Today we’re tackling how to get rid of sugar cravings & carb cravings if you’re just staring out on the Ketogenic Diet, but also how to stop cravings for sweets that are Keto friendly, which can still cause problems for some people.
Let’s get into sugar & carb cravings first.
When you’re starting out on Keto and your goal is to be successful and to get into Ketosis, you need to cut out sugars and most carbohydrates completely. That includes most fruits as well, and I know that’s hard to understand for many people. The truth is, most fruits, especially the sweeter ones, are basically just sugary water with a little fiber and vitamins. Some people in the Keto community like to call them nature’s candy, and I agree. Just to name an example, a large apple has 26g of net carbs, out of which 23g are just sugar.
I still believe that the cold-turkey approach to Keto is the best way to get started and much better than to gradually lower your carbs from your previous high carb diet. Otherwise you risk ending up in what I like to call the „in-between-zone“, where you’re not running on fat or getting any closer to Ketosis and you’re also not feeling great since you reduced your other energy source, carbohydrates.
When some people say they tried Keto and they felt weak and tired, oftentimes they didn’t give it a real shot. They kept their carbs low, but not low enough, for example at 50g per day. The problem is, that way their body kept utilizing glucose first for energy, which is what always happens whenever that’s available, and just as those gylcogen stores start emptying and they started feeling tired, they would start re-filling them by eating a similar amount of carbs the next day.
Here’s what I recommend instead: Keep your net carbs under 20g per day and make sure you maintain that level for several weeks to give your body the time it needs to adapt and to get better at utilizing fatty acids and ketones for fuel. By doing carb-ups and allowing yourself to have some carbs here and there, you keep going through carb withdrawal (don’t forget, sugar acts like a drug in your brain), so you keep the cravings going and you might experience something like the “keto flu” over and over again.
You need to give it some time, those cravings will go away, don’t give in right away. And if you’re not feeling that great when starting out, it’s very likely you need to replenish your electrolytes. You don’t need a “carb-up”.
Ok, what if you’ve been on Keto for several months and you don’t have cravings for sugar or carbohydrates, but just something sweet in general?
Cravings for Keto desserts
Lets start this off by mentioning that we even struggle with this ourselves sometimes. But just so you understand what I mean, we never actually crave sugary sweets or other sources of carbs, we just know how awesome our own homemade Keto desserts taste and so sometimes we start craving those. This tends to happen when we make a bigger portion of homemade keto desserts like chocolate chip cookies, avocado chocolate pudding, gingersnap cookies, or cheesecake and have some as dessert for a few meals in a row.
We make these only using Keto friendly ingredients, but the fact that they’re sweetened (we use a blend of stevia and erythritol), means that not only is it hard to stop eating them after a reasonable amount, but also that we start craving for that sweet taste again to finish off our next meal. And this can turn into a vicious cycle, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
You shouldn’t forget that even though you’re probably using high-quality, nutritious ingredients like almond or coconut flour, coconut milk, butter, avocados, chocolate powder etc. those same ingredients are also high in calories and can quickly add up if you don’t pay attention. And maybe you’re planning to just eat one little mini-cheesecake in the beginning, but then you end up eating two or three until you actually realize how full you are and how much you consumed.
The Keto sweetener you’re using, even though it doesn’t spike blood sugar by itself, makes you over-eat and crave something similar next time. We notice a similar effect even when we just have a small quantity of raspberries a few days in a row as dessert.
So that’s definitely an area where you need to pay attention, as you can quickly build a bad habit where you feel like you need to have something sweet after every single meal, which is unlikely to help you reach your goals.
No dessert challenge
Since we were also struggling with this after bringing our Keto desserts everywhere over the holidays and indulging in them ourselves, we decided to just do a simple 7-day no-dessert challenge. We simply set it up as an all-day calendar entry:
We stopped craving for something sweet after around day two and I’m glad we decided to do it, as we also sometimes need to hit the reset button.
So that for example is something that you could try for yourself if you feel that you sometimes struggle with this. Just start out with a 7-day no-dessert challenge or just choose a single day a week where you let yourself experiment with Keto desserts.
Are any of you struggling with sugar, carb or Keto dessert cravings or have you had a hard time fighting those urges in the past? We would love to know in the comments, either here or on YouTube.