6 Reasons Why You're Always Hungry
Hunger is your body's natural cue that it needs more food. When you're hungry, your stomach may growl and feel empty, or you may get a headache, feel irritable, or be unable to concentrate.
Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again, though this isn't the case for everyone.
Here are some of the main reasons for excessive hunger.
1. You're not eating enough protein
Consuming enough protein is essential 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.
Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, contain high amounts of protein. This nutrient is also found in some dairy products, including milk and yogurt, as well as a few plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
2. You're not sleeping enough
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important for your health. Sleep is required for the proper functioning of your brain and immune system, and getting enough of it is associated with a lower risk of several chronic illnesses.
Additionally, sleeping enough is a factor in appetite control, as 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. 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.
3. You're eating too many refined carbs
Refined carbs have been highly processed and stripped of their fibre, 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 like soft drink, candy, and baked goods, which are made with processed sugars, are also considered to be refined carbs.
Since refined carbs lack filling fibre, 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.
Furthermore, eating refined carbs may lead to rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This leads to increased levels of insulin, a hormone responsible for transporting sugar into your cells, which results in a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels signal your body that it needs more food, which is another reason why you may feel hungry often if refined carbs are a regular part of your diet.
4. Your diet is low in fat
Fat plays a key role in keeping you full.
This is partly due to the fact that it takes longer for you to digest and remains in your stomach for a long period. Additionally, eating fat may lead to the release of various fullness-promoting hormones. For these reasons, you may feel frequent hunger if your diet is low in fat.
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, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods, such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Other sources of nutrient-rich, high fat foods include avocados, olive oil and eggs.
5. You're not drinking enough water
Drinking enough water has several health benefits, including promoting brain and heart health and optimizing 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.
6. Your diet lacks fibre
If your diet lacks fibre, you may feel hungry frequently.
Consuming lots of high fibre foods helps keep hunger well managed. High fibre foods slow your stomach's emptying rate and take longer to digest than low fibre foods.
Additionally, a high fibre 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 fibre, and some are better than others at keeping you full and preventing hunger. Several studies have found that soluble fibre, or fibre that dissolves in water, is more filling than insoluble fibre.
Many different foods, such as oatmeal, flaxseeds, sweet potatoes, oranges, and brussels sprouts, are excellent sources of soluble fibre.
To ensure you're getting enough fibre, opt for a diet that's rich in whole, plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.