Overeating is something that many of us will have experienced at one time or another. This phenomenon can, of course, be down to plentiful supply of appetising food, but it can also have a physiological and/or biochemical root too. One cause of overeating is ‘hypoglycaemic’ or low blood sugar. When blood sugar levels drop to subnormal levels, it can compel the body to eat a lot of food (particularly carbohydrates) very quickly. This is one of the reasons I recommend to most individuals that they eat quite regularly, and that they keep the diet based on food that gives slow and sustained release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Another naturally-oriented strategy for maintaining blood sugar levels and therefore helping to keep hunger at bay is supplementation with certain nutrients. One of the mainstay nutrients in this respect is chromium. I’m not aware of science that has specifically tested the effects of chromium on low blood sugar, but this nutrient is known to have an influence on blood sugar control, and my experience in practice is that supplementation with chromium generally leads to less in the way of carb-cravings.
I was therefore interested to read of a recent study in which the effect of chromium was tested in a group of overweight women . This double-blind placebo-controlled study used 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate each day for a two month period. Compared to women taking placebo, those taking the chromium supplement saw significantly reduced cravings for fat, as well as general hunger levels. Food intake was significantly lower too.
What is somewhat surprising is the finding that, compared to placebo, chromium supplementation led to a reduced craving for fat but not carbohydrates. However, against this we do need to put other evidence which has found chromium can reduce carbohydrate cravings . Despite the disparity in these results, though, this latest study shows that chromium supplementation seems to offer potential for those wanting to put a natural brake on their appetite.
1. Anton SD, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2008;10(5):405-12.
2. Docherty JP, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 Sep;11(5):302-14.
“But how many people actually crave fat? ”
Well me! I do!! watch me eat unpasteurised Jersey cream from the carton and be prepared to be amazed as you never have been before.
Anna I have to agree with all you say high fat and low protein and carbs is the difference between sudden mind- destabalising, shaking hunger and a gently awakening.
So long as I don’t depart from that then I am fine.
But how many people actually crave fat? I see people craving foods rich in fat & carbs, but other than my husband :-), I’ve never seen anyone scoop up butter to eat straight, guzzle olive oil, or chomp on a slab of tallow. Usually there is some carb “vehicle” or “sidecar” for the fat, like bread, pastry, chips, crisps, ice cream, pizza, etc. So I’ve got to wonder how in this study they defined “craving for fat”.
I find eating fat with my meals (I don’t often snack), but keeping carb foods low, leads to better appetite control and reduced cravings. It wasn’t like that when I ate bagels, bread, pizza, etc. Back then I was always anticipating the next opportunity to eat, even when I was somewhat underweight (until age 29).
Fat is excellent for satisfying hunger pangs (satiety), and provides an “even” source of energy so one can easily wait until the next meal, as long as insulin-raising foods are kept to a minimum, keeping insulin secretion production/secretion. I think one of the problems when people try to moderate or restrict their carbs is that they still tend to keep the fat intake too low and perhaps the protein a bit too high.
The other thing is that many of the fat-rich foods people eat are not so much high in traditional, nourishing natural fats, but are high in omega-6 oils, which are fairly new to the human diet (just over 100 years), and perhaps do contribute to cravings (industrial diets are over-abundant in unstable vegetable/seed oils, like soya, cottonseed, corn, safflower, sunflower, etc.).
I try to stick to natural, vitamin-rich traditional (old-fashioned) fats in my food preparations (animal fats, dairy fats, coconut oil, palm oil, etc.). The more butter use for cooking my morning eggs (dripping the melted butter over the eggs after cooking), the longer I go before thinking of lunch, sometimes 6+ hours, because my BG stays nice and even and my insulin nice and low.
Is it only beer prompts this reaction or any form of alcohol?
Dear Dr. Briffa’s,
I too love your newsletter and have introduced it to several people.
Will you please do an article someday on the relationship of alcohol consumption and carb cravings?
My situation: If I allow myself to drink a couple of beers I get uncontrollable carb cravings for the rest of the day/evening. It is almost as if my brain gives me carte blanche to eat everything I would not eat otherwise. It takes me about 24 hours to get over the desire to overeat. Is this common? I suspect it is…I just haven’t read about it.
I am not a diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Would love to know more on this..
Thanks for your great information.
Norma, yeah, dairy items like cheese and cream seem to have a crave component that other high fat, low carb foods don’t seem to have, even without the nacho chips or the sugar in the cocoa.
Chromium helped curb both fat (in the form of cheese and chocolate) and carb cravings for me.
I get the same thing with alcohol: have a glass of wine and any hopes of sticking to a diet goes straight out the window. Where Chromium, once again, assisted me a great deal, as my wish to have a glass of wine disappeared together with my other carb cravings.
If this supplement was a person, I’d wash its feet.
What do you think of Dr Ron Rosedale?
I am one more vote in favor of chromium! It has helped me (and I only take it when I feel a craving coming on).