food processor until smooth; add coconut milk, agave nectar, and corn syrup and blend until smooth.
- Pour avocado mixture into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.
Although this is a pretty complete guide to understanding your cravings and finding a healthy alternative to them – there is still so much to cover on this topic.
If you have any questions let me know inside the Facebook Group.