10 reasons you are always hungry

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 15 Feb, 2024 07:00 | 4 mins read

In a physiological sense, hunger is a cue that your body needs more food.

But if your stomach has a constant rumble, even after a meal, it could be as a result of another underlying issue as Milliam Murigi explores.

 1. Your meals are out of balance

If you are not getting enough protein, fat and complex carbohydrates, especially fibre-rich sources, you are more likely to feel hungry throughout the day.

According to US Centres for Disease Control, each of these nutrients slows digestion and promotes feelings of fullness. On the flip side, eating too many refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar fluctuations that trigger your body to want more food.

2. You eat too quickly

Your body needs about 20 minutes to register fullness. When you eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, your body and brain have time to notice that you are satisfied.

3. Eating junk food

Unfortunately, hunger pangs don’t just crop up when our bodies actually need food. Ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates our appetite,) works hand in hand with insulin, the hormone that the pancreas releases to keep your blood sugar on an even keel.

When insulin levels increase, ghrelin tends to decrease. When your insulin levels drop, your ghrelin levels spike. That’s why eating junk food can fill you up for an hour… only for your body to get hit with cravings to eat again.

4. Blame your medications

Some drugs can make you want to eat more than usual. Antihistamines, which treat allergies, are known for this, as are antidepressants called SSRIs, steroids, some diabetes medicines, and antipsychotic drugs.

If you have gained weight since you started a medication, the medicine could be making you feel hungry. Talk to your doctor to find out what other drugs might work for you.

5. You eat while distracted

Popping open a bag of chips while bingeing Netflix may sound like an ideal Friday night for some, but try to be more mindful of how much food you are consuming while following plot lines.

Mindless eating is when you don’t realise what and how much you are eating. You know in your subconscious that you did eat, but it’s almost like discounting that meal.

Your brain doesn’t register that you’ve eaten. To avoid mindless eating, portion control is essential. 

6. You are not drinking enough water

Thirst can mimic hunger. When was the last time you drank some water? Have you been drinking alcoholic beverages, which tend to be dehydrating? Many of us feel like we are hungry when in fact we are just thirsty.

So, before you slug down that fourth cup of coffee, consider that your large caramel latte with whipped cream is dehydrating you (not to mention adding unnecessary calories).

On the other hand, drinking water throughout the day will keep you hydrated and potentially stave off hunger. Water not only makes you feel full, it also helps your body absorb the nutrients it gets from food. 

7. You are around food

Just smelling something delicious can trick our bodies into thinking we are hungry, while seeing food on a billboard or in a TV commercial can trigger our appetites (and our salivary glands).

The hunger may all be in the brain, but it can certainly feel like we need to eat urgently, which often leads to overeating.

8. You exercise a lot

Individuals who exercise frequently burn a lot of calories. This is, especially true if you regularly participate in high-intensity exercise or engage in physical activity for long durations, such as in marathon training.

Research has shown that those who exercise vigorously on a regular basis tend to have a faster metabolism, which means that they burn more calories at rest than those who exercise moderately or live sedentary lifestyles.

It is most helpful to increase your intake of filling foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Another solution is to cut back on the time you spend exercising or reduce the intensity of your workouts.

It’s important to note that this mostly applies to those who are avid athletes and work out frequently at a high intensity or for long periods. If you exercise moderately, you probably don’t need to increase your calorie intake.

9. You are not getting enough sleep

If you are not getting enough sleep, your body may punish you for it. Researchers have found that even a single night of sleep deprivation can make your body kick up the cravings.

Another 2016 study revealed that lack of sleep contributes to being drawn to foods high in sugar, sodium and fat. Sleep helps regulate ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone.

Not getting enough sleep increases ghrelin, leading you to feel hungry when you are actually in need of sleep. Experts say sleep is ideal to get your body system to heal and regenerate.

So, if you can’t get sleep throughout the night, taking a short nap or even just resting your body can help.

10. You are stressed

When you are anxious or tense, your body releases a hormone called cortisol.

This amps up your feeling of hunger. Many people under stress also crave foods high in sugar, fat, or both. It may be your body’s attempt to “shut off” the part of your brain that causes you to worry.

Find something you enjoy and if you become stressed in the middle of your day, step away from your desk for five minutes, and go outside for some fresh air. Even taking a hot bath, painting your nails, reading or knitting can help alleviate stress.

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