Why Do I Always Feel Hungry?

There has been a major shift in the way humans live and eat. Modern life has turned down the volume of our hunger and fullness signals and made it harder to listen to our bodies. The luxury and access to processed foods have hard-wired our brains to keep us coming back for more. Blend all that together with stress, lack of sleep, and constant messaging from the media and we’ve got a never-ending pit in our stomachs. So, next time, try not to blame yourself when you think, “Why do I always feel hungry?”

Why am I constantly hungry?

Most of us have heard that in order to lose weight, we must decrease our calorie consumption dramatically and, as a result, we’ll achieve quick and effective results. We can see how that sounds plausible but, in fact, decreasing caloric intake below our metabolic rate (the number of calories we need to function daily) can be harmful to our bodies and detrimental to our goals.

Being in a constant caloric deficit can help you lose weight initially, but decreasing calories too much or too quickly can lead to harsh consequences. In general, we don’t recommend going lower than 1,300 calories per day, but this is dependent on your height, weight, activity level and goals. Why? Well, if you don’t give your body the correct nutrients and energy it needs, it can run the risk of malnutrition. And, if your body is deficient in certain nutrients, it will increase your hunger as a warning signal and send your body into “starvation mode.”

In starvation mode, all functions that are not needed for survival are slowed or disabled, such as metabolism, reproductive function, and even brain activity. So, in some cases, even with a caloric deficiency, you might not see weight loss results because your body stores as much food as possible and burns through it at a slower rate.

Did you know…

Once you’re in it to win it, the goal is to lose weight slowly but surely. Many studies indicate that if you lose weight steadily instead of all at once, you will be healthier and your results will stick because your body has time to adapt to the changes, spare muscle tissue, and keep your metabolism running smoothly. The opposite happens in yo-yo dieting — your body can’t keep up with the changes, leading to long-term struggles with weight regulation and an increased risk of disease.

Hungry while following the 8fit app?

When using the 8fit app, the goal is to feel satisfied and satiated rather than restricted. For weight loss goals, we do this by gently decreasing your caloric intake, recommending three meals and one snack per day, and carefully choosing a balance of minimally processed, nutrient-rich foods.

Rest assured knowing that the calories in your meal plan are calculated according to your goal, gender, age, weight, height, and physical activity level. If you’re feeling hungry on your meal plan, first make sure that your profile is up to date. If everything looks accurate and you’re still hungry, try adding non-starchy vegetables to your meals and make sure you’re drinking enough water.

If you get hungry between meals, aim to have a small serving of protein such as a handful of nuts or serving of yogurt. Keep in mind, it can take a couple of days or weeks for you body to adjust to any new way of eating or to a different exercise plan. In fact, many 8fitters report feeling hungry when they start exercising more or feeling symptoms of sugar withdrawal as they eat less processed foods. Give your body time to adjust and make sure to eat all of your meals slowly. Keep up the great work and the rest will come naturally.

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Why do I feel hungry after eating?

There are many reasons why you may feel hungry after eating. It’s not all about calories in versus calories out. Eating irregularly, consuming processed foods, and life distractions (the TV, your phone, your kids) may give you the feeling that you haven’t even eaten anything. Read on for some top reasons why your hunger may keep panging you.

1. You’re not eating enough of the good stuff

We often suggest that you include protein and fiber with all meals and snacks because they help keep you full for longer. When a meal is balanced, you will feel satiated. Experiment with different foods to see what wards off hunger the longest. Try a meal with lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs rather than a bowl of lettuce leaves. Add loads of non-starchy vegetables instead of starchy, high-carb ones (potatoes, carrots, corn, squash) and you’ll be filling up on fiber and nutrients instead of sugar and carbs.

2. Your meal is sweeter than pie

Having something sugary or sweet will leave you feigning for more. Particularly when you leave out the stabilizing protein or fat — your blood sugar will jump, then fall flat on its face. You’ll need another lift to pick it back up again. So always pair your carbs (i.e. those sweets) with protein or fat to be safe.

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3. You’re mindlessly eating

How many times have you been eating your meal in front of the TV or at your desk when, all of a sudden, your entire meal has disappeared. You know where it’s gone and accept the fact that you’ve fed your body, but then 30 minutes later you proclaim, “Why am I still hungry?! Why am I always hungry?!” In this case, your body might be fed, but your brain hasn’t registered that you ate a meal — it was too busy focusing on that TV show.

4. Food manufacturing

Foods are manufactured to keep you coming back for more. To do this, food companies add megadoses of sugar, salt, and/or fat to processed foods in to increase what’s called the bliss point which, in turn, removes the nutrient-filled portions. This can leave your body wanting more of what it’s lacking.

Hunger hormones

Meal timing, eating habits and the foods we eat aren’t the only things that influence our level of hunger. Hormones like the appetite suppressor, leptin (found in fat cells), signal to the brain when we’ve had enough to eat. The more fat cells, the more leptin, which then results in leptin-resistance over time, which then means your brain fails to acknowledge satiety over time.

Think of it like this: Your leptin is a person shouting out to you, “Stop eating!” Now imagine there are lots of leptins shouting at the same time. With all that noise, your body won’t be able to hear the message clearly.

Ghrelin, known as the appetite increaser, signals the brain when it’s time to eat. After eating a well-balanced meal, it goes down for about three hours or until it’s time to eat again. Both leptin and ghrelin can be impacted by sleeping and eating patterns — which is why it’s so important to get a good night’s sleep and eat on a regular schedule.

Diets high in complex, whole carbohydrates and protein are helpful, but they aren’t the only way to keep hunger hormones in check. When you find yourself asking, “Why am I hungry again?” instead ask questions like:

  • Did I drink enough water?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • How am I managing my stress lately?
  • Did I move enough today?

In some cases, you might be on track with your meal plan and one of those unhealthy habits is contributing to hunger levels.

Your visceral fat chimes in: “Why I am always hungry?”

We previously mentioned that yo-yo dieting confuses the body, but it also increases your risk of belly fat, or visceral fat. This fat builds up in the space near your vital internal organs such as your stomach and intestines. Visceral fat has been likened to being its own organ, producing toxins, increasing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and impacting the way your metabolism works. It creates a never-ending cycle, making you more likely to crave foods that make you gain more weight. One of the best ways to beat visceral fat is regular fitness and activity.

Important lifestyle habits: Stress, sleep, water

1. Stress

Chronic stress leads to increased cortisol. This fight or flight hormone increases appetite and motivation to eat while influencing our bodies to hold onto belly fat. For some, stress does the opposite and suppresses appetite. Either way, it’s important to be in tune with your body and do your best to limit stress.

2. Sleep

Sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone. So, lack of sleep can increase appetite and hunger. Prioritize sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene before bed.

3. Water

Many times, we confuse thirst for hunger. So chug a glass of water, then see if you’re still feeling that snack.

Bonus! 
Hydration helps support metabolism and helps beat bloating.

Sum it up

Your hunger pangs may be caused by the current state of your body and hormones, the types of foods you’re eating, the lifestyle you’re living, or simply because you’re not eating enough of the right stuff. It’s important to evaluate what is the main culprit of your “hunger” and to address it. If you’re looking for further guidance, join the 8fit community for a support system that will help you along your journey.