Trying to lose weight is often coupled with intense hunger, which can cause many people to quit before they reach their goals.
Fortunately, if you’re attempting to lose weight, there are usually simple reasons for being hungrier than usual. Using the fixes suggested should reduce hunger and put you in a position of continued progress.
You’re Constantly Restricting Calories
A primary reason that you feel hungry all of the time is because you are constantly restricting your calories.
There are many different mechanisms in the body which regulate when and to what extent you feel hungry. Input from brain regions such as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and even cells within the digestive tract all play a primary role in hunger.
One factor in particular is the hunger hormone known as ghrelin.
Ghrelin is a hormone that is secreted by cells within the digestive tract in response to when you normally eat. This hormone’s main function is one of survival in that, when secreted, it creates intense feelings of hunger causing you to search for any type of food and subsequently eat it.
For most people, ghrelin is typically released just prior to when you normally eat. Once you start eating it will decline fairly rapidly. However with chronic restrictions of calories, the levels of ghrelin released actually increase.
One study revealed that after just three months of dieting, subjects showed significant increases in ghrelin secretion at all observed time points throughout the day. This means that subjects had higher ghrelin levels and thus felt hungrier all day.
You’re Eating Sporadically
Following on from the last point, if you are eating sporadically with no schedule, this could result in excess ghrelin secretion, making you hungrier, more often.
This is largely because ghrelin secreting cells, known as oxyntic cells, actually work on a circadian rhythm.
A circadian rhythm is much like your sleep-wake cycle in that you wake and sleep at similar times. The cells that secrete the hunger hormone ghrelin also have their own rhythm according to when you normally eat.
For example, most people have a schedule of when they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. According to the schedule, these ghrelin secreting cells secrete the hormone just prior to when you normally eat. That’s why usually you can expect to be hungry around normal eating times.
When you eat according to this schedule, your eating response can typically be managed. However, if you begin to eat away from this schedule, it causes these cells to secrete ghrelin sporadically, making you hungry at strange times and often to a greater extent than usual.
If you find that you are hungry all the time yet eat sporadically, it’s a good idea to attempt to eat on a set schedule per day.
Eating at similar times every day will allow these cells to be trained according to your schedule, allowing for moderate and predictable ghrelin secretion rather than large, sporadic secretions that can’t be managed.
You’re Training Too Much For Your Calorie Intake
Training too much while consuming too few calories is an issue I often see. You have a goal of losing body weight so you begin exercising while simultaneously reducing calories. While doing so can lead to meaningful weight loss, there is, however, a possibility that you are training too much, not eating enough and pushing it all a little too far.
When attempting to diet, your goal is to create a negative energy balance, meaning you consume fewer calories than you expend.
If your goal is to reduce calories by 500 calories a day, doing so through diet alone is certainly acceptable. However, if you begin throwing exercise on top of that, it’s entirely possible that you’re burning 500 plus calories solely from exercise.
Altogether, this can equate to you resulting in having a 1000-calorie deficit every day. Now, for a large male who uses over 3000 calories a day this may be ok, equating to around 33%, or 1/3, of their total calorie intake. However, it becomes far more of an issue for a smaller female who only burns 1500 calories per day — you can see this is a significant reduction equating to 66% or 2/3.
While reducing total calories is imperative for weight loss, having too great a deficit, from exercise and diet combined, can significantly impact weight loss. Your own calorie reduction must be in context to your own metabolism and energy expenditure.
If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest having a short dieting break and then starting back again at a slightly more sensible dieting level.
You’re Not Focusing On Satiating Foods
While calories are the most important aspect of weight loss, satiating foods are the key to managing hunger.
Unfortunately, many people are not focusing on foods which help to reduce appetite such as protein and fibre.
When you’re constantly consuming refined and processed foods, which are high in sugar content, it leads to large and rapid increases in the hormone insulin. This hormone acts to remove blood glucose from the blood, which is also a regulator of hunger.
When blood glucose is high, a signal is sent to the brain that energy availability is high. This means that your body won’t release a hunger response in order for you to eat.
However, when blood glucose is rapidly reduced due to a large insulin spike, then misleading signals can be sent to the brain, resulting in intense feelings of hunger. Focusing on foods that act to reduce hunger, is essential for regulating hunger.
Foods such as protein actually allow for reduced hunger. Due to their structure, proteins are quite difficult to be broken down and digested. This means that food exits the stomach more slowly, resulting in greater feelings of satisfaction.
Additionally, fibrous foods like vegetables also act to reduce hunger. Fibre absorbs water and forms a gel in the digestive tract, which slows the travel of food, increasing hunger. Also, there is even evidence to suggest that certain fibres send direct signals to the brain, reducing hunger.
I suggest increasing both your protein and fibre intake. Not to mention, doing so will likely allow you to reduce calorie intake and even improve muscle mass.
You’re Eating The Wrong Breakfast
Eating the wrong breakfast is closely connected with many of the other reasons in this article.
Unfortunately, a common breakfast consists of high carbohydrates such as a bagel or cereal, coupled with fairly low protein. This presents an issue since you are inducing insulin spikes with little appetite suppression first thing in your day.
As mentioned earlier, insulin can lead to rapid drops in blood sugar, leading to increased feelings of hunger.
If you are regularly consuming carbohydrate-heavy breakfasts, I suggest opting for proteins such as eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, lean meats and even milk. Doing so will allow for greater consumption of satiating proteins, reducing hunger.