On my recent trip to Europe, my new eating system was pushed to the limit, and during a few of the days there I cracked under the pressure of my distant Sicilian relatives shoving wonderful, evil, tasty carbs in my face. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news:

1. I didn’t crave any bad foods while in Europe. Even when I saw fancy pastries in London, Rome, or Paris, my reaction was “Oh. That looks good,” instead of my usual, “OH MY GOD. LOOK AT THAT! MMMMMM! I NEED TO GET ONE OF THESE RIGHT NOW.”

This might not sound like a big difference to you, but it’s a huge one for me. My entire physiological reaction to shitty carbs has noticeably changed, literally for the first time in my life. I’m very happy about this.

I still would like to get to the point where I don’t even want food like this, and see a doughnut in front of me and just shrug and push it away. I’m not there yet, but I’m patient.

2. I didn’t binge, and didn’t really want to. I had some bread/sweets, enjoyed them, and that was it.

3. I didn’t gain any weight during the entire trip (other than water weight). I was gone almost three weeks, and I was a bad boy only 3-4 days during that time. When I got home I weighed a little more in scale weight, but within four days of going back to my normal eating plan, I was right back to the same weight as when I left. I know my body well enough to know that it takes me exactly four days of a perfect diet to shed all water weight, so that’s all I gained on the trip. (It would have been nice to have lost weight during the trip, but again, baby steps.)

4. This one I found the most interesting. During the final day or two of my trip, I was craving my healthy food. Yes. I was actually craving, and looking forward to, eating my tomato / onion / avocado salads again. WTF? I’ve never felt like this before. I’ve never desired healthy food. I have felt bloated after cheat days and things like that, and I have felt like I didn’t want more garbage or carbs after a big cheat day, but I’ve never looked forward to eating healthy food before. This is another clear, noticeable, and positive change I’m quite happy about.

Three Kinds of Hunger

Over the last two months, I’ve analyzed my own feelings of hunger as well as when other people feel hungry. I’m now convinced there are three distinct types. I’ve read articles about there being seven types, or even eight types, but I think they’re mostly bullshit. I think it all boils down to three.

The first type is physical hunger. This is when you haven’t eaten all day and your stomach is growling. It’s “real” hunger. Your body is telling you it needs fuel.

The second type is hormonal hunger. This is when you feel hungry even if you don’t feel any physical need or emptiness in your stomach. Craving your favorite piece of cake is one example. Another example, and one I’ve experienced often, is when you get hungry right after you eat. That’s right; often eating will make me hungry. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but if you think through your own past you’ve probably experienced this yourself. A good example is when you’re not hungry, but decided to eat some chips and dip for a snack. After eating some chips, suddenly now you’re actually hungry and start rummaging through your kitchen for more food.

The third type is addiction hunger. You could probably also call this societally programmed hunger. This is when you’re not hungry at all, but suddenly, out of the blue, someone shoves your all-time favorite dessert right in front of you and tells you it’s all yours. Two seconds ago you weren’t even thinking about food, and now suddenly you have to use all kinds of willpower to not eat. When feeling addiction hunger, the only thing that determines whether or not you eat that crap is your level of willpower and how strongly your fitness goals are.

Whenever I feel hungry, I’m at the point now where I can identify exactly which type of hunger it is. My goal is to completely eliminate both hormonal hunger and addiction hunger. I think I’m well on my way, since starting this new eating plan, hormonal hunger has almost vanished, and addiction hunger is still there but has been noticeably reduced. This has never happened with any other diet or eating system I have ever tried, and I’ve tried them all.

In terms of my specific eating plan that I discussed last time, I’m going to continue to stick with it until November 24th (which is Thanksgiving here in the US), and the great news is that I want to. (I’ve ever wanted to diet before! Cool!) However, this weekend I’m going to re-introduce meat and dairy products, in moderation, to my diet. This is going to only be more mild tasting meats and diary, such as chicken and egg whites. Over time I will slowly add more sharp tasting foods.

I’ll keep you updated, but so far I’m pleased with the progress.

