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Do you find that you’re you almost CONSTANTLY hungry? Does it seem like your stomach begins to feel empty again too soon after your last meal? This can be extremely frustrating if you’re trying to lose weight. Because, of course, when we feel hungry our body calls us to respond by filling it with food. And, the more we try to ‘diet’ the worse it seems to get! Do you wonder what on earth is going on with your body? Why can’t you keep satiated for more than an hour or two?
Hunger is a complicated beast, and there are a few hormones at play. One is the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger. The others are appetite suppressing hormones, called leptin and peptide YY. There are several different factors in our diets and lifestyles that may cause ghrelin to increase and/or leptin and peptide YY to decrease. Other factors increase blood sugars or cortisol, the stress hormone, which in turn can cause hunger.
Some of your daily habits may be to blame for causing your stomach to growl. The good news is that with a few tweaks, you may find that you’ll feel satiated for longer instead of being tortured by hunger throughout the day.
WHY ARE YOU HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?
1) Are you dehydrated?
Most women don’t drink enough water and are chronically dehydrated. Often we mistake feelings of thirst for hunger when what our body needs is just more H2O. Make sure you’re getting about 64 oz of water daily, and drink regularly throughout the day starting as soon as you wake up! Drinking water flushes toxins from your bloodstream, and aids in weight loss by helping you to feel full!
2) Are you sleeping too little?
Studies show that too little sleep causes the body to produce extra ghrelin – the hunger triggering hormone and not enough leptin, which suppresses appetite. It does make sense – if your body hasn’t adequately recovered during sleep, it will need to get additional energy from somewhere, namely food! Other studies indicate that people who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night have a much greater possibility of being obese. Aim for 7 – 9 hours of sleep at night to help with satiety and weight loss.
3) Are you getting your cardio?
Although it may seem counterintuitive, some studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can work to suppress appetite. One such study in the journal AJP — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, showed that cardiovascular exercise decreased ghrelin levels and increased levels of peptide YY. It has also been found that exercise in general helps regulate blood sugar levels which in turn helps with appetite regulation and weight loss.
An important piece of the satiety puzzle is getting an adequate balance of proteins, slow burning carbohydrates and healthy fats into your diet. All of these food types play a role in your perception of fullness and if you’re deficient in just one, it can really affect your hunger levels. You should be getting a combination of all 3 food types at every meal. Make sure your carbohydrates come in the form of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Healthy fats come from sources like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado and fish.
5) Are you eating too infrequently?
If you are skipping meals, especially breakfast, it shouldn’t surprise you if you feel hungry a lot. In fact, the common wisdom in the nutrition and fitness world is that you should be eating 5 – 6 small meals per day, or about once every 2 to 3 hours you’re awake. This type of eating schedule helps to boost your metabolism and will create an automatic change in the amount you need to consume to feel full during meals.
6) Are you eating too little?
As mentioned above, getting the right nutrients, food types and frequency of meals are all important factors in satiety. However, in an attempt to lose weight, many of us cut calories TOO far and aren’t allowing our bodies an adequate amount of nutrition for our energetic requirements. While most sources say that the minimum recommended number of calories for a woman is 1200, this may be too little for your body or your daily level of activity. Consult a doctor, nutritionist or a knowledgeable personal trainer about the right amount calories for you. Or even better, instead of focusing on calories, focus exclusively on eating frequent small meals and ensuring an adequate balance of lean proteins, slow burning carbs and healthy fats.
7) Are you under a ton of stress?
Stress also increases the amount of ghrelin released into the body as well as cortisol, the flight or fight hormone, which also affects hunger levels! If your job or family life is stressful, while it’s easier said than done, you’ll want to take some measures to reduce that stress. In addition take other measures to care for yourself, such as improving diet, exercising and sleeping enough will help address the stress AND hunger issues at the same time.
8 ) Are you eating a lot of sugar/carbs throughout the day?
Sugar and white carbs cause a spike in blood sugar and in turn, increase hunger levels as well. The worst part is that they cause you to crave more of the same – more sugar and more white carbohydrates! To keep blood sugars and hunger levels stable throughout the day, cut out sugar and stick with whole grain carbohydrate sources, as well as lots of fibrous carbohydrates like fruits, veggies and legumes. The fiber and water in these foods will also help increase satiety.
9) Could it be a medical issue?
While many of them are rare, see this Livestrong article for some endocrine diseases and other syndromes that can cause constant hunger. If none of the other possible causes for constant hunger seem to add up for you, consult a doctor.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we’re all about healthy nutrition because it helps us lose weight and have energy for our tough workouts! Our nutrition plan recommends combining proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates at every meal and snack to help keep you feeling full. In fact, the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan is anything but a diet – we actually recommend you eat more – 5 – 6 times per day! This type of diet will help turn your metabolism into a fat burning machine – when combined with our killer 30 minute workouts. Yes, with Athlean-XX for Women, eat more, exercise shorter but harder and weigh less! Join us on Team Athlean to start your lifestyle makeover now!
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