6 Supplements for Sugar Cravings

fit young woman fighting off sugary snacks

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Do you have a sweet tooth? Does it feel nearly impossible to pass up dessert every single night? Do you constantly feel pulled towards candy, sweet snacks, ice cream, or soda? If so, you might feel addicted to sugar and controlled by your sugar cravings.

 

But don’t worry, you aren’t alone! The average American consumes too much sugar each day, and many people have a hard time shifting their sugar habits.

 

Unfortunately, sugar is very harmful to the body, and it’s important to keep your intake in check.

 

So how can we kick sugar cravings and cut back on our sugar intake for good? By supporting your body with healthy eating habits, plenty of sleep, stress management, and beneficial supplements, you can get back on track and reach your goals.

 

Are you eating too much sugar?

You aren’t alone if you feel that you are eating more sugar than you should.

 

The CDC recommends keeping sugar intake to less than 10% of your daily diet. In a 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean no more than 200 calories from sugar each day.1

 

But the average person consumes much, much more than the recommended amount. In fact, the average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day—a number which far exceeds the healthy suggestion of about only 9 teaspoons for men and 5 teaspoons for women.2

 

It’s no wonder; we are surrounded by tempting options loaded with sugar. Leading sources of sugar intake in the US diet include sweet snacks, desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda.1 These things are everywhere we look, from the checkout aisle at the grocery store to the coffee shop to the breakroom at work.

 

When we eat too much sugar we can get caught in a harmful cycle. We start to crave more and more of it, we don’t feel good when we try to stop eating it, and it becomes a habit hard to break.

 

Signs you may be eating too much sugar

There are some telltale signs that you are consuming too much sugar in your diet. Here are some symptoms to watch for:

  • Having strong cravings for treats or sweets.
  • Being unable to resist sugary foods when they are in front of you.
  • Feeling lack of control over what you eat or eating more than you intend to.
  • Habitually consuming dessert every day.
  • Not feeling full for long after meals.
  • Noticing yourself having highs and lows of energy (periods of hyperactivity followed by crashes).
  • Being dependent on sugary foods for energy when you feel low.
  • Finding yourself continuing to eat even after you have eaten enough and are full.
  • Needing to eat more sugar or sweets to get the same pleasurable effect.
  • Looking to sweet comfort foods when feeling stressed, bored, or irritable.3

 

When you eat less sugar or try to cut it out completely from your diet, you may experience “withdrawal” symptoms such as:

  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness4

 

The dangers of excessive sugar intake

man waking up in pain

We know that most people eat more sugar than is recommended. But unfortunately, eating too much sugar can come at some serious costs to your health and wellbeing. In fact, high sugar consumption is considered a leading cause of chronic health conditions and diseases.2 5

 

Eating a high-sugar diet is associated with serious problems, such as:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Tooth decay
  • Joint pain
  • Reproductive issues
  • And much more2 5 6 7 8

 

Can you be addicted to sugar?

There is some debate in the scientific community over whether or not sugar should be considered an addictive substance. While it’s hard to come to a definitive conclusion on the matter, there are some things we do know to be true.

 

First, we know that sugar activates the “pleasure centers” in the brain – the ones that help us to feel good and reward us for doing certain behaviors. So when we eat sugar, it makes us feel good, and we end wanting to repeat that action in order to feel that way again.

 

The same areas of the brain that are activated when we eat sugar are also activated by the use of drugs and alcohol. And it turns out that sugar can actually create an even bigger internal reward than some addictive substances.9 10

 

And as with other addictive substances, people often report that when they cut sugar from their diets or try to eat less of it, they experience “withdrawal” symptoms.6 11

 

Whether sugar is technically addictive or not doesn’t necessarily matter. What’s clear is that we eat too much sugar, that our brains are wired to make us crave more of it, and that it can harm our health in the long run.

 

So either way, it’s important to watch sugar cravings and do your best to reduce your intake.

 

The keys to curbing sugar cravings

So what are you supposed to do if you crave sugar and have a hard time staying away from it?

 

There are several dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to support your body and help yourself get out of the harmful cycle. Everything from your food choices to your stress levels to your sleep habits can make a difference and contribute to cravings, so taking a holistic approach is key.3

 

Here are some of the top tips to help you get rid of cravings and eat less sugar:

 

Regulate your blood sugar levels

Keeping blood sugar levels stable is one of the best things you can do to not just help reduce cravings, but also to improve your overall health at the same time.

