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10 Ways to Deal with Hunger Pangs While Dieting

3. Spice up your meals and snacks

Control hunger pangs by sending “full” messages to the brain with spicy aromas like ginger, turmeric, curry, chili powder, and cayenne, advises Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Chicago Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. These plant extracts also increase metabolism.

4. Eat protein every four hours

Protein acts as an appetite suppressant to help control hunger pangs. Eating two to three ounces of protein triggered a 25 percent spike in energy, increasing fat metabolism 32 percent, and lasting up to four hours, in research conducted by the University of Wollongong in Australia.

5. Watch your sugar intake

Sugar’s aliases are corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, honey, maltose, corn sweeteners and dextrose. Don’t eat simple sugar foods alone — ensure they are mixed with a meal to help control your hunger. Richards J. Johnson, M.D., of the University of Florida showed in his research that communication between the digestive tract and the brain’s fullness center was disrupted by high-fructose corn syrup, making appetite control difficult.

6. Exercise regularly

According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, any form of aerobic exercise helps regulate appetite to control hunger pangs.

7. Snack strategically

Weight loss diets like The Mayo Clinic Diet manage hunger and reduce binging with snacking. The Mayo Clinic Diet recommends snacks that have 100 calories or less to stay in your daily calorie goal. The diet also suggests fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and low-fat dairy products to reduce hunger pangs.

8. Eat slowly

A 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolismfound that eating slowly results in a greater sense of fullness, reducing the intensity of hunger pangs.

9. Chew gum

Chew low-calorie gum when you feel stomach hunger coming on. According to recent research conducted by the University of Rhode Island, chewing gum before and after meals helps reduce your hunger and the amount of calories you eat.

10. Stomach pains may be unrelated to hunger

If your hunger pangs do not go away when you consume food and drink, seek medical attention immediately. The pain may be caused by some gastrointestinal disorder that is in the early stages, and such disorders can be isolated and treated if caught early.

5 Reasons Why You’re Always Hungry

You’re driving along on your way to work, to the gym, or to pick up the kids and—bam—it hits you—that overwhelming gnawing hunger. The next thing you know, you’re pulling into a drive through and ordering up a storm.

Isn’t it fascinating (and frustrating) how the “I have to eat now!” feeling can hit even if you’ve been making good nutrition a top priority? Experts are discovering that when you eat, what your food tastes like, and even how much you drink can have a major impact on how often hunger pangs strike.

We asked leading nutritionists to share with us the five most common reasons you’re frequently famished, as well as their top tips for maximizing satisfaction and keeping hunger at bay.

1. You eat the right foods at the wrong times.

Eating at different times every day can make it difficult for you to tune in to your body’s hunger signals, says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of Nutrition Therapy at the Cleveland Clinic. Haphazard eating can hurt your metabolism as well. When British researchers asked women to eat meals at either the same time or at different times each day, those who followed a predictable pattern ate less and burned more calories than those who ate at a different time every day.

The Fix: Plan ahead.
Reviewing your Tracker helps you zero in on when you’re most likely to fall prey to eating at erratic times. (If you haven’t been tracking your food consistently, try doing so for a few days.) Then, says Moore, create a schedule that focuses on eating within 2 hours of waking up and every 3 to 5 hours after that for the rest of the day. If you tend to lose track of time, set your watch or digital organizer to beep when you should eat.

2. You eat breakfast, just not the right kind.

Although any breakfast is better than none, the foods you choose can have a major impact on how satisfied you feel for the rest of the day. Take that convenient cereal bar: It might appear to be a healthy choice when you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, but its mega-dose of simple sugars may have you rummaging through the fridge well before lunch.

The Fix: Build a better mix of nutrients.
The key to making your breakfast hold your appetite at bay until lunch is building a morning meal that contains both protein and carbs. “It’s important to combine some protein along with some complex carbohydrates to provide sustained energy throughout the morning,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, a Long Island–based dietitian in private practice. Opt for no-fuss choices like a slice of cheese on whole-wheat bread, egg whites on toast, whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, even half a turkey sandwich .

3. Your diet is flawless but flavorless.

If grilled chicken and steamed veggies are staples on your dinner plate, you could be headed for trouble. “If you don’t switch up your menu, you’re going to get bored and eventually have difficulty sticking with your weight-loss plan,” says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The Fix: Spice it up.
Getting creative in the kitchen will give your stand-by recipes new life—and keep you more satisfied in the long run. “Experiment with fresh, flavorful herbs, like basil, gingerroot, oregano, and mint,” suggests Moore. Also, adding acidity (a dash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar) and sweetness (a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar) can make your staple dishes more complex in taste—and more satisfying. Texture is also key: Aim for combinations of creamy, crunchy, and chewy. Try tossing chopped nuts on your greens or mixing granola into your yogurt.