17 Comments on “Removing My Cravings for Carbs and Sugar – Part 4

  1. It seems like there’s different types of physical hunger for me. There’s the stomach growling type, then there’s the feeling tired/low energy but not sure why, and then there’s the hangry kind of hungry.

    Any thoughts? What the difference between fatigue kind-of-hunger and stomach growling hunger. And then there’s the I-know-I’ll-be-hungry-soon, so I should eat something now situation as well.

    Thanks

  2. Nice post, thanks.
    Food cravings are in part caused by gut bacteria which can connect to nerves, as certain foods will help the bacteria survive.
    So if you eat carbs, you will have carb-processing bacteria in your gut, which will cause more carb cravings as the bacteria needs carbs to survive. I suppose same goes for yoghurt/dairy and others.

    Off topic, LCHF diets help lose weight but can lead to insulin resistance depending on which type of fat you eat. In labs they feed mice certain types of fat to cause diabetes and insulin resistance. Try to get more omega-3 instead of omega 6/trans-fats and you’ll be fine.

    Insulin resistance has to to with fatty acid profile of the membranes of muscle cells, fat cells etc, and fatty acid ratios (esp. omega 6/ omega 3) in the membranes.

  3. It seems like there’s different types of physical hunger for me. There’s the stomach growling type.

    That’s physical hunger.

    then there’s the feeling tired/low energy but not sure why

    That’s not hunger. That can be caused by all kinds of things including lack of sleep, stress, shitty diet, lack of vitamins, hormonal problems, and even thirst (not enough water).

    So if you eat carbs, you will have carb-processing bacteria in your gut, which will cause more carb cravings as the bacteria needs carbs to survive.

    Yep. I’m now convinced that having regular cheat days has been my problem all along.

    I just wish it hadn’t taken me so many years of pain to figure it out. It’s very upsetting that YOU MUST HAVE CHEAT DAYS is such strong Societal Programming within the fitness community.

    Off topic, LCHF diets help lose weight but can lead to insulin resistance depending on which type of fat you eat.

    Yes, I’ve read this as well. For a long time I was doing LCHF and it made me lose weight, but eating that much cheese and bacon and crap didn’t sit right with me in terms of my long-term health. Going forward, I’m going to consider higher fat meat and higher fat dairy products as occasional treats rather than daily edibles.

  4. Great job, man! You suffered through many trials and errors before you found the method that works! Your persistence is very impressive!

    Now, your mentality regarding bad food is almost close to mine (An ectomorph). My reaction is like a passive-aggressive ex-wife. I see fast food and the first thing that comes to mind is “FUCK YOU”! Lol
    I still acknowledge that they are tasty but I never allow myself to dwell on it or actually buy them except for when I have no other options. To me it’s effortless. The exception being for when someone else brings these blasphemous foods to the house. If I know something tasty is in the fridge my defences eventually whittle down to dust and I surrender to lord junk food. But tasty doesn’t always mean junk food and I take advantage of that to reach a compromise with my stomach.

    @RT
    Really? I suppose it makes sense. If it is true then it should be preached to all ends of the earth!

  5. Congrats! I don’t blame you for cheating in Sicily though my grandmas parents were from there and she still has some of their recipes. Damn it’s good.

  6. “You must have cheat days is such strong SP within the fitness community”
    I don’t want to be the nitpicker and scream “No you didn’t read *everything* CJ, it’s obvious now !”, but seriously, you would’ve saved a lot of time if you had read more from T-Nation authors.
    Fat loss through weight complexes and zero traditional cardio: check Alwyn Cosgrove (or his wife for that matter).
    Dieting and removal of cravings: check John Berardi, Lonnie Lowery, and dozens of others (chances are at least one of those authors is in your state and you could even hire them).
    They have a coach called Scott Abel who called bullshit on his clients who claimed to have “a weakness” for food X or Y and to be incapable of avoiding it; he’d take a chick who insisted that she couldn’t stay away from chocolate specifically, put her on a diet of “chocolate only” for 7 days; on day 4 she’d be begging him for a change, and on day 5, without his permission, she’d cheat with…rice and chicken, a diet meal ! He’d conclude “You don’t have a ‘weakness’, you’re just weak.” And the chick would become a top physique competitor from then on.
    Honestly if you just scroll through the Diet and Fat Loss section of that website’s articles, you’d access some of the best and most recent info on the subject from scores of world renowned experts. I’m not saying anything against your approach and really respect the effort you’ve put in, just saying that valid alternatives were available and the website has been around since 98.

