How can I bust sugar cravings?
How many carbs should I eat?
I get these questions all the time, so I figured I'd sit down to have a little chat with you all (ahem, that's the video above, which you should watch!) about these topics.
Sugar and carbohydrates are always a hot topic! Many folks tell me “I don't know where to begin?!” and the amount of information out there can be quite overwhelming.
I'm tackling some of the most common questions and providing my best tips to clear up the sugar and carb confusion. Enjoy!
Q: How to get rid of sugar & carb cravings?!
The number one question people ask me is “How can I get rid of sugar cravings?” Well, right here I'm sharing my top two suggestions along with reasons why and how they work.
1. Complete a program or plan designed to bust these cravings, like a 21-Day Sugar Detox or a 30-Day Meal Plan from Practical Paleo.
Here's what the program helps you to achieve:
- Reset your palate and taste buds. By the end of the program, the foods you're eating will taste completely different! When you remove the refined, sweetened, and processed foods, your tastebuds will adapt and whole, nutrient-dense foods will taste way better than they did at the beginning. Food that never tasted sweet before suddenly will, and things that maybe weren't sweet enough before will be just right.
- Change your choices. You'll be forced to make new food choices, look for new items in the grocery store, etc. The program will push you outside your comfort zone, which is the best way to grow and…
- Create new habits. Being on a new plan for a specific length of time will allow you to form new and healthier habits making them actions that will become second nature – you'll just do (or choose) them!
- Find a community and support. Surrounding yourself with a group of people on the same journey can be quite comforting and motivating. You can also seek even more attention through a coach (like our Certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches!)
- Learn to cook and plan meals differently. This one is huge! Cooking is a critical skill that can take time and practice… it really is not that hard, you just need to do it! A program is a great way to commit to learning this necessary skill that will benefit you in the long-term.
2. Learn to balance in your meals in order: protein, fat, then carbs.
- The first focus should be on adequate, quality protein. We need amino acids to support our brain if we want to avoid constantly craving sugar. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure, recommends a minimum of 20 grams of protein per meal (about 3 ounces of meat or 3 eggs), especially if you struggle with cravings.
- Next up are our healthy, natural fats. Our bodies love the satiety that comes from healthy fats, but it can take time to feel that satiety. Fats help us absorb nutrients (for example, fat-soluble vitamins) which are the root for “deep” satiety. This means we will be able to feed our bodies not only calories for fuel, but nutrients to run efficiently.
- Finally, we also need nutrient-rich carbohydrates. Practical Paleo contains a “Guide to Nutrient-Dense Carbs” which demonstrates the best carbohydrate sources based on nutrient-density. I include both macronutrients and micronutrients! Macronutrients provide our body with calories and energy; micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) are necessary for proper metabolism and assimilation of fuel that macros provide.
Q: How do you figure out how many carbs are right for you?
- Eat carbs according to your activity level and type of activity.
- Lower Carb appropriate activities (generally under 100g/day)
- Low-intensity workouts, for example: walking, yoga, Pilates, or even weight lifting that does not increase your heart rate for long lengths of time.
- High-intensity, but for very short durations (5 minutes or less)
- Higher Carb appropriate activities (generally over 100g/day)
- High-intensity workouts of durations more than 5 minutes, for example: CrossFit (unless a strength-specific program without metcons)
- Lower Carb appropriate activities (generally under 100g/day)
- Eat carbs according to your body type and your body's response to them.
- Do you hold onto fat specifically around your bra line or lats/”wings” area on your back? Then, you are probably eating more carbs than your body or activity requires. Re-balance your plate by removing some carbs and adjusting your protein and fat ratios.
- Do you run lean? Is your back especially fairly lean or narrow? Then, you can handle more carbs than you are currently eating. Feel free to add more carbs to your plate!
- TRACK, TRACK, TRACK!
- Unfortunately, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. You must track what you are eating and listen to how you feel.
- Signs you may not be eating enough carbs: no energy, brain fog, not sleeping well, moody, unable to recover from exercise, symptoms of low thyroid function without thyroid disease, infertility
- Signs you may be eating too many carbs: hard time losing body fat
- For example: I experimented eating higher carb. My training consisted of lifting heavy weights and I was building muscle but felt I wasn't training in a way that demanded the extra carbs. Now, I have been eating lower carb for a couple weeks, and I feel completely find at the gym and am seeing body fat reduce again in certain areas.
Sugar and Carb Q&A!
Q: I'm SO addicted! What's the most important thing to do or know when getting off sugar and carbohydrates?
Being prepared is absolutely the best way to ensure your success when removing sugar and carbohydrates because inevitably, you will get hungry… and be searching for “quick hits.” I highly recommend planning and prepping meals ahead of time and absolutely prepping snacks (i.e. hard boiled eggs, cut up veggies and dip, pre-portioned nuts, etc.)
Q: How does one reduce carbs for weight loss while still supporting the thyroid and adrenals after adrenal fatigue?
In this scenario, you want to absolutely make sure you do not eat too low carb, so I have two pieces of advice. First, track or enter your food in a tracker to make sure you are not accidentally going too low carb/eating enough carbs. Secondly, make sure you are sticking to low impact activity that will not be fueled by carbohydrates.
Q: I always feel like I don't eat enough carbs when I workout but try not to on purpose because I try to stick with Paleo. How many carbs and what kind do I need for Crossfit and/or cross training with some running 3 times a week? I want to find a balance for weight loss and sufficient fuel.
For this question, I'm going to assume that fat loss is the primary goal (over performance). First off, if you want to be eating strictly Paleo, you will need to prepare carbs ahead of time, possibly multiple times a week. My “Guide to Paleo Carbs” in Practical Paleo can help you here, but if you find that it isn't enough to fuel your workouts, you may want to try another option. A great carb source to add would be white rice. You can add white rice to your meals and see how you feel.
A great carb source to add in this case would be white rice. You can add white rice to your meals and see how you feel.
Let me share some numbers:
- 100 g (a little more than 1/2 cup) of Sweet Potato = 21 carbs
- 1/2 cup of white potatoes = 21 carbs
- 1/2 cup white rice = 28 carbs
While the 7 grams from the white rice may not seem like a lot more carbs, it's 25% more than the other two Paleo options. You can very easily add that in the day or possibly even 2 servings. You should aim for at least 25 grams of carbs per meal (a total of 100 grams of carbs per day).
- [BOOK]: Practical Paleo 2nd Edition – Chapter 5: Clearing up Carb Confusion
- [PODCAST] Balanced Bites #267: All about Blood Sugar and Carbs
- [PODCAST] Balanced Bites #233: Carb Confusion
- [PODCAST] Balanced Bites #228: All about Carbs with Christine Hronec Part 1
- [PODCAST] Balanced Bites #232: All about Carbs with Christine Hronec Part 2