Hunger is your body’s natural cue that it needs more food. To supply more energy. To sustain life!
When you’re hungry, your stomach may “growl” and feel empty. Perhaps you may get a headache, feel irritable, or you find it difficult to concentrate.
And what about that sudden, overwhelming, take no prisoners “hangry” feeling that can engulf us?
Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again. But as too many us know all too well, this isn’t the case for everyone.
There are several possible explanations for this. Perhaps you diet lacks adequate amounts of protein, fat, or fiber. it could be influenced by excessive stress or dehydration.
Excessive hunger is a sign that your body thinks it needs more food. for energy But if you’ve got fat on your body, you’ve got a built-in energy source, ready and awaiting to fuel your body.
Hunger is often a result of imbalanced hunger hormones, exacerbated by certain lifestyle habits.
Some medications and illnesses are known to cause frequent hunger.
If you feel hungry often, it may be beneficial to assess your diet and lifestyle to determine if there are changes you can make to help you feel more full.
Your hunger could also be a sign that you are truly not eating enough.
In case you’re eating too quickly or distracted at mealtimes, you can also practice mindful eating, which aims to minimize distractions, increase your focus, and slow your chewing to help you realize when you’re full.
Consuming enough protein is important for appetite control.
Protein has hunger-reducing properties that may help you automatically consume fewer calories during the day.
It works by increasing the production of hormones that signal fullness and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger
Due to these effects, you may feel hungry frequently if you’re not eating enough protein.
Additionally, those with a higher protein intake reported greater fullness throughout the day and fewer obsessive thoughts about food.
You’re not getting enough sleep.
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important for your health.
Sleep is required for the proper functioning of your brain and immune system. Getting enough sleep is associated with a lower risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, sleeping enough is a factor in appetite control,. It helps regulate ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone. Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived.
In one study, 15 people who were sleep deprived for only 1 night reported being significantly more hungry and chose 14% larger portion sizes, compared with a group that slept for 8 hours.
Getting enough sleep also helps ensure adequate levels of leptin, a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness.
To keep your hunger levels well managed, it’s generally recommended to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
You’re eating too many refined carbs.
Refined carbs have been highly processed and stripped of their fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
One of the most popular sources of refined carbs is white flour, found in many grain-based foods like bread and pasta.
Foods like soda, candy, and baked goods, which are made with processed sugars, are also considered to be refined carbs.
Since refined carbs lack filling fiber, your body digests them very quickly. This is a major reason why you may be hungry frequently if you eat a lot of refined carbs, as they do not promote significant feelings of fullness (10Trusted Source).
Furthermore, eating refined carbs may lead to rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This leads to increased levels of insulin, the hormone responsible for transporting sugar into your cells.
When a lot of insulin is released at once in response to high blood sugar, it quickly removes sugar from your blood, which may lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Low blood sugar levels signal your body that it needs more food. This is another reason why you may feel hungry often if refined carbs are a regular part of your diet.
To reduce your refined carb intake, simply replace them with nutrient-rich, whole foods. Eat your vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. These foods contain carbs, but they are rich in fiber. Fiber rich foods help better manage hunger.
You’re eating a low fat diet.
Fat plays a key role in keeping you full.
This is partly due to its slow gastrointestinal transit time. This means that it takes longer for you to digest and it remains in your stomach for a long period. Additionally, eating fat may lead to the release of various fullness-promoting hormones.
One study including 270 adults with obesity found that those who followed a low fat diet had significant increases in cravings for carbs and preferences for high-sugar foods, compared with a group that consumed a low carb diet.
Furthermore, those in the low fat group reported more feelings of hunger than the group that followed a low carb eating pattern.
There are many nutrient-dense, high fat foods that you can include in your diet to increase your fat intake.
Certain types of fats, such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and omega-3 fatty acids, have been studied the most for their ability to reduce appetite.
The richest food source of MCT is coconut oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods too, such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Other sources of nutrient-rich, high fat foods include avocados, olive oil, eggs, and full fat yogurt.
Are you drinking enough water?
Proper hydration is incredibly important for your overall health.
Drinking enough water has several health benefits. It promotes brain and heart health and optimizes exercise performance. Additionally, water keeps your skin and digestive system healthy.
Water is also quite filling and has the potential to reduce appetite when consumed before meals .
Due to water’s role in keeping you full, you may find that you feel hungry frequently if you’re not drinking enough of it.
Feelings of thirst can be mistaken for feelings of hunger.
If you’re always hungry, it may help to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you’re just thirsty.
To ensure you’re properly hydrated, simply drink water when you feel thirsty. Eating lots of water-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, will also contribute to your hydration needs.
Your diet lacks fiber.
If your diet lacks fiber, you may feel hungry frequently.
Consuming lots of high fiber foods helps keep hunger well managed. High fiber foods slow your stomach’s emptying rate and take longer to digest than low fiber foods.
Additionally, a high fiber intake influences the release of appetite-reducing hormones and the production of short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have fullness-promoting effects.
It’s important to note that there are different types of fiber. Some are better than others at keeping you full and preventing hunger. Several studies have found that soluble fiber, or fiber that dissolves in water, is more filling than insoluble fiber.
