Author: Taylor Bathel
Hunger is nothing to fear! In fact, it’s simply your body’s way of letting you know you need some extra fuel to power through your day.
If you’ve ever eaten a seemingly adequate lunch and start to feel your stomach grumbling just one hour later, it can feel confusing. People often feel like their bodies are sending them mixed signals.
Sometimes you might just need some extra fuel, but if this happens often, it might be time to reconsider your meals.
Why are you feeling hungry? What can you do to feel more satisfied? Here are some things to consider when digesting your body’s hunger cues:
- You may need more protein
Protein increases satiety, partially due to its ability to help keep hunger hormones at bay. Ensuring you have enough protein on a daily basis, and also regularly throughout your day, can help keep you feel full and satisfied.
What can I try? Try adding lean protein sources to most meals and snacks. Think: greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, fish. Normally have an apple as a snack? Try pairing it with a scoop of nut butter or some slices of low-fat cheese.
- You may need more fiber
Fiber is a plant-based material that cannot be digested in the body, so it adds bulk to the digestion process. This bulk also slows digestion of your food, which in turn helps you feel fuller, longer. Whole foods – like grains, fruits, veggies, and nuts – tend to be the highest in fiber content.
What can I try? Track your fiber intake, and make some simple swaps! Typically opt for white rice? Try brown rice or quinoa. Typically have yogurt for breakfast? Try topping it with berries and nuts.
- You may need more dietary fat
On the same note as fiber, dietary fats also digest slower than their nutrient counterparts, carbs and protein. In some studies, adding fats to a meal can help people feel more satisfied following a meal.
What can I try? Experiment with adding healthy fats to meals or snacks, and gauge any difference you may feel. Typically have steamed broccoli with dinner? Drizzle it with a teaspoon of olive oil. Enjoy turkey sandwiches at lunch? Add a quarter of an avocado for a dose of fats and yumminess.
- You may need more water
What can I try? Try tracking and slowly increasing your water intake. You can experiment with having a glass before a meal, or incorporating more water-dense foods, like soup broths and vegetables.
- You may just need more… period!
The average adult female needs about 1,800 calories per day to maintain weight, and the average male needs 2,400 calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve reduced daily calories, but everybody is unique and your body may simply need due to your activity level of any other unique conditions.
What can I do? Track how many calories you’re eating throughout the day and your activity level and go from there. Is your lunch usually 400 calories but you’re still hungry? Aim for 500-550 calories and see how you feel. Exercising for an hour? Increase your daily calories to refuel.
- You might be stressed out
Hormones play a major role in regulating hunger. Increased cortisol (the stress hormone) can block the “I’m full” signals from leptin and insulin (satiety-influencing hormones). Ultimately meaning: if you’re stressed, you can feel much hungrier!
What can I try? Take a look at your mental health and self-care routine. Perhaps it’d serve you well to carve out dedicated me-time, or find a stress-reducing strategy specific to your life and needs.
- You might not be sleeping well
Studies have shown that those who are sleep-deprived report an increased appetite. Why? Cue those pesky hormones once again — they can become skewed in a number of ways.
What can I try? Focus on your sleep hygiene and nighttime routine to find the perfect wind-down, and perfect amount of zzz’s for you.
What now? Like anything, get curious about your body! Play around with these options one at a time and find what makes you feel most satisfied. Or, find your healthy balance with Noom!