Top 5 Overlooked Causes of Hunger

Top 5 Overlooked Causes of Hunger

The start of the New Year has new challenges.  You strive to be a better person, exercise more, and eat portions more suitable to your lifestyle.  Now that you have settled into a routine and are making some progress, you find that you are often hungry when you have eaten the total amount of calories recommended for your body.  Why is this?

Hunger is affected by a number of differing factors.  Some of these factors are lifestyle induced while others may be affected by your genetics.  Regardless, there is a reason as to what may be causing your hunger at varying times of the day.  Listed in this article are five causes of hunger of which you may not have been aware.

The Top 5 Most-Overlooked Causes of Hunger

  1. Hormonal Imbalance. Hormones are prevalent in the body.  In fact, hormones control the make-up of our body and can even determine your body size.  But wait, don’t I control what my body does?  Not particularly.  While your brain plays a pivotal role in moderation, certain hormones control the level to which you store fat and the level to which you are no longer hungry when eating.  One hormone, leptin, is often termed the “fat hormone” and is responsible for determining when you have had enough at each meal [1].  When this hormone is in sufficient quantities, you often will eat the portions your body needs.  In contrast, the hormone ghrelin is responsible for signaling when you are and are not hungry [2].  In other words, ghrelin can help control those late night cravings to the kitchen pantry for a snack or large feeding.  When these two hormones are not in sufficient quantity in the blood, the mind can play tricks on the body to either consume more food or to eat more often, which may be one reason why you feel hungry often.
  2. Lack of Proper Sleep. Sleep plays a pivotal role in most aspects of daily life.  If you are chronically receiving less than seven hours of sleep per day, you should consider altering your schedule.  A recent study on sleep found that when individuals slept less than six hours of sleep per day, they consumed 221 more calories on average when compared to individuals who slept over eight hours every day [3].  Getting sufficient levels of sleep not only feels great, but it helps to regulate the levels of leptin in the body to help prevent overfeeding.  In addition, sufficient sleep will help to control ghrelin circulating in the blood.
  3. Hydration Status. Have you ever wondered why your energy level vanishes soon after your afternoon coffee (your third of the day)?  One reason may be that you are dehydrating your body.  When you feel thirsty for water, not only does your body crave this essential compound, but it is known to drain your energy levels [4].  If you find that you crave water or are thirsty towards the end of the day and have struggled with hunger, review your food and nutrient log to monitor when and how much caffeine you drink daily.  Want more evidence?  Forgo coffee for one full week and replace it with water and be sure to log your energy levels in a journal.
  4. Exercise, or Not? Exercise is often something blamed to cause hunger, but actually exercise suppresses appetite.  A recent study examining hunger and exercise found that weight-bearing exercise (running, jumping, skipping, etc.) has an exercise-induced suppression of appetite effect [5].  This effect on exercise is generally very counterintuitive considering the first thing many want to do after intervals is to engorge in food due to “an increase in hunger.”
  5. Boredom. With all the new programs, activities, technology, and friends on Facebook, one would assume boredom is slowly being eliminated in the World.  Actually, with the loads of stimulation today, boredom is increasing.  This can lead to the feeling of “hunger” which often times is not hunger [6].  If you find yourself hungry when you get home from work or school, consider a quick activity to keep your mind off food.  This will help shape your behavior and will hopefully prevent boredom from causing you to gain weight.

 

References

[1] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-facts-on-leptin-faq

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212793

[3] http://www.fitbie.com/lose-weight/tips/10-reasons-you-re-always-hungry/tip/3

[4] http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/diet-weight-loss/10-reasons-your-body-thinks-its-hungry-113335

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23402716

[6] http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1660

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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