4. You stockpile your calories.

Do you often eat so sparingly during the day that by the time dinner rolls around you’re famished? That strategy can backfire, leading to uncontrollable overeating in the evening. “When you skip meals it’s harder to think straight, so you’re less concerned with the implications of what you eat,” says Taub-Dix.

The Fix: Frontload those calories.
Eating earlier in the day is a must to head off disaster later on. Limit the size of your evening meal so that you wake up eager for breakfast. Even if you’re not hungry, be sure to eat something—even a small bite. “Treat yourself the way you’d treat your kids—you wouldn’t let them skip meals,” says Taub-Dix.

5. You drink your meals.

With the ever-increasing popularity of lattes for breakfast and smoothies for lunch, many of us are drinking our calories away. But drinking too many caloric beverages can ultimately leave you feeling unsatisfied. When researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, gave study participants 450 extra calories daily in the form of either fluid or solid food, those who ate the extra solids ate less later in the day whereas those who drank the extra fluids did not. The reasoning: Chewing causes the release of hormones that signal fullness, and solid food is digested more slowly than liquids.

The Fix: Rethink convenience.
Slurping down a meal might seem fast and easy, but in the time it takes to drive to the coffee shop, stand on line, and pay for that latte, you could have had something just as quick—and far more satisfying. “Try a slice of toast with peanut butter or a cup of yogurt with some fruit,” says Lona Sandon. If it’s the comfort of a hot drink you crave, go ahead and have that latte—just order it with fat-free milk. And instead of sipping it solo, enjoy it with a few whole-grain crackers or a banana. In other words, focus on food combinations that will get you through to your next meal—no starving required.

RELATED: Am I really hungry?

2. You’re not getting enough fiber.

Speaking of fiber, that’s another filling nutrient that would leave you prone to snack attacks if you don’t get enough of it. Foods without a lot of fiber move through your digestive tract quickly, leaving you hungry right after you eat, Allen says. Try incorporating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain for their fiber content.

3. Your meals are too far apart.

Silly as it might sound, your constant hunger could actually be your body sending necessary signals that it’s been too long since you fed it. Instead of sticking to three square meals, you may need a small snack every three to four hours, depending on your meal schedule and level of activity, says Rachel Gilwit, R.D., nutritionist at UC San Diego Health. A dietician can help you assess how often your body needs fuel, or you can experiment on your own to see if smaller meals more often help your hunger subside.

4. You’re sleep deprived.

It’s pretty well documented that a lack of sleep increases our desire for food; the Mayo Clinic even lists it as a risk factor for obesity. Plus, in slightly funny but totally relevant evidence, a 2016 study published in the journal Sleep suggested that sleep deprivation activates the same parts of the brain as marijuana — meaning you might experience a case of the sleep munchies. So if your sleepless nights are lining up with those hunger pangs, it may be worth investing some energy into a healthy snooze cycle.

5. You’re under chronic stress.

Yep, stress strikes again. “When we have high stress levels, we’re preparing for action, either for fight or flight,” says Prudence Hall, M.D., medical director at The Hall Center. That body response can also trigger an increase of hunger in people, so much that the Cleveland Clinic lists an increased appetite as one of the symptoms of stress. If your hunger is coinciding with a stressful period in your life, cut yourself some slack and try these stress-busters that help you focus on a little TLC.

6. You aren’t managing your diabetes.

When diabetes isn’t controlled, it can make it difficult for your body to get blood sugar — or energy — to the parts of your body that need it, Gilwit says. “This sugar is essentially not being used for energy appropriately, and the body believes it is starving, the need to eat more,” she explains. Getting your blood sugar checked out is a good first step to figuring out whether type 2 diabetes should be a concern, and a doctor’s visit can help you determine next steps.

7. Your thyroid is out of whack.

While an underactive thyroid can cause weight gain, an overactive one (which is diagnosed as hyperthyroidism) increases your metabolism, which can in turn cause increased hunger, Gilwit says. A racing heart, changes in your menstrual patterns, hair loss, tremors, sweating, fatigue, and weight loss are also associated with hyperthyroidism, reports the Mayo Clinic, so if you’re also having these symptoms, definitely talk to your doctor.

8. Your medicine has side effects.

When hunger seemingly comes out of nowhere, check your medicine cabinet. “Many very common prescription medications, such as corticosteroids and certain antidepressants, have a side effect of increased appetite,” Yule says. So if you’re experiencing this particular symptom, don’t be shy about telling your doctor. They can help assess all of the medications you’re on, whether they’re affecting your appetite, and if it’s smart to have you try a different prescription.

Colleen Stinchcombe Freelance Health Writer Colleen is a health and travel writer in Seattle, Washington.

Hungry all the time? Here’s why it’s a good thing

Experiencing hunger is totally normal. Being an athlete comes with an appetite and the harder you train, the more you eat. But why? What happens within the body? And how can you prevent this from affecting your progress? Read more to find out.

