Article from Healthline by Brianna Elliott, RD
Hunger is your body’s natural cue that it needs more food.
When you’re hungry, your stomach may “growl” and feel empty, or you may get a headache, feel irritable, or be unable to concentrate.
Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again, though this isn’t the case for everyone.
There are several possible explanations for this, including a diet that lacks protein, fat, or fiber, as well as excessive stress or dehydration.
This article discusses 14 reasons for excessive hunger.
1. You’re not eating enough protein
Consuming enough protein is important for appetite control.
Protein has hunger-reducing properties that may help you automatically consume fewer calories during the day. It works by increasing the production of hormones that signal fullness and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger (1*, 2*, 3*, 4*).
Due to these effects, you may feel hungry frequently if you’re not eating enough protein.
In one study, 14 men with excess weight who consumed 25% of their calories from protein for 12 weeks experienced a 50% reduction in their desire for late-night snacking, compared with a group that consumed less protein (5*).
Additionally, those with a higher protein intake reported greater fullness throughout the day and fewer obsessive thoughts about food (5*).
Many different foods are high in protein, so it’s not difficult to get enough of it through your diet. Including a source of protein in every meal can help prevent excessive hunger.
Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, contain high amounts of protein.
This nutrient is also found in some dairy products, including milk and yogurt, as well as a few plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
2. You’re not sleeping enough
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important for your health.
Sleep is required for the proper functioning of your brain and immune system, and getting enough of it is associated with a lower risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer (6*).
Additionally, sleeping enough is a factor in appetite control, as it helps regulate ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone. Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived (7*, 8*).
In one study, 15 people who were sleep deprived for only 1 night reported being significantly more hungry and chose 14% larger portion sizes, compared with a group that slept for 8 hours (9*).
To keep your hunger levels well managed, it’s generally recommended to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. [Keep Reading]