This article is for every human that is irritated with sugar cravings popping up sporadically in a manner they do not have full control over.
I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to admit, and will most likely deny after you hear it.
If you have sugar cravings, it is your fault. Let that sink in for a minute…
Why? Because what you ingest is a catalyst to how your body will respond to the next set of nutritional decisions it has to make in order to survive, or better yet, thrive.
When you start feeding the body stable sources of hormone-balancing foods on a consistent basis, cravings start becoming a thing of the past and not the central focus of the mind.
After reading this article you will have gained a stronger understanding of how to psychologically detach yourself from sugar by understanding the functions of your biology and how to control external sources in your environment that initiate cravings to happen.
Strap on your seatbelt, turn off any distracting tech devices, take a sip of water and get ready to switch your perspective on how you can crush sugar cravings. See you on the other side.
Strategy #1: Mentally Disassociate Yourself From Sugar
“Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am).” — Rene Decartes
— Poyan B (@Dynathrive) October 12, 2015
The number one step to conditioning your mind and body to not crave sugar is to change how you associate yourself with it first.
For example: If I ask you what your favourite foods are, and you answer me with a confectionary (chocolate, ice cream, cake, etc.), or a specific food that spikes insulin (grain products, packaged foods, sugary drinks/smoothies, etc.) then I’ll know straight away that you are attached to sugar as your go-to source for fuel; in other words, your energy is erratic and not sustained, so your answer symbolizes a lack of awareness about what it means to exemplify fuel to thrive.
The reason why people might answer this question with a confectionary, is because ‘favourite’ doesn’t coincide with ‘thriving’ for them.
This is simply because they are too distracted by modern conveniences to fully realize that all you really need to thrive, is to provide your body with the necessary fuel to signal satiety.
You must also remember that willpower has LITTLE to do with restraining yourself from sugar. It’s what you fuel yourself with on a daily basis that creates the decision making process in your brain many call “cravings”.
If you don’t provide the necessary nutrients for your hormones, then your body hasn’t built a strong enough foundation to naturally retract when you see sugary-flaked donuts at an office meeting.
In order to crush sugar cravings you need to dissociate your ‘favourite’ food being a hedonistic pleasure, and find suitable ‘thriving’ based options instead.
Strategy #2: Remove All Sugar and Trigger Prone Products From Your Home
Wrong… you’d be surprised at how many indirect triggers your fridge and kitchen pantries and cabinets contain.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is an effective motto to live by in your mission to crush sugar cravings.
Don’t try to maintain optimal eating habits if you have a stash of your favourite cookies, or highly sweetened protein bars (most have a ton of sugar in them) around the house.
A hard rule to have for sweets is to NEVER have them in the house, period.
If you’re an amazing cook, or baker and you’re trying to lose some extra fat on your midsection… stop baking yourself delicious treats until you’ve achieved your weight loss goals, then start re-introducing them back sparingly.
The safest food to keep stocked in the house that offers sweetness, would be fruits. Mind you, fruits can still spike insulin and trigger cravings so it’s not the most optimal way of getting in your calories the majority of the time.
If you have to ask yourself: “Is this food, or product going to hinder my mental and physical performance?” And your answer leans to YES, then put it down, throw it out, donate it, or what have you… but do not consume it.
Here is a thorough list of foods from the Ketogenic Diet Resource website. This will give you an idea of what triggers to generally avoid.
Strategy #3: Understand the Physiological Effects of Insulin, Glucose, Ketones and Leptin
Insulin is an anabolic hormone released by the pancreas that’s main functions are to drive amino acids and glucose into the cells to help build and repair muscle tissue after rigorous training.
Insulin also plays a major role in regulating carbohydrates and fat storage, so when you eat HIGH amounts of sugar, processed carbs and heavy starches, you spike insulin levels and become insulin resistant and this can hinder your body’s capability to burn off fat, so it stores it instead.
If you want to help your body burn fat and diminish sugar cravings, then you’ll want to become insulin sensitive, not insulin resistant.
What does Insulin have to do with sugar cravings?
Sugar (especially the processed junk) is an addictive substance and it has opioid like effects in the brain when consumed in large amounts. When you ingest a ton of sugar, your body starts craving that quick release of energy, rather then the sustained one you get from ketones.
The conclusion here would be to maintain insulin sensitivity by eating LESS sugar, which will inevitably keep your hormones balanced and your taste buds satiated so you aren’t craving the stuff.
Glucose is a sugar that is secreted into the blood after you ingest carbohydrates.
For example: After a training session, you’ll generally want to ingest some healthy starch such as a banana, or yams to replenish your glucose levels. The reason your muscles look drier then usual after a workout is because your body used the majority of glucose and water to fuel your workout, so you need to rehydrate them by ingesting carbohydrates.
Having nutrient dense carbohydrates (yams, squash, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.) is something I highly suggest eating, especially after workouts.
