Carbs craving is the intense desire for foods in the carbs family. Carbs are also known as carbohydrates. The craving may be for chips, pizza, ice cream, beer, milk chocolate or the likes. Cravings for carbs usually occur when you are still at the beginning of your keto transition, it can also occur at some other point in your keto transitioning. Before embarking on your keto journey, your body’s system is adapted to operating on processed carbs and sugar for energy.
The more you eat meals rich in carbs and sugar, the higher your chances of having a rise in your blood sugar levels. This will instigate your pancreas to send out insulin to deal with all the extra glucose rallying in your bloodstream. A constant increase in blood sugar level and insulin release leads you on the path to metabolic syndrome, thus placing you at an increasing risk of developing one or more of the follow:
- Insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity issues
- Heart disease
- Obesity and weight gain
- Type 2 diabetes
- PCOS (if you are a lady)
- Some certain types of cancers.
If in regards to preventing any of the above or more, you decide to stop your sugar intake and go for a low carbohydrate diet plan like keto, your system would automatically protest the sugar denial in place of appreciating your effort. The processes involved in your body’s protest on the notable reduction in your carbohydrates intake by desiring the same vowed off carbohydrates is known as carbs craving.
Usually, the body system likes operating on glucose because it acts fast and can be stored for future use should the body have a cause to go for a lengthy period without food. Regardless of this benefit of sugar, it is still regarded as an awful source of energy. It’s customary for our body to protest whenever our glucose tank runs low. The body becomes a burden to deal with.
If you are running on low blood sugar levels, some of the side effects you are to expect are:
- Fatigue and excessive tiredness of the body
- Extreme hunger and thirst
- Irritability, anxiety and other negative feelings (mood swings)
- A hollow, churning, nauseous feeling in your stomach.
Our body associates a lot of things with high carbs foods (happiness, energy, fullness and other gay feelings). Whenever we tilt towards negativity, our body will start to desire sugar as it’s quick fix. In other words, sugar becomes an addiction to our body and becomes our go to fix.
However, the wonderful escape route is in keto. Once you start ketosis and get used to it, you get to a stage where your carbs craving all but disappear, your taste buds gets improved and your body adapts to another class of food as its energy provider. Your system will get used to operating on fats and operate better than when sugar was your primary energy source. Remember, all this is after you scale through the beginner levels of keto dieting (you will keep having regular carbs craving until your body gets adapted to running on fats).
There are other reasons for you to brave carbs other than sugar withdrawal, these other reasons would also become an obstacle for you in your race to carb-free living, these other reasons might be common errors or mistakes on your part and they include:
Limiting of Carbs Slowly
if you are determined to stay off carbs, there are 2 basic ways to go about this. You either completely stop eating carbs or you take it slowly (one step at a time). Usually, people on keto achieve ketosis by reducing their daily net carbs to the barest minimum. You gradually reduce your carbs intake until you reach your desired goals. You also keep track on you before and after keto carbs intake till you achieve the set goals. For those completely going off carbs from the start (this is the quickest way to ketosis) realises that it gives a harder shock to the dieter’s body and may lead to weight gain (this is why we find it better to gradually ease our bodies into the low carb meal plan if we desire a great result).
Regardless of whatever method you choose, until you reach ketosis, the carbs craving would still come visiting (especially if you are gradually reducing your carbs intake) and becomes harder to shake off. A way to fix this is going off carbs completely from the start without sliding back into carb-filled meals. If you are going slow, stick it out because adjusting your daily net carbs would be a hard nut to crack in your slow journey into ketosis. Once you gain victory over this hurdle, the rest they say is history.
Adjust Your Macros Accordingly
It is very important to adjust your macros accordingly. If you are just starting a Keto diet, it is of utmost importance to eat more fat than protein and carbs. By eating high-fat, you give your body the signal to start burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. This leads to the switch from glucose to fat as the primary energy provider source. Be mindful that switching from burning glucose to burning fat and producing ketones on the liver can be hard for a set of people, while some may need just a few days to start producing ketones others would need a week or more for this same task.
