Keto and Sugar Cravings: What You Need To Know
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Sugar is your nemesis, but you would probably be surprised to learn how many products in your home right now are loaded with sugar. Being that sugar is such a dangerous drug (yes, I said drug) food manufacturers can't simply call it by its name. After all, if you know that the products labeled to be healthy are loaded with sugar, you would probably be less likely to put them in your cart.
Sugar is everywhere you look, and it might pop up in some surprising places like your cheese or maybe even your all-natural Stevia. Did you know that most whole grain bread has at least one form of sugar in it, yes even if they tout "No High Fructose Corn Syrup"? We have a national sweet tooth epidemic. Even if you don’t eat a lot of sugary treats you may experience intense sugar cravings in the first few weeks of the Keto Diet so don't let it surprise you. Even if you don't typically eat sugary foods, carbohydrate loaded foods have hidden sugars in them (a carbohydrate is made up of fiber and sugar), and your body will probably experiencing withdrawal at some point.
Keto and Sugar Cravings: Names Of Sugar
Let's start by taking a look at the names of sugar, so you know exactly what we're working with here. I'll skip all the names that involve the word sugar because those are pretty obvious.
Soluble Corn Fiber (made from corn syrup)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Evaporated Cane Juice
Evaporated Cane Juice
Corn Syrup Solids
Other Common Offenders:
Anything that says Syrup
The biggest issue we have as Americans is understanding food labels. Ingredients should be straightforward and easy to comprehend, but they aren't. Because many food ingredients are created in a lab, you will find yourself struggling to pronounce many of the ingredients in your food. You should always look for foods that keep it simple. If you're buying peanut butter, the ingredients should be peanuts and salt.
Keto and Sugar Cravings: What Is The Problem With Sugar?
The problem with sugar is that your blood sugar is tied to your energy levels and your overall health. When your blood sugar is too low, you will experience intense cravings, fatigue, and mood swings. High blood sugar is a result of eating high-sugar meals. When you eat concentrated sugar, your blood sugar will rise to high levels causing your pancreas to react by secreting insulin to lower your blood sugar. Over extended periods of time, you can create pre-diabetic conditions in your body as your pancreas becomes overworked and eventually cannot use insulin efficiently (also called insulin resistance).
Fortunately, getting started on a Keto diet plan can put a stop to this cycle. However, this doesn’t mean that sugar cravings go away automatically. Sugar products are everywhere, and the temptation is sometimes hard to fight. Even if you've never had a problem with sweets, the chances are good that you love bread, pasta, or rice. Many high carb and starchy foods have the same effects on your body as white sugar. Don't be surprised if you find yourself craving these foods intensely during the first few weeks of ketosis. You can learn more about the symptoms of ketosis here.
The best way to approach sugar cravings is to have a plan. If you maintain a proper balance of fat, protein, and fiber in your daily diet you will prevent blood sugar drops that lead to sugar cravings. Also, try not to go too long between meals without eating. Snacks are an important part of keeping your blood sugar stable. Have some handy snacks like cheese, nuts, seeds and boiled eggs on hand with you so you can quickly stabilize your blood sugar without turning to sweet treats.
Keto and Sugar Cravings: Ways To Fight Off Cravings
Cravings can also be a sign of nutritional deficiency. When you are low on magnesium, you will crave chocolate and other sweets. Zinc and chromium can also stave off sugar cravings. If you aren’t taking a good multivitamin supplement with these minerals, start today. If you are taking a multi-vitamin and you are still experiencing cravings, consider trying additional supplements of these nutrients.
Brushing your teeth can also help to fight cravings. When I know, I'm not hungry but am still craving foods of any kind I will run upstairs and brush my teeth. No one likes to ruin a minty fresh smile with food, am I right? Having a clean mouth helps me so maybe it will help you too.
While it's not always possible, getting rid of temptations is one of the smartest things you can do. If you can throw out all of the processed sugary foods in your home, go for it. When I started keto, I wasn't able to do that because everyone else in my house was still eating that way. Now that we are all on keto I don't have anything in my house that I can't eat, and that makes an enormous difference. You can't eat it if you don't have it.
Support groups or even one friend can be helpful when you just need to vent but don't want to cave. We all need people who can hold us accountable, spur us on, and encourage us not to cave to cravings. Choose a designated friend to be your go-to person. They don't have to live the keto lifestyle; they just need to understand how important it is to you.
Having a low-carb version of your favorite treat is another good idea. You are less likely to feel deprived if you can have a satisfying low carb treat.
Keto and sugar cravings are a reality, but my hope is that with the tips above you will begin to overcome them and stay committed to your weight loss efforts.
Approved Keto Sugars:
These are the approved sugars you can use when you are on Keto. Everyone has their personal favorites. Mine is Stevia and my husband likes Xylitol.