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Why Do I Crave Carbs?

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Updated September 01, 2011

Question: Why Do I Crave Carbs?
Many people have written in to ask, "Why do I crave carbs/sugar/chocolate when I am depressed?" Scientists believe there are some valid reasons behind these cravings for sweets. We will discuss some of the theories about why people crave carbs here.
Answer: One theory about carb cravings is that carbs stimulate serotonin production and thus eating them is an attempt to self-medicate depression. Studies focused on this link do seem to back this up. High carb meals raise serotonin while fatty or protein rich meals tend to lower it. The type of carb chosen seems to be based upon it's glycemic index, or how high it causes blood sugar levels to peak. The higher glycemic index carbs like sugar have a greater effect on serotonin than starchy, lower glycemic index foods like potatoes.

And it's not just sugar that we crave. There's chocolate. Certain alkaloids have been isolated in chocolate that may raise brain serotonin levels. Scientists now speculate that "chocoholism" may actually have a real biological basis with a serotonin deficiency being one factor. Another mechanism that has been proposed for why chocolate has such a powerful influence on mood is that chocolate has 'drug-like' constituents including anandamines, caffeine, and phenylethylamine.

Read More About Carb Cravings

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