8 reasons you are hungry all the time
Is your stomach growling even though you’ve just eaten? This is what might be behind your insatiable appetite.
We all have times where we feel hungrier than usual, but a body that is constantly crying out for fuel could be trying to tell you something.
Look inward and consider whether the following could be rolling out the red carpet in the direction of the pantry.
1. You are not drinking enough water
If your body is dehydrated, there’s every chance you’re mistaking thirst with pangs of hunger, says Madeline Calfas, nutritionist and founder of The Wellness Group.
“If you’ve recently eaten and you’re feeling this way, try drinking a tall glass of water instead,” Madeline says.
She says the guidelines for how much water to drink has changed over the years.
“Rather than the old-school eight glasses per day, we should be aiming for 35ml per kilogram of body weight, so if you weigh 54kg, you should be aiming for around 1.89L per day,” she says.
2. Your sleep is disrupted
Poor sleep has long been linked to a hormone imbalance which increases feelings of hunger in some of us.
But researchers have also found the exhausted are more likely to be drawn to a pantry stocked with junk food – even if they’re only recently eaten.
According to the study, we eat nearly twice as much fat when we’re sleep-deprived than when we’re well-rested.
The key takeaway?
Turn off electronics at least two hours before bedtime and create a soothing nightly routine to help encourage a deeper slumber.
- Rest easy: How to know it’s time to go to sleep school
3. You are not getting enough protein
Throw another piece of chicken (or tofu) on your plate; studies show protein not only reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, but increases the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full.
“As a general guideline, the average adult needs a minimum of 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day,” Madeline says.
“The best sources of protein are lean beef, chicken, pork, fish and seafood, lentils, eggs, beans and dairy.”
For vegans she recommends lentils, chickpeas, beans, seitan, tofu and tempeh.
- Plant-based diet: 10 best sources of vegan and vegetarian protein
4. Alcohol is influencing your meal plan
Most of us are no strangers to making poor food choices once alcohol has been consumed in large quantities, but it’s interesting to know even a cheeky glass of bubbly before your meal could activate hunger signals in your brain.
One study found consuming alcohol just before a meal made diners more sensitive to food aromas, which caused them to eat more.
Your best bet? Always place your full meal order before a single sip is taken.
- Booze ban: What happened when I quit alcohol
5. You’re distracted when you eat
It’s all too common to eat your meals before a screen, but several studies have shown that those who are distracted while eating are hungrier than those who stay on task.
A study found women who were distracted during mealtimes were less full and had an increased desire to continue grazing throughout the day.
Madeline recommends setting aside designated times to eat and taking time to properly chew and appreciate the taste and smell of your food.
“It may seem silly but doing these things will stimulate your digestive system to work more effectively,” she says.
6. You are stressed
Stress has been known to increase levels of cortisol, a hormone that elevates feelings of hunger.
One study found women who were stress consumed more calories through the day and ate significantly sweeter foods than those were remained calm.
Try to reduce cortisol levels by introducing daily exercise into your routine and consider downloading meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm.
7. You are not eating enough
Whether you are flat chat or on some fad diet, there is every chance you are simply not consuming enough fuel for your body weight and type.
“The amount needed will vary from person to person and things like activity levels can drastically change the amount we need to be eating, as can things like age, weight loss and the amount of lean muscle tissue,” Madeline says.
She says a rough guideline is a moderately active female should aim for about 1800-2200 calories per day while an active, average-sized male should aim for around 2200-2800 calories per day.
8. You have an underlying medical condition
You are getting enough sleep and your diet is sensible, so what now?
It is a good idea to make an appointment with your GP as constant hunger can be a symptom of an underlying health condition such as diabetes, hypoglycaemia or hyperthyroidism.
Your doctor may also wish to rule out other less common conditions such as depression, anxiety or menstrual cycle issues.
Written by Dilvin Yasa.