Sugar cravings can be the downfall of many a well-meaning ketogenic dieter. Once you switch from a ‘regular’ diet (which often contains a fair amount of processed and sugary foods), to a diet which is high in fat and low in sugars and carbohydrates, the cravings can kick in.
This can lead to feelings of frustration, low-mood and just generally feeling like your will-power is being tested at every single meal time (and in between). Trust me, we’ve all been there.
However, it’s easy to forget that sugar cravings are actually a completely normal part of following a keto lifestyle, particularly when you’re first becoming adapted. And it’s even easier to forget that that the cravings will pass!
The first couple of weeks are definitely the roughest part – so we’ve highlighted a few useful tips on how to beat sugar cravings when starting a ketogenic diet.
1) Accept That Cravings Are Normal
Although low carbohydrate diets do have their benefits and do sound very appealing (there aren’t many diets that allow you to eat bacon, egg, and sausage for breakfast and still burn fat) but even they can be difficult to stick to, especially when the dreaded sugar cravings kick in. We all get what is known as a “sweet tooth” from time to time when our bodies are almost literally crying out for some unhealthy junk food, packed full of fat and sugar.
Recognizing that these cravings are completely normal is the first step to beating them. It can be quite distressing at first, particularly if you’ve never cut sugar from your diet before. But, knowing that these cravings are temporary, and are an integral part of making the switch from a ‘regular’ diet to a low-carb diet can help to lift a huge psychological weight from our shoulders.
The bottom line is this: you will get cravings. Recognize them, accept them and then move on.
2) Use a Healthy Sweetener
A lot of low carbohydrate diets are packed full of recipes which contain absurd amounts of artificial sweetener, which is designed to provide the sweetness, without the sugar. Many of these sweeteners, however, are packed full of chemical ingredients, including aspartame, which actually suppresses the metabolism and has been heavily linked to cancer and dementia.
There are however, a number of healthy sweeteners now available, with Stevia and Erythritol being great examples. If you find a sweet recipe which calls for a sweetener, try using a healthy sweetener instead.
3) Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Protein
To be honest, unless your meals are primarily made up of fat sources, you should be consuming more than enough protein, due to the fact that you have eliminated carbohydrates. With that being said, a lack of protein can lead to sugar cravings and hormonal imbalances. On top of that, protein is thermogenic, which means it takes longer to digest and break down, so it keeps you feeling full for longer.
The lesson here it this: always make sure you’re hitting your protein consumption goals when following a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. If not, cravings can become a big problem, and could lead you to throw in the towel all together. If you need a protein fix, try snacking on beef jerky while you’re out and about – it’s great for portability and the rich taste helps to keep you satisfied.
4) Never Starve Yourself
The main idea behind a low carb diet is the fact that you don’t count calories, you simply eat when you’re hungry, and eat as much as you like. If you’re ever hungry on a low carb diet, you’re doing it wrong, as hunger should not be a factor with this sort of diet.
When we’re hungry, we crave foods we shouldn’t be having, which in this case, will be sugary junk foods like cakes, ice cream, biscuits, candy, and other processed sugary treats. To avoid these cravings, make sure you are eating enough of the foods you are allowed to be eating. Choosing Keto-friendly snacks between meals is a great way to stave off those hunger pangs and keep cravings at bay.
5) Always Drink Enough Water
Again, one common mistake that people tend to make on low-carb diets, is relying on “diet” beverages that are packed full of unhealthy sweeteners and ingredients. Although some ‘purists’ advise against it, some low-carb dieters agree that the odd can now and then won’t hurt, but for the most part, the vast majority of your fluid intake should be coming from fresh water.
It’s not rocket science that water is basically the life force that keeps us going (duh) but it also helps to keep us feeling full, which is great news if you’re starting to get cravings. Also, proper and effective hydration suppresses the production of hormones such as cortisol, which are responsible for our bodies craving the types of foods that we shouldn’t be consuming.
Another way to ensure you’re properly hydrated (and to make sure you’re getting enough protein too) is by keeping a whey protein shake or two handy for when you’re starting to feel those cravings creeping in.
How do you beat sugar cravings? Have a handy tip that you’d like to share with the rest of us? We’d love to hear about it, so please feel free to share it in the comments section below.