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Sugar cravings

Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:57 pm
by hoosegow
Okay, I think this is related to insulin resistance. I have never made any bones about it, but I love beer. At times, such as right now, I'll quit for months at a time. Right now I'm in the middle of one of those alcohol free times. As usual, about two weeks in, I get an insatiable craving for candy. This has gone on for a while. This is classical insulin resistance, right?

And contrary to popular belief (ironman) I don't drink and post. :wink:

Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:18 pm
by nygmen
I feel like I'm stalking your posts...

I have the same issues, both of them.

There is actually science behind this?

Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:39 am
by Ironman
That was me that said that. You just have a carb/sugar addiction. The beer takes the edge off, but when you aren't drinking much beer it gets stronger. It generally does go along with insulin resistance.

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:38 pm
by Dib
Sorry but this doesn't stack up. The existence of too much sugar in western diets is a general cause of insulin resistance (along with a sedentry lifestyle in a lot of cases) not the other way around.

The fact that you crave sugar when you are in low beer mode merely means that you are addicted to sugar, it has nothing to do with the insulin resistance; you are putting the cart in front of the horse!

Resist the sugar cravings (and the beer!) and, assuming you work out, aren't carrying too much fat and are not a type I, the insulin resistance might take care of itself. If not then you may find yourself on medication.

I am insulin resistant but I do not crave sugar; I never have had a "sweet tooth" but I drank too much beer (that is to say UK bitter rather than the sweeter non-bitter beers) over a prolonged period. Having started exercising in 2001, I am now 20 kg lighter than I was then. I don't drink much beer now - my health is more important (and myinsulin resistence has got better as the fat has gone down). In the last 3 - 4 months all the weight that I have lost (about 4 kg - yes, some programmes really work!) has been fat, I wasn't measuring it before that. :roll:

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:09 pm
by Jungledoc
I agree with Dib, except that I wouldn't call it an addiction, as sugar doesn't have the psychoactivity needed to produce true addition. A lot of us really like sugar. Some people don't care as much about it. My son almost always turns down dessert--I rarely do. It's important to keep sugar in perspective, and in it's proper place in the diet; small quantities taken occasionally, and at times when there is fat and/or protein in your stomach.

I try to make it a point not to eat anything that has sugar that's not something I really like. I don't eat just any sweet because it's sweet. Like when my wife buys store-bought cookies that I don't really care for. In the past I would eat them just because I like to have something sweet with my coffee after supper. Now I hold out for home-make chocolate-chip cookies, and then only eat one or maybe (OK, usually :lol: ) 2.

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:03 pm
by Ironman
Sugar addiction is a symptom of insulin resistance. Eating lots of sugars will raise your blood glucose, this causes your body to produce more insulin. Needing more insulin for the same amount of sugar is just part of it. The amount of insulin released is increased independent of that. So if you take in less sugar than usual, your glucose drops too low because you have too much insulin. This makes you feel crappy and crave sugar. That is the main reason why people report feeling so crappy on a low carb diet.

That is how you get sugar "addiction". Addiction is just a misnomer. But most people understand that better than improper insulin response.

The final step of this metabolic disaster is your cells can't absorb any more sugar and/or your pancreas is at maximum output. That is the prediabetic condition.

Some people with diabetes or insulin resistance will get a more extreme version of this "addiction" called hypoglycemia. This is where they have an extreme insulin response which makes them crash a couple hours later because their blood sugar drops. They eat their usual crap food, it spikes really high, then drops really low.

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:11 am
by Dib
Sorry but I don't think that is correct. Diabetes is a name given to a range of conditions involving the body's inability to manage its blood glucose (ignore diabetes insipidus which is a rare genetic disease). The body either doesn't produce insulin (or working insulin) - type I - or the cells doesn't respond to the insulin produced - type II. The effect of both these is that there is elevated blood glucose all the time - hyperglycaemia.

Insulin resistance arises because of down regulation of insulin receptors in skeletal muscle if the muscle is not used. The body does produce more insulin but the muscle cells are not receptive and the blood glucose level stays elevated.

Insulin also plays a role in fatty acid metabolism and, if the body is carrying a lot of fat then more insulin needs to be produced in order to "manage" the fat. So a fat, sedentary individual has got two problems both of which are encouraging the body to pump an increased amount of insulin into the bloodstream.

In this condition the person is diabetic. Prediabetic condition refers to a slightly elevated blood glucose due to a reduced insulin response and the condition is generally reversible if 'lifestyle factors' are changed.

A diabetic will never go hypoglycaemic under ordinary circumstances unless their medication makes them (and neither will a prediabetic any more than a non-diabetic will ordinarily). Historically, insulin dependent diabetics could over-inject but this is rarer nowadays given the improved insulins. Type IIs can go hypo if they are on sulphonylureas or meglitinides as these increase the output of insulin.

