If you’ve found yourself suddenly hungry all the time, you’ll find out why and how to curb this hunger so you can still lose weight.
Many people (women primarily) have found themselves suddenly getting ravenously hungry to the point they feel like they’re starving. Even stranger, they may not have changed anything with their diet or exercise. Yet they’re now getting this sudden onset of starving hunger.
The hunger can get so bad that your stomach is growling and you can’t even concentrate. And even more strange, you can still be starving even if your weight has gone up. There are some simple explanations for this sudden shift in your appetite.
Once you get to the root of the problem you can change your diet so you don’t feel so hungry all the time. Here you’ll discover the causes of this sudden extreme hunger and how to fix it so you can get back on your weight loss.
Why You’re So Tired and Hungry All of a Sudden
You’re extremely hungry all of a sudden is largely due to hormonal issues and imbalances. Your hormones control your hunger, so they’ll be the root cause of why you’re feeling this extreme hunger lately.
So what causes hunger in the body?
The root cause of why you feel hungry in the first place has to do with your body’s survival mechanisms. Your body sends hormonal signals to trigger the feelings of hunger, so you go searching for food to eat. This was very useful for our caveman ancestors otherwise, without hunger we wouldn’t be so motivated to search for food.
But nowadays, feeling hungry can quickly lead to weight gain since it’s so easy to eat a high-calorie food intake. Of course, our ancestors didn’t have quick access to an unlimited amount of food, but we do and still carry these same genes.
Diet and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the hormones that regulate your appetite. Let’s look into why…
Why You Feel So Hungry Today
Your hormones are likely imbalanced if you feel hungry today even after eating. Then you have to look at your current state of life. There are a lot of diet and lifestyle factors that can cause an increased appetite.
Not getting enough sleep can cause an increase in hunger (1). Sleep deprivation has also been found to reduce self-control, making it easier to binge eat junk foods (2). Studies have also found that we crave sugary, high fat, and carb-rich foods like pizza when we’re sleep-deprived (3).
If you wake up in the morning and feel extremely hungry, then you may not have had enough to eat the night before. Sleep is when your body detoxes, recovers, and rejuvenates. Without sufficient sleep or nutrients, your body could start signaling the feelings of hunger.
Also, if you don’t eat enough at night your blood sugar can get really low overnight causing bad sleep and the feelings of hunger the following morning. This is why it’s not a good idea to sleep on an empty stomach. Instead, have a tablespoon or two of unsweetened almond butter to help you feel full before going to bed.
If you’re hungry at night it could be from not eating enough during the day, being too active, or even being stressed out too much. Your body will increase hunger at night to prepare for the recovery process when you sleep. In addition, having more nutrients in your body will help with the recovery and rejuvenating process.
Women may feel hungrier in the late follicular and luteal phases of their cycle due to hormonal fluctuations (4). In the week before your period, your body will increase progesterone and lower oestrogen. Both of which can cause an appetite increase.
And then, the luteal phase can also increase hunger and the craving for sugary carb-rich foods (5). So if you’re on your period or right before or after then, it could impact your appetite.
Always Hungry Even After Eating
Your hunger hormones are likely imbalanced if you’re still hungry after eating. It’s natural to feel hungry after working out since your body wants to replenish and recover after exercising. And for that, it needs nutrients that will cause you to have an increased appetite possibly for multiple days after strenuous exercise (6).
And if you’ve been dieting and cutting calories then the extra hunger could just be a part of the process. Your stomach is larger and used to eating more so when it doesn’t fill up, it won’t become satiated. Gastric bypass surgery decreases the size of the stomach lowering ghrelin levels (7).
After restricting calories for too long your body may enter a “starvation mode.” This lowers leptin levels which slows your metabolism and increases hunger (8). This is when you want to eat more fibrous veggies to “fill out” your stomach.
Now let’s dig deeper into the hormones that can cause hunger and how to rebalance them to stop feeling so hungry…
Ghrelin – the Hunger Hormone
Ghrelin is a hormone responsible for triggering hunger in the body. It’s produced in the stomach and released when the stomach is empty. Ghrelin signals to the brain that it is time to eat and will increase your appetite (9).
