You’re an hour into the working day and already on the hunt for a second breakfast – why are you so hungry?
If you’re confused by unexpected tummy rumbles, take a closer look at your eating habits. Chances are, your diet will reveal a lot about those troublesome hunger pangs and why you’re always shopping for emergency snacks.
Always hungry? Here’s why.
1. You Drink Too Much
There’s science behind your pizza cravings after a pint or two. Alcohol increases levels of ghrelin in the body: the “hunger hormone” that regulates appetite and distributes energy. Drink a glass of wine before dinner, and you’re more likely to be reaching for seconds. What’s more, alcohol can also significantly decrease levels of leptin in the blood – the “satiety hormone” that works to inhibit hunger.
Boozy sessions are just asking for unrelenting hunger. If you’re sick of submitting to late night trips to the takeaway, try scrapping alcohol from your diet completely.
2. You Need Good Bacteria
Whilst eating habits play a huge role in determining your hunger levels, certain aspects are left in the hands of Mother Nature. Emotional eating is something we all battle with – only a bar of chocolate can save the day! And another perhaps lesser-known trigger for hunger pangs is the bacteria in our gut.
Research highlighted in the Journal of Bacteriology found that the trillions of microbes in our stomach/intestines respond to the food we eat and, in turn, influence how hungry we are and at what times. If you’re hungrier than your friends, it could be because your gut isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
An imbalance of bacteria not only has the potential to produce toxins; they can also effect your eating decisions, manipulate your mood and stimulate hunger pangs. Ward off nasty microbes and feed your gut with the lots of tummy loving fibre – artichokes, beans, bananas and whole grains.
3. You Need More Protein
Hunger isn’t just a call for food. It’s a complex interaction between the brain, bloodstream, stomach and intestines. For this reason, it’s integral that you don’t just eat to satisfy random cravings – crisps, pasta, fast food. Feed your body with the nutrients it needs to stay fuller for longer, starting with protein.
Protein-dense foodstuffs such as lean meats, fish, eggs and soybeans are proven to promote fullness. In a study made by Purdue University, they found that even a “3-4 ounce portion of lean protein was enough to influence appetite,” reports WebMD, and that those whose diets didn’t meet the daily protein recommendations found they had an increased desire to eat.
Make simple food swaps to feel less hungry. At breakfast for instance, try switching from cereal to scrambled eggs to up your protein intake.
4. You’re Loading Up On Refined Carbs
You eat and eat and eat, but nothing seems to stop your stomach from rumbling. Top tip: write down what you’re eating. If your diet is packed with ‘bad’ simple carbs that are broken down too quickly by the body, you won’t feel satisfied.
Refined carbohydrates tend to be processed, preservative-filled and topped with tons of sugar – all of which wreaks havoc on your hunger hormones.
Take fast food for instance. Whilst its sweet/salty goodness tastes great in the moment: the trans fat content can inflame the gut, and impair appetite-controlling hormones as a result. And to make matters worse, the high-carb intake is likely to spike insulin levels too, leaving you hungry for evenmore food.
Again, as tempting as it is, replace your takeaway trips with nutrient-rich, wholesome homemade dinners.
5. You’re Always Stressed
In many stressful situations, you probably don’t feel like eating. However, when stress becomes commonplace and you’re constantly feeling tired and irritable; you’ll probably start to eat more. Increased cortisol levels are a symptom of chronic stress, which can leave you super hungry and craving all kinds of sugary foods.
Rather than applying yourself to an unrealistic diet, look to eliminating the stress from your life. Stress can lead to all kinds of health complications; high blood pressure, heart problems, depression. A healthier you is a less snack-happy you.
6. You’re Taking Certain Medication
One of the hidden side effects to many medication types is weight gain. This could be for a range of reasons, and in some cases can even be considered a positive – perhaps you had a lack of appetite beforehand and the medication has given you a healthy hungriness again.
Even something as seemingly harmless as antihistamines can make your tummy rumble. Histamine is a chemical compound released by the body as an inflammatory response (to allergies for example) and suppresses your appetite. Thus, taking medication to prevent constant sneezing could also increase your hunger levels.
If you’re clueless as to why you’re constantly snacking, speak to a doctor and see if changing your prescription could make a difference.