What's Causing Cravings For Sugar & Junk Food

by Dr. David Minkoff January 21, 2024 10 min read

What's Causing Cravings For Sugar & Junk Food

Welcome to Week Two of the 30-Day Fat Loss Challenge!

If you haven't checked it out yet, you should, it's a fantastic program that gets real results.

We know that the hardest part of any diet, whether for weight loss, muscle gain or health, is getting over our cravings for sugar and junk food.

There's no question there.

The only real question is how? It's so hard!

I understand. And in case you feel alone in this struggle — you're not.

It's the hardest part of any diet or lifestyle change, and where most people fall off.

But to know how to fix this we need to know exactly what's causing it.

And one thing I can tell you is not causing it... is you having a "weak will."

That's not it at all.

There are very exact things causing these cravings, and they can turn them on hard.

In today's article I cover exactly what is causing them (all the reasons), why they can be so hard to get over, and exactly how to address them to make the transition as smooth as possible (which is exactly what the Fat Loss Protocol is designed to do).

I think you'll like it.


The first is obviously insulin resistance, which we covered more here.

If your cells are taking in less sugar because they’re resisting insulin knocking at their door to let sugar in, then the cells have less energy to work with.

That sugar is there, and insulin is happily converting it to fat, but your cells aren’t getting it so of course they’re hungry and will keep telling you to eat more until they finally get some.

The more insulin resistant you are, the more of what you eat is going to fat storage and less to your cells for energy.

This will happen even if you’ve just eaten a lot of food. It’s in your bloodstream, but the cells aren’t getting it so they’re still hungry and demanding you eat more.

And they will especially crave fast-acting sugars or processed sugars (sweets) so they don’t have to wait for a slow-digesting sugar (rice) to finally get to them. If they’re starving, then they want energy now.

So insulin resistance created by processed sugars leads to more and more cravings for processed sugars.

The only way out of this is to cut down sugar levels as we're doing on this protocol, which cuts down insulin secretion and lets the cells get over themselves enough so they’re willing to take in more sugar when it comes.

This could take a week or two for some, or months in very extreme cases. But it does happen, the cells become insulin-sensitive again, much less insulin is needed, sugar goes in easily, and much less fat storage occurs.


Then there are the bacteria in your small intestine.

If you’ve been on a higher sugar diet for some time, and your stomach acid levels are low, then likely you have some critters there. And they thrive on processed sugar the most.

They also make their needs known if they don’t get what they want. They actually use the same channels your cells use to communicate their wants to the brain, so you will literally feel their cravings.

And, if you stop feeding them, and they start dying off, you will feel their pain to a degree until they’re dead.

Also, as these critters are consuming some of your food while they're still there, again, your cells are getting less of what you’re eating. So they will want fast-acting sugar to get them energy for this reason as well.

You can learn more about SIBO and how to address it here.


There is also the matter of an actual addiction the cells form to this processed sugar. It hits the same pleasure receptors on cells as heroin does. It’s a real addiction and the cells need to be weaned off it one way or another. They’re too used to it.

This is largely discipline to get through the withdrawals, but can be greatly helped by increased protein and healthy fats in the diet, particularly saturated fats. So make sure you're getting in all of your PerfectAmino and protein.

Also, remember that these big food companies hire very talented chemists. These foods are made to be addictive because they want you buying more.

You know the saying that you can’t eat just one Dorito, right? You can’t, the bag won’t let you! Most people keep eating from the bag until they’ve got a stomach ache, take a 5-minute break, and then go back at it until they’ve finished the bag!

And yet, according to their nutrition facts, one serving is 12 chips, and that’s 150 calories.

But do you ever eat only 12?

No, of course not. But there are 16 servings in that bag. So one bag is 2400 calories — all fast-acting carbs, refined fats, and toxic flavorings and colorings...which provide your body with almost no nutrition.

This then leads your body to want even more food on top of this solely because it didn't also get the nutrition it needs to operate.