 

You see, after we eat sugar our blood sugar levels quickly spike. But then not long after, they drop dramatically. And when your blood sugar levels quickly drop, your body will cry out asking you to feed it more sugar, because it doesn’t like that drop. It wants to get your blood sugar levels back to where they just were, so you end up craving more sugar.12

 

As a result, we end up eating sugar again. But then that just leads to another spike in blood sugar and another drop… and the harmful cycle continues.

food choices - apple versus donut

So what’s the solution? Keeping your blood sugar levels regulated and more even throughout the day. We do better when our blood sugar levels stay more stable, avoiding high highs and low lows. Ultimately, this can help us to avoid cravings for quick energy from sugar.12

 

Balance your diet

The foods we choose to eat can have a major impact on our cravings, as well as our appetites.

 

When you eat a meal full of refined carbs and sweet foods, your blood sugar will swing dramatically and you won’t feel full for long—setting you up for cravings. But when you eat a well-balanced meal with plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fat, that can minimize blood sugar swings and keep you feeling full for longer—helping you quell cravings.

 

It is important to eat from a variety of food groups, ensuring that fiber, fat, and protein play a role in each meal and snack.2 Eating more often can also help, so that your blood sugar levels don’t dip when you go too long between meals.12

 

Reduce stress

When we are stressed out, hormones are released into our body that affect how our body functions and how we feel. One hormone that increases is cortisol, which can drive up hunger and fuel cravings.2 3

 

It is also common for us to repeatedly find comfort and relief in certain foods, leading us to “emotionally eat” foods like sweets when we are stressed.3

 

Learning to manage stress can help to keep cravings in check and support healthier eating habits.

 

Get more sleep

Sleep is vital for a wide range of body functions. Without enough of it, things can easily get out of balance. One problem that can occur with lack of sleep is hormonal imbalances related to hunger and appetite. These imbalances can lead to overeating and cravings.3

 

Making sure you get plenty of quality sleep can help to set you up for success and support optimal health and well-being throughout your entire body.

 

6 supplements for sugar cravings

If you find yourself craving sugar, then there are several supplements that might be able to help you out. They can support your body in better regulating blood sugar, reducing stress, and more so that you can take back control and make the healthy changes you want.

 

Know that no one supplement will be a cure-all that gives you a quick fix for cravings. Instead, supplements can help to restore balance to your body and support optimal health and well-being, ultimately helping you to get back on track. And please note that you should always check with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplements, as not all supplements are right for everyone.

 

Here are a few supplements to consider:

 

1. Glutamine

l-glutamine supplements for sugar cravings 3d pill image

Glutamine helps the body to secrete insulin, the hormone that brings blood sugar levels down after eating. Increasing insulin function can help prevent wild swings in blood sugar that may result in cravings, and glutamine may be able to help with that.

 

Be aware that there are mixed results in the scientific literature when it comes to glutamine supplementation. But several studies do show that it may help to reduce glucose levels, and it also may decrease appetite and food intake.13 14

 

2. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in hundreds of biological processes within the body. And without enough of it, we can have a wide variety of problems and symptoms.

 

One of magnesium’s functions is to help with blood sugar control. Studies show that magnesium supplementation can help to decrease insulin resistance and improve blood sugar regulation.15 Again, keeping blood sugar levels on a more even keel can help you to avoid cravings.

 

Plus, magnesium also helps to improve sleep and decrease the effects of stress, both of which can help us to get better control over our cravings.3 16

 

3. Chromium

The average diet doesn’t contain a lot of chromium, so many people don’t get that much of it. It is another mineral that can help the body to improve insulin responses and better control blood sugar levels.17

 

There’s no direct evidence linking chromium to sugar cravings. But some research has shown that chromium can help to curb cravings like those from carbs and help to decrease appetite and food intake. It has also been shown to help reduce binge eating and support weight loss.17 18

 

A ZYTO bioscan can help you make better decisions about which supplements to take based on information gathered directly from the body. Learn more here.

 

4. Probiotics

Intriguing research suggests that in some cases our cravings don’t come directly from us, but actually from the microbes living within our guts!

 

Researchers hypothesize that certain “bad” microbes might actually make us crave certain things like sugar and drive unhealthy eating behaviors. But there’s good news; the more balanced and diverse the bacterial population in our gut, the less influence any one certain bacteria can have over us.19

 

There’s still a lot of research to be done in this area, but the concept is certainly promising. So, taking probiotics might just be worth a try when it comes to fighting sugar cravings. Probiotics may help to bring balance to the digestive system and crowd out any harmful bacteria that might possibly be contributing to your sugar cravings.19

 

5. Protein

protein powder and measuring cup

Eating more protein can help to reduce cravings, including cravings for sweets.20 21 Foods that have protein in them are digested more slowly and result in more level blood sugar responses, helping us to feel satisfied for longer and not reach for something sweet after a meal.3

 

So, if you can’t fit enough protein into your daily meals, consider a protein supplement to help ensure that you’re getting plenty of it throughout the day.

