We are designed and programmed to have an affinity for carbohydrates. They are the premium octane for our brain, our muscles and the rest of the organs of our body. However, processed carbs can be a very slippery slope, triggering even stronger carb cravings and what can seem like a full-blown addiction. To combat this, there are numerous tactics we can use to get our carb cravings under control so we can take back our health (and lose weight!)
Step 1: Trick Your Stomach and Brain
Follow these steps to trick your stomach and brain to conquer your carb cravings:
- Drink more water. The mechanism for thirst in the brain is so weak we often confuse it for hunger. Most often when we think we are hungry, we are actually dehydrated and just need more water!
- Eat foods high in fiber. Think of fiber like the brakes on your food as it travels through the digestive system. High-fiber foods move much slower through the system, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
- Eat within 30 minutes of waking up and every three hours after. Eating every three hours helps keeps blood sugar levels stabilized, preventing a crash in blood sugar, which triggers powerful cravings.
- Eat some dietary fat. Having dietary fats triggers the pyloric valve between the stomach and small intestine to close off, keeping food in the stomach much longer and giving a very full feeling. It takes about 20 minutes from ingestion of the dietary fat until the pyloric valve is triggered to constrict.
- Eating 7-10 grams of dietary fats works wonders for triggering the “full” feeling. Keep in mind that there is still a calorie impact (approximately 70-100 calories) with these combinations, but they can prevent you from eating hundreds (or even thousands) of calories later!
Here are some fun ways to use dietary fats to trick your stomach into thinking that it is full, whether you want to curb uncontrollable cravings or are using it 30 minutes before a meal to prevent overeating.
- 1 tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter.
- 1 handful of almonds.
- 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in a diet root beer to make a “float.”
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in warm water.
- 1/3 of a medium avocado
Step 2: Give Yourself a Break
We all know that if we try to restrict and deprive ourselves of certain foods, that’s all we can think about! This is why so many diet attempts fail. Even many diets that have a cheat day once a week can seem like an eternity to get there. But what if there was a way you could enjoy whatever it is you are craving tomorrow?
This is the beauty of carb cycling. You can structure your diet so that you can reward yourself with delicious foods that you want every other day. So if you can’t have it today, you can always have it tomorrow! Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
Here’s how it works:
- Every other day, you eat calorie-controlled, low-carb meals (250-350 calories per meal). Eat within 30 minutes of waking and every three hours afterward for a total of five meals.
- On the days in between, you eat calorie-controlled high-carb meals (250-350 calories per meal). Eat within 30 minutes of waking and every three hours afterward for a total of five meals, but one of your first four meals can be any reward food of your choosing! This can be anything from pizza to ice cream, but be sure to keep your reward food between 100 and 750 calories.
Keep in mind, your weight loss will not be as rapid using this method compared to some others, but it can be sustainable! Most people following this carb-cycling plan reported feeling fulfilled and satisfied and felt that they could follow it for a long time, which is the key to long-term success!