After you’ve eaten a meal your ghrelin levels naturally should go down. This signals for your hunger levels to drop. And this is why it’s a good idea to wait 10-15 minutes after eating a meal before going back to seconds. It might take a little time for your ghrelin levels to go down after eating a meal.
Bad gut health can lead to unbalanced ghrelin levels causing you to feel hungrier more often (10). The gut-brain axis is the communication between your gut and your brain. This communication works as hormones and nerve signals go back and forth. The gut-brain axis regulates many functions in the body such as appetite, immunity, and mood (11).
Your body may not properly digest and absorb foods with poor gut health. This can lead to micronutrient deficiencies and leaky gut syndrome. Your body may raise ghrelin levels to make up for this perceived malnourishment.
Making sure your gut is healthy should be a top priority to reduce hunger. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against elevated ghrelin levels. A quality greens powder contains gut-boosting ingredients like probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Leptin – the Fat Controller Hormone
Leptin is a hormone responsible for suppressing hunger in the body. It’s produced by your fat cells and signals to the brain that you are full and don’t need to eat.
When you have plenty of fat on your body, your leptin levels are high. This lowers hunger to keep your body weight in balance. Overweight have more leptin circulating in their bloodstream than those who are underweight.
Leptin increases your metabolism, so your body burns off fat for energy more freely. If you become underweight, restrict calories, or even start losing weight, your leptin levels could lower, causing you to feel hungrier.
You can start to see how high ghrelin and low leptin levels can create a sudden overwhelming feeling of increased appetite. Leptin resistance occurs when the hypothalamus part of your brain has a more difficult time receiving the leptin signal to stop eating (12).
Leptin resistance happens when you eat too many processed foods and fructose. High insulin levels also contribute to leptin resistance. It’s best to eat a diet of real whole natural foods. Stop eating high-sugar foods and drinks like soda, fruit juices, sports, and energy drinks.
If you restrict your calories too much for too long, your leptin levels will go down, and your ghrelin will increase. This it’s why it might be a good idea to add in a cheat meal to kickstart your metabolism strategically. Busting out of a plateau is also known as the whoosh effect.
Insulin – the Fat Storage Hormone
Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Eating too many refined carbohydrates will give you an increased appetite and lead to weight gain. When you eat foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, insulin is released to help shuttle the glucose into your cells for energy.
Your body can become insulin resistant from eating too many sugary, carb-rich, processed foods. This can lead to insulin resistance and serious health problems such as diabetes and the storage of fat.
When you eat too many sugary, starchy, carb-rich, and processed foods your insulin will send these excess carbs into your fat stores. Once your glycogen (stored carbs) levels are full, then your body will dump these excess sugars as fat into stubborn spots like your belly, hips, and thighs for future use.
When you eat these sugary carb-rich foods, your blood sugar will initially spike but the insulin release will bring it back down. This is when you get a “sugar crash.” Next, your body will start craving more sugary carb-rich foods to bring your blood sugar back up.
This will set you off on a roller coaster of blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day causing weight gain. This is why it’s critical to cut out the sugar, starches, carb-rich, and processed foods from your diet.
Eating a low-carb diet combined with intermittent fasting will keep your insulin levels regulated. Add in C8 MCT powder to your intermittent fasting routine for better results.
- Each serving is packed with 1040mg of DHA providing support for brain, heart, eye, joint & immune health
- Omega-3 fatty acids provided in natural triglyceride form for maximal absorption
- 3mg of AstaREAL Astaxanthin - one of nature's most powerful antioxidants
- Premium, pure & potent omega-3 fatty acids from wild, cold-water sources… no fish burps!
Cortisol – the Stress Hormone
The adrenal glands produce the cortisol hormone in response to stress. It helps the body prepare for “fight or flight” mode by increasing blood sugar levels, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and releasing energy stores.
Your cortisol levels will stay elevated when you’re constantly stressed from work, family life, finances, etc. This can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdominal area.
Cortisol also increases your appetite and cravings for sweet, high fat, and carb-rich junk foods. These foods will give you a quick burst of energy, but you’ll crash soon after, leading to more cravings.
