Less sugar = hungry?

Has anyone ever lowered their added sugar intake and wound up more hungry for it? I've tried adding more protein, but I still have this little pang in the pit of my stomach. It makes it so that regular sized meals don't feel like they did as much for me as they used to.

It's been almost a week. Is this actual hunger or is my body chemistry freaked out because I quit eating 1-2 desserts every day? I've thrown some snacks in the form of nuts, cheese, and meats at the problem but the sensation persists. :o


  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,879 Member
    More likely it is a craving than actual hunger. Also, dieting in general is going to cause some feeling of hunger, particularly as most people are accustomed to being "full" rather than simply satiated so just the feeling of being satiated is often foreign and mistaken for hunger because you're not "full"
  • Justin_7272
    Justin_7272 Posts: 341 Member
    edited February 2022
    Are you craving sugar in particular or something sweet? If it's something sweet, diet soda works well. If it's sugar, remember sugar is a form of carb, so you substituting proteins/fats (nuts, cheese, meat) won't provide the typical energy you get from carbohydrates. There are many protein bars with various flavors from cookie dough, to mint chocolate chip, to lemon pound cake, that are better balanced (15g protein, 20 carbs, for example) that would work well as a substitute for, say, ice cream.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,899 Member
    edited February 2022
    Could be a craving in which case it will eventually go away as you adjust to your new habits, but perhaps you ended up too low on cals? What are your current goals?
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 924 Member
    According to the latest in research on hunger, the basis of hunger may actually be an anticipation of eating, not a need for it.

    Meaning, if you eat the same types of foods, around the same type of day, your digestive system pre-emptively ramps up it's digestive processes to prepare for that food. So if your system is preparing for expected sugar, perhaps it's not properly equipped for a different kind of food. This is also likely why you get hungry at the same time every day, not because of a need for food, but an expectation of it.

    Basically, any change to your eating routine will take time for your body to adjust and anticipate it properly.

    So don't misinterpret short term reactions. Your body may freak about something in the short term that it ends up perfectly cool with after several weeks. It takes time to see what your body's real response is to something.

  • Lhenderson923
    Lhenderson923 Posts: 102 Member
    It does sound more like a craving to me. I once cut out added sugar for a month (I am not suggesting this, I just was curious to see if I could do it), and I know well the feeling hat you're describing. It subsided for me around day 10.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,425 Member
    I agree that you may simply be in an adaptation period, which IME can take a couple of weeks to a month.

    I'm wondering, though, whether you're eating some foods with inherent sugars, such as fruit or dairy? For me - and I've seen others say the same - making it a point to eat more fruit helped to reduce my cravings for less nutrient-dense sweets, like baked goods or candy. For a while, I ate at least 3 servings of fruit daily, but after a time could be more flexible.

    Just a thought, maybe an experiment to try if it seems relevant.
  • French_Peasant
    French_Peasant Posts: 1,639 Member
    sollyn23l2 wrote: »
    Current microbial research is testing the hypothesis that our microbiome has a significant impact on our cravings. If you are transitioning your diet away from sugar, you are cutting off the supply of food to a large swathe of the flora and fauna you have been cultivating in your gut (and theoretically feeding--and hence encouraging--a healthier microbiome). So basically, your existing microbiome is extremely displeased, and has filed a grievance with your stomach and brain via the vagus nerve. If you don't encourage them, they will be replaced with microbes that create cravings for broccoli and beans.

    Here's an article on the topic, with some good links for further reading:


    And here is a good overview article that presents some of the research; it's from 2014 so a little outdated, but it covers the basics.


    I heard about this and have been so fascinated by the whole concept.... it seems like basically a feedback loop where the more accustomed your body becomes to eating something, the more it demands it... including the little microbe buddies that we all have.

    I have been completely entranced by it too--and they are just scratching the very tip of the iceberg with research. My daughter wants to major in a science, and she keeps having to listen to me raving about gut bacteria. "We're just giant meat puppets for them, maaaan!!" :D
  • Bridgie3
    Bridgie3 Posts: 139 Member
    edited February 2022
    My guess is that you have reduced carbs without increasing fats. So basically, my daily allowance is 1300 calories, but I expect to get over half of those from fat, and ony 200 cals from carbs, being 50g carb. Not always exactly that, but near as dammit. This means I have to

    eat the skin off my chicken
    eat the fat off my chops

    All those things you biologically want, and resist, and have resisted for 20 yrs? I have to eat them to get my macros right.

