When you feel your stomach grumble, it’s your body’s natural way of telling you it needs food. But when that happens far too often, what’s going on?
While not eating for a few hours is totally normal, a constant grumble from below can be a little distracting – as well as cause headaches, irritability and a lack of focus.
So if you’re someone that frequently asks, ‘why am I always hungry?’ you’re not alone.
Let’s take a look at why you may feel hungry after eating or feel as though you have an increased appetite.
Here are 16 reasons why you’re always hungry.
1. Low blood sugar
A common concern for those who suffer from diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) occurs when your body doesn’t have enough sugar to use as fuel.
When this happens, it’s incredibly easy to feel those hunger pangs kicking in. If your blood sugar levels get low, you could also start to feel jittery or nervous, as though your heart is skipping a beat.
So if you feel as though you’re always saying, ‘why am I always hungry’, it could be due to low blood sugar.
2. Poor sleep
Our bodies need sleep in order to repair and function properly, including brain function and your immune system. When we don’t get enough sleep, it’s easy to feel run down and get sick – since we’re running on empty.
But general health aside, sleep is also crucial for controlling your appetite. Ghrelin – the appetite-stimulating hormone – is regulated steadily when we get high-quality sleep.
When this hormone goes a little haywire due to lack of sleep, that feeling of constant hunger is more prominent. So it doesn’t matter whether you’ve just eaten, feeling hungry after eating can be a common experience when you’re feeling tired.
According to studies, participants who were sleep-deprived for a single night felt significantly more hungry, opting for 14% larger portion sizes in comparison to those getting enough shuteye.
Since a lack of sleep leads to higher levels of ghrelin – when you’re feeling tired you can expect an increased appetite.
3. Not enough protein
If you still feel hungry after eating, or feel as though you have an increased appetite, you may not be getting enough protein.
Not only does a diet rich in protein help you feel fuller for longer (meaning you’ll eat/snack less!), but it also reduces levels of hunger-stimulating hormones.
According to studies, male participants with excess weight who consumed 25% of their calories from protein reported a 50% reduction in urges to snack.
Since there are many different foods that are high in protein, incorporating more protein into your diet is made easy. Opt for meat, poultry, eggs and fish for some extra protein, as well as plant based foods such as:
- Whole grains
If you want to stop feeling as though you could eat the entire fridge, get some extra protein into your diet!
4. Too many refined carbs
When we talk about carbs, not all carbs are created equal. Despite common diets telling us to cut out carbs completely, it’s the bad carbs (including processed sugar such as soda, baked goods and candy) that leave us feeling hungry after eating.
One of the most popular foods in this category is white flour, found most often in bread and pasta. Since these foods lack any real nutritional value or fiber, it takes a while for our body to digest them.
If you find yourself saying, ‘I’m always hungry’ it could be down to your carb intake.
However, it’s important to pay close attention to reducing the right carbs – those in refined form. These type of foods don’t promote those full feelings that – unlike foods with protein, the right carbs and fiber do.
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Since these refined carbs cause blood sugar fluctuations, it’s no surprise you’re thinking why am I hungry all the time.
So what should you do to curb that constant hunger? Cut back on your refined carb intake, replacing these carbs with whole foods – like legumes, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
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5. Your diet lacks fat
While a diet high in processed foods that are high fat can lead to obesity, healthy high-fat foods are the ones that keep us feeling full.
This is partly due to the time it takes to digest fat, meaning it remains in your stomach for longer. While studies have also shown that eating fat (the right kind!) may lead to fullness-promoting hormones being released.
When these hormones are released, feeling hungry after eating is no longer a problem, since our body has told us it is full. So what type of fat should you be eating?
Omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in fatty fish, such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. If you’re looking for the highest source of MCT, coconut oil should be your go-to.
Other health, high fat foods include:
- Full fat yogurt
- Olive oil
6. You need to drink more water
Being hydrated is crucial for your overall health, but many of us mistake feeling hungry after eating or an increased appetite with feeling thirsty.
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And no, soda doesn’t count – sorry, guys. Your body needs water. Drinking plenty of water helps to promote brain and heart health, optimizing exercise ability – as well as keeping your skin and digestive system on top form.
In one study, when drinking two cups of water before a meal, participants reported eating 600 calories less than those who didn’t drink water.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated?
Often we mistake feelings of hunger for feelings of thirst. However, some of us feel dizzy or tired when we’re dehydrated – as well as feeling pangs of constant hunger.
Since water plays a huge role in whether we feel full, if you’re wondering why am I hungry all the time, you may not be drinking enough!
7. You need more fiber
When you’re eating a low-fiber diet, it’s no surprise that you feel pained by constant hunger. Much like healthy fats, a diet high in fiber helps to keep those feelings of hunger under control.
High-fiber foods do this by slowing down the rate at which your stomach empties, since it takes longer to digest foods high in fiber.
When your diet is packed with processed foods that have low nutritional value, we often digest them far quicker, meaning it’s easy to feel hungry after eating.
