Keto Expert and Nutritionist Maria Emmerich helps people lose weight and transform their health by helping them change their diets and lifestyle. Here Maria writes how sugar can be addictive in the same way as alcohol! Both sugar and alcohol stimulate the same parts of the brain that lead to a biochemical addiction. Luckily there are ways to help your brain chemistry and deal with your sugar addiction. Read how sugar and alcohol affect your brains, as well as get Maria’s recommendations on how you can follow her keto diet to cut out sugar cravings permanently.
I find it very interesting that 25% of the alcoholic patients in a treatment center in MN have gone through weight loss surgery.
Alcohol and sugar addiction go hand in hand. I have a heavy heart for those with food addictions because, unlike alcohol, food is unavoidable. We need it for survival. Many people claim that you can’t be addicted to sugar, but research has proven that when people binge on carbs (all carbs are just sugar molecules hooked together in a long chain) and then restrict, the body creates an endogenous opioid. It is released in the body much like the chemicals released when people are doing other drugs. PET and CAT scans of food addicts look just almost identical to that of drug addicts and alcoholics. What I find really interesting is that “carb-addicts” carry the same D2 dopamine receptor (a gene that identifies addiction); which proves that biochemically, food addiction is just like addiction to other narcotics. A lot of my clients who are in Overeaters Anonymous tell me that they started consuming carbs and sugar just as if it were alcohol.
The problem is that we see alcoholics as having a problem, but desiring carbs and sugar is seen as “normal” and is just a part of the typical American diet. This reminds me of one of my clients who lived in England for 10 years. Her boss came to her and had an intervention with her, claiming that she had a food addiction and the company paid for her to go to treatment. She told me how in England, they saw her problem and how it affected her work, but now that she is in the U.S., she is seen as normal.
I want you to know that there are ways to help your brain chemistry! You do NOT have to suffer from a food addiction or alcohol addiction. Alcohol displaces sugar so alcoholics are naturally drawn to sugar once they quite alcohol. Sugar (and alcohol) blocks serotonin receptors, leading to more cravings for carbs and alcohol. Do you know where serotonin comes from? Not the brain but in the intestinal tract. So changing what you put into your body can change your intestinal lining and affect your brain too. What you put into your body really can make a difference!
Keto Tips for how to deal with cravings for sugar/alcohol
So how can we fix these terrible life-consuming cravings for sugar/alcohol? Here are my suggestions:
Probiotics I first recommend something called Bifido bacteria. This is a probiotic that you can find in food sources such as kim chi and other naturally fermented veggies as well as in organ meats. But since we don’t eat enough of these foods, I suggest a supplement to increase serotonin. 70% of our immune system is in our gut. This is the best thing for anyone who is depressed or dealing with cravings should take. You can find it here.
L-glutamine: Another helpful nutrient needed to cut those alcohol and sugar cravings is l-glutamine. L-glutamine is an amino acid found in protein. Human studies that date back to 1957 prove that this amino acid can reduce cravings and the anxiety that accompanies alcohol withdrawal.
Milk Thistle also helps to cleanse the liver (which governs our moods and how we lose weight… low moods = more cravings). You can find it here.
What to eat
Just eat real food! The keto diet focuses on good whole foods and all the macro nutrients you get with them. Avoid bullet proof coffee and fat bombs that are just empty calories. Instead eat steak and eggs and animal proteins that are loaded with vitamins and minerals!
Go for animal proteins. That’s right, contrary to popular belief animal proteins are some of the most nutrient dense foods, not fruits and vegetables. Looks at this chart from our book “Keto”.
That’s right, Beef has more vitamins and minerals than most fruits and veggies. And you want to talk about what is the real super food? Organ meats like liver top the charts. So focus on the animal proteins and you will get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs!
Change up Breakfast:
Start by making over your breakfast. Say NO to sugar filled fruits, juices and starchy breakfasts like pancakes, cereals, etc. Say YES to eggs and bacon! Eggs a loaded with nutrients, some healthy fats and cholesterol and protein. Make sure to eat protein with every meal.
Then get Macros Right:
Focus on EATING THE PROTEIN FIRST! Protein is your goal and other macros (fats and carbs) are limits. So focusing on eating enough protein first. How much is enough? Try to get 0.8 times your lean mass (in pounds) in grams of protein a day. For example, a woman that is 150 pounds and 33% bodyfat has 100 pounds of lean mass (total weight minus bodyfat). So the protein target will be 80g of protein a day (0.8*100). Make sure to get at least this much every day and going over isn’t a problem if calories are in check (under limit).
Limit Carbs TO A MINIMUM. Play it like a game of golf, lowest score wins. Try to get less than 20g of total carbs per day.
Fat to satiety. Fat is a limit, when trying to lose weight you want your body using your stored body fat for fuel so reducing fat will force that to happen. You may need to add a bit extra fat in the first couple weeks to fight hunger. But then dial it back a bit to lose more body fat. A good target is equal to or less than your protein goal.
You can go here to get free macro targets.
By changing what you eat, you can use my keto diet to beat your sugar addiction for good! It may take time, but you will feel the benefits throughout your entire body.
To learn more about the keto diet, follow me here.
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