Hunger is good

How many times have you said in an angry voice “why am I so hungry all the time”? Hunger is usually seen as the bad guy. But actually hunger is good. It’s a sign that your body is using your food as fuel, the way that it’s supposed to. And when you’re hungry, this means it needs more. So as long as you know the right things to eat and how to tell the difference between real hunger and just being bored, being hungry is definitely not a bad thing and you certainly shouldn’t ignore it.

When your muscles are hungry, you’ll know

Weight lifting and strength training are likely to leave you with a big appetite afterwards. As your muscle tissue repairs, it cries out for food to help it regain strength. And the more muscle you have, the more hungry you are. So keep your fridge filled with healthy protein rich foods to keep the beasts at bay.

Hunger or dehydration?

If you’re used to training in summer, you might know the feeling of starvation after a sweaty workout. Approach this hunger with care because sometimes, it’s dehydration in disguise. When we sweat we lose sodium and this can cause us to develop cravings for sugar or salt. Next time you come home from a summer run, take a big drink of water before deciding what to eat. You might just find you weren’t so hungry after all.

Fear of overeating?

Of course hunger isn’t good if every time you’re hungry, you dive straight into unhealthy snacks and eat until you’re full to bursting. Overeating is counter-productive, but it’s also worth avoiding undereating. This will just leave you feeling hungry again in an hour.

It’s a mixture of quality, quantity, the right time and the right place. Choose nutritious, protein-rich foods to leave you feeling fuller for longer. It’s also a good idea to work out right before a meal as this means you’ll get even more from the afterburn effect.

Let’s recap

Don’t expect your body to perform at its best if you don’t provide it with enough fuel. Set yourself up for success and download the Freeletics Nutrition app now.

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Why Am I So Hungry All The Time?

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Why am I so hungry all the time? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Sometimes it’s real hunger and we need to eat but other times we are ravenous just 30 minutes after eating! What’s up? Today we’re taking a look at hunger, what causes it and what we can do to manage it.

Before We Get Started…

My original plan with Running on Real Food was to post on a variety of topics: nutrition, workouts, recipes, blogging, lifestyle, self-development, travel and my own personal experiences with health, fitness and total wellness.

However, over the last 18 months I’ve really gotten away from sharing anything but recipes. I never planned for Running on Real Food to be just recipes, or even be considered to be a “food blog” and while I love sharing recipes with you and they will remain the majority of the my content, I want to expand into some other topics.

I’ve been hesitant on expanding Running on Real Food content for two reasons. One, sharing any sort of opinion or personal experiences, negative or positive, scares the crap out of me. Two, I don’t want to disappoint readers that are just here for recipes.

Not wanting to drive those readers away, I toyed with starting a second blog. I even went as far as setting up derynmacey.com but after more consideration, I don’t think it makes sense to spread my efforts between two websites when I could be giving 100% to Running on Real Food.

So, here we go. One step at a time. Today we’re talking about hunger. Highly opinionated, I know! Haha.

It’s a start, it’s a step towards sharing more than recipes with you guys and hopefully helping you reach your health and fitness goals. Let’s get started!

It’s crazy, right? You just ate a huge meal and an hour later, you’re starving. What gives? Why am I so hungry all the time?! You might feel like you’re always hungry, or maybe you’re not hungry at all until you eat, and then you’re ravenous, or maybe y0u just ate a huge meal, feeling totally stuffed, only to be hungry again shortly after. Your hunger is always there and often in charge of your whole day.

First of All, Your Hunger Isn’t In Charge

I’ve been there, guys. My hunger used to be in charge, big time. The slightest sensation of hunger and I was in a panic that I needed to eat and I needed to eat now. I’ve since accepted that my hunger is not an emergency. Hunger isn’t in control and you have the power to decide how to respond to it.

Am I Really Hungry?

If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t starving. We are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where we have access to as much quality food as we need. Your body will be just fine if you don’t feed it at it’s beckon call.

I’m not saying don’t listen to your body. Often, we’re legitimately hungry and it’s time to re-fuel. However, sometimes what we’re experiencing isn’t true hunger. If we can develop a better understanding of hunger and use our common sense, we can determine if we’re truly hungry and need to eat.

Our bodies are highly intelligent and complex but they don’t always know exactly what’s best for us, so next time you find yourself “starving” when you recently ate a meal, it’s time to look a little further. In addition to feeling hungry, sometimes our brains come in with an appetite and ask for things we really don’t need. Say hello to cravings!

It can be challenging to make quality food choices if you’re always hungry. You arrive home from work ravenous and it’s tempting to grab the first thing you see rather than preparing a healthy meal. You ate a sugary breakfast that left your stomach asking for more just 30 minutes later so you decide to hit the vending machine. Feel too hungry, too often and it’s almost impossible to consistently make good food choices.

