Hunger pangs. Everyone knows them. At the very least, they’re annoying. But when it’s been hours since you last ate, those pangs can quickly turn to pain.
These sensations are your body’s natural impulses to get you to eat.
Our bodies require food for energy. Food is made up of calories, which your body burns to operate, move around, and exercise.
Just like locomotives that convert coal to steam to power their heavy engines, you eat protein, carbohydrates, and fats that convert to kinetic energy.
Eating the right number of calories each day gives you the strength you need to power through life’s toughest obstacles.
Eat too much and you can become overweight or obese.
But when you don’t eat enough, you feel lethargic and moody. This is akin to a car running out of gas.
You don’t have enough calories to push through, so your body signals that it’s time to eat.
Your body uses various hormones that cause alterations in your body. That pain in your stomach is caused by ghrelin, the hormone that controls hunger.
Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full.
You probably already know about insulin, the blood sugar-regulating hormone.
The way hunger is supposed to work, these hormones work in perfect balance to regulate your appetite.
You feel hungry when your body requires more calories.
You feel full when your body has had enough.
When hormonal fluctuations happen due to extreme weight gain or an underlying condition, these signals can become mismatched.
Your body may not react properly anymore, and extreme hunger is only one side effect that can result.
Hunger is a major side effect of hormonal imbalance caused by weight gain that can negatively affect your life.
You might find yourself constantly starving.
Ever find yourself opening the fridge even though you recently ate? That’s your hunger signals misfiring.
At work, you might make it a habit to have snacks handy to keep those nagging pangs at bay.
Drinking water can be useful for curbing your cravings every now and again.
But you can only drink so much water.
What are you supposed to do when your hunger signals are firing all the time?
If the sound of your stomach growling is as regular as a cuckoo clock, there are several possible explanations.
Let’s look at those now.
Why Am I Hungry All the Time?
You Require More Protein
The trick to controlling your appetite is to ensure you eat enough protein throughout the day.
Lean meats, cottage cheese, and other protein-rich foods reduce your hunger.
Protein also gives your body what it needs to build and repair muscle. The more muscle you have, the greater your metabolism, which means you’ll burn more fat.
A study of overweight men found that those who ate a quarter of their calories from protein saw a halved reduction in their desire to snack when compared to a group that consumed less protein.
You Need More Shuteye
Optimal health requires that you get adequate sleep each night.
Without proper sleep patterns, your brain might not function as clearly. You might not have as good coordination, leading to accidents and injury.
Sleep deprivation can also dampen your immune system, leading to the potential for illnesses to develop like heart disease and cancer.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial for regulating your appetite.
You may have noticed how you wake up craving sweet foods and carbohydrates when you haven’t had enough sleep.
Spend a few nights sleep-deprived, and your cravings may become uncontrollable.
Getting adequate sleep ensures a balance between ghrelin and leptin, preventing constant hunger.
To keep your appetite on an even keel, try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night.
Don’t Forget the Fat
The diet industry is responsible for tainting how the public perceives fat.
It doesn’t help that fat is what you want to lose.
However, eating enough fat is another effective way to keep yourself full.
Fat is not bad for you. Some fats are bad, but others are beneficial for health.
Good fats keep you satiated because of their slow transgression through your gastrointestinal system.
The longer fat takes to digest, the longer it stays in your stomach.
Eating fat also releases fullness promoting hormones, which further satiates you.
You Might be Dehydrated
Drinking enough water comes with a wide range of health benefits.
Your heart is an engine that circulates blood through your system no matter what, twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week. The least you could do is drink enough water to make all the work easier.
Drinking water makes your blood less viscous and gives organs strength, which includes your number one blood pump.
Drinking water can make you feel more alert and ready for whatever comes your way.
When you become dehydrated, your brain’s impulses may not fire as fast as they should, leading to brain fog, distorted thinking, and delayed coordination. This could be dangerous when operating heavy machinery and while driving.
Drinking enough water gives your brain what it needs to keep you alert, safe, and thinking clearly.
Dehydration and exercise do not mix.
When you become dehydrated, your muscles lose some of their elasticity, which can lead to muscle tears when certain body parts are extended too far.
Dehydration can make you feel lightheaded during exercise. You might pass out and hit your head or injure yourself another way.
Drink adequate water and you’ll have more energy, a greater ability to flex your joints and muscles, and you’ll be thinking clearly enough to make exercise easier and more enjoyable for the duration.
Digestive System Optimization
You will have an easier time swallowing and digesting food when you drink at least eight cups of water a day.
Think of it as putting oil in your car.
Water ensures all your body parts work efficiently, your digestive system included.
You can’t ignore the effect drinking adequate levels of water has on your skin.
Drinking enough water gives your skin a healthy glow.
When you experience skin damage, such as a sunburn or cut, drinking water helps your skin heal more efficiently.
If you want to look your best, proper water consumption is where it’s at.
Here’s another thing. Drinking water keeps your appetite under control.
A study of people who drank two cups of water before each meal ended up eating six hundred fewer calories when compared to those who didn’t drink any water at all.
With all these benefits to drinking water, try to make it a point to always have a water bottle or other source of water nearby.
You’ll feel better and less hungry overall.
