I used to be a self-proclaimed cookie monster. Put a plate of my mom’s famous Christmas cookies in front of me and I am guaranteed to devour about half of them! Grabbing a brownie sundae with my dad was also always one of my favorite past times. I’ve always known sugar isn’t great for me and more research is coming out about the negative impact it has on our health, but I had the hardest time kicking the habit, even as I continued to clean up my nutrition.
Until I found my solution! I tried sugar detoxes, moderating and abstaining from sweets, but my number one trick for keeping my sweets in check was a simple macro-nutrient – protein.
Yes – protein!
I was eating protein every day but I wasn’t getting enough of it. When I started to increase my intake, I subsequently noticed my cravings began to diminish. The reason this holds true is because protein is a great tool for satiation. It is the macro-nutrient most responsible for leaving us feeling satisfied long after it’s been consumed, plus it’s great for our immune system and for building those nice, lean muscles we all love.
Today I ensure I always get plenty of protein in my day and I can handle a square of chocolate or cookie on occasion without it turning into a downward spiral to all-out sweet bender.
So how much protein is enough?
If you are active, I encourage you take in a little more than the rest of the population but strive for about 18-25 grams per meal. This is roughly the amount you take in if you eat about 3 oz. of animal protein each meal. I advocate for high quality animal protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids and other essential nutrients like B12.
Still feeling those cravings?
If it’s chocolate I’m craving, I try to get in some more magnesium into my diet. This can be found in dark leafy greens and many nuts and seeds. If I still feel a bit of a strong craving for sweets in general, I try to increase my fat intake a bit. Healthy fats help us feel fuller longer, and, when combined with satiating protein, you really give that sugar monster a run for its money! Not to mention both of these macro-nutrients do an amazing job at combating the bad bacteria in our gut, leaving plenty of room for the healthy ones to survive and thrive!