A topic I probably should have addressed in one of my first blog posts ever…sugar cravings. Everyone knows it’s terrible to consume a metric crap ton in one sitting, but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve destroyed a bag of Twizzlers or Skittles in my day. With no regrets.
That shit is like crack. Let’s start at the beginning.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is a source of energy for our body to break down that helps us eat, sleep, breathe, move and live. In chemical makeup, sugars can either be short chain and quick to break down (low fiber, highly processed – candy, white bread) or long chain and harder to break down (high fiber, minimally processed – fruit, vegetables). For the sake of this post, we’re going to refer to the generic term of sugar as the stuff that is highly processed and quick to breakdown in your body.
Why do you crave sugar?
Sugar is sweet. Sweetness is one of the first taste’s you’ll experience at birth. It releases a crap ton of hormones and has a big impact on your body’s physiology. But that gets boring and I want to keep it short.
Sugar releases serotonin, a hormone that causes your body to feel happiness, euphoric and stoned out of your goard. Sugar gets you high. After a period of time, your body uses the sugar and you get a little bit of a drop in that happy feel. So you want to get high again by eating more sugar. Causing you to want more happy feels. In the end, the more you consume, the more you want. It’s a vicious cycle!
How do you combat sugar cravings?
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps curb the amount of sugar streaming through your blood. When there’s a bunch of sugar in your blood, your body decides to store it as fat unless it gets used. When your body engages in moderate to intense exercise, the sugar in your blood gets used as fuel. Which is also an optimal time to eat sugar. So if you need to dive into a sugar craving, go for a little dark chocolate post-workout.
- Consume a diet high in protein. A high protein diet satisfies your body for a longer period of time, reducing the amount of cravings throughout the day.
- Allow yourself to have a treat. But make sure you portion it out and it is a reasonable amount. At least 80% of the food you eat should be the good-for-you stuff. And even higher for those of you with more lofty bodyfat goals. With that said, you should have a bit of flexibility to have a daily treat. And when you tell yourself you CAN’T have something, how much more do you want it? So give in. But don’t be crazy.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain a bunch of sweet stuff. But it’s not hyper-sweet. And they also contain a good amount of fiber. Fiber slows down the digestion of sugar, giving your body a more even release of happy hormones, reducing the intensity of cravings you’ll have.
- Choose quality over quantity. The more you have, the more you are going to eat. Grab the small bar of chocolate that’s 75% chocolate rather than springing for the family size bag of Skittles.
- Don’t have sugar at home. Having sugar readily available at all times is a recipe for disaster. If you have it in your house, you or someone you love will eat it. All of it.
- Eat regularly. Anecdotally, I have found that the days I skip breakfast are the days I get the hungriest. They’re the days I crave sugar the most. They’re the days I regret stopping and grabbing a bunch of crappy food. So be prepared. Bring your favorite protein bar/drink with you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to deal with cravings.
I’ve had people go full blown keto. I’ve seen people eat sugar in moderation without issues.
But for anyone looking to make a quick change and reduce sugar intake, I say this:
Make sugar inconvenient.
Make it something you have to go to the store for – each and every time you decide to consume it. Is the craving worth the drive? Is it worth leaving home for? This forces you to make a few decisions before consuming all the sweets and hating yourself.
Make sure you eat your planned meals prior to consuming the sweet stuff. You’ll feel better, be proud of yourself and enjoy the experience of having something sweet a bunch more.
Most of all, hold yourself accountable. You make hundreds of decisions each and every day. And the more you can become cognizant and make an honest decision, the better off you’ll be!