Have you started the keto diet recently and noticed an insatiable sweet tooth? Do you feel like you’re going into sugar withdrawal and it’s driving you absolutely insane?
First, let us reassure you, that it’s perfectly normal to have sugar cravings on keto, especially if you’re just starting out. Secondly, if you’re lost and wondering to yourself “How do I stop craving sugar on keto?” — We’re here to help you gain some control back in your life and kick your keto sugar cravings to the curb.
This guide will break it all down for you—why you’re craving sugar on keto, tips and tricks for curing your sweet tooth, and then we’ll get into some low-carb snacks you can reach for whenever you get to craving sweets and sugar.
Why Am I Craving Sugar on Keto?
Sugar cravings typically happen when you first start the keto diet (although they can happen at any time). When you go from a high-carb to a low-carb diet, your body begins to crave the sugar it’s used to having.
Some other reasons you might be craving sugar include:
- Stress — When you’re stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone that raises your blood sugar and causes sweet cravings.
- Blood sugar imbalance — Having a diet full of carbs (or meals high in sugar) can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar that trigger your sweet tooth. Even with keto, where you’re not consuming much sugar, you may still crave it as your body transitions to burning fat as its main fuel source instead of glucose.
- Lack of nutrients — The keto diet is more than merely cutting back on carbs and sugar. Make sure you're switching out the carbs you would eat on a normal diet with the appropriate amount of protein, healthy fats, and other macro and micronutrients. For example, eating protein reduces hunger hormones (like ghrelin) and increases hormones that keep you full. And the fuller you are, the less sugar you’re likely to crave.
- Not getting enough sleep — When you don’t get enough sleep, it drains your energy reserves and puts your body at a disadvantage in fighting sugar cravings. Lack of sleep also releases stress hormones that make you hungrier.
- Dehydration — Being thirsty creates an imbalance in your body’s hormones that drive hunger and satiety, which is the perfect opportunity for sugar cravings to creep in there and cause some chaos.
- Mental health issues — When you’re feeling sad or lonely, eating something sugary or sweet can produce hormones that give you comfort, so you might give into your sweet cravings to help you feel better.
Tricks for Curbing Sugar Cravings on Keto
Your keto sweet tooth won’t cure itself! Here are some tips on how to deal with your keto sugar cravings:
1. Get More Sleep
It’s amazing how much your life improves when you start getting enough sleep. Because when you’re sleep deprived, your body produces more hunger hormones and less appetite-suppressing hormones. The end result? Your hunger shoots through the roof and you’re not left with much willpower to fight off your cravings. According to the CDC, you should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
2. Focus Your Diet on Protein and Healthy Fats
When you first start the keto, you might experience flu-like symptoms or even struggle to lose weight as your body adjusts to the low-carb lifestyle.
Prioritizing protein (which, as you’ve learned, keeps you feeling full) and healthy fats can help you keep your sugar cravings on keto at arm’s length. Throw in a few low-calorie vegetables for some fiber and to help with digestion, and you’ve got a solid plan of attack for curbing cravings and sticking to your keto diet.
Food Hack #1: Use whey protein or collagen to hit your macro and micronutrient goals.
Food hack #2: This one may sound a little bit out there, but many people in the keto space say pickles are their go-to method for curbing sweet cravings. Interestingly enough, pickles are loaded with sodium and potassium (i.e. electrolytes). Just make sure you check the label, as some have added sugar.
3. Fuel up on H2O
Next time you’re struggling with sugar cravings on keto, try reaching for a glass or two of water. Water is a natural appetite suppressant, digestion enhancer, energy booster, and weight loss hack, all wrapped up into one.
Water for weight loss? Really? One 12-week study saw participants who drank 2 glasses of water before each meal lose an average of 5 pounds more than those who didn’t (both groups in the study ate a calorie-restricted diet).
It’s worth noting that, a lot of the time, your body can actually get thirst and hunger confused. So, have a glass of water first and see if that helps.
4. Try Out Different Keto Recipes
If you’re really craving some of your favorite foods, but don’t think they’re keto-friendly, think again! There are some pretty amazing keto options for virtually any food you can think of—from sushi and ice cream—to smoothies and even pizza.
Fat bombs (a keto dessert) are a favorite by many for curbing sugar cravings. To make this delicious treat, start with a high-fat base (such as nut butter, coconut oil, or cream cheese). Toss in a few other ingredients, like dark chocolate or peanut butter, and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat for curbing your sugar cravings on keto.
5. Start an Exercise Routine
Are you looking to burn fat fast?
Physical activity—whether it be lifting weights, HIIT, or going for a brisk walk around the neighborhood—can be a way to do just that. It’s also great for managing cravings, as well as your mental health.
6. Be Mindful of Your Triggers
When you’re constantly around the thing you’re trying to avoid (sugar in this case), it can be harder to fight off temptation. Research suggests we have a limited amount of resolve when it comes to seeing resolutions through. Constantly having to say “no” to a certain situation or thing slowly drains your willpower. After a while, you have nothing left and end up giving in to your keto sugar cravings.
Your triggers might involve social meet-ups where there never seems to be a shortage of sweets. Or, maybe watching tv shows centered on food sets off the sweet cravings alarm in your head. Whatever it is for you, you may want to eliminate, or at least cut back on those things or situations when you’re trying to shake a sweet tooth.
Five Best Snacks for Curbing Sugar Cravings on Keto
Here are some snacks to help you satisfy your keto sweet cravings:
- Berries: They taste delicious, have natural sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth, they’re high in fiber, and low in carbohydrates. An easy snack you can make includes mixing some berries with Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Sprinkle in a little cinnamon on top, mix it all together, and you’ve got yourself a homemade keto parfait.
- Veggies: For a quick and convenient keto snack, make your own veggie sticks out of celery or carrots and dip them in nut butter or guacamole.
- High-quality protein and fatty fish: Good protein sources include chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef. If you’re in a time crunch or just looking for a quick high-quality protein source, a lot of people will buy protein powder and make their own shakes or smoothies. Fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, which give you the energy and brainpower to fight sugar cravings.
- Avocado: This is high in fat and fiber, but not carbohydrates. You can eat avocado by itself but it also makes for a great pudding dessert when combined with ingredients like unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla extract, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk. Mix everything together in a blender for a mouthwatering treat.
- Keto coffee: Coffee your thing? Whether it’s hot or cold-brewed, try adding in some Keto Fantastic Powder MCT Oil to create keto coffee. Why the MCT oil? MCT oil has been shown to promote weight loss. It also supports heart health, brain health, and digestion.
Kick Your Sweet Tooth to the Curb!
Sugar cravings on keto can be distressing, but it’s definitely more than possible to break your sweet tooth habit. To do that, focus on:
- Getting enough sleep
- Prioritizing protein and healthy fats in your diet
- Drinking more water
- Finding some go-to keto recipes for your favorite foods
- Getting some exercise
- Avoiding triggers for your cravings
And next time you get hit with the urge to binge on sweets, reach for healthy snacks like berries, veggies and dip, and keto coffee with MCT oil!
About the Author:
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. He enjoys creating content that helps people get in shape and live healthier lives. When he’s not behind his computer, you can find Chad at the gym, out with friends, or being a homebody binging on Netflix.
You can learn more about Chad on his business website here.