Cravings – Part 1: Why do I have these insane cravings?!?
Dr. Ryan Mayeda
Believe it or not but cravings are for real! There is actually a chemical, physiologic action taking place in your body. So if you have been told that you are weak or that you just have no self-control, stick with me as we unravel what cravings are and what to do about overcoming them…. Yes, OVERCOME!
Cravings are a signal that you have become a sugar burner. There are 3 major fuels that the body uses to give us energy:
- Carbohydrates (sugar): These break down into simple sugars that the body can use quickly for energy. The average body stores between 800-1200 calories of carbs in the blood stream.
- Fats: Great for long sustainable energy. There are 3500 calories per pound of fat, so everyone is walking around with plenty of energy stored in fat, even if you are fairly lean.
- Proteins: These are the building blocks for your body’s lean tissue, primarily muscle. This is the body’s last resort for fuel. It is not designed to be utilized for energy, rather it should be stored to help build and repair the body.
I said earlier that cravings are a signal that you have become a sugar burner. What does that mean? It means that your body has forgotten how to burn fat as a fuel source; therefore it depends on that small storage of carbohydrates to fuel itself. So, as you burn through your 800+ calories of carbs and start to run low your body needs to access alternate fuel storage. Since it has forgotten how to use fat, it goes after the 3rd source…PROTIEN!!!!
When your body begins to digest protein it creates a condition called Ketosis. Your body, in a sense, is cannibalizing itself. It is eating away at your lean tissue mass. This is a bad thing. So… since you don’t want to eat your muscles, your body creates intense, insatiable and unquenchable CRAVINGS for you to consume carbs/sugars so that you can replenish those sugar stores in your blood stream.
And so the cycle begins…..
You burn your sugar stores >>> You crave carbs >>>You eat carbs >>> You replenish your sugar stores and excess calories are stored as fat (you gain weight) >>> You burn through your sugar stores >>> You crave carbs >>> and so the cycle goes.
Become a fat burner. If you have 10lbs of excess fat on your body that means you have 35,000 calories of energy in storage. The average person only needs between 1800-2000 good calories per day. That is 18-19days worth of fuel. There is a chemical in the brain that enables our bodies to burn fat. That chemical is called leptin. When the receptors in the brain (hypothalamus to be exact) get burned out, we no longer burn fat efficiently as fuel. So the answer is to repair our leptin receptors. And that can be done through our diet. Check out “Cravings Part 2 – Becoming a Fat Burner.”