All of us have days when we’re hungrier than others. Contrary to what many diets would have you believe, it’s perfectly fine to eat more or less some days, as long as you regularly eat enough to support your energy needs and fitness goals, whatever they may be. Of course, when you seem to be eating more than you think you should be all the time, red flags start popping up in your mind. And that’s a good thing: being mindful and aware of your body and diet are always good things. That’s what led you here.
Keep reading. There could be a variety of reasons you’re always hungry, and we’re going to list the most likely, as well as what to do about it.
- The Cause: You’re tired. Sleep has been shown to regulate your body’s production of ghrelin and leptin—your hunger and satiety hormones, respectively. When you’re sleep deprived, even for just one night, these hormones can be thrown out of whack, making you feel hungrier than normal.
The Cure: Sleep! Easier said than done, right? If you can grab a quick kip, so for it. Even a 20 minute nap has been shown to refresh your mind (and that commitment to healthy eating). And make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time so that you can get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep we all need every night for optimal hormonal balance and cellular regeneration.
- The Cause: Your macros/micros are out of whack. Cravings can be caused by vitamin and mineral deficiency. Make sure you’re getting enough of your recommended daily intake of a variety of good, clean, healthy macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins), which will usually ensure you are getting enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) so that you don’t become a recidivist fridge raider. Craving excessive amounts of chocolate, for instance, could mean that you have a magnesium deficiency. Wanting to eat a brick of cheese could point to a vitamin D deficiency. Craving a triple beef burger could mean you need more iron or vitamin B. Wanting salty foods can indicate you’re dehydrated (since salt retains water).
The Cure: Eat a variety of clean food and make sure you are getting enough of each macronutrient. Just keep in mind, even with a diet that’s 100% on point, you will still desire these sorts of foods (which are cool in moderation); however, adopting a more balanced diet will help you not want excessive amounts, all the time
- The Cause: You’re psychologically hungry. We talk about this a lot in our new Fast & Furiously Fit ebook. In fact, it’s one of the most praised sections of the book, since we help readers differentiate between real hunger and psychological hunger.
What is psychological hunger?
Psychological hunger is a conditioned or external response rather than a real, physiological need. You want to eat because you've been conditioned to eat at a certain time or because you're sad or tired or angry or happy or stressed or just because there's delicious food in front of you. But what you are not is truly hungry.
The Cure: Think about what you are actually feeling. If you’re sad, feel the feels and be sad. Cry. If you’re tired or stressed, go for a walk, do some energizing yoga, try to nap if possible. Pop a lavender pill. Same goes if you’re angry. If you’re happy, be happy! Be in the moment! Realize you do not need food or drink or anything to further stimulate your euphoria. Being alive is enough. When it stops becoming enough, that’s where the problems, and even addictions, begin…
To learn more about psychological hunger and how to meet your body’s energy needs, eat a whole lot and still lose weight, grab our Fast & Furiously Fit ebook now.
- The Cause: You’re about to get (or have) your period. Studies show that women who have or are about to have their periods tend to feel hungrier. Your metabolic demand increases, and with it your appetite.
The Cure: Eat! Just bear in mind your metabolic needs only increase by around 250-300 calories per day, so by all means, feed your body, but just remember you are not feeding an extra body.
Again, here’s where some extra guidance can come in handy. Pick up our ebook for 40+ meals, snacks and decadent desserts that are healthy, and will help you stay focussed on reaching those #fitgoals.
- The Cause: You’re going through menopause. Ugh, right? Gals just can’t catch a break. Because estrogen levels dip during menopause, hunger can increase. Combine this with the fact women's metabolisms slow during menopause, and it's a double kick in the teeth.
The Cure: Lift, hard. Resistance training will help
balance hormones and stoke your metabolic fires and increase fat burn. Join us for seriously amazing resistance-based training on Sweatflix. Get the first 30 days free! No excuses, right?
- The Cause: You’re thirsty. We’ve already mentioned that dehydration can be the cause of salty cravings, but general, unexplained, excessive hunger can also just mean you’re thirsty in general.
The Cure: Drink up! Aim for 2L-3L per day.
- The Cause: You’re training hard — especially your legs! As our #FitFam on our BodyRock Insiders Group on Facebook can testify, the 24 hours following leg day can feel like a feeding frenzy. This is because you’ve worked the biggest, longest, most powerful muscles in your body, and they demand nutrients for repair and regrowth.
The Cure: Give it to ‘em! But as always, make sure it is in the form of healthy foods. Excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) only increases caloric burn by about 60 calories, so it's not that you need to eat more, but better. More wisely.The ideal post-workout meal should be high protein, moderate carb and low fat. So, a protein shake. Some cottage cheese and an apple. Protein balls. (Awesome recipes for post-workout fuel in that new ebook, by the way.)
Also note: if you have more muscle mass, you will also require more energy. For instance, 10 pounds of muscle requires around 350 extra calories to maintain, so if you’ve been racking up the lean gains, you may feel more hungry. Again, fuel your muscles, but do it with good, clean food — and don’t overdo it! 350 calories is roughly equivalent to a tablespoon of nut butter, serving of plain Greek yogurt and a small apple...not a cheeseburger and fries.
- The Cause: You have hyperthyroidism. This condition speeds up your metabolism and causes you to be hungry all the time, often losing weight, too. This can cause hair loss, problems sleeping, chronic fatigue and weakness, tremors, thinning skin, among other nasty side-effects.
The Cure: Go see your healthcare professional! Fitness and diet experts we may be: medical professionals, we are not.
- The Cause: You’re on certain medications. SSRI antidepressants, steroids for conditions like allergies or lupus, and anti-seizure medications: these can all result in increased hunger and weight gain.
The Cure: Again, go see your doctor, and whatever you do, DO NOT go off your meds without talking to your doctor, first.
- The Cause: You have diabetes. Unbalanced blood sugar levels can make you super peckish, and that’s part and parcel of having this disease.
The Cure: Get yourself to your doctor and see a nutritionist or dietician who can help you better manage condition with proper diet. This will help you avoid excessive hunger and eating, which can dangerously compound the issues associated with diabetes.And, for people who don’t need special diets but who can benefit from a good, healthy bout of clean eating, pick up our new ebook. It’ll give you the support you need to get a handle on your hunger.
Lots of great insight in this one! I could relate to many of these and the cures you provide are totally do-able! Thanks!