6 Reasons Why You’re Hungry All The Time
You shouldn’t feel the need to eat around the clock. Many people feel their best when eating small meals more often. However, if you find yourself feeling hungry all the time it could be due to one of the following reasons:
1. YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH PROTEIN OR FIBRE
We need all of the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) for different reasons, and not all calories will have the same impact on satiety. While carbohydrates are great for providing quick energy, protein, fat and fiber are important for sustaining that energy. A study published in Nutrition Journal found high-protein snacks led to reduced hunger and kept participants satiated for longer. It is generally regarded that foods high in protein and fiber are most effective at generating satiety due to the breakdown and release of nutrients from these foods.
2. YOUR HORMONES ARE OUT OF WHACK
When the body is in a constant state of stress, cortisol (stress hormone) rises, which can trigger an increased appetite. Furthermore, stress eating usually causes people to reach for highly palatable foods, like refined carbohydrates and sugary items, which won’t keep you full or satiated for long.
Menstruation can be another hormonal shift that may cause a temporary increase in appetite and cravings, both related to increased feelings of fatigue and an uptick in energy needs.
Try to line up some other coping mechanisms to deal with stress aside from eating, such as exercise, talking with a friend or family member, journaling, reading, or cuddling with a pet.
3. YOU’RE NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
Sleep plays a significant role in regulating hormones, which may contribute to increased feelings of hunger. Short sleep duration is linked with elevated levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, and decreased levels of leptin, a satiety hormone. That means when you’re short on sleep you’re more likely to feel hungrier and crave sugary foods. Focus on creating healthy sleep habits including avoiding alcohol and heavy dinners before bed, and leaving gadgets like your phone or laptop in another room.
4. YOU’RE DISTRACTED WHEN EATING
Given hectic schedules, you might find you’re eating while walking, driving or scrolling on your phone. However, if all of your meals are rushed, the body has a harder time recognizing fullness. In a study comparing distracted eaters to non-distracted ones, the non-distracted participants reported a reduction in their desire to finish their entire plate of food. In contrast, distracted participants maintained a desire to eat everything on their plate, which may be a contributing factor to overeating. Not only can mindful eating help you feel satiated, but it has also been linked to reduce food cravings and emotional eating.
5. YOU’RE BURNING MORE ENERGY THAN YOU REALIZE
A mismatch of energy leads to increased or constant hunger. If you are exercising more, at higher intensities or for longer durations, your appetite likely increases as your body burns through more calories than it’s used to. Other life changes and considerations may also lead to increased energy needs and appetites. For example, pregnancy, recovering from childbirth, breastfeeding or chasing kids around.
6. YOU’RE DEHYDRATED
Many of us are familiar with the afternoon slump or the feeling of just wanting something to “snack on.” Oftentimes, we just need to hydrate. A study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior found people respond inappropriately to body signals 62% of the time, confusing hunger and thirst. While hydration shouldn’t be used to “mask” hunger, it is important to make sure you are hydrated so you’re not mistaking thirst for hunger.
If you feel hungry soon after eating, try drinking a glass or two of water first. If you still feel hungry after drinking, it is likely true hunger. In that case, choose a protein-rich snack to keep you satiated longer.
– By Sarah Schlichter, RD.