Always hungry

Always hungry? Here are 11 possible reasons.

Food, ,

Hunger is determined by multiple factors. Some are hormonal signals sent from your stomach and intestines to your brain, and others depend on the sugar and nutrient levels in your blood. Other factors are psychological.  

Most people can go at least a few hours between meals, but some people feel hungry most all the time. Here are some possible reasons.

Common reasons for constant hunger

Not enough sleep

Whether or not we get good sleep is a huge factor for many aspects of our health, including obesity and hunger. If sleep deprived, your body secretes more ghrelin, the main hormone of hunger. Studies show that sleep-deprived people, when given the choice between healthy or high-fat and high-sugar foods, will crave the unhealthy foods, and gain weight. 

You need to drink more water

Your body may be lacking water and your brain may confuse that with the need for food. Water fills your stomach and can calm hunger cravings. To find out, instead of a snack, drink two glasses of water and see if your hunger diminishes.

Inadequate protein intake

Protein takes longer to digest, and keeps us satisfied longer. Protein also raises the level of the satiety hormone, leptin, and lowers ghrelin levels.  Recent studies suggest many people, particularly the elderly, are not eating enough protein. Try to eat high-quality protein with each meal.

You need more fiber

High-fiber foods slow stomach emptying and digestion and keeps you satisfied longer. It also releases hunger-controlling hormones. Especially good are soluble fiber foods, such as oatmeal, apples and citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and beans.

A nutrient deficiency

Some people, perhaps because of a special diet, are lacking in one or more macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, or fats. A balanced diet, where 45 to 65% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates, 20 to 35% from fats, and 10 to 35% from protein, is more likely to keep you satisfied.

Eating too much simple sugars

Simple carbohydrates, such as white flour, soda, candy, and baked goods, are absorbed quickly, raising your blood sugar levels quickly as well. This causes a big release of insulin, which can lower your blood sugar too much, making you hungry again. Complex carbohydrates (such as whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) do not cause this big insulin release.

Taking too much liquid foods

Liquid foods such as smoothies, soups, or the new meal replacement shakes give you calories, but will not satisfy your hunger as well as solid foods.

Drinking too much alcohol

Alcohol inhibits release of appetite controlling hormones such as leptin, so alcohol before or with a meal may increase your appetite. Alcohol can also impair your self-control and psychologically release you to find more food.


Chronic stress increases your cortisol levels which increase your appetite. Studies show that stressed people tend to crave more junk food more often, and some people find that eating temporarily diminishes their stress.

Eating below your activity level

It may be that you just are not eating enough calories based on your activity levels. Especially if you exercise, walk, climb stairs, or just move around a lot, you might need to eat more calories with your meals.

Medical condition or medication

Some medical conditions such as diabetes, depression, hyperthyroidism, or hypoglycemia can cause chronic hunger. A good physical exam with blood tests is always wise. And, some medications can cause you to crave food, so again, a doctor visit is a good investment. 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Low sugar diet helps treat fatty liver disease

8 tips: how to maximize nutrients from fruits and vegetables

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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This post is related to the specialties Clinical Medicine, Endocrinology. Below is a list of some doctors related to these specialties.