How to stop carb cravings on the keto diet
How do you stop carb cravings on the keto diet? It’s one of the greatest hurdles for anyone trying to transition to a ketogenic, low carb, healthy fat diet. The fact is, most of us grew up eating plenty of carbs that it feels normal. Even though a high-carb diet may be contributing to a range of health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, inflammation, heart disease and so on – you still crave them – we all do.
The fact is, carbs are like an addiction and as you get away from the carbs – like any other addiction – it can be difficult. But as with any addiction, the more you do it, the easier it is to say no but the craving never completely disappears.
When you’re first transitioning to that low carb, healthy fat or ketogenic diet, it can be extremely hard to resist carbs, especially the processed carbs and junk food. Life can become pretty miserable and it’s one of the reasons why lots of people quit the keto diet.
So, if you’re starting your keto journey, it’s important to realise that carb cravings will happen. It’s not a question of if, but when. So it’s important to be prepared and here are some strategies you can use to make it easier to deal with carb cravings.
Carb cravings on the keto diet #1: Vitamins, electrolytes and minerals
Why do you get cravings? It’s your body’s way of telling you that you are deficient is some type of for particular vitamins, electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium) or minerals. Typically, these cravings for something specific will translate themselves into carbohydrate cravings.
If you’re eating a healthy keto diet, you should have all the nutrients you need. But when you’re just starting out and getting familiar with this new way of eating, it’s easy to neglect your electrolytes and minerals. (Keeping your electrolyte levels topped up is also a good way to prevent the keto flu.)
So, make sure you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes you need. And it’s OK to rely on supplements – especially for your electrolytes – when you’re just starting out.
Here’s a tip. Always have some avocado to hand. Avocados are rich in good fats, they’re relatively low in carbs and they have lots of magnesium and potassium. So when you get a carb craving, eat an avocado. Heck, eat two avocados. This is infinitely better than giving in to a carb binge which will kick you out of ketosis and undo all your good work of the past few days.
Carb cravings on the keto diet #2: Go for a walk
Many times a carb craving has to do with your mental state, your environment or social/family situations. You could come up against temptation of some kind – maybe your friends are ordering in pizzas or whatever – and suddenly you’ve become carb-fixated.
Get out of that space for a while and go for a walk for 10 minutes. This breaks the fixation on carbs, it breaks the cycle, and gives you a chance to reset and let the craving pass.
Carb cravings on the keto diet #3: Get enough sleep
When you’re tired it’s easy to succumb to carb cravings. You’re mentally vulnerable, your willpower is low, your cortisol is high, your sugar level is low – it’s easy to grab a donut or some chips.
When you get enough good-quality sleep, it’s so much easier to manage cravings. You’re thinking more clearly, you have more energy, you’re not so emotionally fragile.
Remember, we talking about overcoming an addiction. That can be hard enough at the best of times, let alone when you’re tired. So, get enough sleep.
#4: Get outdoors more often
You don’t have to be an outdoor adventurer but just being out in the sun, in the air, seeing trees and grass in the park – these can help you (re)focus on life. If you live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, great – you’re very, very lucky – get out in it every day. Nature is like medicine. But even the most mundane walk down the street can be a reminder you’re alive, if you let it be.
When you focus on life in this way, it can recharge you and renew your efforts to take care of yourself. Just by being in the sun or nature can help your carb craving – and many other cravings – go away.
#5: Use zero-calories sweeteners (with care)
One way to deal with carb cravings on the keto diet – and you need to be careful with this – is to have some zero calories sweetener like stevia, erythritol, monk fruit. However, you have to be careful when you use these because they can simply prolong your dependency on sugar, on that sweet hit.
If you’re using these sweeteners in the case of emergency or you’re just starting out on the keto diet and you plan to wean yourself off the sweeteners, that’s OK. If the choice is between one of these sweeteners or guzzling down a box of donuts, then of course the sweetener is the better choice. But if these sweeteners are just a psychological crutch for you (and you know in yourself if they are) that ultimately prolong your addiction to sugar and carbs, that’s not good.
Also, we’re only talking about the sweetener itself here. This is not a license to go and binge on, say, Coke Zero or another other calorie-free soft drink. These sugar-free soft drinks are not good for you (keto diet or otherwise) as they contain unhealthy colourings and other chemicals.
#6: Drink butter coffee
When you experience carb cravings on the keto diet, grab a mug of butter coffee. Having a mug of coffee which has some butter or MCT oil in it can help curb carb cravings on the keto diet. (Some people call this bulletproof coffee which ia s brand name).
Why drink butter coffee? If you have your carb cravings pre-lunch, sipping on some coffee with a little bit of fat in it can satiate you. It can give you the leptin and ghrelin hormones hack that you need without elevating your insulin and so it turns off your hunger. You don’t grab that sandwich or cake lying around the office – disaster averted.
Butter coffee works really well for some people. You don’t want to put too much fat in the coffee but a little bit of fat will satiate you and dull keep you from messing up your diet.
#7: Go carnivore for a month
If you’ve been doing keto or low carb healthy fats for months and months, but you’re still having the carb cravings it could be a gut bacteria issue.
Some people have been keto for months – even years – but still get carb cravings. If that’s you, go carnivore for a 2-4 weeks. Eat nothing but fatty meat. Many people report that when the go carnivore, the carb cravings completely disappear. Completely.
That’s actually a very powerful feeling – to be absolutely free from any carb cravings. When you’re surrounded by processed carbs everywhere you turn – to have no craving or interest for them – is very freeing.
A carnivore diet can give your gut bacteria the reset it needs and eliminate the carb-loving gut bacteria that plays a role in your carb cravings.
#8: Fat bombs
What is a keto fat bomb? A keto fat bomb is combination of ketogenic ingredients that you can have as a snack, dessert, or meal replacement. They contain over 90% fat (typically coconut oil or high-fat dairy) and can be sweet or savoury.
Fat bombs are a controversial topic in the keto community. Many swear by them; many swear off them. We don’t think you should live off fat bombs, we don’t think you should eat 5, 10, 20 a day – but when you’re starting out on the ketogenic way of eating, having a few fat bombs (both savoury and sweet) in the fridge is a great help.
They are a great way to satiate the hunger pangs and carb cravings. As your body becomes adapted to running on fat you will find that you won’t need fat bombs as much (at least, not the sweet ones) and, eventually, not at all.
But when you’re just starting out, fat bombs can be extremely useful to keep you on the keto diet.
#9: A pinch of salt
Finally, some people find that a pinch of salt on the tongue or in your butter coffee can get rid of carb cravings on the keto diet. Maybe it has something to do with a mineral or electrolyte deficiency – but give it a try next time you’re craving those processed carbohydrates.
Carb cravings on the keto diet – on any low-carb diet – is normal and to be expected. But if you plan for them and be prepared with these tips, you will find that these carb cravings won’t be enough to sabotage your new ketogenic way of eating.
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The 28-Day Keto Challenge is a well-crafted plan that gets you through your first month. You’re never left to figure things out on your own. Nothing is left to chance. This 28-Day Meal Plan guides you every step of the way! And it’s more than a plan. It’s also a challenge. It’s designed to stretch you and see what you’re made of. With our help, you will be unstoppable!