Carbohydrates: We love ’em and hate ’em.
And since carbs always seem to get in the way of fat loss, we know we have to learn how to control our cravings of them if want to see serious results. But those dang carbs are powerful (and delicious) and can keep a strong hold on us.
And all too often, we struggle with out diets – not because we don’t know what to do, but because we can’t seem to erase the cravings. Willpower can only go so far alone.
Researchers even show that an addiction to sugar can be stronger than one to cocaine. So when someone tells you that cutting carbs is just mind over matter, that’s sometimes full of crap.
For some of us, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to shake the carb cravings. But luckily, we can take some tips and tricks from the research that works.
We can’t guarantee any of these strategies will work for you – and none of these will make the carb battle ‘easy’ – but they can help alleviate the control.
Here are 9 research backed ways to curb carb cravings.
1. Take Glutamine For Immediate Cravings
A glutamine supplement can literally stop a craving in it’s track. Glutamine is an energy source in the brain so it works quick to erase any obsessive thoughts about food or other addictions. It’s actually used as part of the treatment program for addicts – and since we’re pretty much carb addicts, it can help cut our cravings and control too.
When a craving hits, you can mix 2-10 grams of glutamine with coconut oil or heavy cream (you can absorb it better when it’s mixed with high fat) for instant relief. But you can also take a preventative dose – 2 grams taken 3 times each day will keep the cravings at bay.
2. Supplement with Vitamin B
Vitamin B contains a bunch of different nutrients. Two of those, biotin (B7) and riboflavin (B2) are essential for cutting carb cravings.
Biotin helps your body convert carbs to glucose faster so your cells can access and burn them quick! If your biotin is low, those carbs you do eat can’t be used for energy, they just keep floating around in your body, unusable. And since our cells need and crave energy, they keep asking for more and more carbs to be thrown into your stomach, hoping they’ll be able to use some of them!
If you’re on medications, have high stress or bad gut health, then it’s easy to be deficient in biotin. But you can get biotin easily in eggs, sardines, almonds, pecans, banana and beans.
Riboflavin helps your body make enzymes that metabolize fat. When you don’t have enough, you get a sluggish fat burn and increased carb cravings. You can get riboflavin easily through asparagus, meat, eggs, and mushrooms.
So boost up your Vit B with a few new additions to your diet or take a quick daily supplement.
3. Get Enough Sleep
It’s no secret, when you’re tired it’s much harder to stick to a healthy diet (and to turn down the donuts staring you in the face when you walk into the office). Lack of sleep not only turns you into a fog-headed carb loving zombie, but it also screws with your hormones to make those cravings even worse. And to add insult to injury, when you’re tired, your insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance plummet so you crave more carbs but if you cave and chow down, they get stored more easily as fat.
4. Make Sure You’re Hydrated
When most people have cravings, they are actually dehydrated. Because our bodies can’t tell the difference easily between hunger and hydration, you start craving sugar and carbs. Before you cave in to the temptations, start with a glass or 2 of water. Most of the time, this is enough to fight those cravings. As soon as you are hydrated, your body will realize it’s not hungry and the cravings disappear.
5. Boost Your Serotonin
Cravings for carbs don’t really come from pure hunger pangs – it’s more often a way for your body to mask a negative emotion. This is why we start building emotional attachments to carbs instead of proteins or healthy fats (I don’t know many people who crave a chicken breast when they’re sad).
When a craving hits, think about what your mood is. If you’re looking for food to avoid feeling sad, angry, frustrated or depressed, you can beat the craving by changing your mood. Doing something fun, laughing or even getting a dose of sunshine can boost the serotonin in your brain and increase your mood chemically. It’s not a permanent fix for whatever caused that negative emotion in the first place, but it’s a quick one to demolish the carb craving.
6. Have Fermented Foods Regularly
Fermented foods are huge for building up your gut health because they are packed with live bacteria. When your gut health is in the crapper, you get increased inflammation that makes you more resistant to insulin. If you’re body doesn’t listen well to your insulin, it is hard for your body to know when you are satisfied. And if you don’t feel satisfied after eating your dinner, guess what your body will start craving? That’s right, carbs.
But poor gut health also stops you from absorbing the other nutrients you need – ones that help you control your carb cravings, like B Vitamins and magnesium. You can help boost your gut healthy through probiotics and fermented foods.
7. Eat Enough Fat
When starting a new diet, carbs are usually the first thing to be cut. But the problem is that too many people don’t ensure they get enough fat when following their new low carb diet. Fat is full of flavor and helps you feel satisfied after eating. If you are having serious carb cravings, make sure you are eating enough fat at each meal!
8. Try Gymnema Sylvestra
Gymnema Sylvestre is an herb that has been found to cut carb cravings. This herb works by balancing your sugar levels. Researchers think it mimics glucose molecules and blocks your cell receptors so you intestines won’t uptake sugar. But this herb also has a potent effect on your taste buds – it can dull down the flavor of sugar so you don’t enjoy the taste of sugary foods quite as much.
There isn’t much research yet on this herb, but it’s been used for centuries in Asian countries as a medicinal herb. Might be worth a try if sugar’s hold a strong grip on you.
9. Exercise Often
Exercise and movement can also be a powerful way to bash carb cravings (and no, we’re not just saying that because we’re fitness junkies). Exercises helps increase your serotonin, reduce your stress and distract your mind – all qualities that help battle the hold of the carbs.
Now like I said at the beginning, there’s no magical way to control your carb cravings. But here’s the thing – the more you are able to avoid carbs, the easier it becomes.
An addict that has to avoid drugs or alcohol in order to break their vicious cycle. But for us, we don’t get to just avoid food to erase all of the control. We still have to eat to survive. But we can avoid the carbs that we know we shouldn’t have.
Give the tips above a chance – keep the carbs out of sight, out of mind and out of control.
Got any other tips for cutting out the carbs? Share them in the comments below!
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