Hunger is our body’s means of telling us it requires food. Usually, hunger vanishes after you have eaten. Still, there are many times when you might feel as if you are hungry all the time and your body still need food, even after you have just eaten. In addition, when you do not feel the fullness of the stomach after eating, the desire to eat persists throughout the day.
There can be numerous reasons why you feel hungry despite a full meal: sleep disruption, stress, boredom, lack of fibers or high sugar content, and many more. Continuous hunger can also indicate specific mental conditions that call for treatment. Here are some probable causes why you might feel hungry even after eating.
The majority of food and drinks contain added sugar, which might increase your appetite and give rise to hunger pangs. Luckily, there are ways to curb those hunger pangs by making lifestyle or dietary changes.
According to a 2015 review, excessive sugar consumption, mainly fructose, can increase appetite. A diet high in fructose can cause your body to produce more ghrelin, which can significantly impact activity in certain areas of your brain, making you feel hungry regardless of eating.
According to 2017 research, consuming a fructose supplement significantly rose the rate of study participants’ stomach emptying.
Protein is known for satiating hunger and aids in making you feel full without consuming too much, as it takes longer to digest. According to some research, consumption of protein in high amounts tends to make us feel less hungry.
The consumption of protein slows down the food’s movement via the GI tract, and slow stomach emptying ensures an extended feeling of a full stomach. If your dish includes fiber but lacks the essential proteins, you’re bound to feel hungry soon after eating.
For example, a 2015 study from China discovered the impact of a high-protein diet on obese youngsters. The scholars randomized the adolescents to consume a low-protein or a high-protein breakfast for three months, with both breakfasts having the same calorie content.
The study concluded that a high-protein breakfast drastically minimized the lunchtime food intake as opposed to a low-protein breakfast. It also increases fullness and weight loss in adolescents.
The Food and Nutrition Board states that adult females in the US must consume at least 46g of protein daily, while adult males must have 56g of protein daily.
Fiber is essential to keep your stomach full and fill you up. Still, many people do not consume enough fiber in their diet. One of the biggest reasons for feeling hungry even after eating might be your lack of fiber intake.
An average American diet is mainly composed of refined carbohydrates, which are processed grains and sugars stripped of the essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
These consist of pizzas, bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, cookies, sweets, crackers, etc. refined carbs are almost instantly digested. Hence, excessive consumption will make these sugars enter your bloodstream quickly, causing spikes and subsequent crashes in your blood sugar.
When this happens, you’ll feel tired, cranky, shaky, weak, and hungry, compelling you to feel that hunger again even when you ate a while ago. But with substantial fiber in your diet, you will not feel hungry so soon after eating.
Fiber generally takes a long time to digest, preventing blood sugar crashes and spikes that make you crave food more often. Fiber-rich foods are filling and more voluminous as they swell up in your stomach and occupy more space before moving along the GI tract.
Per the Food and Nutrition Board, females between 19-50 years must consume 25g of fiber, and males between 19-50 years must consume 38g of fiber daily.
Often, hunger actually thirsts in disguise because the signs of dehydration are often the same as hunger pangs. If you do not consume enough water, you’re likely to feel weak, tired, and cranky, which ultimately makes you think you are hungry.
Water is the best thing for digestion and plays a vital role in practically all body functions. As a result, you must aim to consume at least 2-3 liters of water every day to stay fully hydrated and feel less hungry.
Whether you’ve stayed up past your bedtime or spent the night constantly turning and tossing, sleep disruption can significantly cause you to feel hungry more often. The quality of hours of sleep has a significant impact on your satiety and hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin.
If you sleep well throughout the night, these hormones will work normally and trigger hunger only when it is time to eat. Likewise, it will alert you when your stomach is full and when you need to stop. However, sleep disruption unbalances these hormones.
The levels of leptin (the hormones that signal you when you are full) fall down, while the levels of ghrelin (the hormones that stimulate your appetite) rise. So, regardless of having just eaten, you might feel less satiated and more hungry than usual.
