11 Reasons You Feel Hungry All the Time

Have you ever had days when it feels like no matter what you eat your stomach still isn’t satisfied? There are several triggers to hunger — ranging from the obvious (e.g., you’re not eating enough) to something more complex. Here are 11 potential reasons for feeling hungry all the time.

1. Fatigue

Proper fuel in your body boosts your energy. But if you’re feeling hungry, sometimes what you really might need is more sleep. “Sleep is a critical factor in controlling our appetite hormones: ghrelin and leptin,” according to Mayo Clinic. “An adequate amount of sleep helps regulate ghrelin, which is our appetite stimulating hormone. This means that lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, resulting in more hunger and cravings, which is no good for fat loss. Furthermore, a lack of sleep decreases leptin hormone, which is the satiety hormone.”

2. Exercising without refueling

a man taking a rest while outside runningCredit: Ridofranz/Getty Images

Sometimes people make the mistake of increasing the intensity of their exercise routine without making corresponding changes to their diet to fuel those workouts. “Although several studies have shown exercise to be beneficial for suppressing appetite, there is some evidence that vigorous, long-term exercisers tend to have greater appetites than those who do not exercise,” according to Healthline. Vigorous exercise can speed up your metabolism, so you might find yourself hungry more frequently if you’re not refueling properly. If that’s the case, try eating more filling foods, such as high-fiber fruits and veggies, to satisfy your stomach.

3. Eating too little protein, fat or fiber

Your body also might be hungry because you’re not giving it the right mix of nutrition — namely enough filling protein, fat and fiber. “Protein is the most satiating macronutrient compared to carbohydrates and fats,” according to Mayo Clinic. “… A higher protein intake increases levels of the satiety hormones GLP-1 and peptide YY (appetite-reducing), while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.” Likewise, high-fiber foods satisfy your hunger by activating stomach “stretch” receptors. “These receptors send signals to the brain to indicate a satisfying amount of food has been eaten,” Mayo Clinic says. “High-fiber foods also slow the stomach’s emptying rate and take longer to digest compared to low-fiber foods, keeping you fuller for longer.”

4. Eating too many refined carbs

In addition to what your diet might lack, you also might be filling up on too many foods that won’t satiate you, especially refined carbs (breads, pasta, etc.). “Since refined carbs lack filling fiber, your body digests them very quickly,” Healthline says. “This is a major reason why you may be hungry frequently if you eat a lot of refined carbs, as they do not promote significant feelings of fullness.” Plus, eating lots of refined carbs can cause a blood sugar spike, which also can trigger hunger.

5. Drinking your calories

person making a green smoothieCredit: Vera_Petrunina/Getty Images

Replacing snacks or even entire meals with smoothies and shakes has been popular for a long time now. But it might not be the best approach for satisfying hunger, regardless of the number of calories you’re sipping. “Liquids and solid foods digest differently in the body,” Mayo Clinic says. “Smoothies, shakes, sodas, and your favorite Starbucks order pass through the stomach more rapidly than solid foods, leaving you hungrier sooner than you would be if you ate a solid meal.” Drinks might be more convenient and save time, but if you really want to feel full it’s better to chew your food.

6. Thirst

On the other hand, feeling hungry might actually mean you need to drink something. “Feelings of thirst can be mistaken for feelings of hunger,” Healthline says. “If you’re always hungry, it may be helpful to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you are just thirsty.” Be sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, so you don’t consume extraneous calories thinking your thirst is hunger. You also can snack on hydrating foods to satisfy your hunger and thirst at the same time.

7. Certain medications

Sometimes increased hunger can be a side effect of taking certain medications. “The most common appetite-inducing medications include antipsychotics, such as clozapine and olanzapine, as well as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids and anti-seizure drugs,” according to Healthline. “Additionally, some diabetes medications, such as insulin, insulin secretagogues and thiazolidinediones, are known to increase your hunger and appetite.” If you think your medication is the culprit, bring it up with your doctor. There might be an alternative that better suits your needs.

8. Certain diseases

a doctor reviews information with a patientCredit: asiseeit/Getty Images

Increased hunger also can be symptomatic of certain medical conditions. “Frequent hunger is a classic sign of diabetes,” Healthline says. “It occurs as a result of extremely high blood sugar levels and is typically accompanied by other symptoms, including excessive thirst, weight loss and fatigue.” Hunger also might be a sign of hyperthyroidism, depression, premenstrual syndrome and more. So don’t hesitate to bring up any excessive hunger with your doctor, as it could be an important clue for a diagnosis.

9. Stress

Stress as a hunger trigger is so common that we use the phrase “stress eating.” Short-term stress actually can make you lose your appetite, as your body releases epinephrine and engages its fight-or-flight response. But persisting stress — even minor, but frequent stressors — can do just the opposite. “The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat,” according to Harvard Medical School. Stress also might trigger hunger for particular foods, especially those high in fat and sugar. These foods actually can counter your body’s stress response, truly making them “comfort foods.” But still, it’s obviously better to comfort your body by removing the stressor.

10. Mindless eating

At times, shoveling food into your mouth might have little to do with satisfying true hunger. It’s possible to be inspired to eat because you’re bored, tempted by a favorite food or in a social situation with others eating. You also might trigger an association craving, such as suddenly wanting popcorn when you watch a movie. Or you might be eating too quickly or mindlessly, not allowing your body to realize its hunger is satisfied. “Eating slower and chewing your food thoroughly allows your body and brain more time to release the ghrelin hormone, which will say, ‘Hey brain! I’m your stomach, and I’m full!’” Mayo Clinic says.

11. Restricted eating

man looking reluctantly at a small saladCredit: tommaso79/Getty Images

Not eating enough food should be a pretty obvious reason for hunger. But sometimes it might not be so clear that you’re not adequately fueling your body. For instance, you might fall into the trap of “being good” and eating super healthy, low-calorie meals early in the day — only to be ravenous later on. Or you might wait too long between meals, which can result in some serious cravings, especially for junk food. “An all-or-nothing mentality — forbidding all foods with sugar or salt — can backfire too,” according to Cleveland Clinic. The key is to listen to your body, establish a healthy eating routine and enjoy more indulgent foods within reason.

Main image credit: Tuomas_Lehtinen/Getty Images

67 comments

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill3 days ago

what about the fact that the food people often eat has little nutrients and healthy stuff.

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heather g
heather g3 days ago

No mention of cortisone meds eg, puffers, etc.

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 days ago

Thanks.

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Thomas M
Thomas M4 days ago

TYFS

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Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim5 days ago

Thanks. Interesting and useful info.

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Mia B
Mia B5 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Dennis H
Dennis H5 days ago

Thanks

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Christophe B

Thanks a lot.

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Marija M
Marija Mohoric6 days ago

tks for sharing

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