 

6. Fiber

Higher fiber intake is associated with lower sweet cravings.21 The more fiber you have in a meal, the slower you will digest it and the more stable your blood sugars will stay. Fiber helps us to stay full and feel satisfied long after a meal.

 

Ideally, you should be getting plenty of fiber in your diet through the foods you eat like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. But if you want a little boost and need support with getting enough fiber, a supplement might be able to help you out.

 

Retraining your body to crave less sugar

If you feel like you are currently addicted to sugar and just can’t stop, don’t give up hope.

 

By adjusting your diet, working to bring your blood sugars into balance, prioritizing sleep and stress reduction, and supporting your body with supplements, you will be well on your way to reducing your sugar cravings.

 

And don’t forget to be patient with yourself. While it may take time, it is possible to retrain your body to crave less sugar. It’s simply a matter of taking it slow and committing to the process.

 

Slowly reducing your intake can help retrain your taste buds and your brain to crave less sugar. With time, you’ll notice that the less you have, the less you need in order to feel satisfied.

 

So keep at it, make small changes one step at a time, get support from health professionals when you need it, and don’t give up!

 

 

 

About Chelsea Clark Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1. “Get the Facts: Added Sugars.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cdc.gov.

2. “Break Your Sugar Addiction in 10 days.” Cleveland Clinic. Health.clevelandclinic.org.

3. “Cravings.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Hsph.harvard.edu.

4. “What happens to your brain when you give up sugar.” BBC. Bbc.com.

5. Domonell, K. “Just How Bad Is Sugar for You, Really?” UW Medicine. Rightasrain.uwmedicine.org.

6. Bray, G.A. “Is Sugar Addictive?” Diabetes 65, no. 7 (206): 1797-1799.

7. “The Sweet Danger of Sugar.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Health.harvard.edu.

8. Hughes, L. “How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?” WebMD, LLC. Webmd.com.

9. DiNicolantonio, J.J., J.H. O’Keefe, J. H., & W.L. Wilson. “Sugar addiction: is it real? A narrative review.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 52, no. 14 (2018): 910–913.

10. Avena, N.M., P. Rada., & B.G. Hoebel. “Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32, no. 1 (2008): 20–39.

11. Ahmed, S.H., K. Guillem, & Y. Vandaele). “Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 16, no. 4 (2013): 434–439.

12. Becker, P. “Can you be addicted to sugar?” Oregon State University. Blogs.oregonstate.edu.

13. Jafari-Vayghan, H., P. Varshosaz, F. Hajizadeh-Sharafabad, et al. “A comprehensive insight into the effect of glutamine supplementation on metabolic variables in diabetes mellitus: a systematic review.” Nutrition & Metabolism 17 (2020): 80.

14. Abboud, K.Y., S.K. Reis, M.E. Martelli, et al. “Oral Glutamine Supplementation Reduces Obesity, Pro-Inflammatory Markers, and Improves Insulin Sensitivity in DIO Wistar Rats and Reduces Waist Circumference in Overweight and Obese Humans.” Nutrients 11, no. 3 (2019): 536.

15. ELDerawi, W.A., I.A. Naser, et al. “The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients.” Nutrients 11, no. 1 (2018): 44.

16. Pickering, G., A. Mazur, M. Trousselard, et al. “Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited.” Nutrients 12, no. 12 (2020): 3672.

17. Brownley, K.A., A. Von Holle, R.M., et al. “A double-blind, randomized pilot trial of chromium picolinate for binge eating disorder: results of the Binge Eating and Chromium (BEACh) study.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 75, no. 1 (2013): 36–42.

18. Anton, S.D., C.D. Morrison, W.T. Cefalu, et al. “Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety.” Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics 10, no. 5 (2008): 405–412.

19. Alcock, J., C.C. Maley, & C.A. Aktipis. “Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms.” BioEssays : News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology 36, no. 10 (2014): 940–949.

20. Hoertel, H.A., M.J. Will., & H.J. Leidy. “A randomized crossover, pilot study examining the effects of a normal protein vs. high protein breakfast on food cravings and reward signals in overweight/obese “breakfast skipping”, late-adolescent girls.” Nutrition Journal 13 (2014): 80.

21. Ohlsson, B., G. Darwiche, et al. “High Fiber Fat and Protein Contents Lead to Increased Satiety Reduced Sweet Cravings and Decreased Gastrointestinal Symptoms Independently of Anthropometric Hormonal and Metabolic Factors.” Journal of Diabetes and Metabolism. 8, no. 3 (2017).

 

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