Whether you're a "salty" person or a "sweets" person, everyone gets an intense, I-have-to-have-it-now craving from time to time. Nothing can stop you from chowing down those crunchy, salty chips or indulging in a few decadent chocolate chip cookies. And that's OK. You are an athlete and life should include some of the good stuff from time to time. What's not so good is when you become a slave to your dietary choices, meaning that high carbohydrate/sugar intake leads to craving sugary foods all the time.
Whether it's a good or a poor one, habits are hard to break once established. Many foods in today's world are manufactured in ways that promote the establishment of poor habits. The combination of sugar, fat and salt in food is highly addictive.
Here are some tips for fueling in a way that curbs cravings and promotes satiety, so that you can stay on track.
Minimize Packaged/Processed Foods
Sugar, fat and salt combined create a dangerous trifecta found in many foods. Bypass those packaged chips, crackers, pastries, cookies and cereals and your appetite will thank you. These items are primarily enriched flour (low nutritional value) carbohydrates, which do little to fill you up, and actually increase your appetite—not-so-good bang for your buck. You want your snacks to provide satiety and nutritional value.
Focus on Clean Eating and Whole, Natural Foods
These choices include fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, nuts and seeds. Fruit, vegetables and legumes provide fiber-containing carbohydrates. Legumes, nuts and seeds contribute protein and healthy fat.
Eat a Combination of Fiber, Protein and Fat at Meals and Snacks
Carbohydrates are the quickest digesting nutrient, especially fiber-free carbs. By pairing a protein and fat source with carbs, you reap the benefits of stabilized blood sugar levels, consistent energy, improved satiety and better overall health. This fueling strategy improves the body's utilization of fat for fuel over time and is called metabolic efficiency. Top an apple with freshly ground almond butter for a snack or combine salmon, sweet potato and roasted broccoli for a metabolically efficient meal.
Don't Go too Long Between Fuelings
Just about anything sounds good when you're starving, especially unhealthy foods options. Add a few snacks into your daily regimen to curb appetite between meals, but make sure they are balanced. Also, don't let little snacks turn into all-day grazing.
These tips will help you avoid cravings and keep you full and satiated. Eat whole, natural foods and your body will thank you. Your performance will also reap the benefits.
Get more nutrition advice here.