But they taste sooooo good.So we’ve got that hurdle to get over too.

Now, all of the above will take most people a week or two to get through. And don’t worry, the protocol is designed to make this as gentle on you as possible and you will get through it and you will be very happy that you did.

But there is another aspect that plays a very large role in this.

There are specific hormones that control your cravings: Leptin and Ghrelin.


Remember that hormones are chemicals that pass on messages to and from cells.

Well, Leptin passes messages saying to stop or lower cravings, and Ghrelin passes messages saying to increase them. Of the two, Leptin seems to be the one most in control.

Now, this is an area where much more research needs to be done, but we do know key facts about it.

When we eat there is always some fat creation and break down, even if minimal. This is a constant process.

There are also free-floating fatty acids in the bloodstream which can be used for energy if needed.

And, the more fat you have on your body, the more free-floating fat you will have in your bloodstream.

Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells. This happens every time we eat, but also happens when there are higher amounts of fatty acids in the bloodstream or stored in our fat cells.

This Leptin then goes to the brain where it hits specific leptin receptors in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain) and passes on the information that we’ve had enough foodand don’t need to eat anymore.

And, that we can dip into our fat stores for energy now.

In short, it tells us to not feel hungry when we've had enough to eat and that it’s okay to burn fat as well.

Then, if time passes and leptin levels in the bloodstream lower, the brain sees this and knows it needs more food and so directs that ghrelin, the other hormone, is released by the stomach to increase hunger cravings and to not dip into fat stores for energy.

This is why ghrelin levels are highest before a meal. Ever had your stomach growling because you’re hungry? That’s ghrelin.

This is actually a great system. And if there is nothing there to throw it off would ensure we never overeat or gain much excess body fat.


Remember, leptin is produced by the fat cells. It's produced every time we eat, but also produced when there are higher amounts of fatty acids in the bloodstream or higher amounts of fat stored in our fat cells, which is the case if we're carrying excess body fat.

So if we're carrying extra body fat, then we should be releasing more leptin and our brain should be saying, "you're not hungry," right?

So, the more body fat you have, the less hungry you are, right?

What's happening here...?

Well, like insulin resistance, there is something called leptin resistance, where leptin is being released, but the brain isn't “seeing” it.

The leptin is being created, flowing to the brain, but the hypothalamus doesn't see it.

And, as leptin is the brain’s indicator that the body has eaten and has enough energy stores… if it doesn’t see leptin, then it thinks it still needs food and so directs the release of ghrelin to make you hungry to eat more.

So, despite having just eaten, we can continue to have more cravings. Your brain doesn’t see any leptin, thinks you’re starving and works very hard to make you eat more.

And these cravings can be very strong. After all, your brain thinks you’re starving.


One of the main things that causes this is excess triglycerides (the most common type of fatty acid in your blood and what composes 90% of what we think of as body fat).

You see, there is something called the blood-brain barrier. This is a literal barrier that allows certain needed things through to the brain, while keeping out other harmful things, all to protect the brain.

But excess triglycerides can get stuck here and start clogging this barrier. This makes it harder for nutrients and other chemicals and hormones to get through — including leptin.

So you’ve just eaten and plenty of leptin is in the blood, but… it can’t make it through the barrier to be “seen” by the brain. So the brain thinks you’re still hungry, despite having just eaten a lot of food, and instructs the stomach to release more Ghrelin, making you hungry again.

So we need to get that unclogged, which happens to a large degree during thee 30 days.

Another point is that just having overly high levels of leptin seems to increase leptin resistance. The leptin receptors in your brain become de-sensitized to the leptin because it's “always” there because you eat so much that there is so much.

So we need to lower this.

And last is cortisol, which we’ll cover soon, which also raises ghrelin levels, increasing your appetite.

