The nutritional plague of modern times is sugar. It spread to that extent, that even products we do not consider as sweet contain large amounts. Sugar cravings are not an uncommon thing nowadays. Trying to resist them usually results in just more sugar consumption once you inevitably give in. BJJ people that eat healthily, so sugar cravings can sometimes be so strong, that they completely take over.
One of worst things people on a diet (like for a BJJ weight cut) face is battling sugar cravings. No matter how disciplined and consistent you might be in your food choices, sugar cravings can seriously derail your diet. Not only that, but they’ll also turn you into a sugar hound, destroying everything sweet in your path. So, is there any way to deal with this situation without giving in to temptations?
How to Get Rid of Sugar Cravings?
Just like with everything in BJJ, you need to understand the reason behind it all before you look for the solution. That said, the primary reason lies in sugar is highly addictive properties. In fact, sugar is as addictive as narcotics, if not more in certain circumstances. This is mostly due to the massive release of serotonin and other feel-good hormones that ingesting sugar causes. However, once sugar leaves your bloodstream, so does the feel-good effect. What follows is a lack of energy and the desire to consume even more sugar. It is a vicious circle that is extremely hard to break.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the best strategies to help you overcome sugar cravings for good. The following 4 strategies focus on helping you achieve a lifestyle that is not under the influence of sugar cravings. It is not a quick fix to stop sugar cravings, but a way of dealing with them for good. Implement these strategies in your life and make them habits. It is a proven way of breaking the hold sugar has on you.
1. Eat More Carbs
The first advice might seem completely counter-intuitive but it is a legitimate one nonetheless. Cutting sugar from your diet is only going to make you crave it more. In fact, if you’re feeling low on energy and not satiated, the reason for this is probably a lack of carbs. Now, carbs do not mean sugar and vice versa. Yes, sugar is a carbohydrate but it is only one type of carbohydrate. Just about every diet out there advises you to cut carbs as much as possible in a quest to lose fat and become sugar-free. Well, it doesn’t work that way.
Carbohydrates actually have a huge role to play in our bodies. They’re essential to our systems, and especially to our brains. There’s a reason why carbs are a macronutrient – we need them and living without them is hard. Cutting carbs is going to make your body crave them more. The result is going to be a desire for the densest source of carbs out there – processed sugar. Not at all what you were trying to achieve.
As far as daily intake goes, all it takes is a reasonable amount to keep your blood sugar stable. There’s no dose to fit all as blood sugar levels and insulin response is different in everyone. So find your sweet spot and stay within it. You’ll have better energy and your cravings are going to decrease. Some top choice carbs for grapplers include (but are not limited to) potatoes (all varieties), rice, quinoa, oats, veggies, and fruit.
2. Get Enough Protein
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. This is exactly the property you need when you’re battling sugar cravings. Protein is really efficient at suppressing hunger and prolonging the feeling of satiety. High protein diets have the added benefit of increased thermogenesis which translates to a better metabolism.
All of these properties plus the muscle building effect make protein the number one macronutrient for athletes. Grapplers are no exception to this. Simply put, the higher your protein intake, the more muscle mass you’ll have, the better your metabolism si going to be. An efficient metabolism burns more calories so higher protein is going to keep you lean and prevent the feeling of hunger. With that, it’ll directly prevent sugar cravings from even appearing. As a general reference about 40% of your meals should be made up of protein.
3. Tracking Calories
Low caloric intake is another aspect of poor diet advice. Unfortunately, along with cutting carbs completely, it’s the most prevalent one out there. People think that by eating less in general they’ll lose weight. While this is true to a certain extent the body is going to try and achieve balance. That means going for calorically dense foods once again. Which means we’re back to sugar!
The trouble with calorie restriction is that it can develop a very serious condition known as hyperphagia. This is when your hunger control hormones do not shut your appetite off. It makes you feel hungry constantly and sugar cravings lead the way.
The solution is simple. If you do not want to lose control, do not starve yourself. Instead, do a little math and find the best caloric intake for your age and daily activity. In the long term, you’ll lose weight and develop a healthy appetite for the right kinds of food. The rule of thumb here is to calculate the exact number of daily calories by multiplying your current weight (lbs) by a factor of 12-15. These last numbers are in accordance to the amount of daily physical activity you engage in
4. BJJ Vs. Sugar Cravings
The final part of the puzzle is training. This is another one of the aspects most diets get wrong. Namely, losing fats does require you to be active. However, no carbs, severely restricted calories, and double daily Crossfit sessions is a sure way to mess up your metabolism for good. Not to mention that you won’t be able to lose an ounce of fat.
If losing the body fat is your main goal then consider how intensely you are training. Training BJJ can be as intense anything, particularly when rolling. During training, our bodies release compounds known as endorphins along with hormones that aid in suppressing hunger. However, you need to match your intensity in your diet plan. Make sure you eat enough to support the level of exertion during training. If you roll like it’s the final of the Worlds every round,. You’ll need to adjust your caloric intake adequately. If you do, you are going to both lose fat, reduce feelings of hunger and banish sugar cravings for good.
Since training is also known for stimulating appetite, make sure you’re reaching for the correct fuel after BJJ. Do not even think about going for sugary sports drinks or bars. Instead, go from whole foods and make yourself a good meal. Once this becomes a habit you’ll actually become repulsed by sugar, let alone crave it!