Why am I always hungry even after eating and how to change it
Being hungry all the time, even after eating is one of the most significant problems why people are unable to lose weight.
So knowing why you’re always hungry and how to change it is essential in your weight loss journey.
That’s why I’ll teach how feeling hungry is produced in your body and which strategies you can apply to reduce the feeling of hunger.
So let’s dive right into it.
1. Why do you feel hungry
Your brain is the master coordinator of appetite and body weight.
Your hypothalamus is the part of your brain that regulates hunger and satiety.
Your hypothalamus is also responsible for regulating thirst, fatigue, sleep, and emotions.
Knowing that it’s no surprise that your emotional state, enough sleep, and rest influence the amount of appetite you have.
Furthermore, several other brain structures, which I won’t discuss here further, influence the regulation of appetite and satiety. Your energy levels affect these structures.
If they think your energy levels are sufficient, they will suppress your appetite. If they feel you lack energy, they will increase your appetite, making you hungry.
It is called homeostatic hunger. It is an appetite that is caused by an insufficient amount of energy to sustain your health.
The other type of hunger is called hedonic hunger. That is appetite, despite a lack of energy. It is the reason you’re always hungry, even after eating.
Homeostatic hunger is caused by several hormones that signal the amount of fat, sugar, and protein you’ve consumed as well as the amount of food that’s in your stomach.
Lack of dopamine and serotonin in your body is the primary cause of hedonic hunger.
I’ll explain more about the cause of both types of hunger as well as how to change it.
Let’s start with homeostatic hunger.
2. Homeostatic hunger
Homeostatic hunger is the balance between 2 different processes: Satiation and Satiety.
In a perfect world their both in balance with each other to adjust your calorie intake to your needs. One increases hunger and the other suppresses hunger.
Below I’ll explain more about the difference.
Satiation defines as a set of complex processes that progressively inhibit the motivation to eat during an eating event. You start eating because you feel hungry due to the time of day and the social situation.
When you’re in a situation, in which you usually eat, as in a restaurant, this will increase the feeling of being hungry.
Satiety is the inhibitory mechanism that takes place after the end of an eating episode and prevents the return of hunger for a variable duration. It’s a powerful mechanism that allows the matching of intake to energy needs to the energy content of the previous meal.
Sensory and cognitive factors exert an inhibitory influence after the end of a meal. Eating with attention increases satiety after eating. Also, when you’ve eaten the same food earlier that day, you will feel full faster because your body remembers this and doesn’t want to overeat of the same food on one day.
Also, the volume of the previous meal affects how much hunger you feel during the next meal. The weight of food remaining in the stomach at the time of meal onset is one of the significant influence determining the size of the next meal.
That’s why a big breakfast is so important. When you eat a big breakfast, your body will remember this and makes you feel less hungry during lunch.
This only works when you eat the right kind of breakfast.
Also, when you eat more regularly, this phenomenon doesn’t fade away before your next meal. If your stomach is empty, you will eat relatively more because there is no previous meal present to reduce your feeling of hunger.
Also, eating on a smaller plate or cooking less food has a psychological effect on your feeling of hunger. When your plate is empty, and you ate all the food you’ve prepared, this increases satiety and reduces appetite.
Also, signals from the gastrointestinal tract, like chemoreceptors and stretch receptors, increases your satiety feeling.
Most of them are hormonal such as leptin, insulin, and ghrelin. That means that there are enough fat, sugar, and protein consumed to fulfill the energy needs.
So eating enough of these will reduce your hunger.
I’ll explain a little more about the function and their method of regulating appetite.
One key hormonal signal is leptin, which is produced by adipose (fat) tissue. Leptin levels are proportional to adipose energy reserves, and exogenous leptin suppresses feeding.
That means that if there is more leptin in your body, it’s stored in your fat cells. The adipose tissue sends a signal to the brain that you don’t need any more fat.
It means that the more fat cells your body contains, the higher the level of leptin. Therefore the body of obese people contains relatively high leptin levels.
Since the function of leptin is to reduce appetite to control energy balance, obese people shouldn’t feel hungry at all because their body contains enough energy.
But it’s also known that obese people develop leptin resistance. That means that your brain does not correctly register the levels of leptin in your body.
It’s not entirely clear why this happens, but there are a few hypotheses which I will show you now.
4. The blood-brain barrier
One of the possible reasons is that leptin doesn’t reach your brain.
You see, hormones and other things can’t just reach your brain from the rest of your body. They have to pass the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is designed to protect your brain from the viruses and bacteria in your body.
If your brain doesn’t “see” the leptin, it doesn’t know you’re full, and you’ll still feel hungry.
5. Attenuation of the leptin signaling cascade in the hypothalamus
One of the most significant factors in leptin resistance is probably a reduction of the sensitivity of the hypothalamus for leptin. In obese people, molecular changes are seen in the hypothalamus, which reduces the registration of leptin through your hypothalamus.
6. Hypothalamic inflammation
Inflammation of the hypothalamus is another possible reason for leptin resistance.
We know that obese bodies are in a permanent state of inflammation. This inflammation can also cause leptin resistance, both in your body and your brain.
The inflammation of your hypothalamus alters the signaling of leptin levels in your hypothalamus. It is also responsible for structural changes in the hypothalamus, which alter the hypothalamic circuits.
It might be an essential reason why losing weight is so difficult. It will take a very long time to reverse these changes if it is even possible at all.
