Why Carb Cravings Can Be Hard to Crack

carb cravings

If you’ve ever grabbed a bag of potato chips and sat down to snack on just a few, only to discover you munched your way through the entire bag, you’re not alone. Carb cravings are a real thing.

And anyone who tells you that carbohydrate reduction is just a matter of self-discipline or self-control hasn’t sat down for a meal with health professionals like Harvard researcher Dr. David Ludwig, or Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician at the University of California. The real culprit behind carb cravings...insulin. If you eat piles of simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal made from refined grains), these foods cause a spike in insulin levels when digested.

The worst foods for carb cravings: sugary snacks and drinks like soda, energy drinks, artificially sweetened juice, candy, desserts, sweets.

“The more insulin you release, the more you crave carbs,” Lustig said in a recent New York Times interview. Your body and your brain respond to carbs and sugar, a lot like an addict responds to alcohol or drugs. If you just try to cut out carbs cold-turkey, it’s pretty likely intense carb cravings will turn into an eating binge.

When your body is used to releasing large amounts of insulin to control blood sugar levels, it’s a recipe for carb cravings.

Fortunately, you can change this. One of the best approaches to stop carb cravings is learning to eat more protein and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, dairy products, meats. These foods contain fats that help you feel fuller longer, and when they’re digested don’t cause a major insulin release from your pancreas.

If you’re trying to cut back on carbs, be prepared for some intense cravings, especially at first. You’ll need to adjust your diet and stick to the carbohydrate reduction plan. But you can expect it to take time to curb your cravings. And the truth is, carb cravings may never really go away, says Lustig.

If you need a little help sticking to your diet, just check out the menu of Low-Carb Friendly entrees. And you’ll have your next meal ready in minutes.