Do You Eat Out of Habit?
Sometimes hunger is caused by a bad lifestyle habit.
Always reaching for a snack each day after lunch tricks your body into becoming accustomed to eating at that time.
Your stomach may begin to growl at the exact hour you usually reach for the candy bowl or other snack of choice.
You might find yourself overeating as you sit in front of the television.
The TV is hypnotizing.
Before you know it, you begin eating without really knowing how many calories you’re consuming.
You’re so engrossed in the images flashing on the screen, and the taste of whatever you’re eating, that it’s only later when the guilt sets in.
The best way to combat these habits is to keep a food journal.
Record when you eat, the environments you usually eat in, your mood while you’re eating, and any other details you think are important.
That way, you can become cognizant of when and how you eat, helping you breakthrough and bypass unhealthy habits.
An Abundance of Exercise
You might be hungry because you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming.
If you participate in high-intensity exercise or long-duration physical activity like marathon running, you might have a faster metabolism than average.
Your body is going to remain hungry to signal when it’s time to eat, fueling your fat-burning engine.
Are You Overindulging in Alcohol?
A study on those who drank 1.5 ounces of alcohol prior to eating lunch found they ate three hundred extra calories during the meal than those who only drank 0.3 ounces.
Those who drank alcohol also ate 10% more calories during the day compared to those who drank less.
Alcohol makes you hungrier and leads to poor self-control, making it easier to overindulge.
These are just some of the reasons you might be hungry all the time. Other reasons include medications you might be taking, eating too fast, stress, and an underlying medical condition.
Other Facts About Appetite
Check Your Blood Sugar
Dips in blood sugar can leave you feeling hungrier than normal.
When your blood sugar levels fall too low, you usually feel it.
You might become dizzy and sleepy all of the sudden with an elevated heartbeat.
Blood sugar rises when you eat foods high in carbohydrates.
That’s why you should aim to eat foods higher in protein, fiber, and fat. These healthier selections balance blood sugar, keeping you full.
Carb-heavy foods are broken down into glucose by your body. Glucose (sugar) is your body’s preferred source of fuel.
As food is digested, glucose enters your bloodstream, where it is met by insulin.
Insulin regulates blood sugar and helps glucose enter the walls of your cells for energy.
When your blood sugar plummets, your cells fail to obtain adequate levels of energy.
Your body will then signal that it needs to re-fuel, making you feel hungry.
When glucose levels drop super low, that’s when you might be sweaty, shaky, and hungry.
A blood sugar test with a simple finger prick can help you determine your blood sugar levels.
Normal sugar ranges are between 72 and 99 mg/dL. These readings should be taken after a fast first thing in the morning. The readings could be up to 140 mg/dL around two hours after eating.
Your blood sugar eventually makes it down to normal ranges after eating, where it should settle around 55 mg/dL or less.
Problems with blood sugar could be an indication of diabetes.
How to Stop Feeling Hungry Constantly
A study showed that eating slowly (for up to twenty-four minutes) made the test subjects feel fuller for up to two hours post-meal.
They consumed 25% fewer calories from snacks three hours after their meals compared to the group that ate within six minutes.
Find out how much you need to eat for your body type and activity level.
Use a calorie counting app on your phone or food diary to help you track your calories and macronutrients each day. Most of us need over 1,200 calories per day just to function.
If you are restricting your body too much, your hunger might be your body signaling that you need more food.
Make Good Food Choices
When it comes to protein, fill your plates with meats, eggs, beans, and nuts.
Fiber-rich foods to eat include whole grains, sunflowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Healthy fat options include fatty fish, olive oil, avocado, and flax seeds.
Visit Your Healthcare Provider
Check with your doctor to see if hypoglycemia or diabetes are leading to your sensations of extreme hunger.
After a series of tests, you can receive an official diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Overactive Hunger Signals Play a Role in Obesity
Feeling hungry all the time can lead to overeating. When you add in the processed food that composes the typical American diet, you get a recipe for a high body mass index or BMI.
BMI measures your height compared to your weight to determine how much of your body is lean muscle, organs, and bones, and how much is composed of fatty tissue.
Overweight and obese individuals have BMIs greater than 35 kg/m. You can use a BMI calculator to determine your BMI.
When you achieve a BMI category of overweight or obese, you may find it difficult to lose weight.
Ghrelin, leptin, and your metabolism can become unbalanced due to the effects carrying excess fat has on your body.
Feeling hungry all the time compounds weight loss. And the scale may not move, no matter how much you diet or exercise.
Weight loss surgery can help.
Bariatric (weight loss) surgery is a set of surgical procedures aimed at helping you lose weight fast.
These popular procedures are ideal if extreme hunger has contributed to your being overweight or obese.
Bariatric surgeries are also effective techniques for treating obesity comorbidities like type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease.
Being hungry all the time is annoying and carrying around excess weight is cumbersome and taxing on your health. Isn’t it time you did something about it?
What do you have to lose?
If you’d like to learn more about bariatric surgery to combat obesity, call Healthy Life Bariatrics. Reach out to our board-certified surgical center anytime throughout Southern California to discuss popular procedures like the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. Dial now – (310)694-4486.