Now that you’ve seen the high sugar content of many packaged snacks and meals, you’re probably feeling a little anxious. Maybe panicked? So what am I going to eat???? What’s left? Won’t I still have sugar cravings? How can I control my sugar cravings?
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I know that whenever I look to reduce sugar (and carbohydrates generally), I go through this every time. It feels like sugar is hidden everywhere and processed carbohydrates are found in huge quantities everywhere. So WHAT DO I EAT??? I’m going to break it down into four major categories of foods that you should be including daily. Today, we’ll talk about your greatest ally in the fight agains sugar cravings – protein.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids, joined together in chains. There are 20 different amino acids. Some proteins are just a few amino acids long, while others are made up of several thousands.
Of the twenty amino acids, nine are known as essential amino acids. This is because they cannot be made in the body and, therefore, you must consume them in your food. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are said to be a source of “complete protein.” Foods that contain less than all nine essential amino acids are said to be “incomplete proteins.”
Protein is termed the building block of the body. It is called this because protein is vital in the maintenance of body tissue, including development and repair. Hair, skin, eyes, muscles and organs are all made from protein. This is why children need more protein per pound of body weight than adults; they are growing and developing new protein tissue. (source)
Almost every important process in our body requires protein. Enzymes that facilitate chemical reactions in our bodies are proteins. Protein works to transport molecules throughout the body. Hemoglobin is a good example; it is a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. Proteins make up the antibodies in our immune systems that help to prevent infection and illness.
How Does Protein Help Fight Sugar Cravings?
Protein is involved in the creation of some hormones. These substances help control body functions that involve the interaction of several organs. Insulin, a small protein, is an example of a hormone that regulates blood sugar. It involves the interaction of organs such as the pancreas and the liver. (source)
How Much Protein Do I Need to Fight Sugar Cravings?
The recommendations vary from 10% to 35% of daily calories from protein. This is another one of those things that is specific for your body. I know some people who thrive on lower amounts of protein and some who have to have a hunk of meat every day to keep from feeling run down. You’ll have to pick your own starting point and experiment a little bit from there.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
Meats, fish, eggs, and nuts and seeds are the best sources of protein. Also, protein powders can be great to add into a smoothie.
What If I’m a Vegetarian?
Never fear! There are plenty of sources of protein as a vegetarian to keep sugar cravings at bay. The main concern for vegetarians is that fewer vegetarian sources of protein contain all nine essential amino acids. But that’s ok – you don’t need to get all of the essential amino acids at one sitting. Just try to mix up your sources of protein to get the best array of amino acids to help stave off sugar cravings. Here are some good sources of protein for vegetarians: eggs, dairy, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, green peas, nuts, nut butters, quinoa, beans, chickpeas, edamame, broccoli, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, buckwheat, and mycoprotein (Quorn).
TODAY’S PERSONAL SUGAR ADDICTION CHALLENGE:
Think about your favorite sources of protein and several that you might like to experiment with. Consider how you could use them throughout the day with your snacks.
SUGAR ADDICTION ACTION ITEM:
Make a snack today that contains protein. Try to eat a meal or a snack every 3-4 hours that includes protein to help keep your blood sugar stable.
Here are some products that I personally use make sure that I’m getting protein at regular intervals:
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