Reasons You’re Always Hungry
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
Your body is telling you that it wants food when you hear your stomach growl. What happens when it occurs too frequently?
It's normal to not eat for several hours, but a grumbling from the bottom can cause headaches and make you irritable.
If you are someone who asks themselves, "Why am I always so hungry?" you're certainly not the only one.
We'll look at the reasons why you might feel like you are hungry or have an increase in appetite after you eat.
Why am I hungry?
Sometimes we feel more hungry than is necessary due to skipping meals, eating high-carbohydrate or processed food and/or not getting enough restful sleep.
A lack of restful zzz's raise levels of ghrelin - the hormone responsible for hunger. Certain antiseizure drugs, antidepressants and steroids may also contribute to feeling of constant hunger; so if this is happening to you try making changes like increasing whole food consumption.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day; managing stress through regular exercising sessions as well as getting 7-9 hours sleep per night if possible.
1. Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar (if you have diabetes), occurs when the body does not have enough sugar for fuel.
It's easy to get hungry when this occurs. You may also feel nervous or jittery if your blood sugar drops.
If you are always asking yourself, "why am I so hungry?" it may be because of low blood sugar.
2. Poor sleep
Sleep is essential for our bodies to function, repair themselves and maintain their health. This includes the brain and immune system. We can easily get sick and feel tired if we do not get enough sleep.
Sleep is important for your general well-being, but it's also vital to control your appetite. When we sleep well, ghrelin (the appetite-stimulating hormonal) is controlled steadily.
This hormone can go haywire when you lack sleep. The constant feeling of hunger becomes more prominent. Feeling hungry even after you've eaten is common when tired.
According to research, those who were sleep deprived even for one night, felt more hungry and ate 14% bigger portions than people getting adequate shuteye.
When you are tired, you will have a higher appetite.
3. Too little protein
You may be lacking in protein if you feel like you are still hungry or eat more than usual.
A diet high in protein will help you to feel satisfied for longer, which means you can eat/snack fewer calories. It also helps to reduce levels of hormones that stimulate hunger.
Men with excessive weight, who consumed 25 percent of their daily calories as protein, reported that they were 50% less likely to crave snacks.
It is easy to add more protein to your diet because there are so many foods high in it. For extra protein choose meat, poultry and eggs, or plant-based foods like:
- Whole grain
Add more protein to your diet if you don't want to feel like you can eat everything in the fridge!
4. You are eating too many refined carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates are the same. Even though many diets tell us to completely cut carbs, the fact is that it's bad carbs, such as processed sugars found in sodas, baked goods, and candy, which make us feel hungry.
White flour is one of the foods that are most commonly found in pasta and bread. These foods are low in fiber and nutritional value, so it can take a long time for the body to digest.
You may be eating too many carbohydrates if you are always hungry.
It's crucial to reduce the refined carbs. The right carbohydrates and fiber, unlike those with protein in them, promote a feeling of fullness.
It's not surprising that you feel hungry all the time when eating refined carbohydrates.
What can you do about your constant hunger?
Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and replace them with healthy whole food sources like fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, or whole grains.
5. Your diet lacks fat
Healthy high fat foods keep you feeling satisfied.
It is also due to digestion taking longer, so the fat stays in your stomach. Studies have shown that the right type of fat can be consumed. The release of hormones that promote fullness may also be a result.
These hormones tell our bodies that we are full, so feeling hungry is not a problem. What type of fats should you eat?
We're not talking about pizza here, but rather medium-chain triglycerides and omega-3 fats which have been shown to be able to curb your appetite.
Fish high in omega-3 fats, like mackerel and tuna, are the most common sources. Coconut oil is the best source for MCT.
Some of the other high-fat foods that are good for health include:
- Full-fat yogurt
- Olive oil
6. Drink more water
Many people confuse thirst with hunger after eating.
Sorry, but soda does not count. Water is essential for your body. Water is essential for brain, heart and skin health. It also optimizes exercise abilities and helps you maintain a healthy digestive and respiratory system.
One study found that participants who drank two cups of water prior to a meal reported eating 600 fewer calories than people who did not drink any water.
What are the signs of dehydration?
We often confuse feelings of hunger with feelings of thirst. Dehydration can make us dizzy, tired or even feel constant hunger.
If you are wondering why you feel hungry constantly, it could be because you don't drink enough water!
7. More fiber is needed
It's not surprising that if you eat a diet low in fiber, you will feel constant hunger. A diet rich in fiber, like healthy fats helps keep hunger at bay.
As fiber-rich foods take longer to digest, they slow down your stomach's emptying rate.
We often feel more hungry when we eat processed food that has low nutritional value.
What type of fibers are most important? Studies show that soluble fibre is more filling.
To get more fiber in your diet, choose:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
You will also improve your health by eating these foods. High fiber foods can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Add these foods to your diet for more fiber.
- Whole grain
8. You've increased your activity levels
It's not surprising that you may feel more hungry after a hard workout. Your body uses calories as fuel while exercising. This boosts metabolism.
This causes your body to use more energy, causing you to feel hungry. Regular vigorous exercise, whether you are training for a HIIT or a full marathon, can cause your body to burn calories even when at rest.
One study found that men who exercised vigorously for 45 minutes had a 37% increase in metabolic rate the next day. Other studies show that exercise can suppress your appetite. However, other studies indicate that those who exercise regularly may experience an increase in appetite.
You may have to increase your intake of food to keep up with your exercise routine if you do not want to reduce your gym time. Filling food that is high in protein, fiber and healthy fats will help you stay fuller and improve your performance.
9. Distraction eating
It's a fact that when we snack in front of the television, our appetite is increased. Distraction eating, whether you're on the move, working or watching TV, can increase your appetite and increase your caloric intake.
We don't know how much food we're eating and therefore we ignore our bodies' signals of fullness.
Research shows that those who are distracted while eating report being more hungry and having a greater appetite than those who do not get distracted.
What should you do now? Enjoy your meal without eating mindlessly. You can keep track of your food intake and recognize when you are full.
10. Alcohol consumption
Alcohol may interfere with hormones that reduce appetite. If you are a regular beer drinker, then an increase in appetite is not uncommon.
If you are wondering why you feel hungry constantly, your drinking habits could be the cause. In one study, male participants who consumed alcohol before eating (40ml), consumed 300 calories more than men who consumed less (10ml).
Alcohol can make you feel constantly hungry, but it also affects your self-control and judgement, making you eat even more, regardless of whether you are really hungry.
The hormone cortisol increases your appetite and cravings when you feel a bit tense.
Stress can affect our appetite and our health. Stress can cause us to crave sugary and high-fat foods. We know that these are bad for our health, but they make us want them.
Stress can be reduced by the body through hunger. Worrying about stress may lead to comfort food.
Try to eat foods high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. Reduce your stress by exercising, taking care of yourself and breathing deeply.
12. Some medications
Different medications can cause very diverse side effects. Some medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants and some steroid drugs, may cause an increase in appetite.
Some drugs can cause weight gain because they make you feel more hungry than normal. Talk to your doctor about alternative medications if this happens.
13. Thyroid problems
Your thyroid is responsible for producing hormones which control the function of your organs. You may experience the following symptoms if your thyroid is working too hard:
- Muscle weakness
- Sweating More
- After drinking, you may feel thirsty
- Fast pulse
Book an appointment with your physician to have a look.
14. It is a Diabetes
Our bodies convert sugar, or glucose, into fuel when we eat. This glucose can't reach your cells if you have diabetes. Your body will get rid of the glucose (via urine) and tell you to increase your intake.
You may have an increase in appetite if you are suffering from type 1 diabetes, even though you're still losing weight. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling fatigued
- Blurry Vision
- Unexpected weight loss
- Peeing a lot is a common problem
- You are feeling very thirsty
- Slow healing cuts and bruises
- The tingling sensation in the hands and feet
15. Eat too fast
It is important to consider the pace of your eating. Research shows that those who tend to eat more quickly have a greater appetite and a tendency towards overeating.
It can also lead to excess weight gain or obesity. We are less aware of our eating habits when we eat fast.
Eating too quickly is similar to distraction eating in that we do not enjoy and feel full after eating.
16. Conditions of health
You may be suffering from an undiagnosed health problem if you feel hungry more often than usual.
In this situation, the first response would be to diagnose diabetes. The constant hunger that is caused by high blood sugar can also cause other symptoms, such as:
- You're feeling extremely thirsty
- Weight loss
- Feeling fatigued
Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland can also cause excessive thyroid hormone production and constant hunger.
Other conditions such as depression, anxiety and kidney disease can also be a cause.
A constant hunger signal is your body's need for food.
You can reduce your appetite by changing your diet.
Small lifestyle changes will have a positive effect on your wellbeing, helping to eliminate the frustrating question: "Why am I always hungry?"
Avoid distraction eating when watching television and practice mindful eating to help you feel fuller longer.