Following the Carb Diet
When an individual starts a "low carb" diet, these diets work to restrict carbohydrate consumption primarily for weight control. For this diet, foods that are high in digestible carbohydrates are limited or replaced with foods that contain a higher percentage of proteins and fats.
Carbohydrate cravings can happen, especially cutting out "favorite" foods that are rich in them such as beans, bran, breads, cereals, pastas, potatoes and rice. When a person gets a "craving" for carbohydrates, it can be for several reasons.
Reasons Why People Crave Carbs
The reasons that people can crave carbohydrates are:
- Eating too few calories: Carb cravings are the result of skipping meals or greatly limiting caloric intake. When a person's calorie intake is too low, the brain senses "famine," producing more neuropeptide Y (NPY), which encourages a person to eat carbs.
- Eating too few carbs: A lack of carbs can actually trigger the desire for more carbs. Carb rich foods contain tryptophan, which produces a brain chemical called serotonin. Low serotonin levels can lead to insomnia, depression, increased pain sensitivity and cravings for carbohydrates, which can restore balance to the body. Eating too many carbs, however, increases insulin levels can actually increase the initial cravings.
- High insulin levels: High levels of insulin can actually stimulate the cravings for carbohydrate rich foods, and increase a person's hunger.
- Stress: Stress can cause chemical imbalances, as Cortisol (a stress hormone produces that additionally triggers neuro-peptide Y), causing carb cravings.
- Low blood sugar: Extended time between meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop and crave carbohydrates. Blood sugar provides the quickest supply of energy, and the related symptoms are difficult to manage once the levels drop, causing weakness, headache and carb cravings.
Tips to Control Carb Cravings
There are several tips for the control of carb cravings. A combination of these methods, with the addition of a few of your own, should serve to curb your overall carb cravings.
- Do not skip meals. Eat three meals and included snacks between meals.
- Include protein, fat and carbohydrates at each meal and snack if possible.
- Eat snacks regardless of being hungry or not.
- Keep food records. It helps to identify patterns in food cravings
- Avoid very low calorie diets. Eating less than 1200 calories can lead to food cravings.
- Include some carbs into your diet. Carbs can be eaten, just limit portion sizes.
- If there is temptation from a serious "trigger" food, avoid taking that initial first bite.
- Avoid keeping trigger foods in the house or office if possible.
- If craving a "favorite" food, either avoid it, allow a small portion a day when the craving is felt, or find a substitute.
- Try to wait fifteen minutes before giving into a craving
- If you give into the craving and eat more than planned, don't punish yourself.
Moderation is the Key
By keeping your body fed on a regular schedule and within the required calorie limit, the body will not enter an "energy deficit" state and crash due to lack of required nutrients. By maintaining a proper schedule, the cravings will begin to diminish, allowing dieters to see the benefits of increased energy and the desired physical results.