It’s easy to desire a quick fix when it comes to losing weight and eating well. But while “fad diets” may indeed help you lose weight, they are often not sustainable. And they may cause you to have more sugar cravings in the long run.
Sugar cravings 101
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are all considered “macronutrients.” In other words, they provide energy to the body. Carbohydrates support the central nervous system, brain and red blood cells. Protein provides essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for the body’s growth and repair. And energy from fats is important for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and hormone production.
“Just like your vehicle runs on gas but still requires oil and battery power to run, your body needs nutrients from different sources,” said Kari Mizgalski, Marshfield Clinic Health System clinical dietitian. “When we cut out foods, the body isn’t working as well as it should, and sugar cravings can arise.”
More common when dieting
The basis of many “fad diets” or fast weight loss plans is restricting certain foods or food groups. Any diet that removes specific food groups like fruit or whole grains can eventually lead to hunger and cravings.
“Typically someone may not initially crave sugar until they repeatedly ignore hunger signals,” Mizgalski said. “Over time they might start to feel uncontrollable hunger and sugar is something that can give a quick boost in energy. If someone is having a sugar craving and they consume some sugar, odds are they’ll feel better fairly quickly. However, patterns of restricting food intake and then eating sugar to feel better is an unhealthy cycle for the body.”
Sugar cravings should be a red flag because they’re a sign that our bodies are unbalanced. If you’re experiencing them, consider what food groups you’re restricting. MyPlate.gov is a useful resource to review healthy meal planning. Lastly, be skeptical of quick-fix diet plans.
“I would never recommend a fad diet to anyone,” Mizgalski said. “Quick weight loss results are difficult to maintain and people often gain the weight back and more. In addition, it is more unhealthy to lose and regain weight, or ‘yo-yo diet,’ than to maintain a similar weight with healthful habits.”
If you’re concerned about your weight habits or need advice on healthy eating, please talk to your primary care provider about a referral to a registered dietitian.