Answered: Why Am I Always Hungry?

Fountain City Fitness
March 4, 2024
Answered: Why Am I Always Hungry?

March is National Nutrition Month, and throughout the month, we’ll be answering some of the most common questions around eating and nutrition, starting with a very common question: Why am I always hungry?

  1. You’re not eating enough!

Let’s start with the obvious: you might be constantly hungry because you’re not eating enough throughout the day! Many people solely calculate their active metabolism needs - or their calories burned through physical activity - as their target intake level, but in doing so, fail to include their basal metabolism. Your body has a caloric demand from performing unconscious activities, like breathing, digesting, and thinking, known as basal metabolic rate. Typically, basal metabolism rates increase with muscle mass, as the body requires greater energy demand for everyday metabolism. As part of a nutrition consultation at FCF, we help clients understand their basal metabolism demand so that they know exactly how many calories to target to help them achieve sustainable weight management goals.

  1. Your meal and snack times are inconsistent day-to-day.

Your brain loves variety, but your body needs routine. In fact, your body has what’s called a circadian clock (also referred to as circadian rhythm) that controls things like your sleep patterns, productivity, and yes, your hunger cues! When your eating windows are consistent day-to-day, your body is able to produce the key hormones that control digestions and cue hunger and fullness rhythmically. If you’re inconsistent with eating windows, the body may read that inconsistency as a biological threat (“Food is scarce, bulk up now!”) and cues hunger in anticipation of starvation, even though your brain knows that a meal is coming later. 

The key action against this is to create a plan - know what you’ll eat, and when you’ll eat it - then stick to the plan as best you can. Sometimes that requires accountability, which is why our nutrition clients experience success: we work with the client to develop a plan, then check in with them to ensure it’s working. 

  1. You’re missing a key nutritional input.

Have you ever heard of “the bliss point”? It’s a target of snack manufacturers that hits an ideal ratio of salt/sugar/fat that optimizes deliciousness and keeps you snacking. Part of what makes “the bliss point” successful is that it’s missing key inputs your body is looking for to register fullness, also known as satiation. There are three components to satiation that help your body produce the hormones that say “that’s enough!”: protein, fat, and fiber. Sometimes, we opt for a meal that sounds healthy, but is missing a key component: a salad without protein or a main course with low-fiber sides. Working with a Fountain City nutrition coach to help identify well-balanced meals and snacks can help you avoid gaps in your macronutrients that lead to hunger.

  1. You multi-task your meals.

Your body is pretty amazing! It’s designed to keep you safe - that’s a key role of your nervous system. Unfortunately, your body has to prioritize resources to help keep you safe and those are the same resources your body uses to break down and absorb nutrients from food. If you multi-task your meals, and consistently eat while stressed out, your body experiences a diminished nutrient absorption, which means that more food passes through the digestive system without getting properly digested. Your body then signals for more food to get what it needs. By eliminating stress and distractions while eating, as well as slowing down, you can experience better digestion and longer time between meals.

  1. Your nourishment needs are non-nutritional.

If we have recently eaten a balanced meal and are still craving food, we can examine what other emotional needs may require examination. Sometimes, food is used to soothe feelings of loneliness, sadness, stress and anxiety. Sometimes, food is used to experience pleasure, joy, or connection. Emotional reasons for eating are not bad reasons for eating, but the better we can understand the emotional undercurrent of our hunger, we can identify whether food is the ideal tool to use to meet the emotional need.

If you still find yourself hungry, even after examining these five reasons, it might be time for you to schedule a nutritional consultation. Work one-on-one with a coach to determine the best path forward towards your nutritional goals. Get the plan, the support and the accountability you need to make true, tangible change, today!

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