The first few days of starting a keto diet can be tricky as your body adjusts to the new way of eating. This is often called the “keto flu” and can include symptoms like headaches, brain fog, and carb and sugar cravings.
Thankfully, these cravings usually only last a few days to a week as your body adjusts to using ketones for energy over time.
But what do you do if those carb and sugar cravings keep coming back?
The first step to fighting carb cravings is understanding why they happen in the first place. When you’re on the keto diet, your body is craving carbs because it’s used to running on them. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which is used for energy. So when you cut carbs, your body isn’t sure how to run properly.
Luckily, just because you have cravings doesn’t mean you have to give in. Follow a few tips to increase your chances of fighting off cravings successfully and meeting your goals.
Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Fat
One of the best ways to fight carb cravings on keto is to ensure that you get enough fat in your diet.
Fat is satiating and will help to keep you feeling full throughout the day. Many people find that they crave carbs when they are just hungry for food — any food. So make sure you eat plenty of healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Avoid unhealthy fats like processed meats and trans fats.
Get More Protein, Too
Protein can also help fight sugar cravings. Eating a high-protein diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevents dreaded sugar crashes that can lead to carb cravings. Make sure to include plenty of protein and healthy fats in each meal or snack to stay satisfied.
Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. So drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and see if that helps reduce your carb cravings — you can even drink diet soda (in moderation, of course).
Eat Low-Carb Vegetables
Vegetables are a great source of fiber and nutrients, and they can help fill you up, so you don’t crave carbs as much. Examples of vegetables low in carbohydrates include:
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
Do Something Else
Sometimes all it takes is a distraction to get rid of a carb craving. If you think about carbs, try to focus on something else. Watch a movie, read a book, work out, or call a friend.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause carb cravings. When you’re tired, your body craves quick energy from sugar. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to avoid this type of craving.
Avoid Trigger Foods and Situations
If there are certain foods that you know trigger your carb cravings, do your best to avoid them. This might mean avoiding the bread basket at restaurants, not keeping cookies in the house, or avoiding social gatherings that include alcohol.
The Bottom Line
Cravings for carbohydrates and sugar might be part of adapting your body to a keto diet, but they probably won’t last forever. And if they do? There are multiple ways to help ensure your success and hit your goals by intelligently avoiding the foods you want to keep out of your low-carb diet.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.