If you’re constantly battling hunger, eating quality food in the right amounts becomes difficult to maintain, so we end up making poor choices and so continues the cycle.

What might be missing in your diet and what aspects of your lifestyle could be improved to help manage hunger?

What Controls Hunger

Hunger is primarily controlled by hormones and hormones are affected by the what and how much we eat. There are a number of key hormones that affect hunger. Leptin and ghrelin are considered to be the “hunger hormones” but serotonin, dopamine, neuropeptides and glucagon also play a role.

Understanding how ghrelin and leptin work can help us get hunger under control and reduce the frequency and intensity of hunger sensations. Today, we’re just going to look at ghrelin because it’s the bad boy responsible for making you feel so damn hungry all the time.

What is Ghrelin?

First of all, I think ghrelin is an appropriate name for this hunger hormone, don’t you think? It reminds me of gremlin, or some pesky, little monster that lives in our bellies, always freakin’ hungry and demanding that we feed it. Rawr!

Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and is responsible for causing feelings of hunger, hanger and “I might die and/or kill someone if I don’t eat.” Ghrelin also encourages the body to store fat, particularly around the liver and abdominal area. Just what we’re looking for, right?

Luckily, we can tame hunger by controlling ghrelin levels though food and lifestyle choices. Ghrelin is affected not only by what we eat but by everything from stress to sleep, so approaching nutrition from a total wellness perspective can go a long way.

Again, why am I so hungry all the time?!?

We know that ghrelin is responsible for causing us to feel hungry and that ghrelin levels are affected by our food and lifestyle choices. What is it exactly that we’re doing and eating that’s affecting ghrelin? Let’s look at how we can manage ghrelin, then look at what else can increase hunger.

5 Ways to Control Ghrelin Levels

1. Avoid very low calorie diets. Heavily restricting calories (we’re talking 1000 calories per day or less) increases ghrelin production and abdominal fat storage. Your body is like, hey I’m starving over here! I’m gonna store every little bit of food I get, just in case I need it. This doesn’t mean you can’t reduce body fat though a slow and steady calorie deficit but extreme restriction of calories is dangerous for both your physical and your mental health.

2. Eat fibre and high-volume foods. When the walls of the stomach experience stretching or pressure from high-volume, fibrous foods, ghrelin production is suppressed. Keeping the belly full of high-volume foods can go along way in managing hunger. I find including a few servings of vegetables at breakfast really helps keep me full throughout the morning.

3. Eat more omega-3s. You can use an omega-3 supplement with EPA and DPA and/or include plenty of foods in your diet that contain them. When we don’t get enough EPA and DHA, it can increase ghrelin production and thereby fat storage around the abdominal area. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has also been shown to boost leptin and reduce inflammation in the body.

4. Support healthy digestion. A healthy gut can help control hunger and body weight. To promote healthy digestion, enjoy fermented foods and beverages, digestion-supporting foods, spices and herbs and consider a probiotic supplement.

5. Eat less fructose. Fructose raises ghrelin levels and suppresses hormones that trigger fullness. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat fruit but you try to avoid processed foods which typically have a high amount of fructose in them, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. There’s nothing good in there. Eat real food.

Ghrelin is also affected by stress, exercise and sleep, so always remember that total wellness is key!

Okay, we looked at how we can control ghrelin production but what else has an effect on hunger? Well, there’s one huge factor that not only causes hunger but neglecting to manage it can have a number of negative impacts on the body. Did you guess what it is? Yep, blood sugar!

How Blood Sugar Levels Effect Hunger

Maintaining stable blood sugar is one of the most important jobs the body does for us and we don’t always make it an easy one. We sometimes overeat or eat too much sugar, creating spikes in blood sugar that our body has to scramble to correct. This is tough on the body and is at the root of diabetes, obesity and a number of other health concerns.

Blood Sugar Peaks and Valleys

Hunger is triggered by low blood sugar and this triggering can happen whether you actually need re-fuel or not. If our blood sugar gets too low, our energy levels drop and we experience hunger sensations. Alternatively, high blood sugar can be toxic and dangerous for the body. Big spikes in blood sugar cause big crashes in blood sugar, which causes hunger, leading to overeating and poor food choices. Maintaining stable blood sugar through a healthy diet can go along way in reducing hunger.

What Causes Spikes in Blood Sugar

Well, it’s pretty simple. Eat foods primarily made up of sugar and you’ll experience a spike in blood sugar and consequent crash. High blood sugar can also be caused by overeating. When we overeat, our bodies go into overdrive to deal with an abundance of sugar.

As the body deploys insulin and quickly compensates to bring blood sugar levels back down, we experience low blood sugar shortly after eating. That’s your body sending you a message that you need to bring your blood sugar levels back up ie. hey, I’m hungry, feed me!

