If a genie happened to magically appear, many people would spend their one wish to eliminate carb cravings.
No need to waste your wish on kicking delicious carbs to the curb! This article will give you ten practical ways to control the most intense carb cravings with ease.
What can you expect to get out of eliminating desires for those luscious but devious carbs?
- Leanness and easy weight management
- Better brain function and motivation
- Improved health and less inflammation in your body
- Less stress and anxiety
- A sane and simple approach to food
These solutions fit into two categories:
Quick fixes that won’t completely eliminate your intense desire to chow down, but will shore up your defenses.
Complex lifestyle solutions that address hormonal and metabolic imbalances for a near complete elimination of carb-love for life.
This article will start with the quick fixes. The complex solutions are important because they lay groundwork for you to understand how carb cravings work in the body. Naturally, the two approaches are interrelated and you can always go for the complete lifestyle overhaul down the road.
#1: Take Glutamine To Stop Carb Cravings Cold
Glutamine can help get rid of carb cravings because it can treat the desire for carbs that is associated with low mood or addiction to sweets.
Take glutamine to eliminate obsessive thoughts about food. The brain uses glutamine as an energy source. Glutamine is so effective for calming compulsive feelings and keeping people steady that it is a primary treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Take 1 to 2 grams of glutamine in water before meals to reduce overall carb intake.
#2: Take Carnitine To Improve Fat Burning
Carnitine is an amino acid that transports fats into cells to be used for energy. It also affects brain chemicals involved in self-control. Without adequate carnitine, your body will be slow to burn fat and energy levels will drop.
Vegetarians and those who shun meat products have low carnitine levels. Genetics and chronic diseases can also contribute to carnitine deficiency.
Beef has the highest content of carnitine—4-ounces of ground beef supplies about 90 mg. A cup of whole milk supplies 8 mg of carnitine. Research shows that to experience a measurable increase in carnitine stores, you need 500 to 2,000 mg/day, indicating a supplement is warranted.
#3: Take Magnesium For Insulin Sensitivity
Magnesium is the nutrient of insulin sensitivity. Poor insulin health leads to spikes and valleys in blood sugar, triggering intense and repeated carb cravings.
A high-carb intake depletes magnesium because high glucose levels lead to loss of magnesium in the urine. The enzymes required for the body to burn glucose are magnesium dependent and a deficiency causes a “sluggish” metabolism.
Studies show supplementing with 250 to 380 mg of magnesium can reduce carb cravings and improve glucose tolerance in diabetics. For healthy athletes with a low magnesium intake, 500 mg of magnesium daily mitigates post-exercise elevations in blood glucose and lowers muscle soreness.
#4: Optimize Chromium Levels
Low chromium leads to carb cravings due to how this mineral affects blood sugar. Lack of chromium causes fat to accumulate in your blood, leading to high triglyceride levels and increased risk of heart disease.
The University of Maryland Medical Center estimates that 90 percent of American diets have low chromium. The elderly, people who do a lot of strenuous exercise, those who eat high-carb foods, and pregnant women are most at risk.
Food sources of chromium include meat, cheese, and some spices, such as black pepper and thyme. Most studies have found benefits from doses of 200 mcg chromium, 1 to 3 times a day.
#5: Re-Train Your Taste Buds
Processed carbs are your biggest enemy because they are scientifically engineered by food manufacturers to be extremely tasty. Eating these carbs actually changes your brain structure, generating neuronal adaptations to make you crave them constantly.
Eliminating junk foods may take some time if they’ve had a regular presence in your life.
Have faith that it can be done, but you must identify delicious substitutes and prepare them in advance. Don’t be caught at a party or out with friends without a delicious, lower carb option.
Use these flavors to increase the palatability of foods: vanilla, cinnamon, mint, anise, cardamom, coriander, cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, onion, citrus, vinegars, pomegranate, berries, cherries, and cocoa.
#6: Get Good Sleep
Lack of sleep increases desire for delicious carbs, boosting overall calorie intake. It also reduces your will power and breaks down any defenses you have in place to prevent carb cravings.
Studies show people feel hungrier, make poorer food choices, and eat more (as much as 300 calories a day) when they are tired. Plus, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance plunge when sleep deprived, and the body shifts (or stays) in fat storage mode.
#7: Be Honest About What You Eat
Keep a true food journal that only you see, but make sure you see it. If you’ve never done a completely honest food journal, you’ll probably be surprised at your numbers, but especially your carb intake.
Don’t feel ashamed or guilty. This is raw data you need to overcome your biological drive for carb-filled foods. Once you’ve got the data, identify low-sugar carbs that are acceptable substitutes for higher carb foods. Figure out which foods help with your craving and which simply increase it.
#8: Get Metabolically Flexible
Metabolic flexibility refers to your body’s ability to burn both fat and carbohydrates for energy. It’s the ideal state, allowing you to maintain consistent energy. It also makes it easier to lose body fat.
When you are metabolically inflexible, your body is overwhelmingly adapted to burn carbohydrates. It is unable to mobilize and use body fat. Eating a higher carb, lower fat diet creates this inflexibility, and it is worsened if you’re overweight.
For normal-weight people, you can increase fat burning by eating a higher fat, lower carb diet. But overweight people’s bodies don’t adapt so easily and they are often metabolically inflexible and incapable of burning body fat. This can be changed—it’s not a permanent state—but changing diet doesn’t appear to adapt the body to do it.
One way for overweight people to increase fat burning is to do strenuous exercise. Both intense sprint training and long endurance exercise act as a catalyst for overweight individuals to become more metabolically flexible. Strength training may also be effective.
#9: Fix Your Gut
A poorly functioning gut increases carb cravings for the following reasons:
It leads to elevated inflammation. Inflammation makes your cells resistant to insulin. Insulin is not technically known as a hunger-reducing hormone, but when you are insulin sensitive, it blunts appetite.
GI problems lead to nutrient deficiencies because food is not being properly digested. Deficiencies of the B vitamins, chromium, magnesium, and carnitine are principally related to carb cravings.
It increases depressive symptoms that are linked with a hunger for carbs. Studies show that low mood leads people to eat high-sugar foods to elevate mood.
Fix your gut by eliminating any foods you may be intolerant to (dairy, gluten are common).
Then, optimize your gut flora by getting high-powered probiotic bacteria and eating lots of high-fiber prebiotic foods.
#10: Deal With Your Stress
Stress causes a profound increase in carb cravings. Elevations in the stress hormone cortisol increase cravings for highly palatable carbs. This is a protective mechanism: Eating carbs leads to the release of insulin, which is a cortisol antagonist, meaning, as insulin goes up, cortisol goes down. Conversely, cortisol blunts hunger for proteins. You're never going to crave steak and Brussels sprouts, but you’ll be overwhelmed with a desire for a pizza and ice cream.
Manage stress by doing meditation or some other form of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can significantly decrease cortisol and optimize the stress response for calm resourcefulness.