By Kate Horney
Wow. I can’t believe I’m just 2 weeks out from my bikini competition. If you’ve been following along, I’ve been sharing lots of behind on the scenes on IG + snapchat (@beyondfitmom) and through my blog series.
Catch up on any of the posts you’ve missed here:
- How I set up my Bikini Competition Diet: 7 Weeks Out
- How I set up my Bikini Competition Workouts: 6 Weeks Out
- A Sneak Peak at my daily routine/schedule: 5 Weeks Out
- How (and why) I use a Carb Cycling Diet: 4 Weeks Out
- How I’m using Refeed Days: 3 Weeks Out
And now… with just 2 weeks left to go, I’ll be honest- cravings are starting to hit.
(Ladies, bikini competition prep or not- raise your hand if you can relate!)
Instead of shoving my face in a big bowl of ice cream or going to down on an entire basket of tortilla chips, I’m ensuring that I stay on track for brining my best physique ever to the stage… that means coming up with creative ways to deal with times when you’re craving sweets and carbs.
Here’s what has been working for me…
7 Tips for When You’re Craving Sweets & Carbs
- Know What Your Body Needs- Whenever I’m cravings sweets and carbs, I first stop and ask myself what my body really needs. When you feel a craving hit, it’s important to identify if this craving is signaling a need that your body has. For example, if you’re craving chocolate, it may be your body’s way of letting you know that you’re deficient in magnesium. If you’re craving cheese, your body may need some essential fatty acids or have a calcium deficiency. If you’re craving salt, it may mean your body needs chloride. Studies show that certain cravings correlate to needs that your body may have. So when a craving hits, make this your first step. Identify what your body may need and look for a healthy way to meet that need. (See the photo below for an easy chart to tell you what your cravings mean!)
- Fill Up on the 2 P’s- Speaking of healthy ways to fuel your body, one of the biggest things that helps me when I’m craving sweets and carbs is to fill up on the 2 P’s. (Protein + Produce). Eating 4-5 smaller meals filled with plenty of protein and fibrous veggies does wonders to balance hunger and energy and will keep blood sugar stable to help you avoid insulin spikes (one of the biggest causes of cravings for sweets and carbs).
- Boost Serotonin- Serotonin is often referred to as the “happy hormone.” It’s a relaxing chemical in the brain that impacts mood as well as cravings. Studies have shown that when you have high levels of serotonin in your brain, you’re less likely to be craving sweets and carbs. Low levels of serotonin causes cravings as well as insomnia, depression, and even low self-esteem. Generally, cravings caused by low serotonin will come on at night. There are plenty of ways to raise serotonin naturally through a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and the right types of exercise. Cocoa powder has been shown to boost serotonin levels substantially, so when in doubt… try some cocoa. (My favorites include: the brownie batter protein shake, healthy flourless brownies, and a super basic (but delicious) fat loss friendly hot cocoa)
- Satisfy Sweet Cravings Naturally- When you find that cravings for sweets and carbs have hit, try to satisfy those cravings naturally. Fruit is a great option (hello, nature’s candy) and if you’re looking for added sweeteners, try natural sweeteners like stevia that have zero calories and don’t raise blood sugar.
- Drink Up- Dehydration is a common cause of cravings, so when you’re craving sweets and carbs, make sure you drink up. I aim for a minimum of 1/2 my bodyweight in oz. of water daily and also love coffee, green tea (sweetened with stevia) and BCAAs.
- Know Your Triggers- A trigger food is a food that when eaten either stalls fat loss or causes undesirable effects later. (Like craving sweets and carbs!) For me, nut butter is a trigger. I am a HUGE nut butter lover (read: addict) and although I don’t have any allergies, I consider it a trigger because once I have a little bit, it causes cravings for more. (One spoonful? PLEASE… bring me the whole jar!)
- Use Buffer Foods- Buffer foods are foods that can be used strategically to help stop cravings or compensatory reactions.An example of a buffer food may be having a few bites of dark chocolate in the afternoon to avoid craving ice cream later in the evening. Buffer foods help you balance hunger, energy and cravings and keep you on track to your goals. These foods typical “buffer” against the urge to eat too much or the wrong things later. For me, these are things like a small amount of bacon, cheese (See the salad below) or some dark chocolate.
A Note On Buffer Foods: Buffer foods can often be small amounts of something that in larger amounts might cause an issue, and a food may be a trigger food for one woman and a buffer food for another- that’s ok! This is all about YOU!
Examples of buffer foods include:
- sparkling flavored water
- nuts & nut butters
- sugar free products
- high fat foods (i.e. avocado/sour cream)
- salty fatty meats (bacon, hot dogs, etc.).
A Note On Trigger Foods: After coaching thousands of women over the last decade, I have seen a wide variety of trigger foods, but here are a few common trigger foods from the women I’ve worked with…
- sugar free products
- nuts and nut butters
Understanding your individual reactions are key.
When you’re trying to determine your trigger foods, here are thing big things to look for:
- Trigger foods are foods that “trigger” negative changes in hunger, cravings or energy.
- Trigger foods make you likely to eat more of the wrong things more often.
- Trigger foods keep you from getting results due to negative hormonal changes.
Do your own detective work to find what works for YOU when you’re craving sweets and carbs.
Give a few of the ideas I’ve listed above a try and keep me updated!