One of the biggest obstacles martial artists face in their nutrition is fighting off junk food cravings. Who doesn’t want to just dive into a big bag of crisps? Or eat a whole chocolate cake alone? Or stuff a handful of jelly beans in your mouth?
Junk food is so comforting, and so delicious, that it’s addicting. Let’s get that out of the way, but let’s also be honest with ourselves. These junk food cravings constantly creep upon us, and we give in more often than not.
When it comes to choosing healthier food options over non-healthy ones, it’s all about discipline. It’s mind over matter. The choice is obviously yours, but there’s a way to make it easier on yourself. Not every choice has to be an internal battle with yourself.
We’ve come up with a few good practices to adopt that will help you in your everyday struggle. You may already know some of these tips, but it’s important to really hammer the points home.
Don’t lose the war with junk food. Today, Evolve Daily shares five practical tips to curb your junk food cravings.
1) Drink Water to Fight The Urge
Has there ever been a time when you were hungry, drank water, and the hunger went away? It may seem odd, but there is actually a physiological explanation as to why dehydration makes us feel hungry instead of thirsty.
No, it’s not just because your stomach is empty. Instead, it’s because your body can’t effectively access the energy stored in glycogen when you’re dehydrated. This then becomes a problem for your body, which has to make sure that all your organs have the energy they need to function. The brain essentially compensates by sending out hunger signals for sugar to replenish your blood glucose.
Proper hydration will help you avoid falling into the trap of false hunger. So when you’re feeling the craving, drink a glass of water and wait for a few minutes to see if it’s real hunger or it’s just your body’s way of telling you to drink.
2) Try Intermittent Fasting
It may appear counterintuitive to stay away from food for extended hours to help you curb junk food cravings, but Intermittent fasting has loads of benefits, not the least of which is a better tolerance for hunger, and more discipline.
Intermittent fasting is basically a method of timed-eating, where you can only eat during a certain window of time per day. This helps you keep to a strict but consistent eating schedule.
Most people on intermittent fasting who experience junk food cravings are able to hold off their inner fat kid and wait for their eating window to arrive. By the time they are able to eat, the junk food craving is gone, and they can make better food choices.
3) Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Eating foods rich in fiber helps keep you fuller longer because fiber isn’t digestible by the body. In theory, this should be able to curb your hunger pangs and intense junk food cravings.
There are times when hunger manifests as really intense cravings for specific junk food, but all of the time, this type of hunger can actually be satisfied by any type of sustenance.
When you’re feeling the craving, stop and take a step back. Take a moment to pause and think of healthier alternatives, and go fill yourself up with such. Remember, foods like fresh fruit and vegetables contain lots of fiber.
4) Consume More Protein
Protein is the ultimate macronutrient, and there is a very good reason why diet foods are usually composed of protein bars, protein shakes, and other high-protein meals.
First off, protein makes you fuller longer as it takes a while to digest. Not as long as fat, but definitely considerably longer than carbs. Moreover, the calories in protein are only about half the amount in fat, and despite protein having the same amount of calories as carbs, it takes about 25% more calories to digest protein compared to carbs.
Lastly, proteins are an essential element not only to your diet goals but your fitness goals as well, since protein contains the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscles. So if you can feel yourself craving junk food, grab a protein bar instead.
Of course, eat everything in moderation. Check the labels for anything unnecessary, and only stick to the brands that don’t sacrifice flavor for added sugar.
5) Work Out Consistently
The more you’re focused on your health, the more it stays in your mind, and the more you’re conscious about it. This will help you make better decisions, especially when it comes to food. After all, no one wants to power themselves through a 30 minute HIIT workout just to destroy their progress with a bag of chips.
The next time you have that junk food craving, pick yourself up and put in a light workout instead. Research has shown that light exercise alleviates hunger, so you might want to get some sweat out and curb those cravings at the same time.
Go brisk walking, cycling, or do some core bodyweight exercises. As long as you get the heart pumping and the blood flowing, you alter the hunger hormones that drive your cravings.
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