Control Those Cravings

Why am I always craving sugary or salty foods? I often face this question, especially from newer clients who are looking to make positive lifestyle dietary changes. There is no one specific answer as there are are vast possibilities as to what may be causing our bodies to “crave” whether it be a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps. For me if you’re craving a type of food, rather than accepting “you have a sweet or savoury tooth” think back prior to getting those cravings and assess what may have triggered your body’s response. 

Let’s look at potential reasons for what may be causing your food cravings.

1) Dehydration

When we’re dehydrated this can cause our liver to not function correctly. One of the roles of the liver is to release energy (in the form of glycogen) into our body and to perform this process effectively the liver requires water. If there is insufficient amounts of water present then the glycogen release is very limited and then our body will crave sugar or salty food from external sources. 

2) Skipping meals 

Do you ever get that big craving as soon as you get home from work and raid the cupboards as soon as you get in!? Yes I’ve lost count with the amount of times I have been in this situation. For me this is a result of a large gap from my last meal or even a skipped meal . People who tend to skip breakfast leave themselves vulnerable to those elevenses style snacks. As a result your body’s blood sugar levels are likely to be fairly low which results in huge cravings to raise them fast! 

3) Sugary or salty snack 

“Ohh I’ll just have the one biscuit please” let’s be honest one leads to two then two can lead to half the packet being demolished! We’ve all been in that scenario. Convenience foods like biscuits and crisps can cause our blood sugar levels to spike and therefore the demand by the body for futher sugar/salty satisfaction increases. When our blood sugar levels then drop fast we get the urge to have more sugar with further cravings!

High salt and sugary foods can also lead to dehydration which in turn can increase chances of cravings occurring.

4) Insufficient training recovery

An example of this would be going for a 30 minute run at a moderate pace then coming home and just having 1 banana as a recovery food, then 20 minutes later starting get big cravings. This type of workout would roughly burn between 450-500 calories compared to a banana which only contains on average 105 calories. I’m not saying you have to each the exact amount of calories that you burn, however Depending on your health goals be aware that leaving a post training deficit that big will limit your body’s ability to recovery as well as its demand to replace its lost glycogen stores.

5) Lack of vitamins 

With regards to this, I would say that dietary and lifestyle habits are the main causes of cravings however on the rare occasions it can be argued that certain vitamins can help keep cravings at bay.  

Vitamin B aids humans with regards to energy release and reduction of tiredness and therefore less carb cravings.

Fish oils (omega 3’s) have been know to aid insulin sensitivity which in turn keeps blood sugar levels more stable.

6) Low dietary Fibre

 Foods that are high in fibre are digested more slowly by the body and this in turn prevents any unnecessary blood sugar spikes which can cause massive cravings. 

7) Macronutrient balance 

Let me start by saying that Carbohydrates are NOT bad. They are an essential part of our daily nutrients. A diet high in carbohydrates will increase chances of regular cravings. For certain goals and specific diets a carb dominant diet is required. For a maintenance/fat loss regime, by decreasing your carbohydrate intake whilst balancing out your protein and fats can see a decrease in your daily cravings. Again there are many factors affecting your macronutrient balance so I wouldn’t go with the dramamtic approach of cutting carbs without a clear plan of action.

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