Another study showed that a combination of a diet and an exercise program also reduces leptin resistance.
However, this will take at least six months to occur.
So if you don’t want to feel hungry all the time, exercising is a great way to feel less hungry.
Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly associated with obesity, but it’s also an essential hormone for controlling appetite. Insulin concentrations depend on peripheral insulin sensitivity, which is related to both total body fat stores and fat distribution, with visceral fat being a key determinant.
After a meal, insulin levels spike directly and then return to normal over a few hours. It signals your central nervous system and hypothalamus to reduce appetite.
Insulin is released by your pancreases to reduce your blood sugar level after eating.
Your blood sugar level rises after eating carbohydrates.
There are several types of carbohydrates:
- Complex carbohydrates
Starch and fibers form complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates are harder for your body to digest. That will result in a slower blood sugar spike then when you consume sugar.
When you eat sugar, your insulin level rises very fast, which will result in the production of a lot of insulin. It will drop your blood sugar level quickly, which will result in hunger again.
When you eat complex carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels rise slowly, which will also result in a gradual increase in insulin. This way, you will feel full for a much more extended period.
So try to reduce your intake of sugar, also known as empty calories, and increase the consumption of complex carbohydrates to reduce appetite.
The recommended amount of carbohydrates by The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans eating is about 55% of your calorie intake.
A lower amount might result in more weight loss in the short term but is not sustainable in the long run.
So remember, carbohydrates are not bad for you, as long as you take the right kind.
Ghrelin is a hormone secreted by the stomach, with levels peaking just before a meal and declining after feeding.
That means that when your stomach is empty, it produces ghrelin to increase appetite.
In humans, ghrelin is also in sync with leptin levels. It means that high leptin levels, or leptin resistance, results in relatively high ghrelin levels. That increases your hunger.
Carbohydrates have shown to reduce ghrelin levels for an extended period. However, in obese persons, the reduction of ghrelin after eating happens much slower than in healthy people. That might be the reason why it takes a lot longer for obese people to feel full.
Ghrelin levels also rise in anticipation of food. That means that when you know you will eat soon, you will start to feel hungry because of that. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So taking your mind of food will help you to reduce hunger.
9. Hedonic hunger
Lack of dopamine and serotonin in your body causes hedonic hunger. A lack of dopamine causes your appetite to increase.
Dopamine and serotonin are also hormones that make us happy.
There are many things you can do to increase the amount of dopamine in your body.
Sleep, meditation, and exercise help to produce dopamine. That’s why exercising is one of the best ways to lose weight: it both burns calories as well as reducing appetite.
Getting enough sleep is known to reduce the feeling of hunger by regulating leptin and ghrelin levels.
Eating high caloric palatable foods have shown to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. This mechanism was necessary in the past to make sure that people ate whenever food was available because you never knew when you were able to eat again.
Since food is widely available and also stress and depression is a growing problem, overeating is also an increasing problem.
That’s because eating high caloric food can increase dopamine and serotonin in the body, which reduces the feeling of stress. That is called emotional eating.
It’s a learned behavior caused by classical conditioning.
Finding alternative ways to increase dopamine and serotonin levels is an effective way to reduce appetite.
Together with having a balanced diet to provide all the necessary hormones increasing dopamine and serotonin can solve the problem of always feeling hungry.
So let’s see how to do that.
10. How to reduce your appetite and calorie intake
To reduce appetite, there are two things you have to do:
- Reduce leptin resistance
- Increase the amount of dopamine and serotonin in your body
You can do this by eating the right types of food and also reduce the amount of “wrong” kinds of food.
You can use a calorie deficit to lose weight. Combined with eating healthy foods that keep you full, you’ll feel less hungry, which makes it easier to maintain your diet for the rest of your life.
You can increase dopamine and serotonin by exercising more often.
For example, you can turn daily activities into exercises to burn more calories and feel happier.
There are also certain types of food that will help to reduce leptin resistance.
Unfortunately, most studies performed on this topic are conducted on animals. It means that these findings don’t necessarily have the same effect on humans, but it’s the most prove we have.
11. Reduce the amount of leptin in the bloodstream
The best way to reduce leptin in the blood is by eating enough soluble fiber and a lot of fruits and vegetables.
- All vegetables
- Unsalted Nuts
These products are known to regulate leptin levels in your blood, which increase the homeostatic balance in your body, which reduces the change of overeating.
Another essential factor you need to improve is the distribution of leptin through the blood-brain barrier.
Vitamin A and D are essential in improving the transportation of leptin to your brain.
So basically all vegetables, as well as fatty fish, are useful for increasing serotonin transportation to your brain.
12. Food compounds enhancing leptin signaling in the hypothalamus
The protein megalin is supposed to be the main component for transporting leptin through the blood-brain barrier to reach the hypothalamus.
Especially eating enough vitamin A and D, which you find in fruit, vegetables, and fatty fish will help the leptin to reach your brain.
The food sources will also help the leptin to reach your hypothalamus. That will help you in reducing your appetite.
Now I want to hear from you!
In the end, it’s all about eating healthy, exercising regularly, and being happy about your life and yourself.
If you’re able to improve your lifestyle, you will lose weight and keep it off.
You’ll have to be persistent for a least a year to restore your hormonal balance.
It takes a significant effort, but it is worth it.
So let me know which changes you will make to reduce your appetite and feel happier.
Let’s make the world healthy again!