Why am I craving sugar?

Alison Tehan Nutrition / Uncategorized  / Why am I craving sugar?
sugar craving

Why am I craving sugar?

Do you have a sugar craving at the same time each day or straight after a meal?

I see people who are so committed to eating well and looking after their body yet still they feel like something has taken over their body at 3pm every day. Or it may be straight after a lunch or breakfast that is seemingly healthy then bang you are hit with an insatiable need to devour a muffin or a block of chocolate.

Sugar or simple carbohydrates help release a burst of our feel good hormone dopamine, so you feel good for a little while. But almost as quickly, you “crash” and return to feeling low, and the cycle starts all over again. In the long term, this can mimic the effects of addiction and create high tolerance and cravings for sugar.

This is why sometimes it can feel impossible to resist sugar. Sometimes it can be a simple fix to break the cycle and its NOT always about willpower.

Low Protein Intake

One of the main culprits I see time and again is a low protein diet. If you dont have enough protein in your meal or fat your blood sugar increases and drops rapidly.The result is your body craving a quick source of energy – a simple carb or sugar hit.

Another cause is a high carb diet. Toast for breakfast, sandwich or noodles for lunch don’t quite keep you going. If you don’t have a good source of protein as well as quality fat to keep your blood sugar even you brain is going to keep hassling you for that balance. Good fats slow down the release of glucose into your bloodstream making you feel more satiated for longer.

Hormone imbalance

Sugar cravings can be associated with your sex hormones and your menstrual cycle. The drop in our sex hormones just before menstruation can lead to intense sugar cravings.  The level of intensity that is experienced can be due to nutrient deficiencies or an imbalanced diet.

Insulin Resistance is also another cause of sugar cravings brought on by low blood sugar that is caused by high levels of circulating insulin. This is often seen in cases of PCOS.

Gut Bacteria

The bacteria in your gut is in constant communication with your brain. So depending on how healthy your gut bacteria is and how balanced it is will determine on what is communicating with you. Our gut bugs generate cravings for the substances they thrive on. If you have a diet where you indulge in simple sugars and carbohydrates on a regular basis then your gut bugs will make sure that is what they communicate with you that they need. In this case its not about willpower, its your gut that needs healing and rebalancing.

Nutrient Deficiencies

The craving for sweet, sugary foods might be explained by specific mineral imbalances in the body.

Low iron can leave us feeling fatigued and weak and we can crave quick energy as a result.

Magnesium regulates glucose and insulin levels, as well as the neurotransmitter dopamine. A deficiency will cause intense sugar cravings, especially for chocolate or something sweet.


When you aren’t properly hydrated, this can make you crave sugar when you might just be thirsty. Dehydration can feel like hunger and if youre feeling that little big foggy this can easily manifest as a sugar craving.

Poor sleep

Research has shown that even one night of poor sleep can disrupt the balance of hormones that manage our hunger and satiety. Sleep deprivation especially the hours before and just after midnight can result in such a disruption that can lead to eating 300 calories more the following day. In my experience with clients I find this is particularly true for people who experience the 3pm sugar craving.


If you live on adrenalin and constantly on, not taking time out for yourself each day your body will predominantly burn glucose not fat. This can lead to a  continuous cycle of  feeling fatigued and craving sugar and then replenishing yourself with quick hits of energy

Emotional Need

Sometimes a sugar craving can be a little more complex and be more to do with an emotional need that isn’t being met. Something sweet can momentarily make us feel happier and more satisfied so out of nowhere we can find we mindlessly eat that sweet food without even noticing which easily becomes a regular habit.

So what can you do about the cravings – watch this space as Ill be writing another article on this topic