  7. you would’ve saved a lot of time if you had read

    I read several folks who said no cheat days ever, but they are a tiny minority in the fitness community. That’s my point.

  8. “It’s very upsetting that YOU MUST HAVE CHEAT DAYS is such strong Societal Programming within the fitness community.”

    lol I’ll admit, I have weekly cheat days where I just go nuts. But I’ve maintained the same weight for a little over a year and I don’t work out nearly as intensely as I used to. I’m part of the “genetics are everything” crew. If you have meh genetics or some kind of disorder where you just gain weight no matter what you do, then too bad you’ll be a fatass forever.

    STILL that shouldn’t be a rationalization for not busting your ass in the gym to where you can barely crawl out of the place (which is what I used to do, and am starting to do again). Cuz even though your genetics are telling you that you’ll be a fatass forever, you can still be one ounce less of a fatass at least. So as strong as “you must have cheat days” is as a form of SP, “love your body for what it is” is even worse SP.

    I wonder what CJ’s opinion of intermittent fasting is? I’ve combined that with eating every two hours regardless of how hungry I am. If I followed the “eat to live not live to eat” canon I would barely eat and my metabolism would be piss poor lol.

  9. I wonder what CJ’s opinion of intermittent fasting is?

    It works great and I do it regularly.

    It doesn’t address carb/sugar cravings though.

  10. @Joelsuf: a couch potato with bad genes *can* get to 8% bf @180lbs(for example), he’ll just need, say, 3x more work than a lucky mesomorph. More rambling: holding you down esthetically isn’t the only problem with frequent cheat meals (I have them 2-3 times per month, but then again, my “clean days” themselves aren’t super clean): the problem is that the type of nutrients they come with increase the likelihood of a bunch of diseases. Too much sugar, too much salt, etc, can really pile up if you do it over many decades, and the result is that you get illnesses in your 60s or 70s that you could have avoided or delayed by two decades, genetics be damned. I’m personally very interested in living to see the 2050s or who knows, the next century.

  11. You know it is definitely worth looking at the biochemistry of hunger and eating to understand what is going on. I think it gives you an awareness of what your body is doing so that you aren’t just sitting there feeling miserable when you want that cookie.
    The three levels types of hunger you mention definitely correspond accurately with biochemistry. When your stomach is empty your muscles actually spasm and contract, and you can feel actual pain because of it. However, mostly the hunger system is hormonal, and is governed by three hormones. Ghrelin, which is produced by the stomach when it is empty and travels to a part of your brain that also features in other desires like sex and addition, and demands that you eat. Leptin is produced by the fat cells in your body when they are properly fed, and they also travel to the same brain cells to cancel out the ghrelin.
    So your body goes through a cycle of empty stomach which causes the production of ghrelin. This causes you to want to eat, which you do, and the digestive system puts nutrients into your blood. As your stomach fills the ghrelin producing cells turn off. However, your body is still in “eat” mode. The leptin receptors in your fat tissue then detect the nutrients and begin to produce leptin, which then travels through your blood to your brain to turn off the hunger cycle.
    This is kind of important to understand. For one thing, this is a fairly slow response system. This is why it is actually quite important to eat slowly. This gives your brain time to wait out the turning off of the ghrelin (hunger hormone) and turn on the leptin (full up hormone.)
    Also, because ghrelin is turned off by stretching of the stomach, bulk, including fiber is important (though that is only half the battle — you need enough nutrients in your blood to turn on the leptin.) Water helps here too, unfortunately water dilutes the acid in your stomach, which makes digestion, and particularly protein digestion, less effective.
    The other hormone is isulin, which is produced by your pancreas to regulate the level of glucose in your blood. Low blood sugar makes you feel like crap, but in truth it is spikes and dips of blood sugar that really are hard. But again, the insulin reaction is fairly slow, so you need to take time.
    Anyway, there is a lot more to this. But I advocate understanding what is going on primarily because it helps you have an awareness of your body while you are going through eating, hunger and managing your diet. Instead of sitting lusting after that cheeseburger you take the time to analyze and understand how you feel you can be much more successful.
    And btw, I agree with the person who say you need cheat days. You body has evolved a mechanism to deal with low calorie situations. It shuts down to minimal functions, and slows your metabolism. This is exactly the opposite of what you want. Spiking your diet overwhelms this response and so you don’t get it. (Excercise also helps with this a lot, in fact this is far more important that the supposed burning of calories that people advocate.

