Nutrient Deficiencies May Not Be Linked to Cravings!
Actually, cravings are anecdotally connected with nutrient deficiencies for quite a while. Nevertheless, when checking out the evidence, a few arguments can be done against this “nutrient deficiency” theory. The following arguments are the most legitimate.
Cravings Are Gender Specific
Based on research, a person’s cravings and their occurrence are in part influenced by gender. As an example, women appear to be about twice as likely to feel food cravings as men. Females are likewise more prone to crave sweet foods, like chocolate, while men are more likely to crave savory foods.
People who think that nutrient deficiencies trigger cravings usually propose that chocolate cravings derive from a magnesium deficiency, while savory foods are usually related to lack of intakes of sodium or protein.
Still, there is little facts to support gender differences in the risk of deficiency for any of these nutrients.
One research reports that men usually meet 66–84% of their recommended daily intake ( RDI ) for magnesium, while women satisfy around 63–80% of their RDI.
Furthermore, there’s little evidence to support that men are more likely lacking in both sodium or protein than women. Actually, deficiencies in both of these nutrients are incredibly rare in developed parts of the world.
Limited Link Between Cravings and Nutrient Needs
The belief behind the “nutrient deficiency” theory is that people that have low intakes of particular nutrients are more inclined to crave foods containing those nutrients.
Nevertheless, there exists evidence that this is not always the case. As an example is a pregnancy, during which the baby’s growth can twofold needs of certain nutrients.
The “nutrient deficiency” hypothesis might predict that pregnant women would crave nutrient-rich foods, in particular during the later stages of the baby’s growth when nutrient needs are really high.
However, studies report that ladies usually crave high-carb, high-fat and fast foods while being pregnant, instead of nutrient-rich alternatives.
Moreover, food cravings often come up during the first half of pregnancy, making it less likely that they are caused by an increased caloric need.
Weight loss studies give other arguments against the “nutrient deficiency” theory. In one weight loss study, participants following a low-carb diet for 2 years noted much lower cravings for carb-rich foods compared to those following a low-fat diet. Likewise, participants put on low-fat diets for the duration of the same period noted fewer cravings for high-fat foods. In yet another study, very low-calorie liquid diets reduced the occurrence of cravings overall.
In case cravings were really triggered by a low intake of certain nutrients, the complete opposite effect would be expected.
Specific and Nutrient-Poor Food Cravings
Cravings are generally very specific and often not satisfied by eating anything other than the craved food. Nevertheless, many people are likely to crave high-carb, high-fat foods, instead of nutritious whole foods. For that reason, the craved foods are often times not the ideal source of the nutrient commonly linked to the craving.
For example, cheese cravings are usually believed to be the body’s way to compensate for a lack of calcium intake. Still, craving foods like tofu could be very likely to fix a calcium deficiency, because it provides up to twice as much calcium per 1-ounce ( 28-gram ) portion.
Furthermore, it might be argued that folks with nutrient deficiencies would benefit from craving a wider variety of foods containing the required nutrient, instead of a single source.
As an example, it will is more effective for people deficient in magnesium to also crave magnesium-rich nuts and beans, not just chocolate.