How to break up with sugar
Calling all Sugar Addicts!!
I used to crave sugar like I didn't know possible. Here I was, eating a seemingly healthy diet and exercising, but at night I'd be tearing through my cabinets looking for ANYTHING sweet that I could get my hands on. I felt like the Bruce Banner of sugar cravings. I didn't realize by starting off my day with carbohydrate rich meals (fruit heavy smoothies, oatmeal with agave) that I would enter a cycle of blood sugar peaks- and valleys.
Sugar is the bodies main source of energy. All carbohydrates (not just candy, but rice and quinoa too) are broken down into sugar for the body's use.
When we eat carbohydrate-heavy meals without adequate fat/protein/fiber we enter a blood sugar tailspin.
Let's break down it down:
- Our bodies break down and digest carbohydrates to create our bodies usable form of energy: sugar.
- That hit of sugar gets absorbed into the blood stream and causes a blood sugar spike.
- The blood sugar spike causes our brains to release dopamine (the "feel good" neurotransmitter).
- The dopamine lights up the reward center of your brain to reward us for getting energy (carbohydrates).
- Carbs = easy form of energy = energy keeps us alive
What else causes the release of dopamine? HA-
Sex, drugs, gambling........ya know, things that cause addiction.
What goes up, must come down. The blood sugar spike causes the body to release insulin to clean up the mess we made. Insulin comes in and takes sugar out of the blood. Here's the hang up, insulin is really good at it's job. When too much sugar is taken out of our blood, we become tired and hangry. So, what happens? We crave more sugar. You can see how this is a problem.
It's important to note that healthy sugars, like fruit sugars, are STILL SUGARS. It's good to have fruits (preferably your low sugar fruits like berries etc.) in order to benefit from the vitamin and mineral content. But consume them in small amounts or balanced with protein/fat so your body chemistry stays stable. The sugars in my fruit forward breakfasts would spike my insulin levels and lead me into a blood sugar crash: groggy and fatigued. Until I got my hands on more. Rinse and repeat.
Sugar addiction and carb cravings are a result of two factors:
1) Sugar in moderate amounts (without protein or fat) causes changes in your body chemistry that make you hungry and tired, which causes you to crave more sugar (because sugar = energy).
2) It's highly addictive.
This is why we have such a hard time breaking out of the sugar craving and consuming cycle.
Like sugar addicts, looking for our fix
So it's no wonder that we have a hard time eating less refined carbs or carbohydrates in general- because our bodies crave that seemingly innocent dopamine release.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to build lean muscle/burn fat and steady blood sugar. It is VERY helpful in squashing sugar cravings, so we don't have to rely on willpower alone. Take 500 mg supplements up to 3 times a day, you should notice a difference in sugar cravings within the first week. I take pure encapsulations L-Glutamine (1000mg), first thing in the morning to evade sugar cravings.
Gymnema Sylvestre is an herb that blocks the sugar receptors on the tongue so we don't experience sugar's effect on our nervous system. It helps to halt the dopamine from going to your brain so that you aren't rewarded for eating the sugar (no reinforcement of the behavior). Not only that, but it also helps to block the absorption of sugar!
Greens, healthy fats, and lean protein
Eating balanced meals with plenty of greens, healthy fats, and protein is the key to stay satiated without feeling deprived.
Eating high fiber carbohydrates keeps you full and slows down the release of sugar into your blood.
Do you have any tricks to ease sugar cravings? Spill in the comments