How to Curb Sugar Cravings

Josh Bezoni- How to Curb Sugar Cravings

When sugar cravings hit, they can be nearly impossible to suppress. How many times have you tried to stick to a diet, only to be met with an an insatiable desire for something sweet, and found yourself scarfing down a Reese’s peanut butter cup you found in your child’s Halloween candy while they’re at school? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

Why we crave sugar

Depriving yourself of something makes you want it even more; this idea has been proven by scientists, but it’s also common sense. One of the main reasons people become addicted to sugar is because refined sugar depletes the body of chromium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and manganese, leading to increased cravings. Another reason people crave sugar, Dr. Mark Hyman explains, is biochemical in nature. Sugar has an addictive quality; when you consume sugar, it impairs your dopamine receptors, causing you to build up a “tolerance,” to sugar, so to speak, and making you crave it more each time.

Why too much sugar is bad for you

The human body needs sugar to function; it regulates your blood sugar levels and is converted into energy that the body needs to survive. However, too much sugar is a bad thing. Natural sugar, glucose, can be found in many foods, such as fruit, but it is added sugar that you need to look out for, which serves no real purpose other than excess energy, and can be detrimental to your health. In addition to causing cavities and weight gain, a buildup of glucose in the pancreas causes a “sugar rush,” followed by a “sugar crash.” The brain responds to too much glucose by producing the chemical serotonin, which makes you tired, and the pancreas responds by producing insulin. Too much insulin will dull the hunger hormone, leptin, causing you to feel hungry and crave more sugar . Essentially, it tricks your body into thinking it’s hungry even if it’s not.

How to stop craving sugar

Although it can be very difficult to stop craving sugar, it is not impossible. The first thing you can do in transitioning to a low-sugar diet is to substitute other foods to satisfy your cravings. For instance, when you’re craving something sweet, reach for fruit instead, which contains healthy levels of natural glucose and can help combat deficiencies such as carbon, chromium, and sulfur linked with sugar cravings. Next, gradually remove all sugary foods from your house, or (if other household members are not adopting the same diet), make sure they’re stored in a place you will not be tempted to raid during the day.

Curbing your sugar cravings will take some hard work and dedication on your part, but your body will thank you for it, making it all worth it in the end!

Beware the Shady Scale

Feet_on_scaleIf there’s one thing dieters hate even more than the prospect of losing weight and altering their eating habits, it’s stepping onto the scale and obsessing over the little numbers that glare up at them. Who would think such a simple mechanism could hold so much power over our psyches and self-esteem? Taken out of context, the numbers that appear don’t mean anything-they merely represent a numerical value, but for many people trying to lose weight, those numbers are everything. Many place their entire self-worth into their weight.

Well, I have some good news. You may think that the only way you’ll ever lose weight is to keep daily tabs on the number on the scale, but I want everyone to know that’s not the case. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in their weight loss plan is to weigh themselves every day. This torturous act is both unnecessary and inaccurate.

There’s a fine line between control and compulsion. It’s good to take control of your weight, and for some, monitoring one’s weight regularly is a strategy for staying in control. But this routine can easily turn into an obsession and that’s where the scale becomes dangerous, leading to discouragement or even the development of an eating disorder.

Here are some specific reasons why checking your weight daily can be dangerous:

Discouragement: It’s easy to feel defeated when the numbers on the scale don’t reflect all the effort you put into your weight loss plan. You may think, “But that’s not fair! I gave up sweets and exercised every day this week! How have I not lost any weight?” Sometimes, when we expect the numbers on the scale to go down, they defy our expectations and go up. This is normal and, as frustrating as it may be, you’re not alone. However, if you become discouraged every time you experience a setback in your weight loss goals, you could easily decide to throw in the towel completely and give up on your diet.

Not an accurate representation: It may be easy to become discouraged, but before you give into negativity, you need to realize that daily fluctuation of your weight is completely natural. The main reason you may have lost a few pounds one day only to gain it back the next day (with no drastic changes to your diet) is water retention. Minor fluctuations are natural and occur daily, so instead of weighing yourself every day and fixating on the short-term, you should focus on long-term goals.

