The definition of hunger is simply “a strong desire or need for food, “the discomfort, weakness, or pain caused by a prolonged lack of food.” I have seen this quite often in my practice. Patients are coming in and complaining of constant hunger. They say, ” I am always starving, or I can’t stop eating.” Some come in with this concern and are trying to lose weight while others are trying to gain weight. What’s always interesting to me is that after an intense review of their diet and lifestyle, it usually circles back to these same reasons.
1. Too many carbs: Do you ever notice why you’re still hungry after eating pasta, bread, and lots of grains and can continue to eat? It’s because these types of simple carbohydrates create a surge in blood sugar signaling to the brain that you haven’t had enough food and to keep eating. This creates an enormous risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Reaching for foods like avocados, eggs, organic pastured animal protein is a much better choice and will leave you much more satisfied. You will also eat smaller amounts, as these foods will help you feel full with smaller portions.
2. Not enough fat: When you eat foods with good saturated fat, you feel fuller longer. Fat takes much longer to digest than carbs. Including healthy amounts of fat in every meal will not only curb your hunger, but it will also provide you with long lasting energy all day. Furthermore, fat helps to control blood sugar and is wonderful brain food for preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Hormonal imbalances: Some individuals have ravenous appetites even while eating seemingly healthy food. That’s when we have to look at hormonal imbalances. These can occur because a number of issues: menopause/andropause, poor sleep, abnormal work schedule, chronic stress, and medications are just a few reasons you may be feeling hungrier than usual. When hormones are not in check, this causes a cascade of issues from cravings to overeating and even emotional eating. What we do at The Salerno Center is measure hormones by doing a few unique diagnostic tests. This includes genetic testing and a full hormone panel. In addition, certain medications like steroids can increase your appetite so you should always take that into consideration before taking medications.
4. Not enough protein: Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. Animal proteins are rich in amino acids that feed the brain’s neurotransmitters. When these neurotransmitters are satisfied, they signal fullness to the brain. This, in turn, keeps you fuller for hours, reducing hunger pangs and controlling blood sugar. Many studies have shown that protein creates a satiating feeling, causing you to eat much less than if you were to eat a starchy meal.
It is key to include good amounts of fat and healthy protein sources in every meal. This will only be beneficial as it will prevent binging, regulate metabolism, reduce your risk of diabetes and feed your brain.