When we experience this kind of hunger it’s pretty clear we don’t need to eat again.We just ate. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Let your body deal with the effects of overeating before you give it more to handle.

How to Promote Stable Blood Sugar

There are plenty of ways we can assist the body in maintaining stable blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are always going to go up and down but the key is preventing big peaks and valleys. Eat a bunch of sugar on an empty stomach, spike your blood sugar, the body compensates, crashing blood sugar levels, the body sends you a hunger message, you eat again, the cycle continues.

You don’t need to immediately react to that hunger!

Ideally, we’d prevent these blood sugar spikes in the first place. Lets look at a few ways we can help promote stable blood sugar levels.

10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar

1. Include healthy fats at every meal. Fats have the lowest impact on blood sugar levels and help increase satiety by slowing down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Get those avocados and nuts into your diet!

2. Eat enough protein. Compared to carbohydrates, protein is digested more slowly and when it’s consumed on it’s own, doesn’t create the spike in blood sugar that carbs do. Remember, low-sugar protein powder and bars are okay to help supplement protein but it’s important to include whole food protein sources in your diet.

3. Eat a balance macronutrients at each meal to help slow down the digestive process. Carbohydrates are essential and typically make up somewhere between 40 and 60% of a healthy diet. The key is to include a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein with every meal to help slow down their digestion and keep you full. That being said, sometimes we want quick digesting carbohydrates, for example, when we’re weightlifting or performing high-intensity exercise but we’ll look at that another day!

4. Eat more non-starchy vegetables. These high-volume, fibrous veggies are digested more slowly than starchy vegetables and have a low impact on blood sugar.

5. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause an immediate rise in blood sugar and then a large drop a few hours later. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation and with some food in your stomach.

6. Include fibre with every meal. Similarly to fat and protein, fiber can help to promote satiety and help slow digestion, preventing spikes in blood sugar. Fiber also provides a range of other health benefits and is a very important part of a healthy diet.

7. Excercise. Exercising on a consistent basis lowers your blood glucose and helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

8. Start the day with a balanced, higher protein meal. Even though I love oatmeal and smoothies at breakfast, it’s important to include a balance of fats and protein. A good choice for vegans and vegetarians is a non-starchy vegetable scramble with tempeh or quinoa porridge with nuts and hemp seeds.

9. Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours or so to help keep blood sugar stable and prevent overeating.

10. Eat ceylon, or true cinnamon. True cinnamon has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. Try mixing it into tea or coffee, using it in baking and other recipes, sprinkling it on hot and cold cereal and even using it to spice curries. There are a number of benefits to including ceylon over regular cinnamon in your diet, so while it’s a bit of a splurge, if you can get your hands on some, I think it’s worth it.

Lifestyle Choices Affecting Hunger and Blood Sugar

Stress, exercise, dehydration and sleep all play a roll in hunger.

Stress Management

Not managing our stress levels can cause cortisol levels to remain high in the body, effectively increasing our appetite. We’ve all been there. Stress eating, emotional eating, whatever you want to call it. High stress levels can effect our appetite, which is psychological drive that causes us to crave particular foods, not to be mixed up with real hunger. Mindful eating and bringing awareness to times you overeat can distinguish between appetite and true hunger. A food journal is often helpful in this case!

Exercise, Hydration and Sleep

As for exercise, daily movement promotes a healthy metabolism, proper digestion, helps to manage stress and of course, has wide range of other health benefits. Do it. Every day!

Dehydration is huge too, and you’ve probably heard it 100 times. Drink more water! As for sleeping, a lack of quality sleep may have a direct effect on how hungry we feel. Sleep duration has been found to reduce levels of leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone and increase levels of ghrelin, stimulating hunger. Not only that, a lack of quality sleep effects mood, recovery, memory, blood sugar and energy levels. I’ll be talking about my routine for a great nights sleep in an upcoming post. Don’t miss it!

Now What?

Alright! That was really fun to chat about. We talked all about ghrelin, how to manage it to control hunger and what we can do to promote stable blood sugar. Where to go from here….

Knowledge is Power

When it comes to nutrition and fat loss, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with the tools you need to succeed. Read, listen to podcasts, surround yourself with people who share similar goals and that you can learn from. The more we understand about our bodies and how powerful the food we eat is, the easier it becomes to consistently make quality food choices. That chocolate chip muffin might not be as appealing when you know it will cause a spike in blood sugar, causing you to crash and leaving you feeling hungry shortly after eating it, creating an endless cycle.

Where to Start

If that all seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry about it! Pick one thing to focus on. Maybe you start by including one omega-3 rich food in your diet every day. Or maybe instead of a whole chocolate chip muffin, you eat half along side a big tofu and vegetable scramble. Maybe you focus on getting to bed an hour earlier this week.