There are much better ways to assess if your weight loss efforts are paying off. Primarily, it comes down to how you feel. Do you feel healthy? Does your body feel a little tighter and leaner? Are your clothes fitting more loosely? Do you feel like you have more energy and strength propelling you through the day? Is exercising becoming easier. These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Becoming a healthier version of yourself isn’t all about losing weight, and it’s most often a gradual process that’s more like a marathon than a sprint. Keep in mind, muscle actually weighs more than fat and the scale won’t be able to tell if you’ve lost fat and gained muscle.

So, what can you do to monitor your weight without becoming addicted to the scale? For starters, get into the habit of weighing yourself less. Cutting your weigh-ins down to once a week rather than every day will allow you to focus on your goals without becoming discouraged. It will also help to be consistent, so weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time of day on the same day of the week. If you want the most accurate reading, you should weigh yourself in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Make it one of the first things you do when you get up, because as you eat and drink throughout the day, your weight will fluctuate.

If there’s one piece of advice you should take away from this article, it’s not to become discouraged! Losing weight is not a competition and everyone goes at it at their own pace. What matters is that you make a concerted effort. Weight loss takes time, but if you stick to your goals and limit yourself to one weigh-in per week, you’ll start to notice results.

Double Fat Loss Today

Josh Bezoni, Diet, Fat LossWhen we are first being taught about nutrition, the Food Pyramid always springs to the forefront of conversation. Claiming that grains (made up of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) make up the base of the food pyramid, it was thought we were supposed to receive an astounding fifty percent of our diet from carbohydrates.

Crazy! It’s this sort of fattening advice that perpetuates nutritional misperceptions which relegate people to an unhealthy lifestyle, condemned to believe they are doing the right thing and properly monitoring their diet when, in reality, they are actually making losing weight more difficult, more frustrating, and downright exhausting. What’s the most ridiculous part of all this? We know better.

Fortunately, government agencies and the United States educational system have released massive updates to the outdated policy; it’s just slow to take effect. In fact, the USDA is rightfully now recommending that half of your diet come from fruits and vegetables, and only 30% should come from grains—much better advice. Not to mention, the ‘experts’ are now also suggesting that protein makes up about twenty percent of our diet, a fantastic increase from the nearly nonexistent portion that was advised before.

All this said, there are still some considerable improvements to be made even to this new and improved My Plate System (the new and improved version of the Food Pyramid). For one, it does not really allot for healthy fats like nuts, oils, and organic dairy products—think butter and cream. These sorts of fats are a vital part of any diet, and most certainly should not be eaten sparingly. In actuality, you should be consuming about 25% of your calories through these open fats.

In regards to grains, I would chop it down to size and say they should only make up about 15% of your diet. There are only two meals a day where you should even consider eating grains, anyway, and those are breakfast and the meal after your workout. The reason for this is that research has proven glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are at their highest during these two points in the day.

With respect to protein, let’s beef that up to at least 35%. By increasing protein, you will have an increased thermic effect of feeding (which means you burn more calories just by eating protein), have better blood sugar control, see a decrease in body fat, and witness a significant increase in calorie-burning lean muscle.

Really, just by lowering grain consumption, you will improve your body’s capacity for processing carbohydrates, and then when you increase your protein intake, you can nearly DOUBLE your fat loss. It’s that easy.

Time to Place Whey by the Wayside

If you’ve ever even thought of lifting weights or undergoing any sort of weight training regimen, you have probably thought about purchasing the most fundamental supplement to ever grace the vitamin industry, whey protein. Known for its incredible popularity and its supposed ability to foster a more rapid development of stronger, more resilient muscle fibers, its negative associations often, all-too-often, in fact, slip under the radar.

So, in light of these aforementioned negative associations, I would like to elaborate. There are, in reality, two major hindrances to whey protein as a product:

Whey Protein Absorption: According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, the rate of protein absorption is eight grams every hour. While there are certainly a variety of factors that contribute to this, the single largest influencing factor is undoubtedly the fact that the whey is not broken down into small enough peptides by our body’s natural enzymes in order to be absorbed in time, and if the protein is not absorbed in time, then it essentially useless.

Whey protein can only be absorbed efficiently over the course of 1.5 hours, so even if a particular protein has 60g in a single serving, only about 12-20g of that 60 will be put to good use. That means the vast majority of the rest of that whey protein is bound to be excreted, nutritious value and all. It’s wasted.