My understanding is that low carb diets don't produce hypoglycaemia as such. I believe that the crappy feeling associated with low carb diets is due to the side products of the protein metabolism the body is having to undertake but I'm not an expert on diet.

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:42 am
by KPj
This is a good discussion but maybe you guys should decide whether your talking about type 1 or type 2. As far as i know, the whole sugar craving thing doesn't really apply to type 1....

I'm not expert on this at all but Ironmans previous post is pretty much my understanding of it, which I read about in the Precision Nutrition Forums.

A friend that I grew up with and went to school with developed type 2 diabetes in high school. He used to go into 'hypo', maybe once every couple of months. Sometimes more. This is when he was still new to the condition and didn't really know how to manage it. A couple of times I remember it happening as he was actually being served at the shop that we got out lunch from. He would get to the counter and just freeze. He was a clown, and quite often, we didn't know if he was joking or not. But still, it always seemed to happen shortly before eating, when I would assume his blood-glucose, and therefore insulin levels, would be low.


Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:06 pm
by Dib
I would have thought that your school friend was a type I and possibly brittle with it. Type II tends to be adult onset rather than pre-teen or teenage and tends to be more metabolic syndrome related. But, what do I know :roll:

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:39 am
by KPj
hmm.... I don't know, I always thought it was type II, but i'm no expert, either... Was years ago that I was at school so I could be mistaken.


Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:50 am
by Jungledoc
Type I tends to be diagnosed in childhood but can develop well into adult years. Type II is more variable, but presents older on average than Type 1, often well into adulthood. The teen years is the grey zone. Type Is are rarely obese (in fact, unexplained weight loss is often the symptom that leads to the diagnosis) and type IIs often are.

Type Is require insulin treatment, because their pancreases stop producing it. Type II can often be treated with oral medication only, especially with the variety of medications introduced in the last few years, but sometimes require the use of insulin to achieve good control. Hypoglycemia is a common complication of insulin use. We just haven't figured out how to control the levels of insulin as well as a normal pancreas does, even with different kinds of glucose monitors, insulin pumps, etc. The patient has to learn to judge their activity level, both what they are doing at the moment and what they expect to be doing in the next few hours, to judge the calorie content of their food at a glance, then compare their current glucose level with all of that and decide on subtle changes to their insulin doses. Then they have to be alert to the results. Most learn to recognize early mild hypoglycemia, and respond by taking a few extra calories to compensate. Some, however, are not very sensitive to the early symptoms, and don't recognize it until it's too late. Then they are dependent on those around them to do the correct thing to help them.

Dib is right that you can become hypoglycemic on oral medications, but it's not nearly the problem as for those using insulin.

Also, the idea of "reactive hypoglycemia" is largely a myth. The idea is that some people produce inappropriate amounts of insulin in response to their intake of carbohydrates, and then their blood sugar drops precipitously. This was a "fad diagnosis" in the 80s when I was in training. A large study around that time enrolled people who had symptoms suggestive of this condition. Only 1 in 300 of them actually had low blood glucose levels during their symptoms. But try telling that to someone who had had symptoms for a long time, then heard about this "diagnosis" that explained how they felt. I went back and forth between arguing about it and letting them believe whatever seemed to help them. I remember at least 1 patient who stormed out of my office in a rage when I told her about her normal lab results!

Dib, I'm guessing that you are either a diabetic, the parent of a diabetic or a health professional of some kind.

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:17 pm
by Dib
OK I am a biochemist who worked as a chemical pathologist for a number of years and I am also a diabetic, as was my late mother, which is really why I know so much about it. I helped her improve her knowledge and my fairly deep understanding of the biochemistry helped here and now I am just carrying on improving knowledge because of my condition. Interestingly, but not the subject for this thread, I am becoming intrigued by up-regulation of the insulin receptors in skeletal muscle in response to exercise stimulation as a way of reversing Type II diabetes (not just prediabetic syndrome)...

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:47 pm
by Ironman
Dib, that's a flame which is not allowed here. Everyone gets 1 warning and this is yours.

If you were talking to someone other than myself, you would have had the warning on your previous post.

Posted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:44 am
by TimD
OK, topic reopened after some editing. I think this is a very informative thread, with several differing points of view. I'm keeping it alive, but please, NO FLAMES.

Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:59 am
by Ironman
I think you were right the first time. I would have closed it after a warning about flaming. I also don't like the edited version of my contribution. It needed some of the now missing context as well. Although I can see why that context needed to go obviously. I was the target after all. Still I'm going to remove the rest of my part.

Besides, it all boils down to this. I thought sugar cravings had something to do with untreated insulin resistance, and someone else thought it didn't. That's about it.