Furthermore, if you crave high carb foods, give it to your body fat. It will satiate your appetite for sugary treats and also will help your body switch from being a glucose burner to a fat burner. You can go for fatty and healthy foods like: macadamia nuts, avocados, eggs (boiled, scrambled or omelette), coconut meat, organic or grass-fed cheese (if you don’t mind dairy). You can also try other healthy treats like any Keto-friendly dark chocolate bars, which are full of healthy fats (cocoa mass and MCTs) to keep you satisfied and your cravings in control.
Adjusting your macros, on the other hand, is a chore you’ll face more than once and if you’re not doing it right, it could trigger carb cravings as well. Usually, it’s quite impossible to get your keto macros right on the first try and to fix this error, you need to calculate your macros using the Perfect Keto Macro Calculator and move ahead with your experiment from there. Remember that the available way to know how your body responds to fat is by tracking everything you eat and how you feel afterward.
Inadequate Water Intake
There are times our body indicates the need to drink water by craving for carbs. Thirst might be the reason why you feel like eating food with high carbs. If you are just starting your keto diet plan, the strangeness of it all might make you mistake the signs of dehydration for hunger. Some of these signs include: fatigue, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, trouble focusing or concentrating amidst others. All it requires for our body to get to the stage of dehydration is just a 1-2% drop in our normal fluid levels, which is enough for us to feel its effects.
However, if you eat more in place of drinking more, it offsets your keto plan and reflects on your waistline. Research has proven that in most cases, those who weigh more need to drink more water but rather than actually eating more in place of drinking, simply because they can’t tell the difference between actual hunger pangs and signs of thirst. To fix this problem, you need to drink more water. You can also research electrolytes and dehydration for more help.
It’s normal to crave sugary and fatty meals in one or the other phase of your monthly cycle. To understand the reason behind this, you need to get familiar with your monthly cycle. This is not a psychological problem but a physical one, menstrual or premenstrual issues are normal. Generally, a lady’s cycle is governed by estrogen and progesterone. While on period, the estrogen rises slowly to its maximum point which is usually the day before she starts ovulating, after which it starts decreasing gradually and the progesterone increases in its stead after ovulation till she starts the period the following month.
Basically, this means that estrogen helps women tolerate carbs better during the period to the ovulation phase (they feel more energetic, stronger with no sign of insulin resistance). The other phase (ovulation till period) makes it hard to focus, decreases energy level while making you insulin resistant. You do not absorb carbs well during this period. This luteal phase makes it difficult to lose weight and it’s nothing to be scared of. During this phase, you are insulin resistant and require more calories because during this stage, the body is trying to help you prepare for developing a healthy baby (or babies).
However, if you feel your cravings increase before your period, you should eat around 300 extra calories per day. You can prepare bigger meals or just eat some snacks during the day to keep your energy levels up. Desist from indulging in meals with high carbs as you are insulin resistant. This is a good moment to increase your fat and protein intake with healthy snacks. And do not forget to pay attention to your magnesium levels, because this mineral will help you in managing your carbs cravings. It will also help your premenstrual syndrome.
Ways of Reducing Your Carb Cravings
There are some practical ways to reduce or curb carbs craving and they are:
walking creates a third space, which detaches you from the state of emotions you’re trapped in and gives your brain a new situation to focus on. It also increases your blood sugar levels slightly, which will give your body a source of glucose on its own.
If feeling hungry, tired, sore or lethargic can be quenched with water. Then it is the most sophisticated drink money can buy.
Ride the Wave of the Emotion
Allow your body to feel what you’re currently feeling, and remind yourself that all feelings are only temporary, and will eventually subside.
Seek for Advice
If you’re really struggling with food, it’s always best to seek out medical advice. Talking with friends and family can really help, not only with your own accountability but also to shift your own state of mind out of the internal narrative into an external discussion.
Carbs craving in keto dieting may be due to various reasons, which includes menstrual cycle for ladies, dehydration, low protein or fat intake or gradual decrease in daily intake of carbohydrates and the ways to assist yourself is by tracking your macro/carbs/protein intake, hydrate regularly and research more on carbs craving.