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Why You're Hungry All The Time [10 Reasons + Tips to Curb The Hunger]

Written by
Brooke McKelvey
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Natalie Carroll
MS, RDN, CDN, CLC
a person eating a toast with avocado

You've just eaten, but you're still rummaging around the pantry and standing in front of your refrigerator trying to find the perfect snack. Your hunger pangs never seem to stop plaguing you. You can't remember the last time you finished a meal and felt full until it was time for the next one. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, there's probably an underlying reason! 

We all know hunger is a symptom of something, but what are the underlying reasons for your constant cravings? Some underlying factors may lead to sugar and carb cravings, while other feelings of hunger may not be satiated by eating at all. Understanding the cause of your hunger is as important as what to do to address it. 

Read on to find out some of the reasons you may be hungry all the time and what you can do about it.

Understanding Hunger as a Symptom

a person dipping pita into yogurt

The hunger you feel could be a symptom of something else. This is why it's essential to understand what factors may lead to this constant desire or need for food—so you can learn how best to address it. 

The first thing you should do is understand the role ghrelin plays in how your brain registers hunger. Ghrelin is a hormone produced in your stomach that increases your appetite. When your stomach is empty, it makes more ghrelin, and your blood sugar level drops. The levels of ghrelin in your blood are usually highest before you eat, and begin to reduce once food has been consumed. Ghrelin is also a factor in insulin release. Another important hormone to know about is leptin, this is released in an attempt to tell our brains that we are full. 

10 Reasons Why You're Always Hungry

A person drinking water, holding a slice of pizza

Once you understand how your body registers and regulates hunger, you can start to think about why you're hungry all the time. This way you can address and control the issue. To help you out, here are a few reasons why someone may often feel hungry. 

1. Lack of Sleep

Sleep is a crucial part of maintaining good health. It is necessary for your brain function, immune health, and appetite control. Sleep also impacts ghrelin, the hunger-inducing hormone mentioned above. Sleep deprivation causes higher ghrelin levels, so you might feel hungrier when you are tired. Your body may also lead you to believe you're hungry because it feels like it doesn't have enough fuel to "run" properly. Getting enough sleep ensures that you're maintaining adequate levels of leptin, the hormone that promotes feelings of fullness. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Try to establish a sleeping schedule that you can stick to. This will help your body "program" itself into a routine of good quality sleep. 
  • Make sure that you have a good environment in your bedroom for sleep.

2. Excess Simple or Processed Carbohydrates

 two loaves of bread wrapped in net on a white backdrop

Foods high in sugar or starchy carbs can spike blood sugar levels and lead to a crash, resulting in hunger again soon after. This can make you feel hungry all the time. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Incorporate movement [like a short walk] before and after meals to help your body process the sugars being broken down.
  • Try to balance your meals with fiber and protein to help prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Be sure you are eating whole, non processed foods instead of overly refined or high-calorie options.

3. Inadequate Protein Intake 

Your body requires carbs, fiber, and protein to fuel itself. This is why it is essential to balance your meals with a combination of the three. If you're not getting enough of what your body needs to feel satiated, like protein, you run the risk of feeling unsatisfied and possibly hungry even after eating. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Make sure that you incorporate some protein into every meal. This includes meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, tofu - to name a few!  
  • If you begin to add more physical activity to your daily routine, you may need additional protein as well. 

4. Frequent, Vigorous Exercise

A person in workout gear using an exercise ball

Exercise is a great way to control your blood sugar and lose weight, but it also burns through the food you consume much quicker than when you are sedentary. When you exercise, you're boosting your metabolism. So, you may feel hungry all the time if you aren't balancing your diet correctly alongside this. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Make sure that your meals are well balanced if you are often exercising. Just because you are burning calories quicker doesn't mean that the type of calorie doesn't matter. 
  • Eat foods that provide healthy fuel over time, like proteins and healthy fats.

5. Overly Stressed

When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol, which may cause cravings for sugary or fatty foods. Stress can cause your body to crave foods like sugars, processed carbs and fats to boost that fuel and serotonin. Other symptoms of stress to watch out for are headaches, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, and an uneasy stomach.

A few ways to address this: 

  • Try some relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to lower stress levels.
  • Take time for yourself every day to do something healthy like taking a walk, cooking yourself a wholesome meal, or reading a book. 

6. Taking Specific Medications

A person holding a supplement pill with oranges in the background

Some medicines may cause you to eat more than usual. If you've put on weight since beginning treatment, it might be a side effect of the medication. Consult with your doctor to see if any alternative medications will assist you.

A few ways to address this: 

  • Medications such as birth control, insulin, and some antipsychotics are known to produce feelings of hunger. 
  • Speak with your doctor if you've noticed a change in your appetite after beginning a new medication. 

7. Improper Blood Sugar Regulation

Experiencing hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, low and high blood sugar can cause constant hunger. People with diabetes often experience this. But even if you don't have diabetes, you could experience hunger due to poor blood sugar regulation. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Ensure you are eating a diet composed of complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and healthy fats to help balance blood sugars.
  • Use tools like a CGM to monitor your blood sugar levels. 
  • Consult with a registered dietitian to ensure you're making food choices best suited to your individualized needs. 

8. Environmental Factors and Triggers

A woman and man sitting on  couch eating pizza, with a puppy watching them

Do you often eat meals in front of the television? You may want to consider how that can affect your hunger levels. Environmental distractions can distract you from your food, and you can eat too much or too little in a sitting. If you ignore your food, your brain may not be processing what you are feeding yourself and demand more sustenance shortly after a meal. 

A few ways to address this: 

  • Try to eat at a table rather than in front of the television or on the go. 
  • Be mindful of what you are eating and how much you are eating.

9. Inadequate Hydration

Your body may have difficulty regulating hunger when you are not adequately hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid caffeine, which contributes to dehydration.

A few ways to address this: 

  • Make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Keeping a large bottle of water by your side is a great way to measure how much you consume throughout the day. 
  • Trade-in sodas or sugary drinks for a glass of water with citrus or fruit.

10. Certain Medical Conditions—Hyperthyroidism

A person being examined by a doctor

Your thyroid is a gland located in the front of your neck. This gland controls the production of the hormones that control your metabolism. These hormones are also responsible for ensuring that your organs are functioning correctly. If you have hyperthyroidism, dysregulation of some thyroid hormones may result in a constant feeling of hunger.

A few ways to address this: 

  • See your doctor if you suspect that you have hyperthyroidism. 
  • Ensure that you take the proper medications (on time and in the right manner) if you're diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.
Related Article

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