Why do I always feel hungry?

why do I always feel hungry Follow Me on Pinterest I always feel hungry is the catch cry of many a person around the world – and not just those on a calorie reduced diet – as I found out from the number of people finding my site searching by the term “always feel hungry”! So I thought this would make an interesting research topic to see if I could find out more about the physiological reasons behind why we feel hungry all the time. Especially as this is something that I have had first hand experience with.

Four reasons why you always feel hungry

#1 Not eating and drinking enough

First of all the obvious; you will always feel hungry if you are not eating enough, but I am not going to delve too deeply into this topic today. If you need to lose weight, I highly recommend sensible, well balanced programs such as Weight Watchers, The Diet Solution or The Gabriel Method. I have also covered this topic in more detail in my post Are you really hungry? which also covers why you should be drinking plenty of water, because feeling hungry can be caused purely because you are dehydrated.

#2 Not getting enough sleep

If you always feel hungry, it may simply be due to lack of sleep or lack of good quality sleep, which I covered in an earlier article Lack of sleep and weight gain. If you do not get 6 ½ to 8 hours sleep a night, lack of sleep can change your metabolism to make you want to eat more. The way this happens is that grehlin, a hormone produced in your stomach is normally released to stimulate your appetite to make you want to eat. When your cells are full again, the fat cells release the hormone leptin to signal your brain that you are full. If  you are suffering from chronic lack of sleep, excess grehlin is produced causing an increase in appetite, while less leptin is produced to signal that you are full. The result is that you always feel hungry because your brain does not receive that all important “full” signal.

Making sure that I get enough sleep is the biggest change that I have made for my health this year. I am by nature a night owl, but often would only get 4-6 hours sleep a night. This resulted in me constantly getting the munchies mid-afternoon, but I would be craving sweets, cake and chocolate, not a nice piece of healthy fruit! Now I don’t always feel hungry mid-afternoon and when I get home after work, I just have a healthy snack and don’t feel that I have to eat everything that isn’t nailed down.

#3 Too much stress

High levels of stress can also cause you to feel constantly hungry. Again I have covered this topic in Stress and weight gain explained so today I will do a quick summary. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands produce more of the hormone cortisol, the “fight or flight’ hormone. Cortisol is another hormone that makes us want to eat. Stress also causes us to produce more of the “hunger hormone” Grhelin mentioned above so we are hit with a double whammy which could be the reason why you always feel hungry.

#4 You may always feel hungry if you are obese

This is not quite such an astonishing statement when you understand the way your hormones work. First of all if you are carrying a lot of extra weight, you can become resistant to the hormone leptin mentioned above, the one produced by your fat cells to tell you that you are full. So although your fat cells are producing leptin, your brain isn’t getting the “full” message so of course you always feel hungry.

Secondly, when you eat you produce insulin. Insulin’s job is to take glucose (a form of sugar) out of the blood stream and into all of the cells of the body with the excess taken to the fat cells to be stored. If you become “insulin resistant” so that your cells don’t respond as well as they have done previously, your body will make too much insulin which remains in your blood stream. When you eat, because of the excess insulin, too much glucose will be quickly stored away, leaving you feeling as if you haven’t eaten enough. So once again, you will feel tired and hungry leading you to eat more as your body is demanding.

If you always feel hungry, these are some simple measures that you can take:

  • Make sure that you are eating enough. Even if you are on a diet you still need to eat a minimum of 1200 (5,000 kilojoules a day). Fill up on vegetables and good quality fats, proteins and wholegrain products.
  • Drink enough water to remain hydrated. Dehydration can make you feel hungry and also slow down your metabolism by as much as 4%.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep 6 ½ to 8 hours a night.
  • Reduce your stress levels; eat properly, exercise, meditate, listen to music.
  • Lose weight to reduce the effects of insulin and leptin resistance.

