Making the transition from sugar burning to fat burning isn’t an easy one. The carb cravings that go along with transitioning to a low-carb diet can be overwhelming. The good news is that they only take place during the transition. The faster you can get from Sugar Burner to Fat Burner the sooner the cravings will die away!
Why do we crave sugar?
All carbohydrates essentially become sugar in our bloodstream once our digestive enzymes get their way. Starches and complex carbs are broken down to simple sugar and then they make their way into our bloodstream.
On a daily basis, most of us can perform all of our daily functions and activities on about 100-150 grams of carbohydrates. Anything above that is excess and will be stored as fat. Below about 100 grams of carbs, we will naturally begin to burn fat as fuel. For those of us who wish to trim our figures or convert to fat-burning, consuming under 100 grams of carbs is ideal. The trouble is that if we are “Sugar Burners” our bodies want more, we crave it.
Once sugar enters our blood stream, insulin is launched to eliminate it from the blood as quickly as possible. Our bodies are designed to eradicate sugar from our bloodstream and to keep blood sugar levels at the lowest functional levels possible. Over time, we create a physiological expectation that there will be sugar present in our bloodstream in regular intervals, and we’ve got the tools to remove it at the ready. When we stop providing the sugar, the cravings begin. Our bodies are ready for sugar, and we haven’t provided any. Over time, a low-carb diet will reprogram our system to become fat-adapted. The cravings will recede and appetite will normalize. But during the period of adaptation there will be a serious withdrawal period when our bodies are driving us to eat carbohydrates.
Other factors that can contribute to carbohydrate cravings include the serotonin effect that carbs can have on our mood. Eating carbohydrates can mimic the effects of serotonin and elevate our mood temporarily. The trouble is, that this effect is temporary and, in fact, deplete serotonin in the long-run making cravings worse! A better approach is to avoid carbohydrates and work to improve our body’s serotonin production and receptors.
What can we do about it?
The faster we can re-adapt our metabolism to be ketogenic or “Fat Adapted” the faster we will eliminate our cravings. For most people this can be achieved in 3 to 6 weeks.
1. Not cheating will make the cravings go away faster. Withdrawal must take its complete course and any setbacks you have along the way will only prolong your eventual success.
2. Understanding this process can help us in the short-term to mentally navigate the sugar craving demons that urge us to eat sugar and complex carbohydrates. In the long-term, being successful in the short-term will get us there one day at a time. Know that, if you don’t cheat, in about 21 days the cravings will be gone. In the short term distraction can help. Craving sugar? drink some hot water, do 3 sets of 10 push-ups, go outside for a 20-minute walk.
3. Proper diet, or supplementation of key nutrients. Low light in winter, low vitamin D, low Omega 3, Low B6, low iron, poor protein absorption and poor hormonal function can also all cause inadequate serotonin function. To assist healthy serotonin cycles we can get more natural light, use a full spectrum lamp, ensure adequate amounts of vitamins B and D,iron and Omega-3, and eat frequent small servings of protein (chewed thoroughly.) These won’t cure the problem or be a miracle solution but they will assist serotonin function and give you a leg up at battling sugar cravings while you work at becoming a Fat Burning Beast.
Read more about carb cravings at PrimalBody-PrimalMind.com
Read about Mark Sisson’s take on Fat Burning metabolism at MarksDailyApple.com