Improvement over perfection, guys. It’s a lifelong journey and it isn’t a linear one! These aren’t the rules and they certainly aren’t set in stone. Sometimes we’re going to eat the damn (vegan) donut. These are simply some steps you can take to help get a hold of your hunger. One step of a time, you don’t have to do all these things at once. Perfection only sets us up for failure. Consistency and steady improvement are the golden ticket.

It’s never to late to educate yourself, improve your diet and keep striving towards your best self. When we feel good, feel comfortable in our skin and have plenty of energy, everything in life gets easier, so keep after it, guys!

Strive to be the best version of yourself, at any given time, with what you have.

Disclaimer: Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog

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Why Am I Always Hungry? 10 Reasons Some People Are Always Down For A Snack, Explained

You’re the friend who always has two energy bars and a smooshed-up brownie in her bag, the one who spends long car rides asking where the next Starbucks is (sometimes while still in a different Starbucks); you are the person in your social circle who is always hungry. It’s kind of your thing. And yet, while it is enough of a defining characteristic of yours that your senior photo featured you holding a chicken leg (because you thought it was funny, but also because you refused to put the chicken leg down long enough for the photographer to snap a picture), your constant hunger has always been something of a mystery to you. You can’t help but wonder: is something wrong if you’re always hungry?

I mean, it’s not like you’re skipping tons of meals or something. Every day you eat breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, fourth meal, and sometimes, a unique meal of your own creation called “blunner,” where up is down, madness is sanity, and waffles are used as sandwich bread. The point is, you’re definitely getting enough to eat. So why are you always hungry an hour or two later?

It turns out that hunger is a lot more complicated than simply calculating how long it has been since your last meal. There are a cornucopia of non-food factors involved in when and why you feel hungry, from your body temperature to whether you feel nervous. Read on for the 10 reasons you’re hungry all the time, even though you just ate — just remember, this article is BYOLEAAQ (bring your own life experience and also quesadillas).

1. You Have A Fast Metabolism

Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s the result of years of dedicated athleticism. Either way, the end result is that you’re constantly hungry because you burn calories at a higher rate than the foolios around you, even when you’re resting. Enjoy the results of either your hard work or having won the genetic lottery, friend, and eat an extra flauta for me.

2. You’re Dehydrated

Your hypothalamus regulates both hunger and thirst, and sometimes, it mixes up its signals. So if you’ve just eaten a large, well-balanced meal, and are somehow already ready to eat an entire roast chicken ten minutes later, think back on what you had to drink with your last meal. Was it coffee, alcohol, soda, or something else with a diuretic in it? Mystery solved.

Now drink some water, and save that entire chicken for for “blunner” (I’ve got something really crazy planned for it tonight).

3. You Skipped Breakfast

I know, I know — sometimes, the idea of getting it together to eat food in the morning seems like an endeavor on par with building the Hoover Dam. But eating a solid breakfast keeps your blood sugar level for the rest of the day, and skipping breakfast specifically can cause your body to create extra ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry (which, in turn, primes your gastrointestinal tract to expect food. Which, in turn, can make you feel even hungrier). Just eat some hard-boiled eggs and be done with it!

4. You Looooove Carbs

Well, geez, who doesn’t? But if you love carbs so much that you want to drive your baguette to Vegas and marry it before the eyes of God and the Nevada State Gaming Commission, that could be why no matter how much you eat, you never quite feel satisfied. Simple carbohydrates — i.e. the stuff that makes cookies, cheddar crackers, and croissants taste amazing — can cause your blood sugar to rise and then crash; which then triggers a craving for more simple carbs.

5. You Just Went Swimming

Bizarre but true: swimming in a cold pool causes the blood vessels in your skin to restrict your blood flow and lowers your overall body temperature. This, in turn, can send signals to your brain that you’re cold, hungry, and need to eat now now now. But if the extremely real phenomenon of “swim snacking” bugs you, there are two pretty easy solutions: swim in a warmer pool, or just making sure to take a walk and warm your body up after you get out of the pool (but before you bust into your emergency Pringles).

6. You’re Exhausted

As anyone who’s ever suffered through a night of crappy sleep and then walked past a taco truck will tell you, sleep deprivation can make you feel absolutely ravenous in a way that can have you question your belief in a higher power. I mean, what kind of God would make you genuinely need five tacos before 11 a.m.? Indeed, sleep deprivation can mess up your levels of ghrelin and leptin — two hormones that regulate your sense of hunger, leaving you cut off from your body’s actual dietary needs.

Plus, the sheer, dead-eyed exhaustion you feel after a night of watching the clock and pondering that one time you ripped your pants during an all-school assembly in junior high can lead your body to crave all the sugar and carbs it can find — when you’re exhausted, your body is desperately looking for any material that it can put in your mouth to make your blood sugar levels jump and keep you standing upright.

