Cutting the Carb Cravings


While I’m away at yet another work conference, Andi’s back today (check out her first post HERE) with some super useful tips on cutting those dreaded carb cravings (something I definitely struggle with), so I’ll let her get right to it. Enjoy!


Andi Singer is a health and fitness expert working with Proplus Fitness. She believes in healthy nutrition as opposed to restrictive dieting, and fights a fierce nightly battle against PB&J’s on potato bread.

Carb cravings are one of the most common things to destroy a healthy diet and weight loss progress. We crave carbohydrates for a wide variety of reasons, and pinpointing why exactly we’re craving is often the key to solving the problem.

carb-collageIt’s About Serotonin

Serotonin is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain, and it is associated with happiness and other pleasant feelings. Carbohydrates, especially sugars, can create a spike in serotonin, temporarily making you feel better when you are down. When you experience depression or mood swings, you may experience low serotonin which can cause carb cravings.

If you continually have carb cravings because you feel down and depressed, you may want to talk to a doctor or counselor about solving the root problem– depression. If you simply experience it every once in a while, consider doing something else that makes you happy before reaching for a candy bar.

Watching a funny movie, calling a friend, or playing with your dog will not only distract you from your cravings, but it may also help boost the feel-good levels in your brain, effectively eliminating the craving.

It’s a Habit

Some cravings are formed simply out of habit. If you often eat a bowl of ice cream at 7pm, your body will be expecting that carb rush at 7pm every day. Alternatively, if you received candy every time you cried as a child, your body may expect that little boost whenever you are feeling sad or frustrated. If you do not satisfy your body’s expectations, you may experience cravings.

You have to be highly aware of your habits in order to break them. Again with habits you may be experiencing low serotonin levels at that time, causing the craving. If you find yourself wanting sugar or breads when you are sad, try to find other things to do both to occupy your time and to boost your mood. If it is a time of day habit, replace your carb-rich snack with a snack heavy in fats or proteins (like cottage cheese or veggies and peanut butter), and after the initial few weeks you will find that your cravings subside.

It’s About Your Diet

A nutritionally imbalanced diet is often the cause of carb cravings. There are several potential dietary causes that may be contributing to carbohydrate cravings.

Simply not getting enough nutrients can cause food cravings– carb and otherwise. If you always feel hungry and tend to reach for carbs, it may be because you do not eat enough healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. If you think you may struggle to get enough nutrients in, write down what you eat and then assess it. Do you eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts, and healthy oils like coconut oil or olive oil?

Not eating enough carbohydrates specifically can also be one cause of carb cravings. Your body is simply trying to find a way to force you to consume the nutrients it needs. If you eat a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates, you may want to consider eating more carb-dense foods. Try to get more carbs in the form of fruits, vegetables, and root vegetables such as beets and sweet potatoes.

Alternatively, if you eat too much sugar or processed carbohydrates you may experience carb cravings. This is usually due to imbalanced blood sugar, because foods high in sugars cause your blood sugar to spike and then fall dramatically. Reducing the amount of processed carbs and grains you consume in your everyday diet and replacing them with fats, proteins, and other carb sources like vegetables may help you regain your metabolic flexibility and reducing your blood sugar spikes and drops.

Remember, carbohydrates are not bad, and cravings may be your body desperately trying to tell you something. Low moods can cause carb cravings, but if you continually feel sad and depressed, it may be time to attack that problem. If there isn’t an emotional connection, your body may be trying to tell you that you are lacking some vital nutrient. Listen to your body and try to find healthy food substitutes for the sugary foods you want, or distract yourself with an activity you enjoy to boost your mood.

Do you often experience carbs cravings?
What are some of your favorite healthy carbs?
What are your tips for cutting those cravings?


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8 thoughts on “Cutting the Carb Cravings

  1. Since I initially cut most carbs from my diet, I experienced horrible cravings for about the first month, but after that, my body never really seemed to ask for them again.

  2. I rarely crave carbs. Like you said, including healthy fats, ample protein, and nutrient-dense foods really helped me. I like that you included the problem with going too-low-carb, because so many people think that’s ‘healthy’ when really it potentially sets you up for a bad carb-overload situation.

  3. I used to crave carbs, but since I have improved my diet and now eat the nutrients I need, I don’t really have these carb cravings anymore.

  4. I live on carbs. I seriously love them. I am am just not a huge protein person. While I eat chicken, fish and meat, if you gave me an option, I would choose a grain every time. I think as long as I try to eat a balanced diet its ok!

  5. oh yes, lack of serotonin can really have that affect, and high cortisol! so tricky to manage but stress less and slow down helps, yes? and pass me the potato! haha

  6. Pingback: Friday Finisher 6/6/14 | Strength and Sunshine

  7. OMG I crave carbs all day long. I definitely think it’s a comfort thing. I’m that girl who watches sappy rom-com’s with a bowl of ice cream when I’m upset….and a loaf of bread!

  8. Reading this is making me crave carbs, haha! No really though, be a vegetarian means getting some pretty mean cravings for carbs if I’m not careful. I try to ward them off with a boiled egg or some peanut butter. Protein always does the trick!

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