Do you feel like you are governed by your sweet tooth? You’re not alone. The body needs carbohydrates to survive, but simple sugars, like those found in white bread and candy, are going to leave you feeling hungrier than ever. Not only that, but the white stuff is addicting. With the human brain hardwired to love sugar, halting your sugar cravings might seem like an impossible feat.
But there is hope. If you use the following 3-step plan to halt your sugar cravings, you can enjoy a new type of freedom and lose more weight.
Where Sugar Cravings Come From
Before getting into the process, let’s quickly discuss the “why.” The human body is primed for sugar. In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, “sweetness” is the first thing human babies can taste. That is why kids are more likely to choose cookies over vegetables if they have the choice. Sugar also releases endorphins, serotonin, and starts to become a reward within our subconscious.
Thus, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave it.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars, such as those from beverages and baked goods, to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Sounds a bit nuts, right? A typical 12 oz can of sugar has 39 grams of sugar, amounting to 8.75 teaspoons! No wonder people are addicted.
So one way to ward off sugar cravings is to recognize how much you could be eating in the first place. Once you’re aware, it becomes easier to commit to the 3-step process.
1. Fill Up On Healthy Food
Many people confuse cravings and hunger pangs just like they confuse dehydration for hunger. The important thing here is realizing that the body is going to crave sugar when it’s hungry because carbohydrates are immediate energy. Therefore, one way to stop craving sugar is to make sure you are eating filling meals and promoting a feeling of satiety.
Focus on meals that are rich in protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. When these 3 things combine, you get a meal high in fiber and proteins that curb hunger while giving you tons of energy. Foods that are low on the glycemic index can help keep you fuller longer, too. Choose items like brown rice, oatmeal, fresh fruit, legumes, nuts, nut and seed butters, sprouts, starches, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on. Avoid high glycemic foods, like dried fruit, candy, and soda, especially when you’re feeling hungry.
Next, do a few things throughout the day:
- Drink plenty of water. You might just be thirsty.
- Eat more fruit. Berries are wonderful, especially frozen grapes and blueberries. A banana works well, but it’s higher on the glycemic index.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. These can actually trigger sugar cravings since they are both 1000 times more potent than actual sugar.
- Take a multivitamin. Some vitamin deficiencies might cause sugar cravings.
- Don’t starve. The hungrier you force yourself to be, the worse those cravings are going to get.
Remember, you can’t work off a poor diet. If your bodybuilding or weight loss efforts are struggling, it could because you are eating too much sugar.
2. Raise The Temperature
Now, there have been anecdotal reports of people suffering from sugar cravings and hopping into the shower to burn the cravings off. But what if you can’t get to a hot shower? What then?
There is another way to raise your core temperature enough without having to scald your skin to do it, and that is by consuming capsicum. Red chili pepper, cayenne, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and similar “spicy” foods can help reduce cravings for fats, sweets, and salts, thanks to phytonutrients called capsaicinoids. You get the added benefit of those capsaicinoids revving up your metabolism too.
3. Walk It Off
After ensuring that you are eating filling meals with a dash of hot sauce and getting your hot showers, it’s time to do one more thing. That would be getting plenty of exercise.
First, you can walk (or run) away from your cravings. Literally. Get out of the house or the office where the temptations are. Distance yourself from the snacks. Put your mind on other things, like fresh air and sunlight.
Second, exercise is key in stabilizing your blood glucose levels. In addition to this, exercise will elevate your serotonin and endorphin levels, giving your brain and body the same “feel good” sensation as sugar does—minus the sugar. This will help you rewrite your brain. Sugar will stop feeling as rewarding as exercise, helping you jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.
If you are just starting out on your weight loss journey, cleaning up your diet is key. Exercise is second. Start with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, one-legged deadlifts (sans weight), burpees, lunges, and more to help get you focused on something other than your cravings. Crushing your workout at the gym is another option.
The bonus to this additional exercise is that you will sleep better. Sleep deprivation has been noted to cause sugar cravings and poorer food choices throughout the day.
Other Ways To Cut Sugar Cravings
If the 3 steps above aren’t working for you, here are some extra ways to stop yourself from reaching for the candy bar:
- Take note of how you are feeling. People will often reach for the sugar when they are feeling stressed out or depressed. If you find you have this tendency, you might want to try other stress management methods, such as yoga, meditation, writing a journal, or going to therapy to help.
- Eat mini-meals. If you’re dieting and cutting calories, 3 meals a day might not be enough. Try eating smaller mini-meals every 3 hours to keep you insulin levels from dropping.
In short, sugar cravings are something everyone will deal with at least once in their life. The body needs sugar, but it doesn’t need a lot of it. Getting a handle on your sugar intake may take time, but if you work a little towards it every day, you will get there. Treat yourself every now and again, but do so in moderation.
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