A food craving is different from normal hunger.
It is not just about your body needing energy or nutrients, it is about your brain needing a “reward”.
As a former drug addict, alcoholic and smoker, I can tell you that a craving for junk food feels exactly the same as a craving for drugs, alcohol and nicotine.
Unfortunately, cravings can be incredibly hard to control. The best way to overcome them may be to prevent them from showing up in the first place.
One of the best ways to do that is to increase your protein intake.
One study in overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60%, and reduced the desire to snack at night by half.
The blue bar on the graph is the high-protein group, and the red bar is the normal-protein group. As you can see, increasing protein intake caused a drastic reduction in cravings and late-night snacking.
Studies in girls also found that just eating a high-protein breakfast reduces cravings and late-night snacking. This may be mediated by improved function of dopamine, one of the main brain hormones involved in cravings and addiction.