During my chocoholic stage several years ago, I used to eat a family block of chocolate and a Chokito bar every day for almost two years, otherwise the rest of my diet was very healthy. I remember that I would always feel hungry about half an hour after lunch, even though I had eaten a chicken and salad sandwich on wholegrain bread and a yogurt. I used to get actual hunger pangs! Now I finally understand why. With my system being bombarded by such a horrendous amount of sugar every day, I was probably insulin resistant and well on my way to becoming a type II diabetic. Now I feel hungry for the right reasons and you can as well if you make some simple lifestyle changes.

Do you always feel hungry and what do you do about it?

Further reading:

Further reading if you always feel hungry

Lose weight with Weight Watchers

Kick start your metabolism with The Diet Solution

The Gabriel Method (no diet, diet)

Quit Sugar

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47 Responses to Why do I always feel hungry?

  1. platinum hcg drops June 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    I have my one opinion why I always feel hungry and that is when I eat late at night i am always hungry at morning a lot and that is the secret of my hungry

    • jan June 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      When you eat late at night, do you eat highly processed sugary foods that will raise your insulin levels? Eating at night shouldn’t really make you more hungry in the morning.

  2. Carol Barry June 18, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    The problem with me right now is that I don’t feel hungry at all! This week I didn’t eat anything for a whole day and the day after I wasn’t hungry. My question is what should I do to have appetite?

    • jan June 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      Hi Carol
      One of the things that Jon Gabriel says in his book The Gabriel Method, is that people who are normal weight and don’t think too much about food miss meals sometimes. I guess you need to look at your overall health in relation to not being hungry for a whole day. If you are a normal weight and fit and healthy missing eating for one day shouldn’t be too much of a problem but if you are losing weight and not feeling too well, you should get checked out by a doctor, especially if you are losing weight, because you body should be sending you hunger signals.

      Also if you are into juicing, maybe you are getting your calorie requirements that way which is why you are not feeling hungry.

      I always found that doing some vigorous exercise helps to create a healthy appetite for me! A brisk walk or jog might do the trick.

      • Carol Barry June 20, 2012 at 4:30 am #

        Hi Jan!
        Thanks for the replay! I should tell you that, from the beginning of the year, I lost 20 pounds without doing any kind of physically exercise or diet, just cutting bit by bit the amount of daily food. Now I fell very good, I have the right weight for my height, but sometimes I simply forget to eat.

        • Cheryl Boswell June 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm #


          Would you mind sharing with us more specifics about these changes? Did you cut back or increase any particular type of food that stands out?


          • Carol Barry June 22, 2012 at 6:29 am #

            Hi Cheryl
            After the winter holidays, I started to feel heavy so I began to cut off all the bread from my meals and started to eat twice a day. One meal in the morning and one at five o clock. After that, I began to drink about 2 pounds of water/day, a lot of sugar free tea and cut off all the sweets. The meals began to be smaller and smaller, because I didn’t need all the amount I used to eat. That’s all. I know that this isn’t any scientific method, but it worked in my case.

  3. Cheryl Boswell June 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    I just read your thoughtful review from the link on the “Gabriel Method” Jan. I had never heard of it, but I think it bears discussing more thoroughly. “You are not eating enough” (your first factor listed) is a huge one. I tell people to explore that one most often. Once they figure out the content v. quantity riddle: what you eat is far more vital to weight control than how much, they cross over into a better body and healthier life and never look back in my experience.

    • jan June 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      Hi Cheryl
      Jon Gabriel has a wonderful story – he was supposed to be on one of the September 11 planes but had changed his flight, so he decided to change his whole life and now he is helping many others to do the same. He is a very inspirational man. That’s pretty much how I eat now, although I don’t lose weight!

      • Cheryl Boswell June 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

        The results I am seeing are astounding. To echo Carol’s plan above, I also only eat two meals a day, but I do snack. Fruits and nuts like almonds. All I can eat.

        She’s definitely onto something and if it works for her to get the results she wants without depriving her of energy, then it is impossible to argue with.

        • jan June 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

          Hi Cheryl
          Just catching up on my comments! Sounds like 2 meals a day really suits you and Carol. I eat 3 meals a day and have a snack when I get home from work because we don’t tend to eat until 8 pm so it’s a long time between 12 pm when I eat lunch and 8 pm. That works for me. Now that I have stopped eating sugar altogether and don’t eat low fat foods, I don’t get those uncontrollable munchies that I used to get as soon as I arrived home from work!