Unfortunately the problem with telling people to “carb up” right after a workout is that many tend to abuse the system.
For example: These individuals will go to the gym for an hour, and then come home to eat a pint of ice-cream, or several protein bars because they HAVE NOT switched their strategy to eating more fat in order to NOT have those damn cravings in the first place!
These people are sugar burners, and their source of satiety is associated with a taste bud that only provides instant gratification, rather then long-term fullness.
The majority of people have been fed the notion that we need to constantly feed our body with glucose to fuel the brain and avoid hypoglycaemia—in reality this is not the case, your body has another energy source that runs on a higher RPM called…
Ketones come from eating fat, so the only way to start using them as an energy source is to eat MORE QUALITY FAT.
And NO, fat will not make you fat. This is a lie that has been fed to us since Ancel Keys’s uncontrolled study back in the 1960s. Read “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz if you want to get deeper into it, or check out this article that explains Ancel Keys’s “7 Country Study”.
Here is the simple truth about your body’s dominant fuel source:
If you start substituting about 70 to 80% of your daily caloric intake with quality fats, your body will start learning how to use Ketones as fuel, which will then provide you with benefits such as:
➡ Satiety and diminished appetite (in a healthy way)
➡ Sustained energy
➡ Rapid weight loss
➡ Retained muscle mass
➡ Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels
➡ Increased levels of HDL (the good Cholestrol)
➡ Cognitive benefits that help your mind stay sharp and focused. This is especially true in patients that deal with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Here is research if you want to dive deeper: The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment Paradigm for Diverse Neurological Disorders
The list could go on depending on an individual’s unique situation. The best thing of all is that your sugar cravings will diminish because your body is constantly satiated and not thinking about food all the time.
Now, another very important hormone to know about, and my personal favourite, is…
Leptin is the hormone in your body that triggers you to stop eating.
Basically the MORE nutritional fat you consume, the more leptin is triggered which will then tell your brain that your stomach is full, so naturally you won’t feel the inclination to eat anymore.
But when leptin isn’t properly turned on, or redlined with calories that don’t necessarily fill you up no matter how much you eat… that’s when the cravings start to happen.
Check out this thorough explanation of leptin on the Bulletproof Exec website if you want to learn more.
Knowing the Science Creates Congruent Decisions
When you start digging deeper and understanding your true biological mechanics, that is when you become aware of what is considered effective vs. in-effective.
Back when we were hunter and gatherers, we didn’t have the convenience of 7-11 for our late night sugar fix, a bakery for our favourite pastries, or the nearest burger joint for the soda and fry combo.
There was no convenience (more like inconvenience) to bombard our gullet with so much carbohydrates that the body forgot it’s main fuel storage (ketones).
In the modern world, you have to be further aware and disciplined about how your body actually works… and then focus on providing it with it’s necessary fuel at least 90% of the time. The rest of the time you can indulge in the convenience the modern world provides, but avoid being gluttonous during the process.
What WORKS is what keeps your body running at optimal performance… what DOES NOT WORK is what keeps you irregular and erratic.
Strategy #4: Efficient Grocery Shopping Is a Necessary Skill in Today’s Urban Jungle
Grocery stores can be the epitome of wasting valuable time and money if you don’t know what the hell you are looking for.
I look at grocery stores as the modern day jungle for humans. There’s kids running around without their parents supervision, grown adults sitting in shopping carts, parents throwing a variety of packaged processed junk in their bags, people buying confectioneries left and right… It’s a damn nightmare right before your eyes!
If you really want to crush sugar cravings, you’ll have to conduct yourself in the grocery store in a more effective manner.
Here are a few things to remember when visiting your local grocery store:
➡ Stay on the perimeter of store aisles when shopping. Most of the junk and processed crap is in the middle of the store… so don’t get lost, or trapped in there.
➡ You should have a list of the necessary foods you need to buy, and stick to them NO MATTER what. Forget the special deal on your favourite chocolate and get to the cash register as soon as your healthy list of food items are fulfilled.
➡ If trying to figure out whether a food is healthy that’s already in a package, check for the chemicals FIRST, not the macro and micro nutrient breakdowns when making your decision. Usually if I have to look on the back of food to figure out if I should eat it or not, then it’s most likely out of the question already.
➡ Give yourself a time limit of being in the grocery store. Let’s say 1 hour max from entrance to departure of the store, this will keep your brain hyper aware and inevitably focusing on only the important items that get placed into your cart.
➡ If you shop at places like Costco and other stores that give out samples… you’ll need to avoid them. Buy your groceries and go home to make your food, stop being a victim of convenience.
Generally, my weekly shopping bag will have cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, some yams, eggs, nuts, quality cheddar cheese, coconut milk, some spices if I’m out, and meats such as grass-fed beef, bacon and wild salmon.