Chronic stress and lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels promoting hunger and weight gain. Ghrelin levels increase along with cortisol levels which will cause you to feel ravenously hungry.
It’s essential to find ways to manage stress in your life, whether it’s through exercise, meditation, time management, etc. to get your hunger under control. Reducing stress will help to lower cortisol levels and prevent weight gain. Getting enough sleep will also go a long way to keeping your cortisol levels in check.
Adaptogens found in a greens supplement like MetaboGreens can help to strengthen your body’s response to stress.
How to Stop Feeling Hungry All the Time
The best thing you can do to stop feeling hungry all the time is to eat more natural real whole foods. Kick out the sugar, starches, refined carbs, processed and junk foods from your diet. They cause hormonal imbalances, poor gut health and inflammation that leads to appetite increases.
Start consuming a high protein diet. Protein-rich foods are high satiating making you feel fuller for longer. They’re also more thermogenic, increasing your metabolism by burning more calories.
Protein is also needed to promote lean muscle mass. This will improve your body composition. Lack of muscle mass can lead to increased hunger which explains why you can be skinny but still feel hungry. It’s called skinny fat syndrome.
Your carbohydrates should primarily come from vegetables. Consuming more vegetables (along with some fruits) when you first start restricting calories will help to fill out your stomach. Just protein and healthy fats won’t be enough to do the job. This helps you feel fuller and allows your stomach to shrink down too, leading to lower ghrelin levels.
Vegetables and some fruits naturally contain a higher amount of fiber. High fiber foods will make you feel full, provide nutrients and promote a healthy gut. In addition, they’ll fill your stomach when you start dieting without the extra junk. Just make sure you’re only consuming low-sugar fruits like berries.
If you’re dehydrated then your body could easily mistake hunger for dehydration. It’s easy to quickly become dehydrated if you haven’t been drinking enough water. A good rule of thumb is to take half your body weight (in pounds), and that’s the minimum amount of fluid ounces you should be drinking daily.
You should also make quality sleep a priority to get your hunger down. Sleep deprivation leads to increases in ghrelin and junk food cravings. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, then you could have higher ghrelin despite being a healthy bodyweight. You should consult a sleep clinic if you suspect you have sleep apnea.
Lowering your stress levels is also key to reducing your hunger. I know it’s easier said than done but chronic stress will increase ghrelin levels. Your body has an evolutionary drive to ensure survival so it’ll increase hunger for sugary carb-rich foods when you’re stressed out.
Lowering inflammation will come naturally with eating more natural real whole foods. Increase your antioxidant and polyphenol consumption to fight off damage-causing free radicals in your body naturally. A greens supplement contains an abundance of rich antioxidants and polyphenols.
Then taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement will also help to reduce inflammation. Studies have found that omega-3s reduce inflammation and can improve satiety. In the battle of fish oil vs. krill oil, you’ll find the latter is better overall.
Artificial sweeteners can also cause you to feel hungrier. They may contain zero calories but still send sweetness signals to the brain. Your body is expecting an influx of calories with this sweetness. And when there are no calories to come in with it, it could cause you to feel hungry. Limiting or eliminating these artificial sweeteners is always a good idea.
The Last Word
Extreme sudden hunger can be total pain since it’ll derail your results and cause you to binge eat all day. Unfortunately, you may be experiencing this crazy hunger despite zero changes to your diet or exercise routine.
The root cause of this increase in hunger is mainly hormonal. Your hormones control your appetite and when they become imbalanced, it can lead to cravings. Therefore, getting your hormones under control is of the utmost importance to getting your hunger under control.
Lifestyle and diet factors play a major role in hormonal fluctuations. Even in a calorie deficit, eating bad foods could cause inflammation and hormonal imbalances, leading to hunger increases. It’s best to focus on your diet and lifestyle factors, such as improving your sleep quality and lowering stress to get the best results.
You could have health conditions like an overactive thyroid or imbalanced thyroid hormones. For that, it’s best to see an endocrinologist. Women who have become pregnant could also have constant hunger since the baby will need more nourishment.
Now that you know how to get your hormones under control, it’s what you’ll need to get your food intake under control. But with this knowledge, you should now have better appetite control which will get you right back progressing on the weight loss goals.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.