We don't recommend going to zero-carbs. We need some carbohydrates, we need serotonin! But the best time to pack the carbs for the day is in the morning, at breakfast. Avoid high-glycemic indexes, focus on "slow sugars". After that - no-more carbs. Start tomorrow morning and Your cravings will become less frequent, less strong and will eventually vanish altogether.
That's a parallel to the previous tip. Fats are better used and metabolized in the morning. So with your AM carbs don't be too shy of the healthy fats at breakfast too. Eggs, butter, olive oil etc will help your brain and your body and will also help fend-off the carb cravings later in the day.
Tip #5: Chew, chew again and then chew some more...
Don't forget to chew your food. Not just a couple of time and gulp. Some recommend chewing 35 times before swallowing your food! The main benefit of chewing is that it stimulates the production of saliva which "pre-digests" your food thanks to unique enzymes. It then makes metabolism and the digestion of food more gentle and satisfying (so you'll eat less). Slow eating is a good thing. From personal experience, this tip is actually hard to put in practice but ist's incredibly effective. You need to remember to chew for a long time, which is a challenging behavior change. But you'll become satisfied sooner, feel more energetic after eating and eventually, you won't really care as much about carbs.
Tip #6: Enjoy true low carb alternatives:
In full disclosure, our baked products at Carbolicious
are such low carb alternatives.
As long as such products are "true" low carb, there's nothing wrong with indulging in them. By true low carb, we mean that they must have low sugars and that they use the right ingredients for sugar substitutes. (For instance, all sweeteners are not equal in terms of they actual effect on blood sugars!)
Many so-called low carb products are simply a sham and you should stay away from them - there's a great independent site that keeps a tab on the lo carb scams and also recommends the good ones low-carb-scams.com
Tip #7: Replace carbs largely with healthy fat and proteins
Replace the carbohydrates with protein or some high-quality fats (avocado, olive oil, some cheeses, and butter etc.) and proteins, which will keep your blood sugar levels more even, increase satiety levels and help keep cravings at bay. Also, eliminate excessive alcohol since consuming excessive alcohol will contribute to lowered levels of serotonin.
You'll also build muscle and lose fat.
This is the tenet of the LCHF or Keto diets.
We are not advocating that you take this approach too drastically, however, for a variety of long-term potential adverse health effects, most notably the effect of high-protein intake on the kidney function - especially if you have diabetes.
But balancing carbs with more healthy fat and proteins can be effective, in moderation.
Tip #8: Reeducate your taste
All of the above tips point to that: taste re-education!
You should ideally learn to love low carb foods, fruits, vegetables, and stop being so attracted to bread, pasta or other starchy products etc. That is the holy grail, but a definite challenge.
Most of us don't crave broccoli but would kill for an ice cream or a pizza (because of the serotonin they trigger - see the previous blog entry).
Combining all the tips in this article should eventually lead to you being completely free from the carb obsession and have a total control of your taste and food desires. It's a mental challenge and a metabolic one (both are closely tied anyway) but with enough discipline and knowledge, you can do it!
Tip #9: Sleep at least 7 hours
Sleeping is a great weapon to help you control carb-envy.
First, studies have shown that deficiency in sleeping will cause you to increase your caloric consumption. You are likely to eat 300-400 more calories per day to compensate for the lack of sleep. And where are you likely going to find these extra calories? You guessed it: in starchy, high sugars carbs!
Second, one extra hour of sleep is able to increase your level of an appetite suppressing hormone: leptin.
Have nice dreams!
Tip #10: Cinnamon keeps the carb cravings away
Pure cinnamon has a sweet taste but virtually zero-sugar. If you like the taste of it (not everybody does) a trick is to use cinnamon in tea, coffee of on food and salads. It keeps the blood sugar levels balanced, satisfied a light sweet tooth and keeps insulin levels in check after meals. As we saw above, insulin spikes can lead to hunger. Cinnamon works like a "sweet taste decoy" that will help you keep carb cravings in check. A natural, mild sweetener of sorts.
Tip #11: Manage Your Stress
Managing stress is very important for a variety of obvious reasons, not the least of which is that stress inhibits the production of serotonin and increases the production of the other hormone, cortisol. Sometimes called the undercover hormone, cortisol is linked to complex metabolic mechanisms but one that is directly linked to our topic:
Cortisol turns fats into sugar to support the role of adrenalin (the more known stress hormone). If you've read this blog, you understand why stress will impact your blood sugar and rigger a compensating delayed production of serotonin...
Tip #12: Take Chromium supplement
Taking chromium supplement (a trace mineral that is otherwise hard to find) will support your controlling of carbs craving and will also help balance your blood-sugar.
Chromium plays an important role in the metabolism and carbohydrates and sugar and is beneficial on many levels, not the least of which is the better control of sugar levels, hence fewer cravings.
"In one study, it was shown that simply taking 600 micrograms of chromium picolinate for 8 weeks significantly reduced carbohydrate cravings. The subjects who had the most severe carbohydrate cravings experienced the best results."
Tip #13: Almonds are good for you
Almonds represent a great combination of tips #8 and #8 (fats and carbs). They are both rich in protein and considered healthy fats so they give you the energy boost you need whilst balancing blood sugar. This snack really effective in preventing carb cravings.
All our low-carb recipes use almond flour for that reason.
Tip #14: Don't skip
As we saw - whether you have diabetes or not, the primary driver behind these cravings your body’s hunger signals.
Don't trick your brain even further by skipping meals or fasting for prolonged periods.
So far everything is fine and when you eat at regular times, normally the NPY levels go down after the meal.
But higher than normal levels of NPY that typically occur in response to frequent longer periods of food deprivation can lead to NPY NOT receding after meals.
Then what happens, once again you guessed it: you are constantly hungry and carbs as always are the easiest solution.
That explains, for example, the metabolic and food behavior behind with polar anorexia/bulimia. Anorexia causes NPY levels to be constantly elevated which then is "countered" by a bulimic behavior. Ad nausea...
So don't impose extreme hunger on yourself. Don't skip meals.
Tip #15: Keep carbs to the daytime
From a weight- and diabetes- management perspective, what you do NOT want to do is snack on high-carbohydrate foods before bed.
Doing so ensures that you go to bed with a high level of insulin and virtually guarantees that the body won't burn fat while you sleep.
The result? high blood sugar levels, higher levels of serotonin and more cravings throughout the day. As mentioned in tip #3, concentrate your carbohydrates intake in the morning, definitely not at night!
So here we go.
Try as many tips as you want, the key is to get started and get stronger in your fight.
Start with one or two then add and experiment as you go. The goal is to train yourself to change your patterns and reach freedom from carbs cravings!
Comments welcome, below - tell us what you think.