Insulin Release Associated with Whey: Let’s play a game. If I presented you with a serving size of generic white Wonder bread, and a serving size of standard whey protein isolate, and asked which if these causes a greater spike in insulin, what you say? Would you choose the well-touted, known to be terrible for you, nutritionally devoid white bread, or the muscle and nutritional supplement, whey protein? Remarkably, the answer is…you guessed it! Whey protein.

As outrageous as it seems, whey protein actually causes a greater spike in insulin than white bread. According to a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism as of 2012, the specific amino acids in whey protein actually emulate beta cells to such a degree that they secrete more insulin than a similar serving of carbs from white bread.

Of course, I am only referring to insulin release in this scenario. Obviously, when taking into account nutritional value as a whole, white bread is no match for whey protein. Yet, that said, there really is no ignoring the fact that your fat-burning capability is noticeably afflicted when there is a presence of excess insulin; so ideally, choosing foods with a lower insulin response is preferable.

The fact is that whey protein is by no means the best supplement around despite whatever its incredible popularity might suggest. The next time you’re shopping around for strength training supplements, I’d recommend you check out time-released proteins where your body is able to absorb the nutritious value of whatever you’re consuming over an extended period of time, and then you will be able to gain the most out of what you buy.

The Breathing Exercise that Eats Belly Fat

In the swirling chaos of our daily lives, stress often rises to the surface and influences our mood, our attitude, and our hormones. When we try to compartmentalize this mental duress, it soon becomes physically apparent, whether we like it not. In fact, it can incite inflammation, accelerated aging, poor judgment, bad decisions, and impaired slumber. Put frankly, stress makes you fat, sick, dumb, and weak.

For example, scientists at the University of California at San Francisco have found a proven association between cortisol (the stress hormone) and belly fat content. Yet, despite this terrible news being proven (we all knew it was true anyway), there is something we can do to take control of our lives and our own fitness. We are not subject to the whim of inevitable stress.

Essentially, you can combat stress and relax through something called “deep belly breathing.” When engaging in “deep belly breathing,” you are able to overcome your body’s stress response, decrease your cortisol production, and bolster your melatonin creation (the sleep hormone that also protects against aging). Alright, alright, now here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit or lie down in a dark and quiet room. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach.
  2. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose and pay particular attention to how your stomach rises and falls underneath your hand.
  3. Exhale. Slowly, and for as long and steadily as possible (like, for at least five seconds). Breathe out until your lungs are entirely devoid of air.

And that’s it! Just repeat steps one through three every night for at least a week and I promise you will not only feel better and more energized, but you’ll even notice your waistline shrinking! Yet, that’s not all. There’s actually another trick that has been proven to burn 400% more fat when used, and it takes less than a minute!

Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research illustrated that people who used the same aforementioned trick actually managed to lose 20% of their body fat in only 12 weeks. If you want to burn 400% more fat than you would otherwise by dedicating a simple minute, check out this neat and easy to understand video.

We All Have Our Cheat Days

Alright, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: we all have our cheat days. There. I’ve admitted it. Nothing to be ashamed about. We’re all humans, and naturally there will be times where we will get cravings that unfortunately will lead us to ditching our diets and overeating. That said, there is such a thing as “strategic cheating” or “overfeeding,” which basically allows you to eat all your favorite foods and still help you accelerate your fat loss. You see, after you overeat your metabolism runs at full speed and you can use that to your advantage! I call it my new Post-Cheat Day diet breakthrough. It’s a three-day eating program that will allow you to burn all that fat and calories consumed during your cheat day. The way it works is by controlling a fat-storing hormone called insulin. Here’s how.

The first day of the program will be your Protein Shake Day. Don’t consume anything but healthy protein powders with almond milk. Drinking nothing but shakes will help your stomach shrink naturally. That way you will get fuller and more satisfied with less calorie intake. For example, I’ll consume 4 shakes throughout the day (every 3 hours or so). Each shake should be high in protein (15-20 grams), have no artificial sweeteners, and low in carbs (less than 5 grams).

Day two will be your Protein and Veggie day. It consists of five mini meals, again about every 3 hours or so. The goal of this day is to increase your fiber intake dramatically and cleanse your bloated digestive track. Each meal should have lean protein sources like fish, turkey, chicken, or lean beef. Make sure these proteins are either broiled, baked or grilled – not fried! The meal can also have low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, and vegetables. Stay away from heavy veggies like corn, which is really a starch. You want to stick to veggies like lettuce, peas, green beans, asparagus, peppers, carrots, etc. Skip the fruit as well. Remember these have a sugar content to them. Not eating heavy carbs will make your body burn off the extra food you ate during your cheat day. Yey!