But what type of fiber is key? According to studies, soluble fiber has been shown to be more filling than insoluble. In order to get enough of this fiber into your diet, opt for:
- Sweet potatoes
- Flax seeds
- Brussels sprouts
These foods will kick that feeling of constant hunger to the curb, as well as support your overall health. A high fiber diet can also reduce your risk of diabetes, obesity and even heart disease.
Try adding the following foods into your diet to ensure you’re getting enough fiber!
- Whole grains
8. Your activity levels
If you’re hitting the gym hard, it’s no surprise you feel as though you have an increased appetite. While exercising, your body burns calories for fuel, which in turn boosts your metabolism.
In doing this, your body uses more energy and stores, making you feel hungry again. Whether you’re training for a marathon or taking part in a HIIT workout, vigorous exercise on a regular basis can lead your body to burn more calories at rest.
According to one study, men who engaged in a vigorous 45-minute workout showed an increase in their metabolic rate of 37% that day. While other studies have shown exercise to be effective in suppressing your appetite, others have shown that long-term exercisers may have an increased appetite in comparison to non-exercisers.
If you don’t want to cut back on your time in the gym, you may need to eat more in order to fuel your workouts. Increasing filling foods that are packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber will keep you full and support your exercise performance.
9. Distraction eating
We all know that we tend to eat more when snacking in front of the TV. Whether you’re eating on the go, while you work or while watching television, distraction eating can be detrimental to your calorie intake and an increased appetite.
Since we are unaware of how much we are really eating, we don’t recognize our body’s fullness signals – meaning we keep snacking away.
According to research, those who eat while distracted report feeling hungry after eating and an increased appetite, compared to those who avoid distractions.
So what should you do? Take the time to enjoy your food without mindlessly eating. This will help you to keep track of what you’re eating and notice your body’s signals that you’re feeling full.
10. Alcohol consumption
Research has shown that alcohol may inhibit appetite-reducing hormones. So if you’re a fan of a beer or five, an increased appetite is pretty common.
So if you’re wondering, why am I hungry all the time, it could be due to your alcohol consumption. One study showed that male participants drinking alcohol (40ml) before lunch ate 300 more calories than those drinking less (10ml).
As well as giving you feelings of constant hunger, alcohol can also impair self control and judgment – making it easy to eat more, whether you really feel hungry or not.
When you’re feeling a little tense, the hormone cortisol is released, increasing hunger and food cravings.
While a healthy diet is always recommended, stress can have a huge impact on our bodies, including our hunger levels. It’s not uncommon to seek sugary, high fat foods, which although we know they’re bad for us… Our stress levels crave them.
It has been said that stress levels may be combatted by the body with feelings of hunger, switching worry into comfort eating.
As difficult as it may seem, try to stick to filling foods that are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats – while reducing your stress levels through exercise, self care and deep breathing.
12. Certain medications
Medications can have very different side effects. Antihistamines and antidepressants, as well as some steroids, antipsychotic drugs and diabetes medication, can all potentially leave you with an increased appetite.
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It’s not uncommon for some drugs to result in weight gain, since they have the ability to make you feel hungrier than usual. If this is the case, talk to your doctor to see if an alternative medication can help.
13. Thyroid problems
While this may not be the first go-to cause for feeling hungry after eating, your thyroid produces hormones that control how your organs work. If it working too hard, you may feel like you’re always hungry, and suffer from the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Sweating more
- Feeling thirsty after drinking
- Fast pulse
If you feel as though this could be what’s causing constant hunger, book in with your doctor to take a closer look at the problem.
When we consume food, our bodies turn sugar into fuel called glucose. When you have diabetes, this glucose cannot reach your cells. Since your body gets rid of it (via urine), your body signals you to eat more.
Type 1 diabetes may cause you an increased appetite, despite still losing weight. With other symptoms including:
- Feeling fatigued
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Needing to pee a lot
- Feeling very thirsty
- Cuts and bruises that heal slowly
- Tingling in hands or feet
15. You eat too quickly
The pace at which you eat can play a huge role in feeling hungry still. According to research, those who eat quickly tend to have greater appetites with a tendency to overeat.
This, in turn, can lead to obesity or excess weight gain. When we eat too fast, we are unaware of how much we chew and have reduced awareness – meaning we can feel hungry after eating.
Much like distraction eating, eating too fast also means we don’t enjoy our food and appreciate how full we can feel afterwards.
16. Health conditions
If you frequently feel like you’re hungrier than you should be, it could be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
The initial response, in this case, would be diabetes. Constant hunger is a result of extremely high blood sugar levels, alongside other symptoms such as:
- Feeling incredibly thirsty
- Weight loss
- Feeling fatigued
Other conditions include Hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid – which can cause excess production of thyroid hormones and promote constant hunger.
As well as other conditions, including anxiety, depression and kidney failure.
Constant hunger is a sign that your body is seeking food.
While there can be a variety of reasons for this, whether it’s a hormone imbalance, a lack of crucial vitamins or excess exercise – curbing an increased appetite can be resolved by improving your diet.
These small lifestyle changes can make a huge positive impact on your overall wellbeing – helping you to avoid the frustration of: Why am I hungry all the time!
Try to avoid distraction eating while watching TV, and instead practice mindful eating that allows you to feel fuller for longer and take notice of your body’s full signals.