Craving carbs or sugary treats on a keto diet?
One of the main advantages of a Keto diet is that you feel satiated most of the time. This happens because you eat a lot of healthy fats.
But sometimes, just eating your healthy fats does not seem to be enough. You could be making a few mistakes that are boycotting your health goals.
Maybe you're not eating enough food, or you are not replenishing crucial minerals. If you're a woman, your period could also be tricking you.
Let’s talk about what is hindering your success and what to do to give your body what it really needs.
Why beginners' cravings happen
It's totally normal to crave high carb foods when you starting a Keto Diet. If that's your case, don’t worry about it. You're teaching your body to burn fat instead of glucose and that can be difficult for it to adapt the first weeks.
Another reason for these beginner cravings can be that you're experiencing the Keto Flu. The 'Keto Flu' is not actually a flu. It's called like that because it resembles the symptoms of when you have a flu. One of the symptoms is sugar cravings but you can also experience many others such as: migraine and headaches, nausea, fatigue, decreased appetite, constipation or diarrhea, muscle cramps, and difficulty sleeping and exercising.
How can you prevent beginner cravings
1. Take it slow
If you have never been on a keto diet you must help your body to adapt to this new situation. We recommend you to first start cutting refined sugary foods (candies, pastries, breakfast cereal, etc.), refined carbs (pasta, white rice, sugary treats, bread, etc.), and then finally cut natural high carb foods (potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, etc.)
2. Eat more fat
It's very important to adjust your macros correctly. If you are starting a Keto diet it is important 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. Sounds crazy, right?
Be mindful that switching from burning glucose to burning fat and producing ketones on the liver can be hard for some people. Maybe you'll only need 2-3 days to start producing ketones but others will need a week or even more.
So, if you crave high carb foods, give your body fat. It will satiate your appetite for sugary treats and also will help your body switch from a glucose burner to a fat burner.
You can eat fatty and healthy foods like: macadamia nuts, avocados, eggs (boiled, scrambled, omelets), coconut meat, organic or grass-fed cheese (if you tolerate dairy). You can also try other healthy treats like our Keto Chocolate bars, which are full of healthy fats (cocoa mass and MCTs) to keep you satisfied and your cravings in control.
Our keto chocolate bars - or even this fat bomb recipe are super fatty foods that can help you curb your cravings.
3. Don't forget the protein
For the first few weeks, before you keto-adapt your body, it is important to focus on fat intake. Fat is going to be your most important fuel source. But a common mistake is to focus on eating fat but forgetting about protein, which can be very problematic.
If you are not eating enough protein in all of your meals, this could trigger a few issues such as loss of muscle mass, hair loss and... crazy carb cravings!
There are different approaches when it comes to protein intake on a keto diet. Some physicians/nutritionists recommend low protein intake while others recommend moderate or even high intake.
So, we recommend you to adjust your protein intake based on your age, condition and sports practice. Keep adjusting your protein intake and see how you feel. In doubt, consult a keto dietitian or expert that can guide you through this.
The best animal-based protein sources are eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and some protein powders in case you need them, like whey. If you are on a vegetarian or vegan keto diet, trust tofu, textured vegetable protein and tempeh. In some cases, it would be interesting to add extra protein, like hemp protein or pea protein powders. They will help you reach your protein intake and will also keep you satiated for longer. Here you can find a list of all foods you can (and should) eat on a vegetarian keto diet.
4. Electrolytes, electrolytes!
I already mentioned that the keto flu can also be causing these cravings. The Keto flu is very common, but you can prevent it by paying extra attention to your electrolytes. If you are not taking enough sodium, magnesium and potassium, the keto flu symptoms won’t disappear. And neither your cravings, because your body will make you eat more food to get those missing nutrients. If you think you cannot tolerate drinking pure salty water (totally understandable) you can find a delicious recipe that will help you increase your electrolyte intake here.
Hymalayan salt has some of the electrolytes you need daily during keto
Cravings before and during your menstrual cycle (ladies only)
Do you feel hungry all the time when your period is coming? Do you crave sugar and fat more than in other phases of your cycle?
If you can relate to this, don’t worry. This is very normal.
Knowing your menstrual cycle will help you understand why this happens. It will make you feel better because it is a totally normal physiologic issue (and not a psychological one). Cravings on your premenstrual and menstrual phase are not in your mind.
There are two principal hormones that govern your menstrual cycle: estrogen and progesterone.
When you are on your period, estrogen slowly starts rising. Its maximum point is the day before your ovulation. After this point, it starts to decrease. Instead, progesterone starts rising after your ovulation until your period comes.
What does this mean?
During the follicular phase (from the period until ovulation) estrogen helps women tolerate carbs better. From the last days of your period until the ovulation phase you will feel more energetic, you can train harder, feel stronger and there are no signs of insulin resistance (if you don’t have hormonal imbalances like PCOS).
Otherwise, since ovulation until your period (luteal phase), it is difficult to maintain the focus, energy levels decrease and you will get more insulin resistant. Which means that you do not tolerate carbs as well as on the follicular phase. Metabolic requirements increase at 2-3%, so you can increase your calorie intake. At this point, it can be very difficult for many women to lose weight and that is totally normal.
The main thing here is that women need more calories but are also more insulin resistance. But why is that?
We must understand that the final objective of the menstrual cycle is pregnancy. If this happens (during ovulation) women's bodies will tend to hold as much energy as possible to help the fetus grow. This is why calorie requirements are higher and insulin resistance is worse: the body is trying to help develop a healthy baby.
Although nature predisposes us to pregnancy, the truth is that this is not going to happen every month!
Use this valuable information to “hack” your cycles and not punish yourself if you are are not reaching your goals.
Nuts and seeds are the perfect options to increase energy during your premenstrual phase.
How can you prevent period cravings
If you feel your cravings increase before your period, you can eat 200-300 extra calories per day. You can prepare bigger meals or just eat some snacks during the day to keep your energy levels up.
Try not to increase carb intake because you will be more insulin resistant. So it is a good moment to increase your fat and protein intake with healthy snacks. And don't forget to pay attention to your magnesium levels, because this mineral will help you manage your cravings. It will also help your premenstrual syndrome.
Make sure to eat plenty of avocados, Keto Chocolate (hello Funky Fat Choc again!), nuts and seeds (flaxseed, raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia), and other protein / fat-rich foods.
And remember, everyone is different, so be gentle with yourself and listen to your body.
Leave a comment sharing your crazy cravings moments and perhaps your own tips and tricks on how to stop them 😊