One of the most effective ways to reduce your hunger levels and beat the dreaded sugar cravings is to simply eat more protein. Add in the fact that protein is fantastic for helping you to lose fat and gain muscle and it’s clear to see why adding more protein to your diet may be the key to lasting weight-loss.
How does it work?
Secondly, because protein leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied, it decreases your appetite making you feel far less likely to snack or suffer from cravings. Studies show that people who eat a diet higher in protein tend to consume less calories overall than those that don’t.
When we eat carbohydrates (in particular sugary or salty ones) they trigger a pleasure response in our brain that makes us want to eat more of them and overeat. This is why we tend to crave these foods, when we hit a slump or feel stressed or down.
Foods which are high in protein tend to be high in tryptophan, which can still lead to the feel-good effect, but typically, they aren’t as addictive as carbohydrates, so therefore don’t cause us to binge or eat in excess.
Protein also raises our leptin levels, which helps to inhibit the feelings of hunger, whilst decreasing ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone, ensuring that you stay in control of what you’re eating rather than craving food when you’re not even really hungry.
Ideally, combine protein-rich foods with complex carbs, as these will break down at different speeds and keep you feeling fuller for longer, minimise cravings and help you to burn more fat.
4 ways to combat cravings with protein…
1. Understand that when you get a sugar craving, it’s not really sugar that your body needs, but protein.
When you’re short on protein, your body craves sugary, simple carbs that will give it energy fast. Unfortunately, these high-sugar foods raise your blood sugar levels and trigger an insulin response that results in you storing, rather than burning fat.
So next time you get a sugar craving, have a bowl of low-fat greek yoghurt with some chopped fruit in, or a handful of nuts or seeds with some vegetable sticks instead. This will not only leave you feeling satisfied and give your body the protein and sustained energy that it needs, but it’ll also curb cravings in no time.
2. Make sure you have a protein-rich breakfast.
By starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast rather than a high-carb one, you’ll naturally begin the day by supressing ghrelin, the hunger hormone. This will help to keep your energy levels steady and keep mid-morning cravings at bay. Whilst it’s important to have regular healthy snacks in order to keep your metabolism high, when you’re having carefully planned snacks rather than having to raid the biscuit tin, it makes a huge difference to your weight and your health.
Instead of having a bowl of processed, high carb cereal for breakfast, why not try eating a breakfast rich in protein such as eggs, yoghurt, mackerel or a homemade, nut-based muesli instead?
3. Ensure that you get good sources of protein in your diet.
Great sources of protein include lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs, quinoa, Greek yoghurt, broccoli, cottage cheese, tofu, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Try to ensure that every meal or snack includes a good source of protein. Even if you’re short on time, it’s easy to whizz up a quick protein shake or smoothie to keep you full and avoid cravings for hours.
You can have the best diet in the world, but it doesn’t always mean that you will absorb what you’re eating properly. If you drink too much fluid with your meal it can dilute the acid in your stomach making it difficult to fully break down and absorb the nutrients. Eating too fast and not chewing fully, again, makes it harder to digest. and .
Keep drinking during mealtimes to a minimum and try to remember to fully chew food.
Do you eat enough protein? Do you suffer from sugar cravings? How can you become more organised and add more into your meals and snacks? As always, please remember to share in the comments below as we love to hear your thoughts…
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