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Why Am I Craving Carbs

Processed Food/junk Food Addiction

Why are Processed Carbs So Habit-Forming? (Carb-Cravings are REAL!)

If youve ever gone cold turkey on coffee before, youve experienced the power of caffeine addiction. Caffeine is a drug with addictive properties.

In a sense, sugar is like caffeine. Its also a drug with addictive properties. However, we should be very cautious here. Many of the studies which have reported neurological addictions to sweet foods have used techniques like fMRI assessments, which have some real problems we can dissect another day.

Sugar elicits addiction-like craving, and self-reported problem foods are rich in high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, write the authors of a 2018 paper from the Journal of Clinical Chemistry.

Heres how it works. When you eat sugar, your brain releases a bunch of dopamine, a reward chemical that makes you feel happy.

Your brain likes feeling happy. It wants that feeling again and again. It wants more dopamine, so you crave more sugar.

It can be a vicious cycle. This is, to be fair, more of an issue with refined carbohydrates. In many cases, it is the hyper-palatable combination of salt, sugar, and fat which are amalgamated to elicit the greatest addictive responsethe addiction grows stronger as we eat more.

Test For Gut Infections

If you are experiencing a lot of digestive issues along with your carb cravings, you may want to consider testing for infections or dysbiosis in the gut. Something like candida overgrowth can strongly contribute to cravings in addition to damaging the gut and inflaming the body.

One of the best labs for observing the current state of the gut is the GI MAP. The GI MAP looks at both beneficial and infectious bacteria, parasites, autoimmune specific infections, in addition to markers of inflammation within the gut.

Carbohydrate Cravings: Living With Them Taming Them

If you’re a carb craver, you can learn to cope with them — at minimal or no expense to your health or waistline, experts say.

  • Time your eating to accommodate your cravings. The carb cravings typically grow stronger as the day goes on, experts agree. So eat healthfully at breakfast and lunch and focus on protein-rich foods. “In the afternoon, by the time the sun and your mood start sinking, have a carb snack — popcorn or breakfast cereal — around 4 p.m.,” Wurtman says. Then for dinner, pick pasta, rice or waffles, she suggests.
  • Choose sensible carbohydrate-rich foods. Carbs don’t have to be gooey and chocolatey every time, Wurtman says. She suggests low-fat crackers, for instance, or pretzels. It keeps the fat low but gives you the carbs you want.
  • Don’t buy into the guilt. “The current low-carb phase is making people feel guilty,” Wurtman says. “There is nothing wrong with having a carb for dinner, or for a snack. You have to have it in a very low-fat form.”
  • Focus on carbs that are “slow foods.” Think sip, not gobble, when eating these. One of Tribole’s favorites: hot chocolate. “You get carbs in the milk and the sweetened chocolate,” she says. “It’s hard to guzzle hot chocolate, so you are going to savor it.”

Show Sources

Judith Wurtman, PhD, former research scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. co-author, The Serotonin Power Diet.

Wurtman, R. Scientific American, January 1989 vol 260: pp 68-75.

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Youre Stressed Bored Or Prone To Emotional Eating

If youre the type to smash a pint of ice cream after a breakup or eat a whole pizza when youre stressed, the first few weeks of keto may be a challenge for you.

And thats because certain cravings can be a response to your emotional state and stress.

For example, researchers tell us cravings for sweets align with times when youre either happy or want to be happier.

And when youre frustrated or angry, its not uncommon to seek out crunchy or spicy foods of equal emotional intensity.

Studies even show those with diets high in processed foods and refined carbs have a higher risk of depression.

Since eating carbs triggers brain chemicals that make us feel rewarded, going for them may be a form of self-medicating when youre sad, worried or lonely.

So whether youve been keto for a month or a year, your carb cravings may indicate a deeper need to satisfy an emotion youre experiencing but may not be aware of.

Every time you use carbs to fill your boredom or provide temporary joy, you only reinforce the cycle of needing them to be happy or fulfilled.

How to fix this

When youre actually hungry, your symptoms start gradually and go away with healthier foods such as protein or fat.

Emotional eating tends to come on quick and strong, triggering those specific coping mechanisms like reaching for comfort foods and snacks out of a vending machine.

Since carb cravings go away in less than an hour, focus your attention on a more positive activity while they subside, such as:

What Are Carbohydrates And Why Am I Craving Them

Why am I craving carbs?

Before we get into what may be causing your carb cravings, lets review a little bit about what carbohydrates actually are. So many of our Make Food Feel Good Community members come in with food rules and fears around carbs , which often stem from the demonization of carbs throughout mainstream media, nutrition experts, and even well-meaning family or friends. But in our opinion, carbs should be celebrated and not feared heres why.

