Craving Protein May Derail Your Diet

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Craving protein and high fat dietAdrenal fatigue sufferers often report a reduction in lethargy with a diet high in fat and leaving the sufferer craving protein. Reactive hypoglycemia is a common finding in those in advanced stages of this condition, and having more protein and fat helps alleviate this symptom, resulting in less irritability, anxiety, dizziness, and energy slumps between meals.

Why Are You Craving Protein?

To crave is to seek constant satisfaction from use of something, although such satisfaction never lasts as more needs continue to arise. Let’s bring it in line with the discussion on the subject of craving a high protein and fat diet.

When the body is low in energy, the automatic compensatory response generated is craving for starchy food; this is because carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and bread, are the fastest for the body to break down to glucose. These are also called high glycemic index foods. Because they are converted to energy fastest, they are craved first. Potato chips, ice cream and donuts are some of the most common foods high in refined carbohydrates. Unfortunately, they are not very nutritious. What the body gets is empty calories. Long term consumption of such high glycemic foods and empty calorie foods can cause havoc with the body’s cells, which is designed to take in a proper balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Proteins and fats are designed to break down slowly, providing a backdrop of consistent and stable energy to the body between meals.

Craving Protein and Adrenal Fatigue

Let us look at why cravings for high fatty and protein foods happen from the perspective of Adrenal Fatigue. There are underlying metabolic problems in people suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and this can arise due to nutritional deficiency, particularly metabolic imbalances. This often results in abnormal quests for either high fat or protein food or both to temporarily quench the cravings.

These people are those in advanced stages, not in the early stages of Adrenal Fatigue; because in the early stages there are practically no symptoms and most people are able to plow through their days completely normal. They can have a terrible diet and still feel good. Fatigue and weakness can be overcome by eating a meal or snacks high in carbohydrates. But in the advanced stages of AFS, the picture changes dramatically. The body’s ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates becomes compromised. Insulin resistance is common. Blood sugar balance becomes challenging. Quick energy can be generated with frequent meals, and regular snacks helps to create a lot of sustained and consistent energy between meals. The body’s ability to produce sustained energy is compromised.

As mentioned earlier, most people in advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue have carbohydrate metabolic imbalances. Their bodies have a hard time balancing their sugar load because the automatic functions that use protein and fat to help maintain that balance is compromised.

So, in advanced Adrenal Fatigue, a majority of people who have reactive hypoglycemia (meaning the blood sugar level is normal but symptoms of hypoglycemia is present) generally present with tiredness and irritability within two to three hours after eating; they hardly last five or six hours. But with a high protein and fat diet, the body releases sugar slowly and prevents sugar spikes and crashes, and there is less fatigue and slumps between meals.

The body and energy need management

Craving protein and fat can be very healthy, as long as you are mindful of the pitfalls. Many non-animal ways are available to get these as well.The body understands its energy need and is smart enough to program itself automatically to change mode and signal what it wants. Due to misinformation in society, people have been programmed to equate healthy eating to less protein, more vegetables and so on. But they forgot protein comes both from vegetable and animal sources, so it is through both ways the body gets the protein it needs. Therefore, what is important is to understand there is an essential need for protein and fat in your daily diets, and to see that craving protein and fat is not necessarily bad for you. Know especially that animal protein is also not as bad as you may be thinking. what matters is to have good knowledge of its use. This is critical in AFS when the body’s metabolism is deranged.

Importance of supplying the protein and the fat requirements in your body

Your body’s needs for protein are many and these include two especially vital needs. These include the need for the proper functioning of your body systems, especially your main organs like the brain, liver and the heart and other functions, which include keeping your body safe against attacks. Thus, with the aid of proteins, your body has more vitality to produce molecules like enzymes, neurotransmitters, hormones, and antibodies essential for your body to properly function. Ironically, proteins also help in the production of the glucagon hormone, responsible for body fat control.

As you can see, the function of proteins in your body is so important that failing to get enough may lead to falling ill and the body being unable to perform optimally.

The body experiences cravings according to inbuilt nutrient sensors to know when either protein or carbohydrates are deficient and need replenishing. So, the craving protein comes because the body feels it is necessary to avoid the grave consequences complete fat depletion might cause. Know that fats give you energy. They’re needed in the production of hormones like prostaglandins and they literally hold your body together by strengthening cell membranes and protecting myelin sheaths that surround your nerve endings. Thus, depending on your metabolism, fat cravings may simply be a signal for your body to get the nutrition it needs for sustained energy.

Craving protein in your dietTherefore, your craving for protein and fats may be because your diet is deficient in these essential nutrients and your body feels strongly about it. This message being sent by your body is the reason for this particular Adrenal Fatigue symptom.

You need to note that heat is not a good friend of protein and fat, it can destroy and change their structure. In general, the more cooked protein and fat is, the harder it is to digest. Raw eggs, for example, are easier to digest than hard boiled eggs.

Most people with advanced Adrenal Fatigue are not on a diet high in refined carbohydrates because they have learned their lesson. They have experienced frequent adrenal crashes and energy slumps on diets too high in refined and simple carbohydrates. Many of them have switched to a diet rich in salads, or complex carbohydrates. If the AFS is severe, the GI tract tends to slow down and the ability to tolerate protein and fat may be compromised. Food sensitivities can be very troublesome. Balancing the right amount of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates becomes difficult and challenging, requiring extensive clinical experience.

Do not fight your craving protein and fat, look into the causes and fix it

Your craving for a high protein and high fat diet has underlying causes and may be an actual sign and symptom of an imbalance in your body’s metabolism, which has a strong connection to Adrenal Fatigue. It is a possibility that deserves your finding out more about.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Either diet is ok, it all depends on each person suffering from AFS what he/she needs. What works for one person may not work for another.

Craving protein
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After searching and researching, I ended up on a MD answers Thyroid questions- type of website and Dr. Lam's answer regarding free and reverse T3, explanation made so much sense to me, not-to-mention how an underlying adrenal issue could be the culprit. How most physicians focus on the thyroid (s) missing altogether the probable root of the problem for some. I've started eating 3 times a day and following other suggestions he gave and I have to say I'm feeling a bit better. I'm not falling asleep after eating. I watch what I eat and try to stay active. I'm not feeling the moodiness, EXHAUSTION or constipation. His tips on what type of foods one should eat (really helps) this might sound silly, but I even lost 3 lbs. I'm not on any medication, I'm waiting on my lab results, but trying to get a head start. The only drawback - he's not my neighbor or doctor!