It was also confirmed from a 2016 study that men who limited their sleep experienced higher levels of ghrelin and ate significantly more than the participants who slept adequately.
Certain medications, like antipsychotics, antidepressants, and corticosteroids, can impact our body’s metabolism and trigger hunger pangs, causing us to feel hungrier than usual. Anyone who experiences considerable weight gain following a new medicine must consult their doctor and seek suggestions on coping strategies.
Your doctor might suggest altering the dosage or changing your medication. Sudden withdrawal of a particular drug can also lead to unwanted side effects. Hence you must always consult with your physician first.
Stress and mental strain
Eating has a strong link with feelings of happiness and satisfaction, so much so that the phrase “comfort food” has been coined. We usually reach out for high-carb, high-fat, and high-sugar food to help us feel relieved during times of mental strain such as depression, stress, and anxiety.
Comfort food hits the pleasure receptors in our brain, making us feel a lot better and at ease. It’s the most prevalent cause of inexplicable hunger and is usually quite difficult to correct. In many instances, research has also associated emotional and mental stress with issues with appetite control.
A 2015 study discovered that individuals experiencing stress, mainly due to marital problems, reflected increased levels of ghrelin and a significantly poor quality diet compared to individuals in stable marriages.
Cultural cues increase consumption.
American culture is typically swarmed with cues that compel us to consume unhealthy, rich, and fast foods.
There are endless ways human beings are being tempted every day: office doughnuts, layers and layers of advertising, enticing discounts and BOGOF deals, fast-food drive-thrus, vending machines, concession stands, social eating, and binge-eating snacks and comfort food while watching your favorite shows.
Our brain reacts well to what makes us feel happy and good. Food companies are using many tactics to satiate our hunger for their products, which is a huge reason why you might usually feel hungry after eating.
Many people will often mistake boredom with hunger and end up eating food soon after having their meal, usually as a snack. According to a 2015 study, boredom can instigate people into seeking a rewarding behavior, usually in the form of eating.
Consumption of alcohol might be another reason behind unexplained hunger after eating and making an individual feel hungry most of the time. According to a 2017 study, the association between overeating and alcohol might be due to the impact alcohol imposes on our brain’s hunger signals.
As per a 2015 study with 35 women as its participants, researchers found out that consumption of alcohol before a meal made them feel more vulnerable to food aromas, causing them to eat unnecessarily.
The thyroid is a relatively tiny gland in the front of the neck that produces hormones that regulate the metabolism and flow of energy used by our body. An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, is a common medical problem that can result in a vast array of symptoms, including increased hunger.
If you experience other symptoms like weight loss, hyperactivity, swollen neck, fatigue, diarrhea, nervousness, irritability, mood swings, and frequent urination, visit your doctor to see if you have hyperthyroidism. Treatment options include medications, thyroid surgery, and radioiodine therapy.
Type 2 diabetes
Enduring hunger can often be tied to type 2 diabetes, which means you must undergo a doctor’s examination to see if you have it. If left untreated, diabetes causes glucose to stay in our blood rather than going into the cells, using glucose as an energy source. This often makes one feel hungry and exhausted.
Symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, slower healing of wounds and cuts, excessive and frequent urination, and vision problems all indicate that you might have type 2 diabetes and need to get it diagnosed. Treatment options include lifestyle and dietary changes, along with medications.
If you want to avoid feeling hungry soon after eating, be sure to make some tweaks to your lifestyle and diet to balance out your hunger. As mentioned above, ensure a properly balanced diet with the right amount of carbs, fats, proteins, and fibers. Some other things you need to take care of include:
A study showed that participants who ate at a slow rate (roughly over 25 minutes) felt fuller two hours after the meal and ate 25% fewer calories from snacks three hours after their dinner than those who ate in just under 6 minutes.
Your body cells require more fuel when your muscles are being used. Hence, adjust your calorie intake based on how active you are throughout the day.
Most of us need at least 1,200 calories daily for our bodies to function correctly. If you limit your calories excessively, your body will ultimately crave more food.