11 Reasons Why You Are Always Hungry & What To Do About It.

Food isn’t just something we need to survive, it’s one of our biggest joys in life, and for some, one of our biggest downfalls when it comes to reaching our health goals. Between planning, grocery shopping, cooking, going out to dinner, snacking, celebrating birthdays or big wins, it’s safe to say we think about food often.

Your body relies on food for energy, so it’s normal to feel hungry if you don’t eat for a few hours. But if your stomach has a constant rumble, even after a meal, something could be going on with your health.

If you find yourself constantly snacking or eating big meals and you still don’t feel satiated, there could be an underlying reason, according to experts.

#1. Your diet lacks protein.

Experts have been telling you this for years now — protein is a key macronutrient to staying healthy, and it gives you that sense of satiety or fullness. How much you should have each day varies based on your weight and lifestyle, but it’s smart to try and include some in every meal. 

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.

This is partly because protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full.

These effects on appetite can be powerful. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women ate 441 fewer calories each day without intentionally restricting anything.

Not all high protein foods are created equally, though—nutritionists recommend low-fat dairy products, beans, fish and lean cuts of meat, such as skinless chicken and turkey breasts. Even carb-heavy treats, like muffins and cookies, can be made protein-rich when baked with non-fat powdered milk and egg whites.

#2. You are consuming too many refined carbs.

Refined or simple carbohydrates include sugars and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. These include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and many breakfast cereals. They digest quickly and their high glycemic index causes unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. They can also cause fluctuations in mood and energy and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline.

In addition to raising blood sugar, foods that are sugary and highly caloric elicit pronounced responses in distinct areas of the brain involved in reward. Earlier imaging studies have shown, for example, that the main reward and pleasure center, the nucleus accumbens, lights up more intensely for a slice of chocolate cake than for blander foods like vegetables, and the activation tends to be greater in the brains of obese people than it is in those who are lean.

You’re probably familiar with the terms “simple carbs” and “complex carbs.” Simple carbs, also referred to as simple sugars, are found in things like fruit, vegetables, and milk. Complex carbs are commonly thought of as starches, and are found in breads, rice, and potatoes, among other things.

During digestion, both simple carbs and complex carbs are eventually broken down into simple sugars, including glucose, galactose, and fructose. These sugars are then stored in the liver until our bodies need them for energy.

As the name suggests, complex carbs have a slightly more complicated process to go through before breaking down all the way into sugar. They’re also generally thought to be more filling, and a better nutritional choice than simple carbs.

#3. Your social media is filled with food porn.

Food porn is defined in part by the senses that it is a visual experience of something that other people can smell and taste. It can be anything that makes you drool — something that, at its best, should manufacture a desire that it can’t satisfy. 

Food and drink are highly shareable. Not only is eating something we do often — generally three times a day — it encompasses many of the reasons we engage social media.

Posting these pictures is a creative act. We practically become food stylists when the first plate hits the table, grabbing candles and bottles as backdrops, insisting everyone keep their hands off.

Psychologist Charles Spence, author of “Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating,” wrote in the journal Brain and Cognition in 2016 that merely looking at food can have the effect of releasing gastric juices, essentially preparing us to eat. 

If you want to lose weight? A social media diet could help more than you think

#4. You are not drinking enough water.

Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs fluids. This confusion happens in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates both appetite and thirst. When dehydration sets in, wires get crossed in the hypothalamus, leading you to grab a bag of chips when you really need a bottle of water.

You can prevent it by staying on top of your fluid intake, starting with a glass of water first thing in the morning. If you feel hungry, and you haven’t drank much that day, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if your hunger subsides.

#5. You are not eating enough fiber.

Consuming lots of high-fiber foods helps keep hunger under control. 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, and some are better than others at keeping you full and preventing hunger. Several studies have found soluble fiber, or fiber that dissolves in water, is more filling than insoluble fiber.

Many different foods, such as oatmeal, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, oranges, and Brussels sprouts, are excellent sources of soluble fiber.

Not only does a high-fiber diet help reduce hunger, but it’s also associated with several other health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

#6. You are bored.

If you have found yourself eating to pass the time or to break up the same old routine, it may be time to talk about boredom eating and the negative impact it can have, not just on your weight but your overall health, too.

When you are hungry, you eat because you need to eat. Your body requires energy and nutrients to survive and thrive each day. When you eat for reasons outside of physiological need, it’s unnecessary eating. Boredom eating falls into this category and can cause you to overeat or prioritize less nutritious foods over those your body needs.

Boredom eating can quickly turn into emotional eating. Whenever we eat for the wrong reasons, there is a chance we’ll feel even worse after the poor food decisions. This emotional response can trigger further unnecessary eating and perpetuate negative food experiences over and over again.

The sooner you can readily identify true hunger, the easier it is to recognize boredom and emotional eating cues. Once you can identify these cues, it becomes much easier to respond to them in ways that will allow you to stay on track.

#7. You are drinking too much alcohol.

Alcohol is no friend of people trying to lose weight, or stick to a healthy weight. Not only is it high in calories (the second most energy-dense nutrient after fat), but it tends to be linked to a desire to eat more.

Scientists have suggested various theories to explain this. One theory is that alcohol erodes willpower, meaning people are likely to eat more than they intended after a drink. That could also explain why people often pick less healthy options, such as crisps or kebabs, if they’ve been drinking.

Alcohol switches the brain into starvation mode, increasing hunger and appetite. It would explain why many people say they eat more when they have had a few drinks.

#8. You are drinking liquid calories.

Liquid calories in just about any form — alcohol, juice or soda — are stealth calories. They come in undetected under the radar screen, but have an impact that can be enormous. Scientific evidence confirms that although such liquids count as calories, the body doesn’t detect them the same way as it would detect solid food.

Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses. When drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.

The mechanisms controlling hunger and thirst are completely different, and liquids — even if they contain calories — don’t seem to satisfy hunger even if they quench your thirst. Physiologically, your thirst is quenched once your blood and cell volume is increased by water. This signals to your brain that you are no longer thirsty.

Hunger is regulated in your stomach and intestines. While you’re eating, nerves in the stomach wall detect that it is stretching and send satiation signals to the brain. The intestines also release nerve regulators and hormones. At the same time, the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which is released by the stomach when it is empty, decreases — all of which help you feel satiated.

#9. You are stressed.

There is much truth behind the phrase “stress eating.” Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating.

When you’re anxious or tense, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This amps up your feeling of hunger. Hence an intense craving arises for foods high in calories under stress. It may be your body’s attempt to “shut off” the part of your brain that causes you to worry.

Many people have stress triggers that cause them to eat. Perhaps there are relationship issues that cause pain. Or perhaps family or work stress has gotten out of control. If you can identify your triggers, then you can take active steps to tackle stress before it gets out of control.

#10. Your medicine has side effects.

Certain medications such as steroids, anti-seizure medications and antidepressants can cause increased appetite. If you suspect that your medication may be to blame for your insatiable appetite, log any symptoms that you are experiencing and talk to your physician about your concerns.

If switching medications isn’t an option, the key is to be mindful of when you’re truly hungry and when it’s just a craving. Its recommended to keep your meals balanced and try to keep healthier snacks within reach.

#11. You aren't managing your diabetes.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes both mess with sugar levels, which can create a cycle of hunger when people try to get their blood sugar back on track. Low blood sugar triggers appetite, but going overboard can make those cravings worse. 

People overeat and get too high of sugar levels, which also cannot be satiating. It’s a cause and effect that goes back and forth. Even if you’re hungry all the time, try keeping your blood sugar steady by staying away from carb-heavy or refined, processed foods.

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