Carb cravings are bound to happen while following the Keto diet as we tend to crave things that we are not allowed to consume. However, these cravings are not just limited to psychological reasons but also have physical roots, particularly for sweet carbohydrates like sugar. To manage carb cravings, it is essential to adopt a holistic approach that targets both the mind and body, while also being patient. In this blog post, we will discuss eight strategies, covering both psychological and physical aspects, to help control carb cravings while on Keto. But before diving into the tips, let’s understand the causes behind these cravings.
What Triggers Carb Cravings on Keto?
Carbohydrate cravings can arise from either physiological or psychological factors. Although there is overlap between these two categories, separating them can facilitate comprehension of carb cravings. It is important to note that the mind can affect the body, and vice versa.
After consuming carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and enter the bloodstream to provide energy for cells. When following a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is reduced, resulting in a decreased supply of glucose. The body then activates backup systems to maintain normal blood sugar levels, but this process takes time to occur.
Consequently, blood glucose levels may drop during the initial stages of transitioning to a keto diet, causing hypoglycemia, which in turn triggers hunger. In addition, withdrawal from sugar can also lead to cravings since consuming sugar activates the same areas of the brain as addictive drugs. Therefore, when sugar is removed from the diet, individuals may experience cravings for it.
If you smell something appetizing, such as baked cinnamon, your mouth may water and you may crave the treat even if you are already full. This demonstrates that external factors in your environment, such as what you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch, can stimulate cravings even if your nutritional needs have been met.
Additionally, hunger can become habitual, such as if you eat ice cream every night at 9 PM, your body may start anticipating that ritual and trigger hunger at around 8:45 PM. The example of Ivan Pavlov’s experiment with dogs in the 1890s illustrates that hunger responses can be conditioned by external stimuli, in this case, the sound of a bell.
Therefore, it is important to identify what triggers your hunger, such as the smell of baked bread or the sight of an ice cream sandwich, and minimize these triggers to reduce cravings.