Your third and last day will be your Splurge Day. The goal here is to keep your metabolism burning at maximum speed. And after enduring day 1 and day two, you will be hungry for some of those heavy carbs. Therefore, split your day with five small meals consisting of lean meats, veggies, and about ½ cup of high energy carbs to 3 of the 5 mini meals. These high energy carbs can be beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima), sprouted grain pasta or bread, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa, and wild rice. The point is to stick to  slow-absorbing carbs that will most likely not get turned into body-fat once consumed. Lastly, for one of those five meals, splurge yourself eating whatever you want. The trick will be to not overeat and to not make it your last meal of the day. So, eat whatever you want, but keep it a mini meal.

In terms of beverages, stick to water, green tea, or coffee sweetened with stevia. After you’re done with the three-day program, repeat the cycle again until you lose all those extra pounds you gained during your cheat day(s) and then you’ll be back on track!


Late Night Snack that Burns Fat & Fights Stress

Yes, you read correctly, the the title of this article is “Late Night Snack that Burns Fat & Fights Stress.” I bet you never thought you could use all of these awesome adjectives to describe one food item, did you? Do you want to try to guess what it is? I’ll give you a few hints: it’s a fruit from Barbados, it’s citrusy, it’s slightly pink, and it’s delicious. If you guessed a grapefruit, you just won the lottery my friend, and I’ll tell you why!

This healthy snack will revolutionize the way you snack throughout the day and especially late at night. Let’s start with the never-ending list of health benefits that grapefruits provide. Grapefruits contain 26% more vitamin C than oranges. These leads them to be an excellent source of antioxidants that will promote healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones. Grapefruits also possess anti-aging properties that promote youthfulness and a healthy glow. Moreover, grapefruits fight stress due to the fact that vitamin C significantly lowers levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is also a fat-storing hormone that is directly linked to increased belly fat, so the fact that all that vitamin C found in the grapefruit lowers the hormone quantity means that it will not only help you combat stress, but it will also help you burn fat simultaneously. Can it get any better than that?

Yes it can! Grapefruits also serve as an appetite suppressor and a cravings crusher. Researchers from the Vanderbilt University found that when people added fresh grapefruit to their diet they automatically consumed 500 less calories per day and their weight loss rate increased over 13%. If you’re not convinced, I totally understand; it’s hard to believe, but grapefruits are the real deal! In another study, researchers from Scripps Clinic in California discovered that over the course of 12 weeks, overweight people who ate fresh grapefruit before meals lost five times more weight than individuals who didn’t. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. So go ahead, add this low-glycemic, this low-sugar carbohydrate, this amazing fruit to your late snack sessions and your overall diet and begin to enjoy all of the benefits that will soon result from it.

Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmful

Here’s a frightening fact: a University of Texas-San Antonio study discovered that increased consumption of artificially sweetened diet soda can lead to obesity. According to Sharon Fowler, MPH, a faculty associate in clinical epidemiology, “on average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years and 41 percent more likely to become obese.”

The harsh reality that for a long time the chemical sweetener industry did not want you to know is that artificial sweeteners like Splenda, NutraSweet, Sunette, and Sweet ‘N Low may have serious health consequences, one of them being that they can cause you to gain weight despite the fact that they are marketed as food products that can help you lose weight.

Artificial sweeteners can lead you to gain weight in a variety of ways. For example, the consumption of artificial sweeteners can prompt you to just eat more. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity documents how when researchers fed a liquid sweetened with real sugar to one group of rats and then fed a liquid mixed with artificial sweeteners to another group, the rats that consumed the artificial sweetener ate more. One of the reasons why it is believed that artificial sweeteners ironically lead you to eat more is because they act as a kind of short circuit in your brain, thus preventing your body from sensing how much it has eaten, so you just keep eating. It is also thought that when people consume diet products like Splenda, for example, you feel subconsciously entitled to overeat. The mentality is simple, “I’m already being good by not consuming real sugar, let me have one more cookie.” No! This is not true! You will not only gain weight, but you are potentially harming your body.

