Carb Cravings: What They Are, Why You Get Them, & How To Stop Them

When starting out on the ketogenic diet, don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting hit with some intense carb cravings.

  • Pizza
  • pasta
  • bagels
  • jasmine rice…

How do you go on without them?!

But go on you must; if you want to start cashing in the plethora of benefits that come with this new keto lifestyle.

In this article…

we’re going to dive into the world of carbs by reviewing everything you need to know about them.

  • the cravings they induce
  • how to kick them to the curb so you can focus on staying healthy and losing weight

What are Carb Cravings?

Carb cravings are basically sugar cravings your body has when you start restricting your carb intake.

On a normal carb-full diet, your body is accustomed to running on sugar and carbs for energy. Having that hearty portion of chicken Alfredo pasta for dinner means you’ll have a boost in blood sugar and insulin levels which can increase your risk for a variety of health conditions:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease [1] to name a few

When you quit carbs, your body pretty much goes crazy with carb cravings since it’s still adjusting to a carb-free life.

It still associates feeling full, happy, and energized with foods rich in carbs, so it’s going to want a fix until it has fully adjusted to the keto diet lifestyle.

Some unpleasant symptoms that typically go hand-in-hand with carb cravings includes the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Intense hunger
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Nausea

These cravings can be super intense!

Especially when first starting out on your ketogenic diet, but fear not!

Take solace in the fact that they won’t stick around forever. That’s right, these carb cravings are temporary—typically occurring in the beginning of a low-calorie diet transition—but it’s also possible that you’ll experience them again from time to time.

You don’t want being healthy to be such a struggle, so how do you combat these cravings? Let’s take a look at some ways you can keep carb cravings at bay throughout your keto journey.

Keeping Carbs Away

Once your body gets used to using fats for fuel instead of carbs, you can expect those nasty carb cravings to go away—for the most part.

But they may not be gone for good, so it’s important to prepare rather than suffer or give in to temptation.

Below are some great tips on how you can get rid of these cravings, especially if you’re just starting out on the keto diet.

  1. Go cold turkey

    Insteading of weaning yourself off of carbs, it may actually be better to cut them out completely right from the get-go. Even if you’re restricting your carbs, having just a wee bit too many will cause your body to constantly switch between its old metabolic state and ketosis, resulting in longer lasting carb cravings. Instead, just cut your carbs right from the start of your keto diet. It may be tough the first few days, but it will greatly diminish after that.

  2. Keep eating

    If you’re feeling carb cravings in the first few days of your diet, start eating until you’re totally full. Don’t restrict your calories just yet. Since your body is used to eating carb-heavy foods to feel full and satisfied, it might require more keto-friendly foods in the beginning to keep that full and happy feeling. Just keep in mind that you’ll still want to monitor your macros and not overeat, but eating more fats can be a great way to keep you on the right path. If your primary goal is to lose weight, then you should get back to limiting your calorie intake after about a week because they do count. One of the perks of the keto diet, however, is a reduction in appetite[2], so you may not even want to eat all that much once you get into the rhythm of the keto diet.

  3. Be on alert for hidden carbs

    You can count on carbs finding their way into almost every food out there, even products that might lead you to believe otherwise. These hidden carbs can certainly bring back those unpleasant carb cravings, so stay diligent! It’s best to prepare your own meals so you can more accurately keep track of everything going into your body rather than having to decipher misleading product labels.

  4. Have a pickle!

It might sound strange, but the keto community has found that one great way to kick carb cravings to the curb is to have a pickle. These snacks are super low in carbs as well as calories, and also contain plenty of potassium and sodium (which can also be an excellent way to replenish your electrolytes).

5. Eat whole foods

Eating whole foods is not only the best way to give your body all of the essential vitamins and nutrients it needs, but it also helps keep you full for longer. These are simple yet satisfying dishes with plenty of vegetables, meats, eggs, and healthy fats.

Conclusion

Carb cravings are going to happen whether you like it or not, but the important thing is how you manage them.

Remember, indulging in a pizza pie when you’re feeling those cravings might feel great at first, but it will only make your cravings worse in the long-run, so don’t do it!

Most of these cravings are temporary, so stay strong and focused to maintain that successful keto lifestyle!

References:
[1] Hession M, Rolland C, Kulkarni U, Wise A, Broom J. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obes Rev. 2009 Jan;10(1):36-50.

[2] T Hu,L Yao, K Reynolds, T Niu, S Li, P Whelton, J He, and L Bazzano. The Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Jun; 26(6): 476–488.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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