Avoiding cravings when following low carb diets is can be challenging. So is it necessary to avoid carbohydrates if you want to lose weight?
Weight loss is largely accomplished in the kitchen reducing anti-nutrients in the form of sugar and refined carbohydrates can be helpful for initial and sustained weight loss.
With this in mind, many of us also struggle to reduce carbohydrate intake – after all, they often come in highly palatable and tasty morsels.
Avoiding Cravings When Following Low Carb Diets
So how do you stop those sugar cravings?
You’ve been on a ‘low-carb’ diet for a day, a week or maybe even a long time, and you’re having a moment of weakness.
You are bombarded with media adverts promoting it, supermarket shelves brimming with it, and many many clever marketers telling you its ‘good for you because its fortified with iron, folic acid, calcium.’
Sugar’s got us in its grip, and, for now at least it isn’t letting go. Its everywhere and hard to avoid.
It sneaks up on you in the least likely places, and makes relapse from your ideal nutrition of high nutrient density foods inevitable.
Aim For ‘Slow Carb’ And Low Insulin
This article is aimed at helping you maintain a low carb diet if this is something that you want to do. Before I continue let me make a few points. I don’t advocate a ‘low-carb’ diet as such. And certainly not for everyone.
Popular ‘diets’ tend to fail in the long run – allowing us to shift accountability for our poor lifestyle choices, health and weight gain to a diet rather than taking accountability ourselves, or feeling guilt until the next wake up call further down the line when the cycle continues.
Diets Generally Aren’t For Ever
The entire weight loss industry is based on failure as people switch from one fad to the next, always blaming themselves for the diet for not working.
Low-carb diets can be helpful for weight loss and health, but many of us just aren’t ready to adopt such strict eating regimes. It takes a certain level of skill to be able to ‘eat low carb’ or ‘eat clean’ but the truth is that if for you, a whole lifestyle and kitchen overhaul is needed in order to accomplish this, then right now this is probable not a long term solution.
Because taking on too much change, too soon is too uncomfortable and too much effort to be able to continue forever.
I understand that this article may appear to advocate low-carb eating, and at first glance it may look this way, however, rather than low-carb it is actually low glycemic index (GI), or better still, low insulin. This involves manipulation of your carbohydrate sources rather than a diet eliminating carbohydrates as such.
As such this advice is likely to apply to more skilled and experienced eaters among us. If you’s like to learn more about what the best diet is then this article on what makes great nutrition is packed with actionable advice.
Avoid ‘Empty Calories’ If You Want To Follow A Low Carb Diet
Have you ever wandered down the cereal isle to the ‘healthy cereals’ section? Loudly presenting themselves as healthy because they are ‘fortified with iron’, ‘contain calcium’ or ‘contain folic acid’. They must be your weight loss and health friend because the boxes have a slim lady in a red swimsuit printed on them, or they are all ‘natural’ ingredients.
Sorry folks, they are all sugar.
Starches end up as sugar.
Whole grains end up as sugar.
‘Fortified with vitamins, iron, calcium’ because they have been processed, pummeled, bashed and shaped with such vigor that they no longer possess any nutritional value except empty, high GI, anti-nutrient insulin and fattening calories. To the point that manufacturers have to add some sort of nourishment artificially.
Looks like I picked on cereals today, so here is a round-up of carbs to avoid:
- processed foods
- soft drinks
- juices, except freshly squeezed
So it looks like that’s all carbohydrates then – your diet is a low-carb diet!
Actually, no its not all carbs that I recommend you manage, just high GI low nutrient ones or ’empty’ calories. And not at the expense of good fats like omega 3 fish oils and lean protein from organic or grass fed meat.
Low carb diets tend to have 0-2%carbohydrates, 15-20%protein and 40+% fat. Furthermore they don’t consider the quality of the fats and proteins, being largely made up of poor quality and processed foods. In contrast what I recommend is more moderate low GI carbohydrate content of up to 30%, much higher protein at 30% or more, and lower percentage of fats, focusing on omega 3, not omega 6.
How To Avoid Your Carb Cravings
It is preferable to consume lower GI carbs from fruit and non-starchy vegetables. If you have a craving for carbs, do your body a favour and grab one of the list below, and avoid the above.
Here’s the top 5:
- Fruits and berries
- Green leafy vegetables
- non-starchy, low GI carbs like sweet potato
- Beans and pulses in moderation
Eating these foods, especially if combined with protein and fats, will provide carbohydrates to the body, and important nutrients, fibre, vitamins, minerals, as well as having an alkalising effect in the case of fruits and greens.
If you swap the sugars for the above list you will lower your insulin levels, you will increase your insulin sensitivity, and you will lose weight and improve your health.
Insulin resistance is an important consideration especially if you want to lose weight, avoid cancer, avoid diabetes, avoid atherosclerosis and dysfunctional cholesterol.
It is suggested by Cordain et al (2007) that high insulin foods, and the resulting insulin resistance result in increased levels of IGF1 which can be held accountable for so many of the western world’s weight gain and sickness.
IGF1 increases the rate of cell division and exacerbating the growth of cancers.
Compounding this effect, and adding to the risk factor of being over-fat, insulin resistant with high levels of IGF1, the high GI diet reduces levels of IGF BP3, or insulin like growth factor binding protein 3.
IGFBP3 has a role in slowing down growth and ensuring repair, and with too fast and too high levels of IGF1, and low levels of IGF3, catastrophic results can be seen in our population. Just look at our health statistics.
- Food swaps – aiming for nutrient dense carbohydrate sources. To help you get started take a look at this super-food checklist.
- Perform high intensity interval training to improve insulin sensitivity.
- Combine your nutrient-dense carbohydrates with fats and proteins to lower GI.