    The upshot is I don't suffer hunger. And on top of everything I'm intermittent fasting, which is where you eat only within certain hours of the day so that your digestive system (and your insulin system) get some time off to heal.

    so I will have one big meal a day, maybe 4 rashers bacon, 2 eggs, 1 avocado, 1 tomato, 1 bowl of greek yoghurt and berries with 2 pinches fake sugar...

    or a salad made with eggs, lettuce, full fat mayo, tomato, avocado, etc... and then my yoghurt and berries...

    or berries with whipped cream. :D

    and I'm great. As snacks I can eat luncheon sausage (provided it's got no carbs, some of them do) and cheese slices, or cucumber chunks. I have been chowing down on tins of tuna with tomato and basil, those single serves - or tins of sardines.

    I am not suffering hunger at all. it's amazing how much high fat food you can eat for the calories. We've all been brainwashed to avoid any fat at all; and yet fat is only 5 more calories per gram, and carries all sorts of hormones through the body including the satiety hormone.

    So yeah - have a look and see if you can get your macros up to something with more fat. And eat as much fat as you can. It's quite hard to do.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    Have you tried fitting something sweet into your calorie allowance.
    Or is there a specific reason you want to eliminate sugar?
    I find that eliminating foods I enjoy never ends well.
    I'm forever trying that moderation thingy that some people can do 🤣
    I cant eat one cookie - so I don't buy them.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,761 Member
    Has anyone ever lowered their added sugar intake and wound up more hungry for it? I've tried adding more protein, but I still have this little pang in the pit of my stomach. It makes it so that regular sized meals don't feel like they did as much for me as they used to.

    It's been almost a week. Is this actual hunger or is my body chemistry freaked out because I quit eating 1-2 desserts every day? I've thrown some snacks in the form of nuts, cheese, and meats at the problem but the sensation persists. :o

    What is your protein goal? Are you hitting it?

    What is your fiber goal? Are you hitting it?

    My first thought was that you reduced calories considerably when you eliminated desserts, and thus are legit hungry, but since you've also added calorie-dense snacks like nuts, cheese, and meat, it does not seem like this is the case.

    Have you tried adding fruit? If you are striving to be low carb, berries are your friends.

    I'm not concerned about carbs once my protein goal is met (I never have a problem meeting my fat goal) and sometimes after dinner I have a dried apricot or plum, which can help with the "I want dessert" feeling. Sometimes I have @ 50 calories of dark chocolate, which does have added sugar, but considerably less than a serving of something like ice cream.

    But to answer your question, no, when I reduce added sugar and increase fruit, I'm actually LESS hungry.
  • LenGray
    LenGray Posts: 841 Member
    I have a pretty big sweet tooth, so I have intense cravings for sugar if I eat sugary desserts for a few days in a row. It feels a lot like you describe-- a little pang in the stomach along with a sense of dissatisfaction, or 'not enough'-ness from my regular meals. Since I know good and well I will eat sugary desserts at some point, I've found a few ways to quiet down the cravings:

    My go-to solution is fruit. As soon as I realize I'm having sugar cravings, I cut up some apples, chill some canned peaches (in water), and make sure I have some frozen blueberries or applesauce. These are options that I really like (and thus are appealing), are low-calorie, and hit that need for sweet stuff.

    I also like fiber-heavy desserts (that are naturally or artificially sweetened) and help me with my macros. This could be some pumpkin muffins sweetened with applesauce, protein brownies, or PB&J oatmeal cookies. This is a great option for me if there are already sweets in the house because I usually prefer homemade stuff and, therefore, won't be tempted by the store-bought treats.

    The last option is hot drinks, which are just insanely comforting and pleasant to me. This could be a sugar-free hot chocolate or some hot tea with artificial sweetener. Usually by the time I've finished drinking them, my stomach has caught up with my brain and I can either make smarter decisions around sweets or realize I'm not actually hungry.

    I hope those suggestions help! Sugar cravings will get easier with time (and quicker to break-- mine usually only last a day or two now) but it's definitely tough to deal with at first. You've got this! :)
  • ElfBodGoals
    ElfBodGoals Posts: 26 Member
    Thank you all! I got a whopping headache not long after I made this post. I almost hunted down a brownie or something just to make the pain stop, but I didn't feel like driving so I slept it off. Felt a lot better the next day!

    I removed desserts because I had gotten in the habit of having a sugary latte and two desserts several days a week. I was sick on/off for like a month and a half so I was using treats for comfortainment and didn't stop once I was back on my feet.

    I wasn't tracking calories while I was feeling cruddy, but it probably was a sharp decrease when I started my temporary dessert ban and started tracking calories again. There's a chance that I accidentally incurred a 1000+ calorie deficit. Oops.

    I'll up my intake of fruits and tea. I could use more plants and fiber in general!