Sugar/carb cravings may be the number one problem my weight-loss clients face. The majority of people love their bread, pasta, cake, chocolate, salty snacks such as chips and other deep-fried carbs etc. I do too, especially sweet carby snacks like cake, chocolate and cheese cake.
Eating too much processed carbs like those mentioned above is not only terrible for your health in general, but it will also make it very hard for you to lose body fat. Losing weight – meaning losing body fat – is by far most people’s fitness goal. Also, they want to have a “toned body.” A toned body is just another way of describing a body with lots of muscle and low body fat.
How do we solve this problem? Usually it’s solved by simply increasing your intake of protein (a lot) and healthy fats (moderate). The RDA (Recommended Dietary Intake) is that sedentary adults need less than 1/2 gram/pound protein day and twice that amount if they’re very active. After age forty, your protein needs increase with each decade to avoid muscle loss. Men tend to be a lot better than women at getting sufficient protein in their diets.
KEEP IN MIND THAT THE RDA KEEPS CHANGING AND IT REALLY DEPENDS ON WHAT EXPERT YOU’RE ASKING WHAT IS TRULY THE RECOMMMENDED INTAKE. NEWER RESEARCH TREND THAT A HIGHER PROTEIN INTAKE IS BETTER FOR HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS, AND CRUCIAL FOR 40 + INDIVIDUALS.
According to Medical News Today, “most people can safely eat between 2 and 3.5 g per kg of body weight daily,” (If you have chronic kidney disease or liver issues, you should lower your protein intake and discuss with your doctor what’s safe.) That means someone who weighs 160 pounds can safely eat 250 grams/protein daily. It’s especially important for active individuals and pregnant/breastfeeding women to get a lot of daily protein in their diets.
Women primarily choose the starvation route to lose weight. And many of them do successfully lose weight. Unfortunately, an unnecessarily big percentage of this weight loss is muscle when it should be primarily fat loss, resulting in a flabby look (skinny fat). The ones who do not succeed often complain about having excessive sugar/carb cravings. Not only that, not eating enough protein (and, to some extent, healthy fats) also lowers your immune system and makes your hair, nails and bones brittle. Read this excellent article from US News & World Report about 8 protein myths.
So, if you’re one of many who suffer from sugar/carb cravings, here is how you are likely to improve if not cure your cravings:
Get enough protein every day. Great mostly low-calorie options include chicken, salmon (cooked and smoked), tuna, lean meats, bone broth (chicken or beef broth), milk, lentils, eggs, turkey, plain greek yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese, almonds, chickpeas, hemp and pumpkin seeds, beans, shellfish, edamame, tofu, tempeh, RX bars. Eat protein with every meal to keep you blood sugar levels steady and avoid cravings. Yes, you’ll now have to check the ingredients to figure out exactly how much protein the stuff you’re eating contain. Pain in the ass, but in the long run, I promise you it’s worth the hassle. Mix up your protein sources, don’t just do chicken all the time, for example.
Avoid non-fat foods like the plague. Always go for the full-fat or two percent fat plain Greek yogurt. No more skim milk (lot of carbs, people!) but choose two percent milk for your coffee or latte (lots of protein). Eat the skin on the chicken, very healthy for you in general. Eat the WHOLE egg and eat more than one a day. Eat salmon several times a week. Eat peanut/almond butter. Eat avocado (but maybe not the whole one.)
Use carb cycling. That means (very simplified version) one day you may eat a lot of carbs, the next you won’t. Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid a sugar/carb craving. Like when you have PMS perhaps. Find a healthy banana bread to eat then. Bake it yourself to ensure the ingredients are healthy. Or look for a healthy one online. Stock up on RX bars and eat those when you need a sugar fix. Both of these options contain protein and healthy fats, so at least you will also get lots of nutrients when you splurge. Finally, choose lightly salted almonds if you have salty or savory cravings. Same here – way more nutritious than chips, fries, or Doritos…
Are you sure you’re not just thirsty? Remember that, often, sugar/carb cravings are just a sign of being dehydrated. Drink more water (and do it early in the day). Ensure you get enough electrolytes in you every day. READ MY TEN BEST FITNESS TIPS FOR MORE INFO.
Finally, get enough calories every day. If you’re starving yourself, it will be very, very hard to cure any type of carb craving. Get enough calories every day and get moving:)