And the two fats that raise cortisol the most are omega 6 fatty acids, as found in corn and soy-based processed foods and sugars, as well as non-grass fed meats, and trans fats, which also clog the blood-brain barrier and can cause even more trouble than triglycerides there.

This is one of the largest factors in yo-yo dieting, losing weight and then gaining it all right back again.

You work hard to reduce processed sugar and calories, and somehow push through the withdrawals and lose fat. Maybe your cells become insulin sensitive again and come off their addiction to sugar (if you lowered sugar in your diet). Your small intestinal bacteria numbers go down as they’re dying off due to less of the food they thrive on (processed sugars).

But… the blood-brain barrier is still clogged and so the brain still isn’t “seeing” the leptin and so still sends ghrelin to keep you hungry.

Then we give in and go back to our old ways, gaining all of our fat back and then some.

So how do we fix this?


First, we need to get rid of these processed sugars as these are the main things that create so much excess triglycerides which clog the blood-brain barrier and prevent leptin signaling in the first place.

Next, avoid processed foods. These, even when made from organic ingredients, are often in a form after processing that our digestive system has trouble breaking down and which can raise cortisol levels, especially from rancid, refined fats, omega 6 fatty acids and trans fats.

Also, partially digested proteins contribute to raised cortisol as we'll see soon, so we need to make sure we're taking our digestive enzymes for full breakdown of proteins.

And, of course, get good sleep. Poor sleep, along with inflammation, raises cortisol levels which releases ghrelin, making us more hungry just because we're tired.

And lastly, but most importantly, protein is actually the key thing that reverses leptin resistance, which makes sense.

The enzymes that break down triglycerides and trans fats, including those clogging the blood-brain barrier are all made of amino acids.

But these enzymes have a relatively short life and new ones constantly need to be made. The less amino acids one has, the less enzymes their body can produce overall, lowering the breakdown of fat among other things.

This is one reason many people start having lowered appetites and less cravings for sugary junk foods after taking PerfectAmino for some time.

Their bodies are now getting what they need to produce these enzymes in enough volume to start reversing leptin resistance.

Okay, that's all for this article, it's been long enough already.

But I wanted to make sure you understood all the factors involved here as they may be different, or in different combinations, for different people.

And I want you in control of your health.

Alright, message us in the Group if you have any questions or need anything. And you can also share your progress there and see others' progress.

And on the Diet & Protocol page you'll find a code you can use to purchase any missing items you may need, and you can save at least 15% when purchasing a 30-Day Fat Loss Challenge Package.

And if you haven't seen the Guide To Sustainable Fat Loss & 30-Day Challenge, check them out.




Introduction & Getting Started:

  1. Introduction To Sustainable Fat Loss & The 30-Day Challenge
  2. The Key To Sustainable Fat Loss: Calories + Hormones
  3. The 30-Day Fat Loss Challenge: Diet & Protocol
  4. The 30-Day Fat Loss Challenge: Workout

Week One:

  1. The 30-Day Fat Loss Challenge Starts: Running Your Diet The Right Way
  2. Body Fat Is Made From Sugar — Not Fat
  3. Reversing Insulin Resistance & Speeding Fat Loss

Week Two:

  1. What's Causing Cravings For Sugar & Junk Food
  2. Digestion Is Key To Sustainable Fat Loss
  3. Cortisol: The Hormone That Makes Fat Loss Nearly Impossible

Week Three:

  1. How Poor Sleep Prevents Fat Loss
  2. Estrogen Dominance Prevents Fat Loss In Women & Men
  3. Raising Growth Hormone & IGF For Fat Loss

Week Four:

  1. Hunger Vs Cravings: When To Transition Out Of Fat Loss
  2. Transitioning From Fat Loss To Lean Body
  3. How Our Corn & Soy Based Diet Prevents Fat Loss

Week Five:

  1. Why Energy & Sleep Rise, And Stress Falls On The Fat Loss Protocol
  2. End of The Fat Loss Challenge, On To Lean Body/Lean Bulk

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.