Carbohydrates are one of the 3 macronutrients that our body needs to function and thrive Carbohydrates are our bodys preferred fuel source as they are easily broken down into glucose. Our brain, nervous system, and red blood cells rely exclusively on glucose for fuel. They cannot store glucose like our muscles or other organs can, so they need a constant supply from our diet. In addition, adequate carbohydrate intake can support proper muscle growth and maintenance, assist with digestion and hydration, and can improve our mood and sleep patterns.

Ally Choo, Registered Dietitian

Given the many and important functions of carbohydrates, its no surprise that our brain and body crave them. But sometimes its not always easy to tell what the root cause is for these cravings. Here are some of the main reasons you might be craving carbs:


Unbalanced blood sugars


Attempting to regulate low mood and cope with unpleasant emotions

Learned behaviour/habit

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Are Carb Cravings Bad

  • No! Cravings get a bad wrap in our weight-centered society and are often seen as a sign of weakness, lack of willpower, or evidence of failing at self control. However, any craving, especially for carbohydrates, can be seen as an effective tool for self reflection and to check in on where we might be physically, emotionally, and mentally. Noticing intense cravings can give us a lot of information and help us determine if an aspect of our self care is lacking This can also be a great opportunity to reflect on why youre eating and explore the different types of hunger so you can get to the root cause of the craving and honor it in the most loving way, more on that below.

Just Take That In For A Second Certain Foods Are Literally Addictive

Trust me, Ive had first hand experience with sugar and junk foods. When I tried keto, I meticulously tracked and followed along with the diet, yet I couldn’t stop yearning for my old favorite foods like pasta and sugary frappes from Starbucks. I felt miserable why was I constantly craving and crying over food, and why was keto not working?

Long story short as youve already guessed I was able to narrow it down and come to the conclusion that it was my sugar addiction. I had a reliance on sugar and junk food because of its addictive qualities, my brain made me feel like I needed it for joy and happiness.

This addictive draw from sugar, junk food, and refined carbs could very well be the reason why you cant stop cheating on your keto diet or cant stop with these endless cycles of cravings.

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Youre Not Eating Enough Period

Many times I have clients who tell me they are eating enough. Theyre not terribly hungry throughout the day and eat a fine breakfast and lunch.

But then they have terrible cravings in the afternoon or at night, after dinner. They describe an all-night marathon of snack after snack that are usually carb-filled snacks.

Heck, I even know this from my own experience! If I have busy days mom-ing and working in my business there are times I too just dont eat enough during the day and I definitely will see more cravings at night for popcorn, cereal, and pretzels . Im going to share my top tips for what I do when this happens below.

Remember, your body actually knows how many calories it needs. So if you ignore it earlier in the day, it will find a way to remind you at night looking for that energy. You may be able to ignore it for a few nights, but eventually your body will find a way to get that energy it needs .

Listening to your hunger cues throughout the day and eating is a great way to prevent this from happening. Check out this post to get started.

How Many Carbs Should You Have Each Day

Do You Have Sugar & Carb Cravings on Keto Diet? Dr. Berg

How much is enough? You may be wondering how many carb servings are part of a balanced day?

While I dont like talking about specific numbers , some guidance might be helpful. In general, about half of your total calories can come from carbs. A typical range is anywhere from 45-65% of your total calories might come from a variety of carb foods.

Overall, it is important to learn to eat in a way that supports your mental and physical wellness. This takes practice, and some trial and error, especially if youve been restricting.

We tend to feel good when we eat from multiple food groups for meals and snacks. Not only does that offer us long-lasting energy, but it also offers us a wide variety of nutrition.

In general, when Im thinking about a full meal, I aim to include carbs, protein, and fats. This offers lasting energy and satisfaction. This isnt a rule, I just know that Ill feel best when I follow this pattern more often than not. But if I dont, I also dont stress about it.

Lately, for breakfast, Ive been loving some overnight protein oats so easy, delicious and filling! A few common lunches lately have been egg salad sandwiches .or maybe some canned tuna and crackers. And dinner can be fun and exciting or just functional at the end of a long day. Every meal does not have to be your favorite meal: sometimes youve just gotta eat.

I wish the same freedom for you.

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Organic Acids To Reduce Carb Cravings

Using organic acids like citric or acetic acid can help to stabilize blood sugar when used with or between meals. Two of the best sources of organic acids are lemons and apple cider vinegar. These can be used mixed with water, as a marinade, in salad dressings, or sprinkled directly over foods.

Using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in higher carb meals can help to lower the glycemic response from the body and lower the prevalence of reactive hypoglycemia. Check out my video below for some ideas on how to use apple cider vinegar every day!

Where Do Cravings Come From

First things first why do so many of us crave carbohydrates?

