Get the Skinny: 5 Steps to Curb Carbohydrate Cravings

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If you feel like you’re addicted to carbs, we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly Kimball about why we crave carbohydrates so much, and five steps to help us curb those carb cravings!

  • From French fries to chocolate to sugary coffee drinks, carbs of all types are among the most-craved foods.
  • There are physiological reasons we crave carbs:  Studies show that carbs, combined with fat & salt (think cookie dough, French fries, potato chips), affect the same areas of the brain as drugs like cocaine.  
  • There’s also habit:  Every day after school, you swing through the drive-thru for fries. Or when you get home from work, you head straight for a snack.  Or you connect TV watching with ice cream or chips.

1. Get Enough Sleep

  • We eat more when we’re sleep deprived – as much as 549 extra calories a day.
  • Skimping on sleep increases levels of the hunger hormone grehlin that increases appetite & carb cravings
  • Even when we cut back on calories, sleep deprivation can still make it harder to lose weight.  One study tracked people who cut the same number of calories a day; one group slept 8.5 hours; the other group just 5.5 hours.  The sleep-deprived group had lost 55% less body fat and lost 60% more lean mass.
  • Symptoms of fatigue and hunger can feel the same.  So if we’re tired and sleep deprived, it can be easy to reach for a calorie-rich meal or snack in hopes of an energy boost, when we really just need more Z’s.

2. Nix Morning Sugars & White Carbs

  • Starting your day with refined carbs (e.g. most cereals, waffles, bagels) and sugary carbs (pastries, fruit juice, low-fat flavored yogurt, many specialty coffee drinks & smoothies) gives you a quick burst of energy, followed by a rapid crash, setting the stage for carb cravings later in the day.


3. Pump up the Protein – especially at breakfast and snack time

  • Protein takes longer to digest and absorb, keeping us feeling fuller for longer.
  • Plus, protein enhances alertness & focus, and has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar and energy levels.

4. Fuel Up Frequently

  • Try not to go longer than 4 hours without a small meal or snack that provides protein, fiber, and/or fat.
  • Frequent fueling maintains optimal energy levels, metabolism, and helps to fend off cravings.


5. Get Moving – Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity daily

  • Carbs produce a temporary increase in serotonin, which can have a calming, anxiety-reducing effect.
  • Exercise produces endorphins, which have a similar effect on mood.