7. You Are Freaking Out

Back in the olden days, when we spent most of our time running from predatory animals and running taste-tests on different kinds of savannah grass, the fight-or-flight response made a lot of sense. Hey, if you’re running into tigers every day, it’s good to have a game plan, right?

But today, most of us spend comparatively little time fleeing from large mammals — and yet our fight-or-flight response, including the element that increases our hunger in order to help us have the most energy possible, remains unchanged. Since we mostly engage with our fight-or-flight response nowadays while getting into YouTube comment flame wars or having a panic attack at Ruby Tuesday’s, this is not very helpful.

8. You Have An Overactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid is one of those diseases that many of us think don’t really sound bad on paper. I mean, increased metabolism? Where do I sign up for this “disease”?! But in reality, an overactive thyroid (also known as “hyperthyroidism”) is about as far as you can get from a fun, no-strings-attached pass to Fast Metabolism City.

Hyperthyroidism can cause problems from shaking hands and dry or bulging eyes to insomnia, fatigue, and frequent diarrhea. And a speeded-up thyroid can also be a sign of more serious health issues, like the autoimmune disorder Graves disease, which can lead to irregular heartbeat, vision impairment, and other problems that make it hard to live your life (in fact, it’s the health problem that forced Missy Elliott to step back her recording career in the late ’00s). So if your sudden hunger is paired with any of these symptoms, get yourself to the doctor — hyperthyroidism can usually be easily treated with medication.

9. You Have Diabetes

If your sudden hunger has shown up with some unsavory friends — like blurry vision, the frequent need to urinate, or a thirst you can’t quench, no matter how much water you chug — it may be time to talk to your doctor about getting tested for diabetes. Diabetes can have some extremely serious health consequences if left untreated; the disease can cause everything from nerve damage to vision loss, and can increase your odds of having a stroke or heart attack. So if you think you could be experiencing any possible symptoms, call your doctor ASAP — even if you’re wrong, it’s better to know.

10. You’re On Hunger-Inducing Meds

If you think that your starting on a new med like Zoloft or prednisone seemed to coincide with a sudden uptick in your desire to eat a cheese blintz every hour on the hour, it is not just your imagination. There are a wide variety of medications that can impact appetite — some increasing it, some taking it away. If you find that your meds are turning you into someone who thinks that competitive hot dog eating might be a fun job, talk to your doctor.

Ugh, writing this article was exhausting. Can I have some of your smooshed purse brownie?

Images: HBO; Giphy (8)

Reach for your water bottle before you give in to premature hunger. “A lot of what we perceive as hunger is actually thirst,” says Bowden. “So if you have a big glass of water and suddenly a cheeseburger doesn’t sound quite as great, then thirst was probably part of it. If it doesn’t blunt your hunger, that’s a good signal that maybe you need some food.” While there’s no exact formula for figuring how much water each individual needs, a good rule of thumb is to “take your body weight and divide it by two the number of ounces of water ,” recommends Brock. “High-water fruits and veggies help ,” says Young.

Related: 12 Weight-Loss Tips For Busy People That Really, Truly Work

5. You have a fast metabolism.

You know those people who seem to eat whatever they want—without putting on weight? Thank a genetic advantage, says Young: Some people just have faster metabolism. If your metabolism is especially fast, you may need to eat more often. Metabolism isn’t a stable factor in a person’s life, though: Go on a dangerous low-calorie crash diet and you can slow it down; build lean muscle mass and you can speed it up. (The more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. Thanks, strength training!)

6. You’re not getting enough zzz’s.

Skimping on sleep? This could be a major contributor to added hunger and cravings during the day. “Adequate sleep has now been clearly shown to influence food intake,” says Das. “If individuals are sleep-deprived, then their hormonal control is out of balance and causes them to overeat.” Two major hormones can get out of whack when you’re not sleeping enough: “Even a little bit of under-sleeping raises a hormone called cortisol, which compels you to eat,” says Bowden. “It raises your cravings, particularly for combinations of sugar and fat, what your body thinks will be quick fuel.” Plus, “sleep deprivation can cause elevated levels of hunger hormone, ghrelin,” says Brock. While each individual’s sleep needs vary, aim for seven to nine hours, says Young.

7. You’re hardcore about your fitness. Willie B. Thomas, Getty Images

While a power walk isn’t an excuse to wolf down a bagel every day, your activity levels do play a role in how hungry you feel. “If you exercise a lot, you may need to eat more,” says Young. “Your caloric needs increase with energy output or exercise,” adds Brock. But there’s a catch: “We think we burn more calories than we do from exercise,” Young says, so don’t fall into a trap of thinking you need to eat more than you do to fuel your workout. One surefire way to tell? “At the end of the day, your clothing or a scale ends up being an indicator,” says Young. “So if you’re hungry and you eat more, but your weight is staying down, then you did need those calories.”

