Hunger is the body’s way of telling a person that it needs food.
Your body relies on food for energy, so it’s normal to feel hungry if you don’t eat for a few hours. After eating enough food, hunger usually temporarily goes away.
Several things can cause hunger. Check out these 8 common causes of hunger.
If you follow a calorie-restricted diet, then you may feel hunger most of the time.
Consuming fewer calories than the body burns can cause the body to produce a hormone called ghrelin. A low-calorie diet can increase ghrelin production and cause hunger, even after a person has just eaten.
Try changing your diet because not all foods fill you up the same way. The ones that can get that hunger pangs working are high in protein, like lean meats, fish, or dairy products.
If your diet lacks fiber, you may feel hungry frequently. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Healthy fats like those found in nuts, fish, and sunflower oil can lower your cholesterol levels. They’re key to a balanced diet and can help you feel satisfied after you eat.
You exercise a lot
If you exercise frequently, you are burning a lot of calories.
Your body burns calories for fuel when you work out. This leads to a boost in your metabolism, a process by which your body uses energy and for some, that can set off an increase in hunger.
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.
One solution is to cut back on the time you spend exercising or reduce the intensity of your workouts.
If that is not your cup of tea, then another solution, is by simply eating more to fuel your workouts. It is most helpful to increase your intake of filling foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
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 longer periods. If you exercise moderately, you probably don’t need to increase your calorie intake.
You’ve probably heard this one before. A lot of the time, you’re secretly thirsty.
Your body can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst but signs of dehydration includes:
- Feeling tired
- Peeing less often or having dark-colored urine
Try drinking two glasses of water first and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.
Eating lots of water-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, will also contribute to your hydration needs.
You’re not sleeping enough
Not getting enough sleep can disrupt the body’s natural hormonal balance, which may increase feelings of hunger in some people.
You’re also more likely to crave high-fat, high-calorie foods when you’re tired.
Other effects of sleep deprivation include:
- A hard time staying alert
- Change in mood
- More accidents
- Trouble staying awake during the day
- Weight gain
Getting enough sleep also helps ensure adequate levels of leptin, a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness.
To keep your hunger levels controlled, it’s generally recommended to get at least 7 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Many food products and beverages such as Sodas, iced teas, and other sweetened beverages are full of high-fructose corn syrup, which may increase a person’s appetite.
Many people drink sugar-free soda to cut back on calories or lose weight. But the fake sugar in these drinks tells your brain to expect calories it can use for fuel. When your body doesn’t get any, it tells you to get calories from food instead.
Type 2 diabetes
Constantly being hungry can be a symptom of type 2 diabetes.
Your body turns the sugar in food into fuel called glucose. But when you have diabetes, glucose can’t reach your cells. Without proper treatment, glucose is essentially not being used for energy appropriately, and the body believes it is starving. This can make a person feel tired and hungry.
Emotional stress is also linked to problems with appetite control.
When you’re anxious or tense, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. A hormone that has been shown to promote hunger and cravings for sugary, fattening or salty foods. For this reason, you might find that you are always hungry if you experience stress often.
Try relaxing with healthy habits, like exercising, reading a good book or whatever works for you.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, produces hormones that control metabolism and how the body uses energy.
An overactive thyroid, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including increased hunger.
Other symptoms of any overactive thyroid include a rapid or irregular heartbeat, persistent thirst, anxiety, and tremors. If any of this sounds like you, you should visit your nearest doctor.
A person may feel hungry all the time for a number of reasons. It’s often a result of imbalanced hunger hormones.
They may be able to reduce this hunger by making dietary changes and certain lifestyle habits such as:
- Including more protein and fiber
- Eating less sugar and salt
- Drinking more water
- Consuming less alcohol
- Limiting processed or fried foods
- Inadequate sleep
- Chronic stress
Additionally, certain medications and illnesses are known to cause frequent hunger.
Your hunger could also be a sign that you are not eating enough but people experiencing constant feelings of hunger or unexplained weight loss has to consider seeing a doctor.