Here’s the breakdown: Splenda contains sucralose, NutraSweet has aspartame, Sunette is all about acesulfame K, and Sweet ‘N Low is saccharin. So far, the Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) included aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame K in their “avoid” list of food additives due to the health risks associated with these artificial sweeteners that have been unveiled over time. Just to give you an idea, aspartame (NutraSweet) has been linked to tumors. Sucralose (Splenda) contains chlorine atoms, and yes that is the same chemical used to kill microorganisms in swimming pools! These chlorine atoms can kill off the gut flora lining your intestines, which is obviously not good for you at all.

So if artificial sweeteners are not a good alternative and sugar isn’t either, what is? My recommendation: zero or low-calorie sweeteners like Truvia, Z-Sweet, and Sun Crystals. These sweeteners are made with natural sources like erythritol and stevia. Erythritol is an all-natural product, with zero calories, no glycemic impact, it’s found in many fruits and vegetables, and most importantly it’s recognized as safe by the FDA. Sun Crystals are a mixture of erythritol and raw cane sugar, so not zero-calorie, but it will still be a lower calorie intake than real sugar. And Truvia is a mix between erythritol and stevia, which is a natural sweetener derived from a leaf. Stevia is also sold in products like PureVia and SweetLeaf.


Regardless of whether you are consuming healthy natural sweeteners or sugar, the most important thing to keep in mind is to use them with caution. Train your body and your brain that is doesn’t need too many sweets in order to be satisfied.


Snack Away Stress

One of the most common culprits that cost us our waistline is stress eating. Whether cramming doughnuts and coffee to get through the workday or easing into a large pizza and tall beer after the day is over, food is our best friend and worst enemy when it comes to stress eating. However, there are alternatives that help us snack away the stress without stacking extra pounds. These guilt-free snacks are perfect for anyone looking to sneak a little flavor into their diet, and still enjoy the sweeter things in life Here are some of the best snaJosh Bezonicks you can use to battle stress.

Oranges: It’s a little-known fact that Vitamin C helps to reduce the levels of Cortisol, the hormone responsible for fat retention. Sweet and full of juice, an orange makes an excellent substitute for candy or other sweet treats.

Blueberries: Being low on the glycemic index and chock-full of Vitamin C isn’t the only benefit to these little snacks. Each berry is teeming with antioxidants, perfect for relieving stress and calming down with a little something sweet.

Turkey: High in protein and packed with natural flavor, turkey makes a great snack, especially around midnight. When reaching for something to slake your late-night hunger, the L-tryptophan in each bite of turkey will surely help you get a restful sleep.

Salmon: Rich in nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, fish is an excellent dish to fight stress. A study conducted at the Ohio State University showed that omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce stress by 20%.

Almonds: Nothing says, “stress relief,” better than a good crunch. Almonds are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to magnesium, zing, and Vitamins B and E. Almonds can also help you sleep according to a recent study. Zinc and magnesium were shown to shorten the time it took subject to fall asleep, leading to fuller, longer rests.

Snack Better

It’s amazing what eating the right foods will allow you to do on a diet. After organizing a healthy diet and workout routine, you absolutely can enjoy the sweeter things in life without fear of recourse or rebounding. The world won’t come crashing down because of one candy bar or cookie, but it takes determination to keep that one snack from becoming a binge. Below are some tips to keep you snacking better.

Moderation: As with most things in life, too much of something can turn and bite you. That goes double for allowing yourself to snack during a diet. The temptation to reach for one more chip or cookie when you’ve passed your allowance is easy, and products are designed to keep you reaching for just one more. A creative way to combat this trend is to reach for a single, larger snack. Instead of a sleeve of Oreos, try a gourmet cookie. Usually larger than a softball and in a variety of flavors, you can enjoy an oatmeal raisin cookie that fills you up without sending you into a sugar spiral.

Understanding: A reason that some people diet incorrectly is that they don’t uJosh Bezoninderstand the foods they are putting into their body. Though small and oftentimes difficult to read, food labels will become a big part of your life when embarking on a diet. Read each label, and put down the foods with overly complicated chemicals and corn syrups. Those products are designed to keep you hungry, and make for particularly hard snacks to set aside mid-diet.

Meal Maintenance: Though snacking is great, what allows these little trysts away from your diet is having a well planned and healthy meal schedule. Three square meals a day, each packed with the necessary vitamins and nutrients are a must when dieting, and to forgo such a necessary step will only spell trouble on your road to progress.