Sugar CRAVINGS: 3 reasons you have them
and the proven science to destroy them
Hello, Angels! I'm Jessie, a biochemist obsessed with helping you feel your absolute best. Today, we're embarking on a journey to understand the intricacies of cravings, specifically for chocolate and sugar. Let’s explore the science behind why these cravings occur and how we can control them.
UNRAVELING THE SCIENCE BEHIND CRAVINGS
Cravings are often misunderstood as a lack of self-control or willpower. However, they are deeply rooted in our body's biological and biochemical mechanisms. It's like your body sending SOS signals in the form of cravings. When you're reaching for that chocolate bar at 4 p.m., it's not just a simple preference; it's a complex interplay of bodily processes speaking to you.
DEEP DIVE INTO THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF CRAVINGS
The groundbreaking study, "Circulating Glucose Levels Modulate Neural Control of Desire for High-Calorie Foods in Humans," (Page et al. 2011, PMID 21926468)
used MRI scans to visualize participants' brain activity in response to their fluctuating blood sugar levels. This study revealed a direct correlation between low blood glucose levels and increased activity in the brain's craving centers. Essentially, when blood sugar levels fell, the brain signaled a higher desire for sugary, high-calorie foods. This pivotal research demonstrates that cravings are less about willpower and more about our body's response to glucose availability.
Methods: In this US study, 14 healthy participants were measured for brain activity in the brain’s craving center (using an fMRI scanner) in conjunction with glucose levels in the blood. Whilst in the scanner, they were shown non-food and food images.
Results: Mild hypoglycemia, often experienced during a glucose crash, preferentially activated craving-linked regions in the brain in response to food cues to produce a greater desire for high-calorie foods.
Conclusion: Glucose levels in the blood influence brain regions that regulate the motivation to consume high-calorie foods.
Condition × task effects
UNDERSTANDING THE GLUCOSE ROLLERCOASTER
The concept of the glucose rollercoaster is fundamental in understanding cravings. Your diet, particularly your breakfast, plays a crucial role in setting the stage for this rollercoaster. Consuming a high-sugar breakfast can lead to an initial spike in blood glucose, followed by a rapid drop. This drop is what triggers the brain's craving centers, leading to that intense desire for sugary snacks. It's a cyclical process – a spike leads to a crash, which leads to cravings, and the cycle repeats.
SCIENTIFIC INSIGHTS INTO DOPAMINE AND CRAVINGS
Another key factor in understanding cravings is the role of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. When you consume sugary foods, the taste receptors on your tongue send signals to the brain to release dopamine. This release provides a temporary feeling of pleasure or a 'high.' On a challenging day, when stress and fatigue are at their peak, the lure of this dopamine high can be incredibly strong, making sugary foods seem irresistible.
TACKLING CRAVINGS WITH SCIENTIFIC STRATEGIES
So, how can we use this knowledge to combat cravings? One effective strategy is to modify how and when we consume sugary foods. For example, consuming sugar as a part of a balanced meal rather than on an empty stomach can help moderate the glucose spike and, consequently, the craving. Additionally, 'dressing up' your carbs – combining sugary foods with protein, fat, or fiber – can help mitigate the intensity of glucose spikes. This approach can be as simple as pairing a piece of chocolate cake with Greek yogurt, which contains both protein and fat.
HARNESSING THE PROTEIN LEVERAGE HYPOTHESIS
"The Protein Leverage Hypothesis" (Gosby et al. 2011, PMID: 22022472) offers another fascinating insight. This theory suggests that our body has a specific protein requirement, and until this need is met, we will continue to feel hungry. If your breakfast is low in protein, your body may keep signaling hunger, leading you to consume more carbohydrates and sugars throughout the day. By starting your day with a protein-rich, savory breakfast, you can satisfy your body's protein needs and significantly reduce cravings.
Palatability of foods served on each 4-day ad libitum period.
EMBEDDING THE SCIENCE INTO EVERYDAY LIFE
My mission is to translate these scientific insights into practical, everyday strategies for you. Whether it’s understanding the neurobiology of cravings or leveraging the protein leverage hypothesis in your breakfast choices, my goal is to empower you with knowledge. Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to mastering your health and well-being.
LINKS AND RESOURCES
Savory Breakfast Guide: Dive into deliciousness with my free recipes!
Anti-Spike Formula, my new supplement that reduces the spike of carbs and sugars by 40%: Your secret weapon against glucose spikes, nature's way.
My 10 glucose hacks as a PDF: Get your free guide to start managing your cravings today.