Most people believe that these cravings are strictly psychological. They blame their lack of willpower for their lack of success. Yet most cravings are actually derived from some sort of physiological imbalance going on inside. One example of this is what happens inside of your body when its stressed out. Your cortisol levels elevate, which causes your blood sugar levels to elevate as well.

When your body has high levels of blood sugar, it releases insulin to help bring that blood sugar down . Insulin often overcompensates, leaving you with a lower blood sugar and confusing your body into thinking it needs more energy causing some serious carbohydrate cravings.

Have you ever found yourself super stressed out at work and instantly craving something naughty out of the vending machine? This is the exact process of why that feeling happens. Even worse, having a poor night of sleep, or simply a diet too high in processed carbohydrates, creates the same impact on blood sugar levels and insulin. Do you know anyone that doesnt get enough sleep and maybe has too much stress? Try the majority of the adult population in America.

All of these imbalances really put you at a disadvantage when it comes to cravings and trying to eat healthy, which is why its so important to realize why you have them to begin with but also what you can do to help dampen them.

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Craving Sugar Your Body Is Probably Lacking This Nutrient

In This Article

Like most people who think about food constantly, I take snacking very seriously. Growing up, Id gravitate toward salty and crunchythe crisp bite of a Lays potato chip or whatever those disturbingly orange, peanut butterfilled biscuits were. Lately, however, Ive noticed my salt tooth taking a decidedly sweeter turn, and its baffled me to no end. Suddenly Im craving chocolate, doughnuts, candy, those green Haribo frog gummies that are inexplicably peach-flavored The list goes on. Surely this must mean something about the inner workings of my body.

This cant be a good thing, right? According to research, sugar is said to be as addictive as some street drugs, with similar effects on the brain. Excess sugar consumption may also lead to cavities, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other health problems. Knowing all of this, I was determined to stop eating sugarbut each day, Id get tempted by a new sweet delicacy and thus, fall off the wagon . Why cant I quit something thats so clearly bad for my health, my brain, and my body? All around me, my fellow sugar worshippers bemoan the same question, all while stuffing more chewy morsels of Momofuku birthday cake into their mouths. I was determined to get to the root of the issue, and consulted two top nutritionists to help me find out what my sugar cravings mean, and hopefully, quell them.

Meet the Expert

And Also Eat Your Proteins

Tanya Mark

For the first few weeks, before you keto-adapt your body, it is important to focus on fat intake. Fat is going to be your most important fuel source. But a common mistake is to focus on eating fat but forgetting about protein, which can be very problematic.

If you are not eating enough protein in all of your meals, this could trigger a few issues such as loss of muscle mass, hair loss, and… crazy carb cravings!

There are different approaches when it comes to protein intake on a keto diet. Some physicians/nutritionists recommend low protein intake while others recommend moderate or even high intake.

Official recommendations in most European countries plead for a minimum intake of 0.8g per kilo, but this seems not enough for older men, older women, or men who practice resistance training.

So, we recommend you adjust your protein intake based on your age, condition, and level of physical exercise. Keep adjusting your protein intake and see how you feel. In doubt, consult a keto dietitian or expert that can guide you through this.

The best animal-based protein sources areeggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, and some protein powders in case you need them, like whey

If you are on a vegetarian or vegan keto diet, trust tofu, and tempeh. In some cases, it would be interesting to add extra protein, like hemp protein or pea protein powders. They will help you reach your protein intake and will also keep you satiated for longer.

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How To Stop Craving Carbs

If you want to stop craving carbs then you have to add other energetic food to your diet and also intake other alternatives of carbs.

Here are a few tips to control your carbs craving.

  • Add an adequate amount of proteins and fiber to your diet it will help you to feel full for a long time.
  • Add enough amount of healthy fats such as butter, nuts, and eggs to your diet.
  • Choice of healthy carbs like vegetables and fruits rather than unhealthy such as chips, fries, and pastries.

Craving Carbs Or Sugary Treats On Your Keto Diet

You’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with cravings when on keto. Even now, after a couple of years, there are still days where we make eye contact with that piece of cake, and it’s just so hard to resist. But these urges got much less.

And to be clear: to crave a regular cake now and then is absolutely fine. If you can eat sugar , eat the cake. However, cravings can get out of control, and you’ll feel them not once in a while but very often.

This can be frustrating – especially if you give in to the cravings every time, and this is something that is making your diet unsustainable.

But don’t worry, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

One of the main advantages of a Keto diet is that you feel satiated most of the time. This happens because you eat a lot of healthy fats.

But sometimes, just eating your healthy fats does not seem to be enough. You could be making a few mistakes that are boycotting your keto goals.

Maybe you’re not eating enough protein, or you are not replenishing crucial minerals. If you’re a woman, your period could also be tricking you.

Lets talk about what might be hindering your success and what to do to give your body what it really needs.

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