Article Written by: Sem Orst
One of the supposed advantages of a keto diet is that it will help tame unwanted keto sugar cravings. On the surface, it makes sense that this would be beneficial. To eliminate keto sugar cravings, do not keep a lot of sugar on hand. Keeping sugary treats out of sight helps to keep cravings at bay.
Does following a ketogenic diet mean that I can eat sweets even if they’re limited in nutrients? Maybe sugar can become even more tempting because I won’t be able to eat it.
There is abundant evidence from the popular Keto Reset community and across the keto-sphere that keto suppresses sugar and food cravings. Studies prove that a ketogenic diet is more effective at helping people lose weight as compared to other eating plans. One of the primary reasons keto is so popular is because of the easiness with which it permits a large quantity of food to be in a container.
Of course, the next question people always ask is: How long does it take?
When Can I Expect My Keto Sugar Cravings to Vanish?
It takes one to two days of very low-carb eating for the person’s liver to begin producing ketones, indicating that cravings are significantly reduced almost immediately as ketosis is induced. The “expert” consensus appears to be that cravings will substantially decrease within three to ten days.
Cravings are unlikely to disappear completely, although some people do experience relief almost immediately. Not everyone is fortunate enough to reach this milestone, however. Many people do find that their keto sugar cravings remain as strong as ever or even stronger on keto. While some people don’t experience as much improvement as others, I suspect that this depends on the cause of your keto sugar cravings.
Another reason you might desire sugar is just that you have trained your body to rely on sugar for energy-you are carb dependent. It isn’t the sugar you want to consume in particular, but rather the vitality it provides. Your desire for sugar will be greatly reduced once your body begins producing ketones. Furthermore, this should become easier and easier as you become more keto-adapted.
Keto sugar cravings can also be learned (conditioned) responses. Decades of experience have taught you that eating sugary treats is comforting and enjoyable. You have a strong positive association with sugar. In this sense, you may think of consuming sugar as an extremely ingrained, reinforced habit you must break. It can be difficult to break bad habits, but it is not impossible to do so in weeks or months, not days.
The complication is that eating sugar is not just enjoyable or fun, but it can also have physiological benefits. Eating sugar stimulates the neural reward pathways, causing a physical desire for more sugar.
Some people are so addicted to sugar that it resembles a deadly addiction. These people are often in trouble. Whether keto sugar cravings counts as a true addiction, like other substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and some drugs, is hotly debated in academia.
Many people actually regard sugar as an addiction, and many have quit sugar, claiming that it had become an addiction. Their fighting spirit is undaunted even when enthusiasm and determination are high. A single relapse can lead to a considerable setback. There is no doubt that there are physiological drivers at work that keep the desire for sugar-burning so intense in these individuals.
It’s all different for everyone.
What If You’ve Been Keto For a While, Yet You’re Still Struggling with Keto Sugar Cravings?
How long does it take for your body to shut down your liver’s ability to process carbohydrates? As is claimed, ketones form after only a couple of days of severely restricting carb intake. Ketoadaptation typically takes several months, however. A study showed that ketosis takes several weeks for the body to become proficient at utilizing the ketones stored in adipose tissue for energy.
You don’t want to wait that long, either. There are other steps you can take to win the fight against keto sugar cravings. Make sure you get enough calories and maintain good hydration. Caloric restriction increases the value of food. When on keto, you tend to rely more on tasty foods, such as fats and ample calories. These factors are the primary reasons I recommend eating lots of fat and enough calories when starting the keto diet.
If you’re also restricting calories, your cravings may decrease gradually over months, but this will happen gradually. (The study also showed that it gets easier and easier to limit calories over time.)
It’s Not Always About the Food
Make sure your lifestyle ducks are in order. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and avoid stress. Both have been shown to be major causes of keto sugar cravings. Even dehydration and boredom can cause hunger and cravings. In order to eliminate keto sugar cravings, you need to maintain good self-care.
You want sugar because of the hormonal response to those stressors, but don’t forget the comfort factor here, too. It feels good to be tired, stressed, and bored. If you rely on sugar to lift your spirits, you should also develop new methods of coping.
Delve deep into the root of the problem by examining your keto sugar cravings. I suggest that you start a journal regarding your cravings and record such items as:
- How you’re feeling today (bored, anxious, nervous, angry, etc.)
- What time of day is it
- Hunger: what you ate and when
- Your location
- People around you
- Other possible idea’s or triggers
After a few days or weeks, you may notice certain patterns. If you can identify particular triggers like time, working situation, or stress that can lead to cravings, work on developing other coping mechanisms other than food. Resolve the underlying issue. Try meditating, exercising, drinking a glass of water, eating something with protein and healthy fats, or eating an actual meal.
Finally, see if you can survive the cold turkey period if you haven’t done so already. Remove all sweeteners, even keto-friendly ones like stevia. Check your fruits and veggies intake. Are you still consuming “sweet” even if you have eliminated most sugar sources from your diet? Conversely, if you’re a total new-comer to veganism, consider giving yourself a little low-glycemic fruit, such as tangerines. Restricting yourself won’t work out well for you. Find your sweet spot.
Once you have followed the suggestions I gave, you should have sufficient time to be entirely keto-adapted, and you may be obsessed with staying in ketosis, so it may be time for you to find a physician, nutritionist, or therapist who specializes in sugar dependency. There may be a physiological reason why you require more support.
Be aware that sometimes desiring or craving sugar doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Don’t beat yourself up. You may need to modify your approach, or it may just be a blip on the radar. Once you’re metabolically flexible, you can choose on a case-by-case basis how to respond.
Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, et al. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2018 Feb;26(2):254-268.