Do you feel hungry all the time, despite eating big meals? Constant hunger can make your best efforts to lose weight or maintain a healthy, balanced diet challenging.
Here are five reasons why you might be hungry, despite eating plenty of food.
Our brains can confuse thirst for hunger, making us believe we are hungry when we are in fact, thirsty. Try drinking a large glass of water 30 minutes before each meal to help prevent overeating.
LACK OF PROTEIN
Studies show that eating protein stimulates the release of hormones from the gut that signal to the brain that the stomach is full. Protein is also broken down slowly making us feel fuller for longer. Include a source at each of your main meals. Eggs, fish, good quality protein powder and vegan proteins like tofu and tempeh are all good sources.
NOT ENOUGH SLEEP
Lack of sleep disrupts hormones that control how hungry we feel. Tiredness increases levels of our hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreases levels of our satiety hormone leptin, causing us to eat more. In one study, people who lost 80 minutes of sleep one night ate an average of 549 extra calories the following day! Aim for eight hours sleep per night. Set an alarm to remind you to switch off Netflix and start getting ready for bed. If you struggle to get off to sleep, try a magnesium supplement.
We tend to base our meals around starchy carbohydrates like cereals, bread, pasta and rice. These foods might temporarily fill us up, but they’re broken down quickly into the sugar glucose, leading to a spike in our blood sugar, followed by a drop. When our blood sugar drops we are likely to feel hungry and this is when the cravings set in. Swap starchy carbs like pasta and rice for more vegetables. Think stir-fries, roasted Mediterranean vegetables and veg curries.
You’ve probably heard about people both losing and gaining weight due to stress, and there’s truth in both claims. In short periods, stress can reduce the appetite when the brain produces corticotropin-releasing hormone which supresses your appetite. But over a longer period of time, the adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol, which increases both your appetite and your motivation to eat. If you’re going through a stressful time, look after yourself by preparing healthy, balanced meals and planning your diet carefully in advance. Try and tackle the cause of your stress if possible. If you can’t get to the root of the problem on your own, talk to someone who can help.