Hunger is your body’s natural signal that it needs more food.
When you’re hungry, your stomach may “growl” and feel empty, or you may feel a headache, feel irritable or be unable to concentrate.
Most people can go many hours between meals before feeling hungry again, though this isn’t the situation for everyone.
There are several possible reasons for this, including a diet that lacks protein, fat or fiber, as well as excessive stress or dehydration.
This article will discuss 14 reasons for excessive hunger.
1. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Consuming enough protein is vital for appetite control.
Protein has hunger-reducing properties that may assist you automatically consume fewer calories during the day. It works by increasing the production of hormones that is a clue of fullness and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger (1, 2, 3, 4).
Due to these reason, you may feel hungry frequently if you’re not eating enough protein.
In one study, 14 overweight men who consumed 25% of their calories from protein for 12 weeks experienced a 50% reduction in their desire for late-night snacking, compared to a group that ate less protein (5).
Additionally, those with a higher protein intake recoreded greater fullness throughout the day and fewer obsessive thoughts about food (5).
Many different foods are high in protein, so it is not hard to get enough of it through your diet. Including a source of protein in every meal can help prevent excessive hunger.
Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs, contain high amounts of protein.
It is also available in some dairy products, including milk and yogurt, as well as a few plant based foods, the likes of legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
SUMMARY:Protein plays a vital role in appetite control by regulating your hunger hormones. For this reason, you may feel hungry frequently if you don’t eat enough of it.
2. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
Getting adequate sleep is extremely vital for your health.
Sleep is needed for the proper functioning of your brain and immune system, and it is linked with a lower risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer (6).
Additionally, sleeping enough is a reason in controlling appetite, as it helps regulate grelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone. Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived (7, 8).
In one study, 15 people who were sleep deprived for just one night reported being significantly more hungry and chose 14% larger portion sizes, compared to a group that slept for eight hours (9).
To keep your hunger levels under check, it is generally recommended to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
SUMMARY:Sleep deprivation is listed to cause fluctuations in your hunger hormone levels and may leave you feeling hungry more frequently.
3. You’re Eating Too Many Refined Carbs
Refined carbs have been processed and stripped of their fiber, vitamins and minerals.
One of the most regular sources of refined carbs is white flour, which is gotten in many grain-based foods like bread and pasta. Foods such as soda, candy and baked goods, which are made with processed sugars, are also considered to be refined carbs.
Since refined carbs lack filling fiber, your body digests them very quickly. This is a major factor why you may be hungry frequently if you eat a lot of refined carbs, as they do not promote sizeable feelings of fullness (10).
Furthermore, eating refined carbs may result in rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This could lead to increased levels of insulin, a hormone responsible for transporting sugar into your cells (10, 11).
Low blood sugar levels signal your body that it requires more food, which is another reason why you may feel hungry often if refined carbs are a regular part of your diet (10).
To reduce your refined carb intake, simply replace them with healthier,whole foods the likes of like vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains. These foods are still high in carbs, but they are rich in fiber, which is helpful for keeping hunger under control (12).
SUMMARY:Refined carbs don’t have fiber and cause blood sugar fluctuations, which are the primary reasons why eating too many of them may leave you feeling hungry.
4. Your Diet Is Low in Fat
Fat play a key role in keeping you full.
This is partly because of its slow gastrointestinal transit time, meaning that it takes longer for you to digest and remains in your stomach for a long period of time. Additionally, eating fat may lead to the release of various fullness-promoting hormones (13, 14, 15).
For these reasons, you may notice frequent hunger if your diet is low in fat.
One study including 270 obese adults disovered that those who followed a low-fat diet had considerable increases in cravings for carbs and preferences for high-sugar foods, compared to a group that consumed a low-carb diet (16).
Furthermore, those in the low-fat group recorded more feelings of hunger than the group that followed a low-carb eating pattern (16).
There are many healthy,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 researched the most for their impact on reducing appetite (17, 18, 19, 20).
The richest food source of MCT is coconut oil, while omega-3 fatty acids are derived from fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods, such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Some other sources of healthy, high-fat foods are inclusive of avocados, olive oil, eggs and full-fat yogurt.
5. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Proper hydration is incredibly vital for your overall health.
Drinking sufficient water has several health benefits, including promoting brain and heart health and optimizing exercise performance. Additionally, water makes your skin and digestive system healthy (21).
In one study, 14 people who drank two cups of water before a meal ate almost 600 fewer calories than those who didn’t drink any water (24).
Because of water’s role in keeping you full, you may realize 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 be helpful to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you are just thirsty (23).
To ensure you’re properly hydrated, simply drink water when you feel thirsty. Eating lots of water-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, will also contribute to your hydration needs (25).