Related: 12 Deliciously Filling Salads You Can Eat For Dinner

8. Your medication is making you hungry.

Some medications can increase your appetite, says Young. (Antidepressants are a common culprit.) If you suspect you’re on a medication that could be making you hungry, “ask your doctor and read the side effects,” says Young. “But just because it makes you hungrier doesn’t mean you have to eat —it means you should be mindful and choose an apple .”

9. You’re about to get your period.

Your menstrual cycle can totally play a role in your hunger levels—but it shouldn’t cause a crazy desire to eat a ton all week, says Young. “When your basal body temperature goes up, which it does right before you get you get your period, you might be hungry,” she says. This effect shouldn’t last for more than a day or two beforehand, though, so it’s not an excuse to eat whatever, whenever during your period. Sorry!

Related: 9 Dairy-Free Breakfast Ideas That Are Under 300 Calories

3. You got a crappy night of sleep.

Tired AF? That’s going to throw your hunger levels out of whack. “Not sleeping enough causes the adrenals to go into overdrive,” says Thadani. “Your body craves additional energy, and this affects your hunger levels.” Plus, some research has shown that when you miss out on sleep, the hormone ghrelin (which controls your appetite) gets released in larger amounts than normal, contributing to that always hungry feeling. Thadani recommends about seven hours at a minimum each night to keep your hormones happy—so make it happen.

4. You’re super stressed.

There’s a reason why stress eating is a thing. When your body is stressed, it releases cortisol (the stress hormone) to cope. “It can have great functions, like revving you up,” says Slayton. But cortisol also spikes your blood sugar (meant to fuel your fight-or-flight response), leading to a crash later on. “This results in what we feel as hunger,” she says.

Slayton says eating more foods with fatty acids can help compensate for this—there is some mixed evidence that the omega-3s in fish oil could help reduce cortisol levels. She also suggests adding some stress-busting adaptogens, like ashwagandha, to your diet. Making other lifestyle changes to reduce stress (meditation, positive thinking, self-care, time with friends) can also help you deal without feeling like you need to mainline snacks.

5. You’re going way too hard at the gym.

It’s ironic, because exercise can be a helpful way to reduce stress (and obvs it’s really good for you). But exercising too much, especially if it’s all HIIT or cardio, can mess with your body. “Although the intensity might vary depending on the person, revving up your exercise too much can raise your cortisol,” says Slayton. The end result: You’re hungry, tired, and all-around miserable. Slayton suggests limiting your cardio (which can be hard on the body) to no more than five hours a week, and says supplementing some of those more intense sessions with yoga and pilates can help.

6. You have an overactive thyroid.

Less obvious: having an overactive thyroid (also called hyperthyroidism), says Dr. Ashita Gupta, MD, and founder of Yantra, an endocrinology practice in New York. “It’s a hormonal disorder characterized by burning calories faster and being very skinny, so people with overactive thyroids need to eat more to keep up with their energy requirements.”

Other symptoms of any overactive thyroid include a rapid or irregular heartbeat, persistent thirst, anxiety, and tremors. If any of this sounds like you, Dr. Gupta says you should get checked out by a doctor; hyperthyroidism can cause serious issues like heart problems and brittle bones if untreated.

7. You’re taking a prescription med that can mess with appetite.

Yes, this is a thing (and it sucks). “Most commonly, antidepressants are associated with constant hunger and weight gain,” says Dr. Gupta, especially SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Lexapro and Zoloft. It’s believed that they can mess with your hunger signals, making you want to eat more. If your increased appetite is interfering with your day-to-day, it’s worth bringing up with your doctor to see if there’s another med you can try instead.

8. You’re not eating the right mix of nutrients.

You might wonder why you’re starving after a huge meal. But what exactly was in that meal? “Too little fiber or fat can prevent someone from being satisfied, and also too little protein is linked to increased hunger levels later in the day—especially at breakfast,” says Slayton. She cites a 2014 study that found people who ate a higher-carb oatmeal breakfast were hungrier earlier in the day than people who ate a high-fat, low-carb egg breakfast.

But this doesn’t mean you have to give up on pasta or other carby foods for good. “You should always pair your carbs with a lean protein or healthy fat,” says Thadani. This will ensure your meal gives you the nutrients (and staying power) to stay fuller for longer.

And hey, if you’re still feeling hungry after lunch and none of this really applies to you…maybe you just need a slightly bigger meal. “Not fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive makes it communicate with us through cravings—for carbs, for something sweet that will raise your blood sugar,” says Thadani. So go ahead and order that extra side of guac. Your stomach will thank you later.

If you need a healthy snack, try these office-friendly ideas. And explore the surprising connection between your blood sugar and your anxiety.

Hungry all the time

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