Feeling like you’d kill for a candy bar right about now? If you’re craving sweets on keto, the good news is—it’s totally normal!
Keto sugar cravings happen. Even if you are following the plan to the letter and eating plenty of food, chances are you'll walk by a bakery or past a chocolate shop, and those cravings will hit. Smells are particularly triggering (so you may want to reroute if you’re regularly running by a cupcake shop).
But if you’re regularly experiencing sugar cravings on keto, it could also indicate that one of your body’s needs isn’t being met. Let’s look at what you should do to combat keto sugar cravings.
Why We Love Sugar
Why am I craving sweets on keto? The short answer is that sugar is pretty delicious, and most of us have been consuming massive amounts of sweeteners since we were kids.
In the middle of the 20th century, sugar-laden foods became ubiquitous on the market. During prohibition and after WWII, sugary drinks, processed sweet treats, and convenience foods because extremely popular. The more sugar people consumed, the more they craved. As a result, cheap high fructose corn syrup became a go-to sweetener for many food manufacturers to keep up with the demand.
Today, about 20% of the calorie content of the typical American diet comes from sugars. That number has been steadily increasing throughout the last century, particularly since the 1970s. Although people are also becoming more aware of hidden sugars in their foods, the truth is that many still consume foods laden with a shocking amount of sugar, causing sugar addiction to be a very real problem.
Sugar is “hidden” in many processed foods like salad dressing, bread, cereal, pasta sauces, and even cold cuts! It can be a tall order if you're trying to cut back on carbs and cut out sugar unless you're diligent about seeking whole foods.
Sugar cravings on keto are often part of the adjustment period as your body gets used to a new way of eating (and burning fat). Because keto calls for the extreme restriction of sugars and carbs, it helps change your body's metabolism.
You see, when you follow the keto diet, your body shifts to a state called ketosis. This is where optimal fat burning and energy happen. You're no longer relying on calories from sugar to give you fuel. Instead, your body taps into fat storage and helps you get that lean, fit physique.
But caving to your sugar cravings can take you right out of keto. Likewise, something seemingly benign as fruit juice or a cookie can take your body out of ketosis, forcing you to start the process all over again. It's not difficult, but there's often a week adjustment period where you might experience more cravings, headaches, and “keto flu” as your body gets used to the new diet.
Once keto works, you'll want to resist sugar cravings to keep yourself on track.
How to Kick Keto Sugar Cravings
If you're craving sugar on keto, it could signify something missing from your diet. It could also be a psychological effect of restriction.
Because you can’t have sugar, naturally, you want it more. You may also be susceptible to suggestions—the scent of a cinnamon roll or a photo of a luscious piece of cake can send your cravings into overdrive. Remember, you've been eating sugar for years, and advertisers have been selling it for decades. That's a long history of creating sugar cravings.
First of all, keto sugar cravings are normal, but they can be uncomfortable. Depending on your willpower, they can cause you to cave and cheat, messing up your keto momentum. It helps to determine if you're falling for the power of suggestion or if the craving is physical.
If your keto sugar cravings are metabolic in origin, it’s a sign that you’re not consuming enough food. Keto dieters often consume a lot of protein and fat, which is satiating and keeps your blood sugar steady. However, your blood sugar can dip if you forget to eat or have a meal that's not filling enough. Your blood sugar can also go down after physical exertion like running or a big workout and even stress.
When this happens, you might crave sugar. Your body is adapting to keto—what we call "fat adapted." That means you're turning to your fat storage for fuel. But during the first few weeks of fat adaptation, you might still experience physiological cravings. Here are five ways to kick sugar cravings on the ketogenic diet.
1. Be Proactive to Resist Sugar Cravings
To resist craving sugar on keto, you first need to break the habit. You'll do this by stocking up on keto-friendly foods that you can swap for your favorite meals and snacks. Make sure you have plenty of items you can reach for when you’re craving a fix.
You can also break your sugar habits by implementing new actions when you would have previously turned to sugar. For example, go for a walk after dinner, brush your teeth after lunch, or drink a big glass of water whenever you walk into the kitchen to nosh.
It takes time to build new habits but set yourself up for success by stocking up on what you need and planning how to address the cravings when they happen. Don't wait for a sugar craving to hit, and then try to make it go away. Instead, assume that it will occur at some point and have a coping plan in place.
Hydrate, exercise, and care for your body in healthy ways. If you experience sugar cravings on keto, don't punish yourself and dwell on how "hard" it is to avoid. Instead, shift your mindset to think of how you're nourishing your body with healthy, whole foods. Kick this damaging sugar habit once and for all!
