7 reasons why you’re always hungry

Published: February 1, 2016


It has been precisely an hour and seven minutes since you downed a hearty meal of pulao with a tonne of raita for dinner. You know because you’ve been inspecting the clock and you’re quite ready for your post-dinner feast! If that sounds familiar, you’re probably already “hangry” and ready to raid the fridge but don’t stress, we got solutions. As compiled from the Huffington Post, Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Health magazines, discover why you’re always ravenous for biryani!

Your metabolism runs like Milkha Singh

Some men and women were born blessed — thank genetics. Others have actually worked hard, built muscle, and raced their metabolism that way. Biology 101 — the faster your metabolism, the more fuel you need. According to research from the University of Vermont, about 32 % of people have metabolisms that are more than eight % faster than the population average. So having a fast metabolism might amount to burning 100 to 400 extra calories a day, says Pamela Peeke, senior science advisor at Elements Behavioural Health and author of The Hunger Fix. So if you always find yourself downing over three slices of thick-crust pizza, you’re probably one of the fortunate ones but that’s no excuse to abuse yourself — make it a habit to stick to two servings and don’t reach for kheer after, please.

You’re a sugar disciple

Ever notice how one piece of barfi leaves you unable to resist eating another — until the whole mithai box is gone? That’s your brain on starchy carbs. “Simple carbs, the kind found in sugary, white flour foods like pastries, crackers, and cookies, spike your blood sugar levels quickly, then leave them plunging soon after,” explains Maggie Moon, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist and owner of Everyday Healthy Eating. She adds, “That blood sugar plunge causes intense hunger for more sugary carbs, and the cycle continues.” The solution: keep fluctuating blood sugar levels from sending you on a cravings roller coaster by avoiding simple-carb foods as much as possible. Get your carb dose with the complex, filling kinds that are chock-full of fiber. Think almonds, apples and daal — all healthy choices that slay hunger pangs.

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You. Don’t. Sleep.

Are you a night owl with a day job? Yikes. By the time you wake after just one night of poor sleep, two hormones linked to appetite have already begun scheming against you. “Too little sleep can lead to surging levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, as well as decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that causes feelings of fullness,” shares Alissa Rumsey, spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lack of nighttime snoozing on a regular basis makes you super hungry for another reason — once sleep deprived, you’re more likely to have serious fatigue and brain fog. Your system, desperate for a shot of energy, triggers cravings for sugary carbs, even if you’re not actually starving. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night and you’ll get your energy level and hunger hormones back on target.

You’re wide open to cooking shows

You sleep to reality cooking shows and Gordon Ramsay means the world to you? If that wasn’t enough, Facebook photos of your friends’ yummy brunches and those TV ads for pizza delivery don’t help either. With pictures of food flooding our lives 24-7, it’s no shock so many of us persistently crave the real thing. The journal Obesity found that just looking at food cranked up levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Getting a scent of food has a similar effect, says Moon. “Pleasant food aromas stimulate an involuntary physiological reaction: the mouth will salivate and the stomach will contract, mimicking hunger pangs,” she says. Of course, you can’t totally eliminate the possibility of seeing or smelling food. But try limiting your exposure, say by un-following your foodie cousin’s Instagram.

You eat at lightning speed

When you scarf down your burger and fries, all in one go, your stomach might be full, but you haven’t allowed your brain enough time to register that fullness. When your brain is still in the dark, it keeps your appetite high and you continue eating. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that eating at a moderate pace prompts the release of hormones that tell your brain “no more.” Try eating your food slowly, relishing each bite; truly enjoy the flavours in your meal. Then wait at least 20 minutes before deciding if you really do need another helping. That’s about how long it takes for that fullness signal to reach your brain, says Rumsey.

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You’re not quite the carnivore

Five words: make protein your first love. Okay, it sounds counterintuitive, but stacking your plate with more food — mainly lean protein, coupled with healthy fats, specifically ward off hunger pangs and keep annoying, diet-busting cravings at bay. “Not only does protein stay in your stomach and promote feelings of fullness, it’s been shown to have an appetite-suppressing effect,” ensures Rumsey. Her recommendation to avoid feeling famished all day —aim for at least 46 grams of protein per day for women between 19 and 70. For men, it’s 56 grams per day. Bet your money on yogurt, eggs, lean meats and nuts.

You avoid fats like the plague

You’re a health nut and have decided to swear off of fats? Now let’s not go nuts! Disclaimer: just like protein, unsaturated fat is also linked to feelings of satiety and fullness. “When you’re satisfied after a meal, you are more likely to listen to your hunger cues and not eat again until you are truly hungry,” shares Rumsey. Even if you’re fighting the battle of the bulge, you must add this heart-healthy, brain-boosting kind of fat to your meals in the form of oils, nuts and seeds, and avocados. Experts recommend that adults maintain their fat intake to 20 to 35 % of their total daily calorie intake. And, indulging in a fatty samosa once in a while will take away cravings for the bad kind of fat, so stick to a cheat meal (not cheat day!) every week or so.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.

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