The Protein Works

How To Overcome Cravings

Whether your vice is crisps, biscuits, cakes or cookies we all experience cravings at some time.
They most commonly attack mid-morning, mid-afternoon or either side of dinner like a stealthy ninja and you are powerless to stop them.
So what causes these cravings and what can you do to control them?


Eat more... or less!

I'm not just referring to the amount of food you eat but also the frequency. Although a recent study concluded that for the most part there was no significant benefit to be gained from manipulating meal timing for most people, there may well be some merit depending on the individual. But here's how it could help you. If eating more or less times per day helps you feel fuller then you are far less likely to snack. Let's look at someone who eats a standard breakfast, lunch, dinner. It is possible that their food cravings are caused by low blood sugar levels (hence the craving for sugary snacks). By eating 6 times per day, you are effectively replacing your snack (or all out binge) with something much healthier and possibly pre-planned.

Pump up the volume

Eating more calories than you need will lead to fat gain. So if you're dieting or experiencing cravings try eating more. I'm not suggesting an increase in calorie intake but the AMOUNT or 'volume' of food you're eating. For the same number of calories you get in a standard chocolate bar you can eat enough salad to completely fill your stomach FOUR TIMES over! So you can see that high volume, low calorie foods can not only be more filling but more nutritious as well.

The feelings of hunger are caused when our stomach releases a hormone called ghrelin. This signals to our brain that food is required. Ghrelin levels are at their highest before a meal and then subside after we've eaten. Research has shown ghrelin levels to be lower in those that were sufficiently rested compared to those who were sleep deprived. Basically this means that cravings will be more frequent and more intense if you are short of sleep. Try looking at where you can make your use of time smarter and get to bed earlier \ sleep in longer (if your schedule allows).

Full of fibrous fun

Fibre has many health benefits but can be a great ally in dealing with hunger and cravings. Foods containing high amounts of fibre have been found to be more filling. They also take longer to digest and can therefore leaving you feeling comfortably full for longer. As well as feeling full, fibre helps to maintain a more consistent blood sugar level. A higher fibre content helps to slow the breakdown of the food within the body and therefore blunts the bodies insulin response as well. In effect you are slowing down the release of energy from your foods. So where as junk or snack foods will cause a big spike in blood sugar levels, leading to that inevitable crash and crave moment, fibre helps to balance this out. Eating a high fibre meal is also likely to lead to a reduced intake in the following meal or cravings in between meals.

Swap the snack

If you are one of those people that just feel they cannot be without a snack, making smarter choices is the way to go. For fewer calories than an average chocolate bar or a couple of biscuits you can have a piece of fruit and a protein shake. There is no need to worry about the sugar content of fruit; after all, the fruit will provide you with so many vitamins, minerals and fibre not found in the vending machine. By ingesting the fruit with a protein source and \ or fat source you will lower the insulin response which might otherwise cause you to feel peckish again a short time later.

Drink your pain away

It is extremely common for us to misinterpret the need for fluid as a need for food. When you feel the cravings set in, try drinking a large glass of water, tea or calorie free beverage of choice. Even if you still feel hungry, try waiting 15-20 minutes will allow your body time to register that it is satisfied.



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