Sugar cravings are the bane of every dieter. I remember having them so bad myself when I first kicked my sugar habit that I thought about eating something sweet constantly. I’d even go to the convenience store to buy candy, cookies, and soda and have to talk myself out of making the purchase. I really believe I was, in some way addicted to sugar. When I realized this I knew I had to do something to stop my sugar cravings.
There’s a growing body of scientific research that shows sugar is addictive too. Studies published by Nicole Avena of Princeton University show that sugar can be addicting in lab rats and that it may be the same in us humans. 60 Minutes even did a segment recently where Dr. Roert Lustig states that he feels sugar is addictive and how it may be behind many diseases and health problems of the day including certain types of cancer and obesity.
Knowing that I needed to kick my problem with sugar if I was to lose weight and improve my health I looked for ways to help me eliminate the problem. In this article are 5 things I did that really helped. They worked so well I lost 70 lbs. over several months. I learned about them by spending many hours reading scientific journals and speaking with several diet experts. Give them a try for yourself if sugar cravings are your problem too. You only need one of them to work and kick your habit for good.
Stop Sugar Cravings
1. Go Low Carb And Don’t Be Afraid Of Fat
Following a low carbohydrate diet isn’t just a great way to lose weight and excess body fat. It’s also a great way to kick your cravings for sugar rich foods. I think anyone with a sugar craving should follow this type of diet.
By low carb I mean eating 70 grams of carbohydrates or less every day. If you’re eating mainly vegetables as your source of carbohydrates, this is a lot of food. It will take about 4 lbs. of broccoli to eat this many carbohydrates. The rest of your diet will come from protein and fat. I find the fewer carbs I eat, the faster my cravings go away.
At first, almost all of the carbohydrates you eat should be from vegetables. Steer clear of most fruits for a while too as their natural sweetness can make you crave simple sugars. Don’t be afraid of adding fat to your meals either. It will help you stay full and keep cravings at bay as well.
You have to be patient when you first go low carb as it won’t eliminate your cravings immediately. It will take anywhere from 3 days to 4 weeks for your sugar cravings to be eliminated. Be patient and keep at it, they will go away and there will come a time you don’t even think about eating sugar-rich foods. You’ll find the weight you lose and energy gained worth all of the cravings you endured while adapting to a low carbohydrate diet.
2. Take L-Glutamine
I learned this tip after reading Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. In it Dr. Atkins writes that taking 500 mg of l-glutamine prior to meals helps to curb sugar cravings. L-Glutamine is an amino acid with dozens of functions within our body. In our brain it helps create chemicals called neurotransmitters that enable it to function properly. A healthy brain is less likely to send signals to your body that it craves sugar rich foods. Glutamine also acts as a source of fuel for the digestive system too. Just like your brain, a healthy digestive system will keep you from craving sugary food. Taking glutamine can also keep your blood sugar levels steady which will also curb cravings for sugar rich foods.
I find that I need a higher dose of l-glutamine than Dr. Atkins recommends. I usually take 5 grams per serving mixed in water. Doing this once or twice daily before or between meals helps keep any cravings at bay.
My favorite glutamine supplement is Champion Nutrition Power Glutamine. The reason I like it so much is that it’s flavorless and contains only 100% pure l-glutamine that mixes easily in water.
3. Supplement With Fish Oil
Studies show that taking a fish oil supplement every day can help you stay full longer between meals. Since fish oil supplements can also help you lose weight and keep your brain, heart, and joints healthy this additional benefit really makes it worth taking.
The reason that fish oil supplements help keep you full is that the omega 3 fats in it increase levels of serotonin, a chemical found in your brain and intestines. Serotonin helps to regulate your appetite and mood. Keeping it in check will help you stay full and, as a result diminish your sugar cravings.
Based on the research, you’ll need to take 1200-2000 mg (1.2-2.0 grams) of EPA and DHA, the omega 3 fats in fish oil daily. You should take it with meals to get the most benefit.
The fish oil supplement I like best is Controlled Labs OxiMega. Taking just 2-3 softgels daily will give you the amount you need to see hunger diminishing benefits.
4. Add Lemon Juice To Your Drinking Water And Food
When you eat a sugar-rich meal like a piece of cake or even a lot of fruit your blood sugar levels rapidly increase. They then drop very rapidly. This results in sugar cravings. Even if you are eating low carb, which typically keeps your blood sugar levels steady, you may occasionally eat a meal that spikes your blood sugar a little too much. A little lemon juice may solve this problem. There’s a lot of evidence which suggests that adding it to your food or drinking water helps to keep blood sugar levels from increasing too rapidly after a meal, even when you eat a lot of sugar or processed carbohydrates (cookies, bread, pasta, etc.). It also helps to slow down the rate at which your food is digested so you’ll stay full longer too.
I like to squeeze a quarter of a lemon over my vegetables or seafood. I also add a lemon slice to my water. I find it really does help. It makes my food and water taste better too, which is nice.
5. Skip Diet Sodas And Artificial Sweeteners
Sure, they may not have any calories or contain any sugar but consuming diet sodas and sweeteners like Aspartame may lead to you falling off the sugar free wagon and into a pile of doughnuts. Studies show that people who drink diet soda or use Aspartame (Nutrasweet) have larger waistlines and higher blood sugar levels respectively. The reasons for these effects, scientists suggest, it that the sugar like taste of these foods send signals to your brain which causes you to overeat sugary and fatty foods.
The next time you’re craving something sweet and reach for a diet soda or food sweetened with Aspartame, skip it and take some glutamine or drink a glass of lemon water instead. Your cravings will go away and your waistline will thank you in the long run.
Now you know 5 things you can do to get rid of sugar cravings and keep them at bay for good. You may feel like it’s impossible, but by using these strategies and remembering that your body doesn’t need sugary foods to survive will help you kick the habit for good.
Atkins R. Dr. Atkins. New Diet Revolution. The Rowan And Littlefield Publishing Group. 2002.
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Iwashita S, Williams P, Jabbour K, Ueda T, Kobayashi H, Baier S, Flakoll PJ. Impact of glutamine supplementation on glucose homeostasis during and after exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2005 Nov;99(5):1858-65. Epub 2005 Jul 21.
Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;59(9):983-8.
Ramel A, Martinéz A, Kiely M, Morais G, Bandarra NM, Thorsdottir I. Beneficial effects of long-chain n-3 fatty acids included in an energy-restricted diet on insulin resistance in overweight and obese European young adults. Diabetologia. 2008 Jul;51(7):1261-8.