2. Find Healthy Stress Fixes
Sugar soothes us. It actually boosts our brain chemistry and gives us that hit of dopamine that we desperately want when we’re feeling stressed.
Interestingly, researchers have found that our sugar cravings were evolutionary in nature. When our ancestors were foraging for food, sweet flavor meant that the food would offer energy. It triggered the dopamine center in the brain to say, “Yes! This is good! Eat more of this!”
But today, sugar is readily available to all of us any time we want. So the dopamine hit becomes addictive and even destructive. We eat more and crave more. When we're stressed, we're particularly susceptible to sugar cravings.
If sugar is your go-to stress coping mechanism, look for other ways to treat yourself. Light a scented candle (not a cookie-scented candle, something soothing like lavender). Foam roll or give yourself a foot massage. Call a friend while you walk around the block. Snuggle a pet or play a game on your phone. Do what you need to do to decompress without a chocolate fix.
Rather than powering through the craving, treat yourself in a healthy, stress-busting manner. Light exercise, nature activities, or creative pursuits are all healthy outlets for boosting our moods and avoiding a sugar binge.
3. Eat Something Comforting and Keto-Friendly
If you’ve reached a moment where resistance is futile and you can't stop thinking about your keto sugar craving, try filling up on something keto-friendly instead. Look for comfort foods. A luscious, creamy avocado, favorite cheese, or a yummy bowl of pasta…
WAIT! HOLD UP!? WHAT? PASTA ON KETO?
Yes, that’s right, It’s Skinny allows you to enjoy your favorite comfort meals without derailing your diet. It’s Skinny pasta is made with konjac root—a special ingredient that contains ZERO net carbs. That means there are no hidden sugars and only 9 calories per pack!
It’s Skinny Pasta is a keto dieter's dream. It allows you to add all your favorite toppings—load up on the fresh veggies, protein, cheese, and spices to create your favorite pasta comfort dish with all the flavor and none of the guilt.
This plant-based pasta is also great for those following low-carb lifestyles, paleo, whole food, vegan, and gluten-free diets as well. It’s made with only a few simple ingredients and packed with glucomannan fiber that fills you up and helps you stay full to kick those keto sugar cravings.
Order It's Skinny today to make all your comfort food dreams come true. It's available at many retailers and online in a convenient multipack. Try the variety pack with spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, and rice shapes that are ideal for every meal.
4. Plan Ahead by Eating Before Working Out
If you find that you crave sugar on keto, especially after the gym, it could be that your blood sugar levels are crashing post-workout. New exercisers are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon.
Plan ahead by consuming a small meal before you hit the treadmill. You don't want to eat so much that you feel full or get sick while exercising, but you'll need something to sustain your body while you sweat. Keto fat bombs (balls made with fats like coconut) are a good choice. You could also have other keto-friendly snacks, like a cheese stick, some beef jerky, or a hardboiled egg. Satisfy your sweet tooth with keto-friendly sweet snacks like a small piece of dark chocolate or berries with cream.
Look for a snack with some protein, if possible, and some fat. Even though you might be craving sugar, grabbing some keto-friendly berries might not be the best choice right before a workout. Filling up on artificially sweetened energy drinks or coffee can also be a no-no before physical exertion.
5. Check Your Sleep Habits
If you're craving sugar on keto, you may want to look at your sleep habits. It sounds strange to think that sleep could be connected to sugar cravings, but when we're tired, our willpower goes down, and our desire for comfort goes up.
During sleep, our body has a chance to metabolize and reset. It can change our insulin sensitivity when we don't get the rest we need. A lack of sleep might damage our metabolism, take our blood sugar out of whack, and make us crave foods like sugar.
The other issue with a lack of sleep is that it reduces our executive functioning. It makes it harder for us to resist temptation and make smart food choices. When tired, we're much more likely to cave to our cravings and derail our diet progress.
Sweet cravings on keto are a normal phenomenon, and it doesn't mean you're doing keto "wrong" or can't be successful with your diet. Plan proactively by filling up on healthy foods. Look for keto swaps so you can avoid deprivation.
It’s Skinny can help you stay on track with your keto diet. You don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite meals just because you’re avoiding sugar. Use It’s Skinny Pasta and It’s Skinny Rice to help recreate everything you crave (without the carbs). Order It’s Skinny today to keep yourself on track!