You’ve made it to week 3!
As we enter this week, much of the US is covered in snow and/or preparing for the holiday season. While I love the snow (if it’s going to be cold it might as well snow) and absolutely love the holidays – yes, my Christmas tree is up – I also know this time of year can be slightly stressful when you have a health goal in mind.
Instead of wishing it were over, let’s start the week 3 abs challenge nutrition focus with tips on beating sugar cravings!
Why even care about sugar and sweets when it comes to the abs challenge?
Well first, sugar is addicting. The more you have, the more you want. Which means that it becomes harder and harder to say no to the sweet stuff and easier to eat more calories each day, possibly leading to weight gain. Second, eating increased amounts of sugar releases excess insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows us to take in the sugar to either use for energy or store as fat for later use. It also reduces the body’s ability to release excess fat from storage. Last, eating regular amounts of processed sugar throughout the day sends our body on a roller coaster ride with sugar spikes, then insulin spikes, and finally a crash. Our body will eventually see this as a stressor and release cortisol, a stress hormone. Guess what excess cortisol does to our body? Increases inflammation which can make weight loss or even just fat loss more difficult.
(the oversimplified, condensed version)
Sounds rough right? But there are many ways to beat the sugar cravings and make your body a lean fat burning machine!
How do we beat the sugar cravings?
1. Audit your kitchen. Meaning, get rid of the white powdery stuff. Cookies, freeze for a later occasion or pitch. Candy, put in a jar and ration daily or pitch. Reduce the amount of baking you do. Purchase whole wheat pastry flour to sub for all purpose flour. Bread chicken with almond meal vs. flour. There are a million ways to reduce the white stuff in your house, however opting for whole grain options, look to starchy vegetables instead of pasta, and decreasing sweet intake to 1-2x per week max is the goal.
20 Carb Alternatives that Don’t Suck courtesy of The Greatist
Paleo Treats courtesy of PaleOMG (while I don’t eat Paleo I sometimes make Paleo treats to reduce the sugar intake)
2. Know your limit. When you do indulge, figure out whether it’s a small bite or a small slice that you’re fine with before you go savage on your cake. I know that a small cookie or a small piece of chocolate works for me. If I go for more than that, then I’ll find myself in a sugar coma wondering why my house looks like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory just exploded. Don’t go there. Know your limit.
3. Eat MORE FAT! Seriously. No…really, I’m not kidding. Fat is good for you and can help to keep you satiated. The more satisfied you feel, the less you want the sweet stuff. This the #1 reason I’ve switched to whole fat yogurt, eating almost a whole avocado a day, and eating mad amounts of all natural nut butters, therefore leading to a 3% reduction in body fat without reducing the amount of food I’m eating. It helped to cut back on the sugar cravings. Now I’m fine with a small piece of dark chocolate versus 3 cookies. So think avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fishes.
4. Drink Water, Lots of Water. Remember last week’s hydration challenge? Don’t stop – keep going! Dehydration can reduce your energy levels and have you searching for a quick pick me up.
5. Tell the World. Yes, tell people you’re trying to eat less sugar. Get people on board. Your family and friends need to know your goals before you can expect them to stop shoving cookies in your face during the holidays. This goes for the whole year through too. Goals are more likely to work when we set up our physical environment for success and this includes people.
How to fight sugar cravings?