If you’re looking for more quality food choices, check out the Bulletproof Shopping Cart guide.
Strategy #5: Leave the Grazing Behaviour for Ruminants
The life of a sheep is monotonously repetitive, they eat grass from sun up to sun down and then lay in the shade intermittently to rest and let their bodies digest the cud.
Unfortunately, humans have also acquired this behaviour due to the convenience and artificial sensations provided from major food companies that sell us on “snacking” as our go-to source of food in-between meals.
Our bodies don’t need to be constantly digesting food throughout the day like a ruminant. A domesticated ruminant’s job is to strictly gain weight, so when they go to the slaughterhouse they can be rightfully plump and marbled.
All too often this behaviour is also seen in humans, and that is a big reason why obesity is at an all time high.
We mimic a grazing mentality to a fault and eat foods that make us bang our head’s against the wall and ask “Why the fuck am I not FULL?!” after we finish eating it. If that is happening to you, it’s a problem and here is your solution if you haven’t figured it out yet…
Stop eating so damn frequently and instead eat less meals but make sure those meals provide you with enough fullness and satiety for at least three to four hours so that you don’t feel the need to keep putting stuff in your mouth. Again, quality fats help with this—find them and eat them.
In any case, there is a reversal to this concept. If you are a high performance athlete that is most likely burning a ton of carbohydrates, then you’ll benefit from replenishing your glucose when necessary, like I mentioned earlier. Whether that comes in the form of a whole food snack, or a smaller meal is up to you.
But to be honest, incorporating a ketogenic based lifestyle where you dominantly use fat for energy has been proven to be very effective for many athletes.
Check out this article on Peter Attia’s experience with cycling while on a strict ketogenic diet—he and many others have have proven that Ketosis can be extremely effective, if done right.
Strategy #6: Apply Sourness or Bitterness to the Tongue
There is a difference between experiencing and craving. The former is for novelty, where the latter is inefficient biological management.
— Poyan B (@Dynathrive) October 17, 2015
The tongue has the ability to distinguish four types of taste buds. These include: sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness.
The vast majority of the population experience sweetness and saltiness since this is the dominant flavouring that we are conditioned to ingesting at least 80 to 90% of the time.
But unfortunately, we shy away, or avoid the foods that are actually beneficial to crushing those sugar cravings, which are sourness and bitterness.
Now… if you are still hungry two hours after a meal, you approached your meal density ineffectively. Whether it’s eating more satiating fats, or piling on an extra serving of cruciferous veggies, just remind yourself to do it.
In any case, if you do come across a craving, invest in some Peppermint oil. This is an inexpensive extract you can buy that will last you a long-time, and will crush sugar cravings, while leaving your breath fresh.
I’d suggest buying a small, or medium sized tincture of this stuff and carry it around with you where ever you go. When I first started using it, I’d bring it with me to parties and social gatherings that I knew would present me with sugary delicacies. I’d take the bottle out and trickle a few drops of the stuff on my tongue and the utter bitterness would subdue any cravings I had at that moment.
You can also incorporate lemons, limes, olives and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha in your diet to lessen the cravings.
Strategy #7: Intermittent Fasting Will Help Evaporate Sugar Cravings and Get You Ripped
There have been many scientists, nutritionists, trainers and like-minded bloggers that have written about Intermittent Fasting, so in this section I will lower my output of personal musings, and provide credit to those that have already established effective guidelines in this matter.
The intermittent fasting protocols that have worked effectively and sustainably for me to not only diminish sugar cravings, but also function at a higher preforming mental and physical level would boil down to “The Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting” protocol and the Lean Gains method by Martin Berkhan which consists of a 16:8 ratio between the fasting and feeding time-frame.
Both these nutritional lifestyle solutions provide similar blocks of fasting vs. feeding times, but the exception of the Bulletproof version is that it incorporates the Bulletproof coffee which I highly recommend trying if you haven’t already.
I also got some great insight from John Romaniellos article called “IF 201” and Nate Miyaki’s concept of “Intermittent Feasting”. Make sure to give those a read if you are interested in learning more.
Overall, if you commit to intermittent fasting you will not only be in control of what sugary sweets are put into your body, but you’ll also realize that the general excess of calories that people believe they need to function on is a scam.
Strategy #8: Quality Coffee Beans
Intermittent fasting and coffee go hand-in-hand, especially if you are drinking Bulletproof coffee. I know that I mention the Bulletproof lifestyle a lot on this website, but seriously… the coffee, with grass-fed butter and MCT oil has elevated my level of performance both mentally and physically more than I knew was possible.
If you want to give intermittent fasting a shot to reduce sugar cravings, then I highly suggest getting some coffee consumption in there since they go hand-in-hand to reduce cravings—even if you just keep it black.
One thing you DO NOT want to do, is skimp out on buying high quality beans—especially if you’re drinking the stuff everyday.
