A craving is an intense urge or desire to eat a specific type of food.
One of the most common cravings is for sugary foods. Some people have occasional sugar cravings and can indulge them without repercussions.
Others have cravings frequently. Giving in to the cravings repeatedly can undermine workout results. It can also lead to health issues: weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, mood swings, and more.
Let”™s start with 2 explanations for cravings that we usually hear. I simply disagree that they”™re the real causes of cravings.
Dietitians often say sugar cravings are caused by low blood glucose. That occurs if someone hasn”™t eaten in a long time, or skips breakfast for an early workout.
It”™s true. But it”™s not the whole story.
Sugar cravings occur when glucose drops too fast, rather than too low. That can happen if we eat junky carbs — sugar, white flour, instant mashed potatoes, and so on. Because they trigger lots of insulin, they”™re fast “glucose-droppers.”
Some sources say cravings express a biological need and should be answered with the craved food. Salt cravings are the example they use to support this viewpoint.
Many people do crave salty foods after hard workouts, for example, and salt cravings may indicate a biological need for salt.
But that doesn”™t apply to sugar cravings. We need some salt in our diets, but we don”™t need sugar.
Besides, sugar”™s an addictive drug. A drug addict gets cravings for his/her drug, but the drug isn”™t a biological need. The cravings indicate withdrawal (more on that below).
Here are the cravings explanations I”™d submit as the real ones.
Too Little Fat
Sugar cravings result from a diet that”™s too low in fats. Research documents a sugar/fat seesaw — one decreases in the diet, the other increases. Hormones and brain chemicals are involved — namely, CCK (cholecystokinin) and beta-endorphin (endorphins).
Eating healthful fats can help stop sugar cravings.
Withdrawal can occur when someone quits drugs, quits drinking, or quits eating sugar.
Alcohol, for example, stimulates 3 brain chemicals that are also stimulated by sugar. People in recovery often crave sugar and eat it frequently, possibly in large quantities. Sugary back-of-room treats at AA meetings illustrate this perfectly.
The problem is sugar can bring on a relapse.
One type of trigger is external — seeing or smelling appealing foods.
Internal triggering is called priming: eating a small amount makes us want more. It”™s the result of a specific brain receptor for the chemical dopamine. Some people are more susceptible to priming than others.
Short-term stress tends to decrease appetite. Chronic stress stimulates appetite, alters brain chemistry, and results in mood changes and cravings for sugar.
Any bad mood can trigger a sugar craving. Sugar alters brain chemistry and changes mood temporarily. But it can make things worse in the long run.
Low serotonin in the brain may be linked with depression, seasonal affective disorder, or PMS. Chronic alcohol use and menopause both lower serotonin. Low serotonin can bring on sugar cravings.
Serotonin is made from tryptophan, an amino acid, one of the “building blocks” of protein. Eating too little protein can decrease serotonin and lead to cravings.
Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) can reduce serotonin production — it prevents tryptophan from reaching the brain. Insulin resistance may be caused by genetics, obesity, chronic stress, or a diet that”™s too high in fats, junky carbs, or fructose.
Fortunately, insulin resistance is reversible through diet.
Other Causes of Cravings
Eating sugar can — and will — prime cravings. Cravings can also result from a low-protein diet or B-vitamin deficiencies.
So What Can You Do?
The fastest way to eliminate any craving is to take 1 teaspoon of TwinLab Super-B Complex. B vitamins are co-factors in the formation of key brain chemicals that stop cravings.
[Please check with your doctor. Certain medical conditions are contraindications for this strategy. Also beware of overdoing it — high doses can cause side effects.]
And One More Tip
You don”™t have to deal with cravings at all. Eliminating them altogether is possible with changes in your diet. Yes, that”™s easier said than done, but help is available. It”™s what I do. Why not visit www.FoodAddictionSolutions.com/Coaching and request a Food Freedom Session, absolutely free? Find out how a few tweaks can end your cravings and make you feel fantastic.
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