Many different foods, such as oatmeal, flaxseeds, sweet potatoes, oranges, and Brussels sprouts, are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
A high fiber is also associated with several other health benefits. such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
To ensure you’re getting enough fiber, opt for a diet that’s rich in whole, plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Do you eat while you’re distracted?
If you live a busy lifestyle, you may often eat while you are distracted.
Although it may save you time, distracted eating can be detrimental to your health. It’s associated with greater appetite, increased calorie intake, and weight gain.
That’s partly because distracted eating reduces your awareness of how much you’re consuming. It may prevent you from recognizing your body’s fullness signals as efficiently as when you’re not distracted.
Several studies have shown that those who engage in distracted eating are hungrier than those who avoid distractions during mealtimes.
In one study, 88 women were instructed to eat either while distracted or sitting in silence. Those who were distracted were less full. And, they had a significantly greater desire to eat more throughout the day, compared with the non-distracted eaters..
Another study found that people who distracted themselves with a computer game during lunch were less full than those who did not play the game. Additionally, the distracted eaters consumed 48% more food in a test that occurred later that day.
To avoid distracted eating, you can try practicing mindfulness, minimizing screen time, and silencing your electronic devices. This will allow you to sit down and taste your food. It will help you better recognize your body’s fullness signals.
You’re drinking too much alcohol.
Alcohol is well known for its appetite-stimulating effects.
Studies have shown that alcohol may inhibit hormones that reduce appetite, such as leptin. Especially when it is consumed before or with meals.
Alcohol may not only make you hungrier, but it also impairs the part of your brain that controls judgment and self-control. This may lead you to eat more, regardless of how hungry you are.
You drink your calories.
Liquid and solid foods affect your appetite in different ways.
If you consume a lot of liquid foods, such as smoothies, meal replacement shakes, and soups, you may be hungrier more often than you would be if you ate more solid foods.
One major reason for this is that liquids pass through your stomach more quickly than solid foods.
Furthermore, some studies suggest that liquid foods do not have as great of an impact on the suppression of hunger-promoting hormones, compared with solid foods.
Eating liquid foods also tends to take less time than eating solid foods. This may lead you to want to eat more because your brain hasn’t had enough time to process fullness signals.
In one study, people who consumed a liquid snack reported less fullness and more feelings of hunger than those who consumed a solid snack. They also consumed 400 more calories throughout the day than the solid-snack group.
To prevent frequent hunger, it may help to focus on incorporating more solid, whole foods into your diet.
You’re overly stressed.
Excess stress is known to increase appetite.
This is mostly due to its effects on increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that has been shown to promote hunger and food cravings.
In one study, 59 women who were exposed to stress consumed more calories throughout the day and ate significantly sweeter foods than women who were not stressed.
Another study compared the eating habits of 350 young girls. Those with higher stress levels were more likely to overeat than those with lower levels of stress. The girls with high stress levels also reported higher intakes of low-nutrient snacks like chips and cookies.
Many strategies can help you reduce your stress levels. Some options include regular exercise and deep breathing.
You’re taking certain medication.
Several medications may increase your appetite as an unwanted side effect.
The most common appetite stimulating medications include antipsychotics, as well as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids, and antiseizure drugs.
Additionally, some diabetes medications are known to increase your hunger and appetite.
If you suspect that medications are the cause of your frequent hunger, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
You eat too fast.
The rate at which you eat may play a role in how hungry you are.
Several studies have shown that fast eaters have greater appetites and a tendency to overeat at meals, compared with slow eaters. They are also more likely to have obesity or excess weight.
One study compared the effects of eating rates in those with diabetes. Those who ate a meal slowly became full more quickly and reported less hunger 30 minutes after the meal, compared with fast eaters.
These effects are partly due to the lack of chewing and reduced awareness that occur when you eat too fast. Both of which are necessary to alleviate feelings of hunger.
Additionally, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly gives your body and brain more time to release anti-hunger hormones and convey fullness signals.
These techniques are a part of mindful eating.
If you are hungry frequently, it may help to eat more slowly. You can do this by:
- taking a few deep breaths before meals
- putting your fork down between bites
- increasing the extent to which you chew your food
You have a medical condition.
Frequent hunger may be a symptom of disease.
First, frequent hunger is a classic sign of diabetes. It occurs as a result of extremely high blood sugar levels and is typically accompanied by other symptoms, including excessive thirst, weight loss, and fatigue.
Hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid, is also associated with increased hunger. This is because it causes excess production of thyroid hormones, which are known to stimulate appetite.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, may also increase your hunger levels. Your blood sugar levels may fall if you haven’t eaten for a while, an effect that may be exacerbated by a diet high in refined carbs and sugar.
However, hypoglycemia is also associated with medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney failure, among others.
Excessive hunger is often a symptom of a few other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome.
If you suspect that you may have one of these conditions, talk with your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
It’s never too late to lose weight successfully and I can help you.
Feeling hungry all the time is, in itself, a stressful way to live, just adding more pressure, frustration and anxiety to your day.
Consuming a diet of whole foods ,while minimizing the consumption of process foods, can make a measurable difference in your hunger level and your weight loss outcome.
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