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Women's Physique

Tammy Strome C.KIN, RNCP, IFBB Pro

Tammy Strome is a Transformation Coach, Fitness Intuitive and IFBB Pro with 17 years in the industry as a Transformation specialist, Life Coach and Supplement Expert. She uses a combination of science, insight and intuition to help her clients sculpt their bodies and transform their lives.  For more info on Tammy please visit her website at www.tammystrome.com or follow her on social media at FB:  TammyStromeIFBBPro,  Instagram @tammystromeIFBBPro and Twitter: @tammystrome

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Quashing Food Cravings

We all know that feeling: You’ve been on point with your diet and training. You’re seeing lines come in and feeling leaner every day.

Then it hits … a food craving! Burger! Pizza! Chocolate! Should you indulge?

A food craving is defined as “an intense desire to eat a specific foodstuff.” Cravings are typically more intense in women than in men. The cause may exist in the subtle shifts in hormones and neurotransmitters throughout our monthly cycle. But cravings in anyone could be a sign of a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral requirement or deficiency. Here are some examples:

Chocolate Cravings:
This one can correlate to low magnesium. I’ve experienced this with clients, and when we increased magnesium consumption, the chocolate cravings disappeared.

There’s also evidence that consuming chocolate may affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Both of these neurotransmitters can dip lower from stress or poor lifestyle, but also hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle.

However, this isn’t an excuse to eat chocolate. The high sugar content in commercial chocolate can actually further deplete the body of these minerals, setting up a cycle of craving and consumption that becomes a habit.

Instead, consume magnesium-rich foods such as steamed spinach, raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, or a piece of organic, dark chocolate. It would also be wiser to eat regular meals with lean protein and complex carbohydrates and vegetables, so blood sugar is stable, neurotransmitters are optimized, and vitamins and minerals are getting into the body. This precedes the craving, and is exactly why good nutrition and clean eating isn’t just a short-term thing, but a lifestyle. A good quality greens supplement is amazing here too, but shouldn’t replace food.

Red Meat Cravings:
We’ve all craved a juicy burger, but did you know that research shows an increased tendency for those who are low in iron to crave more red meat and protein? Iron is one of those minerals that women and men do tend to be lower on. It’s most commonly seen to be low in physically active women over age 35, but it can affect anyone.

Heme iron (from animal sources) is the most bioavailable form of iron. So if the body is low, then you may feel a desire to eat a steak or burger, partly because you know (consciously or subconsciously) that you will feel better.

It’s harder for the body to absorb vegan sources of iron, but it can be done. Raw pumpkin seeds and cashews are some good examples. I also suggest combining vitamin C-rich foods with a high-iron meal, such as a meal consisting of steak and spinach. If you’re worried about the caloric density of red meat, you can opt for leaner cuts of beef such as flank steak and extra-lean ground beef.

Here are some other associations between specific foods and nutrient deficiencies that you can look into:
• Chromium and sugar cravings
• Low essential fatty acids (EFAs) and cheese cravings
• Zinc and red meat cravings

It’s important to be aware that there’s an intricate connection between physiology and psychology, and some food cravings can be more attributed to a coping mechanism or habit, while others can be attributed to a real need for a certain nutrient. My professional
experience has found that the individuals who have the worst food cravings in contest prep or while dieting are usually depleted of vital nutrients to begin with. So make sure that you’re rounding out macro- and micronutrients while dieting.

Supplement your diet with a multivitamin every day as an insurance policy against nutrient deficiencies. If you’re taking a caplet form of vitamin, break the caplet in half and take one half every 12 hours. This will allow the water-soluble vitamins to be ingested twice per day.