On Wednesday's podcast episode “Skinny People Just Don't Get It”, I interviewed a bariatric surgeon about ways to control appetite cravings. He had some good advice, but frankly I was surprised that he didn't really talk about how effective nutrition supplements and dietary aids can be for for controlling appetite and carbohydrate cravings.
After all, I used to work in a French bakery in Moscow, Idaho (yes, paradoxical).
We served piping hot chocolate croissants every morning.
And homemade granola, fresh pizza for lunch, warm, salted baguettes, chewy sourdough, and basically the best-tasting carbohydrates you've ever had.
I wished I knew then what I reveal in this post, because I'm going to fill you in on 12 dietary supplements that can help to control carbohydrate cravings.
Whether you're trying to cut carbohydrates out of your diet completely…
…slightly lower your carbohydrate intake…
…shift your body into fat burning mode…
…ensure that the carbohydrates you eat do less damage…
…or simply reduce the urge to snack at night…
…these supplements are good tools to use.
Let's get started. If you have questions, just leave them below in the comments section – and please remember that none of this information is meant to be medical advice.
Carb Craving Supplement #1: Vitamin B. Inadequate utilization of the carbohydrates that you are eating can make you feel like you simply need to eat more carbohydrates, so you can take a Vitamin B complex to help with carbohydrate metabolism so you make better use of the carbs you do have. A fat soluble form of Vitamin B can work better than the typically sold water soluble form, and a fat soluble form would be the vitamin B derivatives called allithiamine and benfotiamine. You can take about 100-250mg of these fat soluble forms daily. In addition, to stop the damaging “glycation” reactions that can take place when dietary carbohydrates react with proteins in the body, you can also take about 50-100mg daily of vitamin B6 pyridoxine, which most multi-vitamins contain (and meal replacement powders like LivingFuel SuperGreens).
Carb Craving Supplement #2: Resveratrol. You may be familiar with this as the component of red wine and grapes that has been proven to increase lifespan in laboratory mice, but it is less know for it's ability to improve insulin sensitivity, which means that your body is better able to upload glucose into muscle tissue for storage energy. To improve insulin sensitivity, you'd need about 100mg per day of resveratrol. To get my resveratrol hit, I personally mix Solar Synergy in a glass of water a few times a week. Be sure to get the “trans” form of resveratrol, which is the only truly effective form.
Carb Craving Supplement #3: CoEnzymeQ10. Also known as ubiquinone, this key component of your cell's energy producing powerhouses (the mitochondria) is critical to improving your carbohydrate utilization. Many multi-vitamins and supplements have this already added in, so check your labels. I personally take “Race Caps”, from Hammer Nutrition, which is a good, high quality form of CoQ10 (use 15% referral discount code 80244). Take about 80-300mg daily.
Carb Craving Supplement #4: Fish Oil. Similar to resveratrol, the way that a high quality fish oil will help with appetite or carbohydrate cravings is that it enhances insulin sensitivity. I highly recommend you choose a triglyceride form of fish oil, like Living Fuel Super Essentials Omega. The triglyceride form of fish oil is more expensive, but it is far more well-absorbed and better utilized compared to it's inferior “ethyl ester” form.
Carb Craving Supplement #5: Neurotransmitter and brain support supplements. So if you're highly stressed, you do a lot of emotional eating, and you find yourself chewing your fingernails to the bone because you're craving carbohydrates so badly at night, you likely need a bit of a brain fix. Supplements that literally tell your brain to settle down and quit craving carbohydrates include: L-glutamine (or you can just take a whole amino acid supplement), gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA), and D-phenylalanine. I'm a big fan of using Somnidren GH for the latter two (be sure to take it on an empty stomach before bed at night). Incidentally, these will also work pretty well for alcohol cravings.
Carb Craving Supplement #6: Gymnema Sylvestre. This stuff is pretty potent at reducing carbohydrate cravings. I am hesitant to recommend it to anyone with medical conditions, as I'm not certain of cross interactions with medications or medical conditions, but in a normal, healthy individual it will stop carb cravings in their tracks. If you put the powder on your tongue, it will make sugar taste like chalk. The only issue is that you need quite a bit to be effective, preferably about 4 GRAMS (not milligrams) three times per day.
Carb Craving Supplement #7: L-tryptophan. Steer clear of this stuff if you're taking antidepressants, but this is the same substance that is found in smaller quantities in turkey meat and milk, and makes you tired after a big meal. It can be helpful in reducing carbohydrate cravings, and would also be found in a whole amino acid supplement. To reduce carbohydrate cravings, you'd want to take about 500-1500mg per day.
Carb Craving Supplement #8: Lipase. Lipase, which is found in many digestive enzyme supplements, is a common deficiency in people who have blood sugar fluctuations, and it can also helps break down fat and burn fat as a fuel. Rather than just getting an isolated form of lipase, I recommend you simply use a good digestive enzyme supplement immediately prior to your 2 biggest meals of the day, like lunch and dinner. I'm a big fan of Caprazyme, which is made by the same company that makes the resveratrol containing Solar Synergy.
Carb Craving Supplement #9: L-carnosine. As mentioned earlier, when you consume carbohydrates, you create a lot of metabolically damaging compounds “advanced glycation end-products” (appropriately abbreviated “AGEs”), and especially if you're coming off a high carbohydrate diet, you should include supplements that keep any carbohydrates that you do take in from causing glycation. Take about 500-1000mg, 1-2x daily to stave off glycation.
Carb Craving Supplement #10: Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Not to be confused with L-carnosine, this is an acetylated form of L-Carnitine, which is formed by amino acids, and it is better utilized by your body than regular ol' L-Carnitine. It's role is to help transport fatty acids into your cell's mitochondria for energy use, so it can basically help you switch over to burning fats as a fuel. You'd want to take about 500-2000mg daily.
Carb Craving Supplement #11: Chromium. Chromium assists with glucose metabolism, which is how you use carbohydrates as a fuel. It may also help to improve your insulin sensitivity. My favorite source of it is in the supplement Thermofactor, which also contains vanadium, which acts similarly to chromium. You'd simply take 1-2 capsules of Thermofactor prior to lunch and 1-2 capsules prior to dinner.
Carb Craving Supplement #12: Lipoic Acid. Take Lipoic Acid to assist with blood sugar stabilization and also to speed up carbohydrate utilization. It is in most antioxidant supplements, and my favorite sources is the meal replacement powder LivingFuel SuperGreens or LivingFuel SuperBerry. You'd need about 50-250mg Lipoic Acid daily to control carbohydrate cravings.
That's about it.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now walk into your local bakery and laugh in the face of the chocolate croissants.
If you have questions, just leave them below in the comments section, and also be sure to check out these other articles: