Hunger is your body’s natural sign that it needs more food. When you are hungry, your stomach may growl and feel empty, or you may have a headache, be irritable or unable to concentrate. Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again, but this is not the case for everyone. There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including a diet low in protein, fat or fiber, as well as excessive stress or dehydration.
14 reasons for excessive hunger
1. You are not eating enough protein
Eating enough protein is important for appetite control. Protein has hunger-reducing properties that can help you automatically consume fewer calories during the day. They work by increasing the production of hormones that signal satiety and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger. Because of these effects, you may feel frequently hungry if you don’t eat enough protein. Also, people with a higher protein intake reported greater satiety throughout the day and fewer obsessive thoughts about food. Many different foods are high in protein, so it is not not difficult to consume enough of it in your diet. Including a source of protein in every meal can help prevent excessive hunger.
Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs, contain high amounts of proteins. This nutrient is also found in some dairy products, including milk and yogurt, as well as some plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
2. You are not getting enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is extremely important for your health. Sleep is necessary for your brain and immune system to function properly, and getting enough of it is associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Also, getting enough sleep is an appetite control factor because it helps regulate the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of ghrelin, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived.
Getting enough sleep also helps ensure adequate levels of leptin, a hormone that promotes the feeling of satiety. To successfully manage your hunger, it is generally recommended that you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
3. You are eating too many refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates have been highly processed and stripped of fiber, vitamins and minerals. One of the most popular sources of refined carbs is white flour, which is found in many grain-based foods like bread and pasta. Foods such as sodas, candy, and baked goods, which are made with processed sugars, are also considered refined carbohydrates. Since refined carbs don’t contain satiating fiber, your body digests them very quickly.
This is one of the main reasons why you can frequently feel hungry if you eat a lot of refined carbs , because they do not provide a significant feeling of satiety. To reduce your intake of refined carbs, simply replace them with nutrient-dense whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. These foods are still high in carbohydrates, but they are high in fiber, which helps manage hunger well.
4. Your diet is low in fat
Fat plays an essential role in maintaining satiety. This is partly due to their slow gastrointestinal transit, which means they take longer to digest and stay in the stomach for a long time. Also, eating fat can cause the release of various satiety-promoting hormones. For these reasons, you may experience frequent hunger pangs if your diet is low in fat. There are many nutrient-dense, high-fat foods 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 most studied for their ability to reduce appetite. The richest food source of MCTs is coconut oil, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. You can also get omega-3s from plant foods, such as nuts and flaxseeds.
5. You’re not drinking enough water
Staying hydrated is incredibly important to your overall health. Drinking enough water has several health benefits, including promoting brain and heart health and optimizing athletic performance. In addition, water keeps your skin and digestive system healthy (21%). Water is also very filling and can reduce appetite when is consumed before meals. Due to water’s role in maintaining satiety, you may frequently feel hungry if you don’t drink enough of it. The feeling of thirst can be confused with the feeling of hunger. If you’re still hungry, it may help to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you’re just thirsty.
6. Your diet lacks fibre
If your diet lacks fibre, you may feel hungry frequently. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods helps manage hunger well. High-fiber foods slow stomach emptying and take longer to digest than low-fiber foods. Additionally, high fiber intake influences the release of appetite-reducing hormones and the production of short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have satiety-promoting effects.
It is important to note that there are different types of fiber, and some are more effective than others in filling you up and preventing hunger. Several studies have shown that soluble fiber, or fiber that dissolves in water, is more filling than insoluble fiber. Many foods, such as rolled oats, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, oranges, and Brussels sprouts, are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Not only does a high-fiber diet help reduce hunger, it is also associated with several other health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
7. You eat while distracted
If you lead an active lifestyle, you may often eat while distracted. While it can save you time, distracted eating can be detrimental to your health. It is associated with a greater appetite, increased caloric intake and weight gain. The main reason for this is that distraction while eating reduces your awareness of how much you are consuming. It prevents you from recognizing your body’s satiety signals as effectively as when you are not distracted. Several studies have shown that people who eat distractedly are hungrier than those who avoid distractions during meals.
To avoid eating while distracted, you can try practicing mindfulness, reduce screen time and silence your electronic devices. This will allow you to sit down and taste your food, which will help you better recognize your body’s satiety signals.
8. You exercise a lot
People who exercise frequently burn a lot of calories. This is especially true if you regularly do high-intensity exercise or engage in long-duration physical activity, such as running a marathon. Research has shown that people who regularly engage in intense physical exercise tend to have a faster metabolism, which means they burn more calories at rest than people who engage in moderate exercise or who have a sedentary lifestyle. Although several studies have shown that exercise is beneficial for suppressing appetite, there is evidence that people who exercise vigorously over the long term tend to have greater appetites than those who don’t. exercise.
You can prevent over-hungry exercise by eating more to fuel your workouts. Most helpful is to increase your intake of satiating foods that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats.
9. You drink too much alcohol
Alcohol is well known for its appetite stimulating effects (53%) . Studies have shown that alcohol can inhibit hormones that reduce appetite, such as leptin, especially when consumed before or during meals. For this reason, you may often feel hungry if you drink too much alcohol. Not only can alcohol make you hungrier, it also impairs the part of your brain that controls judgment and self-control. This can lead you to eat more, regardless of how hungry you are. To reduce the effects of alcohol on hunger, it is best to consume it in moderation or avoid it completely.
10. You drink your calories
Liquid and solid foods affect your appetite in different ways. If you eat a lot of liquid foods, such as smoothies, meal replacements, and soups, you may feel hungrier than if you ate more solid foods. One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is that liquids pass through the stomach faster than solid foods. Additionally, some studies suggest that liquid foods do not have as great an impact as solid foods on suppressing hunger hormones. Eating liquid foods also tends to take less time than eating solid foods. This can cause you to want to eat more, just because your brain hasn’t had time to process satiety signals. To prevent frequent hunger pangs, it can help to focus on incorporating solid, whole foods into your diet.
11. You are too stressed
Excess stress is known to increase appetite. This is mainly due to its effects on increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that has been shown to promote hunger and food cravings. This is why, if you are often stressed, you may always be hungry (53%). Many strategies can help you reduce your stress level. Possible options include exercise and deep breathing.
12. You are taking certain medications
Several medications can have the side effect of increasing your appetite. The drugs that most often induce appetite are antipsychotics, such as clozapine and olanzapine, as well as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids, and anticonvulsants (60 %). Also, some diabetes medications, such as insulin, insulin secretagogues, and thiazolidinediones, t known to increase hunger and appetite.
There is also anecdotal evidence that birth control pills have appetite-stimulating properties, but this is not supported by solid scientific research . If you think medications are the cause of your frequent hunger pangs, it may be worth talking to your doctor about other treatment options. There may be other drugs that don’t make you hungry.
13. You eat too fast
The rate at which you eat can play a role in the intensity of your hunger. Several studies have shown that people who eat fast have a greater appetite and a tendency to overeat at meals, compared to people who eat slowly. They are also more likely to be obese or overweight. These effects are partly due to the absence of chewing and the loss of consciousness that occurs when you eat too quickly, two elements necessary to reduce the feeling of hunger. Plus, eating slowly and chewing carefully gives your body and brain more time to release anti-hunger hormones and signal satiety
14. You have a health problem
Frequent hunger can be a symptom of an illness. First of all, frequent hunger is a classic sign of diabetes. It occurs as a result of extremely high blood sugar levels and is usually 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 excessive production of thyroid hormones, which are known to promote appetite. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can also increase your hunger levels. Your blood sugar levels can drop if you haven’t eaten in a while, an effect that can be exacerbated by a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Additionally, excessive hunger is often a symptom of a few other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PMS.
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