  12. I think once we have a reliable way of measure body fat and muscle aside from going under water, we’ll figure this diet stuff out. I hear those electric things are very innaccurate.

  13. And btw, I agree with the person who say you need cheat days.

    I’m talking about typical cheat days as recommended by most of the fitness world, where you eat whatever the hell you want for a given day or meal, even if it’s doughnuts. That is exactly what has prevented me from losing the weight I want, since it maintained my addiction for these types of foods.

    I’ve re-oriented my concept of the “cheat day” to mean “eat as many calories I want in a given day/meal without eating any grains, sugar, sweets, or high glycemic carbs.” So I still do “cheat days” once a week or so, just “healthy” cheat days. I’ll talk about this more in a future post.

  14. BD, with all due respect, you’re making this weight loss journey too complicated.

    chicken and egg whites = low fat = not optimal.

    Keep it simple and just cut all plant food sources out. Just eat fatty meat (particularly beef), full fat dairy such as sour cream and cheese (if you tolerated it), eggs (whole), fatty fish such as salmon and sardines (if desired), and oils such as beef tallow, butter, ghee, duck fat, and other animal fats. For most zero carb followers, the carbs/sugar cravings dissipate quite remarkably once keto-adapted (4-6 weeks).

    Easy, low stress, affordable, and the healthiest way to eat. I’m almost hesitant to post this, since its the antithesis of a poor SAD (Standard American Diet), but at the same time many people won’t stick with it due to the acculturation to western diet/foods.

  15. I’ve been zerocarb meat only diet since 2010, it has reversed many of my health issues, my vision went from -7 to -2 and I won’t need glasses in two years from now. I eat steak evryday, seafood weekly, and liver every two weeks.

    If you want to have your mind blown read essays by The Bear Stanley Owsley.

    http://www.thebear.org/essays.html
    http://www.thebear.org/essays1.html#anchor496162

    “I must warn all of you that it is very unlikely that very many will be able to eat as I do over the long term, or in fact, to follow any diet for long which is much different from the one you were trained to as a baby/child. This is because diet is learned much the same way language, dress and behaviour is, and is buried deep and inaccessible, a part of your acculturation/socialisation. The very thing which makes us human is that deep and almost instinctive complex of behaviour.

    It requires a powerful will and a determination to change, in order to succeed in adopting the ‘extreme’ diet which this website is based on. Even those who are morbidly obese, as powerful a motivation as any I can imagine will have ‘cravings’ for what I call ‘non-food’ (all vegetation and carbs) which will eventually prove irresistible. A few may manage to stay on the diet for years, but unless you are prepared to stick with it for maybe ten or more years, you will drift back into eating what I consider poison. For some reason my mum was not interested in forcing me to eat the veggies I hated so, and i was able to eat only what I liked- mostly meat, especially hamburger and the fat those at our table would cut from their steaks. Still I had massive struggles abandoning the ‘civilised diet’.”

    http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=287013&page=1&pp=30&goto=journalformat

    https://zerocarbzen.com/the-bear/

    “I have been eating the natural human dietary regime for over 47 years now. I do not eat anything whatsoever from vegetable sources. The only things veggie I use are spices. My diet is usually 60% fat and 40% protein by calories. I used to eat 80% fat and 20% protein when younger, and about twice as much quantity of meat also, but that seems too much energy at my age – which is 71 – even though I am very active.”

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