I don’t care if you’re doing BPC, or just putting some cream in your coffee… make sure the beans are the best you can find, and that you feel exceptional while drinking them.
Here are a few key things that you want to look for when buying beans and testing them out on yourself:
➡ Look for single-origin beans over blended beans. This means that the beans came from one coffee grower, versus multiple different ones. If you buy blended beans, you are getting a combination of crappy beans from a variety of sources.
➡ Look for coffee houses that roast their own beans. This means that you are getting the freshest stuff possible and it also helps to know that these people are dedicated to the craft of coffee roasting since they do it in-house.
➡ Go for wet process over dry processed beans. Dry processed beans are put out in the sun to dry, which means that there is more time for mold to grow on them—trust me, you do not want moldy beans.
➡ Look for high altitude beans grown in Central American. From what I hear, there tends to be less mold growth in higher elevation coffee farms.
➡ With bad quality coffee you will notice EXCESSIVE signs of the following: dry mouth, dehydration, headaches, jitteriness, having to go pee often and stomach aches. When you find quality beans, you will notice these signs minimally, if not at all. Keep looking if you are noticing a roller coaster of negative symptoms.
If you are living in Vancouver, there are three spots I recommend if you didn’t want to order the BPC beans.
➡ Buen Café: These guys’ have some great medium roast beans from Central and South America ready to be packaged for you. They were also kind enough to show me their roasting machine in the back and go over the process which was cool to see.
➡ Matchstick Coffee: This is where I usually go if I’m not able to get my hands on BPC beans. They roast their coffee in-house, and have a variety of pre-packaged beans to choose from.
➡ JJ Bean: I’ve recently been going here for meetings, and their El Salvador and Guatemalan roasts have exceeded my expectation in both flavour and human performance.
Note: In the comment section at the end of this article, let me know where else in Vancouver, or internationally you can order some high quality beans. I’m always looking for other options to test out, thanks!
Strategy #9: Fat Bomb Treats
Just because you are cutting out sugar doesn’t mean you have to cut out treating yourself. And by treating yourself, I mean preparing the treat for yourself.
The problem is that you cannot rely on walking into a convenience store, or even a health supplement store to treat yourself if you are planning to decrease sugar cravings because most “healthy” snacks are coated with sugar and other triggers that can cause cravings.
The first order of business is to prepare fat bombs (click here for a list of ideas) and have them handy if you notice sugar cravings come up.
If you are simply too lazy to make fat bombs, then get some quality nut butter (almond, cashew, etc.) and dip some apples slices in them. You’ll get the satiety from the nut butter and some sweetness in the form of fructose from the apples.
Experiment with different fat bombs, and make sure the dominant macro nutrient in the end is fat.
Strategy #10: Have a Plan to Stay Accountable and Track Your Progress
Ok so you’ve made it all the way down to the last strategy of this article and you are committed and enthusiastic about crushing your sugar cravings. Now what?
Let me tell you that if you do not approach cutting out sugar systematically for the long-game then you will not make it.
The only way you will benefit and actually have a successful run at this lifestyle is that you first have some sort of accountability strategy.
Some basic ways to staying accountable is by posting on social media that you’re going to cut out sugar for X period of days. You can join a mastermind group, ask a family member, or friend to join you on the plan, or keep you accountable on. You can even hire an accountability leader, which I provide services on if you contact me. I will give you challenges and help you stay on the right course, as well as provide proper feedback for your path towards your unique objective.
Second step is to track your progress. You can download apps that do this, create a spreadsheet or simply take out a blank sheet of paper, or journal and create a calendar and draw a check mark each day that you’ve completed your goal.
Do not underestimate the power of accountability and tracking. Keep them simple and ubiquitous and you will succeed as long as you stay on top of it.
Sugar Strategy Conclusion
The challenge of crushing sugar cravings MAY NOT be fully completed within in a few weeks, a few months, or even in a few a years depending on where you currently are with your nutritional discipline.
Don’t fret, even I’m still dealing with sweet tooth tendencies, but what’s important is that you are knowledgeable and aware about how to bring yourself back to baseline performance again if you ever go off course.
The reason it can take so long is because if you grew up in an environment that never exposed sugar’s toxic infinities and you just kept eating the stuff to your hearts content, then there is a lot of re-wiring to do in the brain in order to bring it back to a place that is nutritionally disciplined and balanced.
Re-read this article if you need to, implement the strategies and you will be on the right track to figuring out how to crush every obstacle in your own unique sugar craving situation.
Note: This article is a product of over five years of personal experimentation and research. The reason I wrote this is because I know there are people out there killing themselves with sugar and they want to stop, but don’t how to approach it effectively. If that sounds like you, then you need to start making a change.
You will only ever get ONE body, so treat it right the first time and digest wisely.
Thank you for reading.