What It Really Means When You Crave Carbs

We've all been there — craving carbs and not knowing why. Considered to be the best "comfort food" for good reason, carbs serve a vital purpose in our mental and physical health. The body needs carbs for fuel, since they provide our main source of energy. They also help power the brain with their high levels of glucose (via Harvard Health Publishing). On top of that, the body literally runs on carbs when exercising at an optimal level (via Shape); in other words, your system needs them!

When you crave carbs, there can be a variety of different causes. These cravings often point to a lack of balance in your diet. Registered dietician McKel Kooienga explained to Mindbodygreen: "It could be you're not eating enough food in general, or not balancing meals with enough protein, healthy fats, and fiber to stabilize blood sugar." Particularly if your blood sugar levels are low, craving carbs can stem from underlying issues around the number of minerals you're getting from your diet. 

So, if you've been depriving yourself of foods that you love and not getting essential vitamins, your body will naturally crave carbohydrates to bring things back into balance.

Your body may be craving energy

When you're on a strict diet or have been neglecting to eat enough vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, the body starts to crave what it doesn't have. One of the most common reasons for carb cravings comes from a lack of energy (via Mindbodygreen). When you feel like you need a snack or something to boost your alertness, you'll likely start to reach for crackers, pretzels, or other starchy foods. Unfortunately, these alone often don't offer the number of nutrients the body needs to perform at an optimal level. Eating foods with high nutrient densities like nuts, berries and dark chocolate, along with carbs, can help to offset these cravings when combined with a balanced diet. 

Next time you're craving carbs, start to think about whether or not you've been fueling your body properly and if you've been eating a balanced diet. Remember, we need carbs in order to function at our best! The body knows what it needs — all you have to do is listen.