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Reasons Why You're Always Hungry

Reasons Why You're Always Hungry
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

If you find that you are constantly hungry there may be a good reason why, and it may not just be due to having a high metabolism. Hunger can be affected by food addictions, stress, sleep deprivation bad eating habits, hormones that are out of balance, medical disorders such as metabolic syndrome and many other health conditions and circumstances.

Much but not all of hunger is psychological, especially if you have recently eaten a large meal and you are still feeling hungry a few hours later. It may also be that the meals you are eating are lower in quality and have too many carbohydrates and not enough healthy fats and protein.

No matter what the reasons are you can fix many of them by controlling your diet, and if you find that you are hungry very often, look at some of the reasons in this article for some good information on what might be triggering your appetite.

Reason #1 Why You're Always Hungry - You are eating too many carbs and refined foods

Refined foods are high in carbohydrates, which means that they don't provide you with as much energy as foods that are rich in protein and natural fat. To avoid always feeling hungry, you should avoid eating refined foods and foods that are high in simple carb content such as chips, packaged foods, cookies and other foods.

Several studies have found that these foods end up making you feel hungrier after just an hour or two because of how rapidly they are digested. Because they break down so quickly they cause a spike in blood sugar which in turn triggers your body to store the extra energy as fat. The energy that you don't use right away isn't available to you throughout the day, as it would be with slower digesting protein and healthy fat.

Processed foods and carbohydrate rich also have a unique effect on hunger and your psychology. Processed foods can lead to food addictions by constantly triggering the reward centers of the brain, and they are designed basically be addictive while providing you with a minimal amount of nutrition.

Because they are so easy to eat in large quantities, it's easy to neglect eating whole foods and natural foods when you include junk food in your diet too often, and you can become reliant on them as an energy source to get you through the day rather than natural foods. It can easily turn into a vicious cycle where you are constantly hungry but always feeling drained because the foods that you are eating aren't providing enough long lasting energy.

Reason #2 - Your hormones are out of balance

Leptin and ghrelin are the two primary hormones that affect your hunger. Leptin is produced by the fat cells in your body, and it reduces your appetite, while ghrelin increases your appetite. When you eat junk food and processed food constantly, your leptin levels can start to increase, but this isn't a good thing.

Studies have found that people who have high levels of leptin in their blood are more likely to be obese, even though they have the higher levels. This is due to leptin resistance, which is thought to possibly occur as the result of eating processed and refined foods on a regular basis. Basically, the higher your body fat percentage and weight, the more leptin that you will have in your blood stream, and the greater the chance that you have some sort of resistance to it, which means that you may need to eat more and more food in order to feel satisfied.

Ghrelin is another hormone involved in hunger that isn't thought to be as important as leptin but still influential. Ghrelin is produced by the stomach and many researchers believe that it signals the brain to be hungry. Ghrelin levels are increased when a person is eating too little and they decrease when a person is eating too much. Right before you eat, your ghrelin levels start to peak, and then after eating they start to decline.

Diets that are high in carbohydrate rich foods and processed foods can actually cause your ghrelin levels to be artificially high, which then leads to constant hunger. Diets that are high in healthy fats and protein suppress the production of ghrelin more effectively, which leads to a direct reduction in how hungry you are throughout the day. Because of the impact that processed food can have on your hunger hormones, it makes it even more important to eliminate them from your diet or reduce your consumption as much as possible.

Reason #3 - You are dehydrated

Being hydrated is essential for your body to function optimally, and it may have a direct role in how hungry you are throughout the day. Mild dehydration can be masked by the brain as hunger, which can lead you to start eating a snack or a processed food when all your body really wants is a glass of water.

If you have noticed that your junk food consumption has started to increase lately but you haven't been drinking enough water, try increasing the amount of water that you drink to see how it affects your hunger levels. The chances are that you'll start to feel less hungry throughout the day, even if you were already drinking a decent amount of water. The 8-10 glasses of water per day rule is good to follow if you think that you may be dehydrated.

When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and wait at least 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes you are still hungry, you should eat a healthy snack, but if your hunger subsides then it was due to dehydration. Always have a bottle of water with you to stay on top of your water intake. Also be sure that you are avoided any diet drinks or drinks sweetened with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners.  These drinks can trigger your hunger and cause a whole range of negative health consequences. Also, they do not hydrate you well enough, and  can also lead to chronic dehydration.

Stress can trigger hunger as well as sleep deprivation

Stress can be another trigger for hunger, so you should try to adopt different stress control practices into your lifestyle such as exercise, yoga, meditation and others. Stress can trigger the release of cortisol which can deplete your body of energy and cause you to become constantly fatigued, which can lead to constant overeating.

The same effect occurs when you stay up too late every day and become sleep deprived; your cortisol production levels start to rise and although the connection between cortisol and hunger is still being studied, many researchers believe that it has both a direct and an indirect influence on hunger by binding to receptors in the hypothalamus and influence other hormones that are involved in appetite.

Controlling hunger requires self-awareness and you should speak to your medical provider

Because of the wide range of different potential hunger triggers that you may have, controlling hunger requires quite a bit of awareness and understanding about yourself and the situations that trigger you to eat. And it the exact causes of hunger are often not obvious when you haven't spent the time to think about it.

Hunger has many biological and psychological influences, and if you find that you are constantly hungry all the time it can be a symptom of a greater health problem. You should talk to your medical provider if you find that you are always hungry or if your weight has started to change quickly. Some of the causes of constant hunger can be treated just by changing your diet and your eating habits, but other causes may need medical treatment.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.