7 Simple Ways to Curb Carb Cravings

Following a diet that’s low in carbohydrates can be a very good way to get rid of unwanted weight. For many of us, though, that’s easier said than done. When we’re tired, hungry, stressed out, or anxious, we’re more likely to reach for the kind of snack food that’s high in carbohydrates – and lacking the dietary fiber that might mitigate the sugar content.

Craving carbohydrates is human – and the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to minimize them and turn your attention to healthier snack and meal options. Understanding what those things are – and making sure you have what you need on hand – can help you avoid overdoing it with carbohydrate-rich foods.

How to curb carb cravings

With that in mind, here are 7 simple ways to curb those unwanted carb cravings so you can stick to a healthy diet.

#1: Work Out Vigorously

When your body craves carbs, it might really be craving happiness and looking for a quick fix. Instead of reaching for the chips or chocolate, you’re better off getting out of your chair and moving your body.

Why? Because working out releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. If the carb craving is coming from depression, sadness, or anxiety, then working out might help curb the craving by giving you something to feel good about.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that moderate-to-high intensity exercise resulted in a spike in endorphins and correlating the decrease in depression and anxiety. If you’re someone who is prone to emotional eating or you struggle with depression, working out may be your best bet to curb those carb and sugar cravings.

#2: Chew Your Food More

One surprisingly simple way to eliminate cravings is to take your time with the food you do eat. A lot of people eat while they’re doing other things, like playing with their phones or watching television. It turns out that paying attention while you eat may be the carb control secret you’ve been looking for.

A study from 2014 measured the baseline chewing of volunteers. It then divided them into three groups and asked them to eat pizza for lunch using 100%, 150%, or 200% of their baseline chews. In other words, if a person chewed each bite six times on average, they’d be asked to chew six, nine, or 12 times depending on which group they were in.

The results were intriguing to say the least. The researchers found that the subjects who chewed the most ate the least. Here’s how it broke down:

  • Subjects who chewed at 150% their baseline rate ate 9.5% less than their peers
  • Subjects who chewed at 200% their baseline rate ate 14.8% less than their peers

One theory is that chewing for a longer time allows your body to register the food you’re eating in a way that minimal chewing does not. To try this method, measure your average chews per bite (or ask someone to do it for you.) Then deliberately make the choice to chew each bite a specific number of times and see how it affects your eating.

#3: Get More Sleep

Sleep is essential to good health, yet many adults don’t get enough. The Sleep Association estimates that between 50 and 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and sleep deprivation can negatively impact your impulse control and appetite.

A 2017 study found that a shorter sleep cycle led to:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased food intake
  • Hormonal imbalances

Sleep helps to curb carb cravings

That suggests that getting enough sleep might help to curb cravings by regulating hormones and appetite. But that’s not all.

A 2011 study found that sleep deprivation reduced self-control and increased impulsivity. In other words, you might be far more likely to give into a carbohydrate or sugar craving if you don’t get enough sleep at night. When you’re tired, your brain wants quick energy – and that’s what carbs provide.

#4: Get More Chromium

Chromium is a mineral we all need and it’s one that plays an important role in appetite suppression – particularly in our desire for carbohydrates and sugar.

A 2005 study looked at a group of overweight and obese volunteers with atypical depression to see what effect chromium picolinate had on their appetites. It found that the group that took chromium picolinate experienced the following changes:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased eating
  • Reduced carbohydrate cravings

The study concluded that supplementation with 600 milligrams of chromium a day could help reduce severe carbohydrate cravings. It’s worth noting that the most significant improvement occurred in people who reported severe cravings.

If you prefer not to take a supplement, you may want to try increasing your dietary intake of chromium. Some foods that are good sources of chromium include:

  • Barley
  • Black pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Oats
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes

Most of these foods have relatively small amounts of chromium, so if you don’t experience an improvement it may be worth talking to your doctor about a chromium supplement.

#5: Eat Some Spicy Food

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book to eat spicy food to make your meals feel more satisfying when you’re trying to lose weight. It might surprise you to know that there’s a scientific basis to what seems like an old wives’ tale – and you can use it to help curb cravings, as well.

Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes hot peppers hot. The more capsaicin a pepper contains, the higher it is on the Scoville scale. Horticulturalists love to cross-breed chilis to maximize their heat, which is how we’ve ended up with super-hot varieties like the California Reaper and the Trinidad Scorpion.

how to stop eating carbs

A 2014 study in the journal Appetite found that giving capsaicin to obese men and women had the following effects:

  1. It increased their sense of satiety and fullness after eating a meal.
  2. It prevented overeating during meals.
  3. It decreased the desire to keep eating after a meal.

The takeaway here is that there’s something about eating food with a kick that makes it more satisfying to eat. So, if you’re worried about craving carbs between meals, you can try adding some spice to what you eat to make it less likely that you’ll overindulge. And, if you don’t like spicy food, you can take a capsaicin supplement with your meals instead.

#6: Add Fiber to Your Diet

You’ve probably heard this before, but a diet that’s high in fiber is more satisfying and fulfilling than one that lacks fiber. It’s one of the reasons that eating empty carbs, especially refined sugars, can drag people into a vicious cycle where they eat carbs, crave carbs, and eat more carbs.

The trick, then, is to get your carbs from foods that have a healthy dose of fiber in them. If you’re craving something sweet, try sticking with fruit instead of cookies. Sweet fruit like pineapple has a decent amount of sugar, but the fiber helps to balance it out. Here’s the nutritional information for a one-cup serving of pineapple:

  • 82 calories
  • 15 grams of carbohydrate
  • 2 grams of fiber

When you’re calculating the net carbs in a cup of pineapple, you subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrates. You’ll get the sweetness you’re craving, but the fiber minimizes its impact on your body and can help reduce cravings after you eat it.

#7: Do Something Social

A lot of times, we turn to high-carbohydrate snack foods when we’re bored. It’s all too easy to tear through a bag of chips or a candy bar when we have nothing better to do.

If that sounds familiar, then the best thing to do might be to call a friend or family member and get out of the house. You might go for a walk, head to a museum, or simply grab a cup of coffee and chat. The main point is that you’ll be focused on your friend and not on all the delicious carbs you want to eat.

how to stop eating carbs and sugar

An important note here is that you should choose a friend who’ll be supportive and not try to undermine your goals. You’re looking for someone to help you avoid carbs, not someone who’s going to encourage you to order the chocolate cake.

Our Final Thoughts

Carb cravings are part of life, and some of us are more susceptible than others. If you’re someone who experiences intense carb cravings, you may want to consider transitioning to a ketogenic or low-carb diet. Sometimes, cutting back on sugar can help you break the cycle of eating and craving carbs.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes having a little something sweet can be enough to make the craving go away. If you’re the kind of person who can eat a single, delicious piece of chocolate and be satisfied, go ahead and have one. Just try to choose something with dark chocolate and minimal sugar – and savor it while you eat it. That way, you won’t feel deprived.