Regular and substantial meals should fill you up, but what if you find yourself always ravenous for another bite of food? What if you never feel satisfied no matter how much you eat?
Hunger is complicated and has many different triggers, said Dr. Monique Tello, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School.
“One is hormonal, so people’s hormones — in particular ghrelin, a gut hormone — can have a stimulating effect on the sensation of hunger and appetite,” Tello told TODAY. “Other signals are more psychological, and these are very commonly the trigger for people’s hunger.”
Here are seven reasons why you might be hungry all the time:
1. Not eating enough protein
Protein is an important macronutrient. Eating more protein will keep you full after meals, compared to carbohydrates and fats. It also keeps you full between meals, leaving you less likely to snack. Protein increases your satiety levels while also reducing your hunger hormone levels.
2. Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is critical when it comes to appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep helps regulate ghrelin, our appetite-stimulating hormone. The lack of sleep often tends to lead to higher ghrelin levels, resulting in more cravings. A lack of sleep decreases the leptin hormone and makes you less full after your normal meals. To keep these hormones in check, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland is overactive. This can cause your metabolism to become “revved up,” causing you to be hungrier than normal. Besides being hungry, people may feel jittery, shaky, and have a racing heartbeat.
4. Eating too fast
5. Drinking your calories
Liquid and solid foods digest differently in the body. Foods such as smoothies, milkshakes and sodas, pass through your body more rapidly than a solid meal, leaving you hungrier sooner. To prevent constant hunger, try swapping out your liquid calories for some whole foods.
7. Not eating enough fiber
High-fiber foods are high in volume and can activate the “stretch” receptors. These receptors send signals to the brain to help indicate that you’re full. High-fiber foods also take longer to digest compared to low-fiber foods.
For more information, visit www.MayoClinic.com.