  4. Richa June 20, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Hey Jan

    This is a great post and the reasons you mentioned are apt. Too much of stress and lack of sleep surely leads to an increase in appetite.I have felt that when i don’t take anything in morning, i don’t feel hungry till late afternoon, but the day i have anything in morning, i started to feel hungry within an hour or two. I don’t know if I alone have this sort of feeling.

    • jan June 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Hi Richa
      I don’t think you are alone. If I eat too much at breakfast, for some reason I feel hungrier for the whole day which is pretty crazy.

  5. JOSEPH June 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    You are absolutely right! I’ve studied it earlier on my own-self and I made out the reason of my overeating. Most of the time it’s stress and depression and as in this situation inner metabolism doesn’t work effectively so I’ve gain extra weight. Thanks jan!

    • jan June 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Hi Joseph
      Depression is another biggie that I haven’t tackled on this site and probably won’t. When you are depressed that can lead to a lot of comfort eating – been there myself – so with stress as well it’s a double whammy to fight. I hope you can work your way through it.

  6. Carl Lose Weight June 21, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Great article! I think I always eat rubbish when I’m bored. Its a real bad habit I’ve got and I need to stop it. Thank you for sharing this and will take on board.

    • jan June 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Carl
      Eating when you are bored is definitely a big problem and since much of it is habit you can learn to re-direct your activities away from food.

  7. Mark June 21, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Hi Jan – Diabetes is surely in my family, so I’m always thinking about sugar/carbohydrates. Stress and not-enough sleep, I fear, are with many of us much of the time. But one thing I’ve noticed that really seems to impact me: Post-nap BINGING. I don’t sleep enough at night – that I know. After work or mid-day on weekends, I almost always take a nap. And when I wake… Forget it! ZERO self control for about 10 minutes – and many cookies & potato chips can be conquered in very little time. This doesn’t happen to me at breakfast time, though. Any thought on this??

    • jan June 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Mark

      It’s great that you are aware of watching your carbs if diabetes is in your family history. Stress is a real problem which you just have to try to handle in any way that you can. For many of us it doesn’t go away so you have to handle it differently – maybe 10 minutes of meditating a day.

      Your post-nap binging is very interesting question and you are definitely not alone in experiencing it. I don’t know for sure, but I would say that more than likely it is related to the hormonal influences of leptin and grehlin. Even though you have just had a nap, your hormonal system is still perceiving that you are energy deficient – maybe you haven’t had a long enough nap to make up for the late night – so the leptin is suppressed and grehlin increases making you want to eat.

      Even after one late night I will be craving sugar by mid-afternoon which is something that I never have a problem with when I get enough sleep. When you wake up, try drinking 1-2 large glasses of water first and hopefully that will dampen those first uncontrollable urges! That worked a treat for me when I used to get the after-work munchies at 5 pm!

  8. Dipa June 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Meditation and yoga can actually curb appetite. I did this 10 day course where one had to skip dinner completely. In fact, participants of the program did not eat anything after 3pm. until 4 am the next day! And believe me, none of complained of hunger. In fact, we were to conserve energy by not speaking. IN everyday routine lives. this is so difficult to achieve though, as we get terribly caught up in our day to day stresses. I wish i could do more such courses.

    • jan June 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Hi Dipa
      I thoroughly agree with you, if we all had time to meditate and do yoga every day, what a different place the world would be. Sounds like your course was pretty awesome.

  9. jan June 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Carol Barry
    I can’t leave a comment after Cheryl’s as the “reply” option has run out! 20 pounds is a sensational weight loss so well done. Really that’s all that is involved in losing weight, cutting back, cutting out the rubbish foods and eating good wholesome foods. Lots of people can lose weight by doing that but many of us also need a bit of help and support, so well done for doing it by yourself.

    One of our lecturers at Weight Watchers told us that if we stuck to the Weight Watchers diet and did no exercise, we would still lose weight. Really most of losing weight is about what you eat although research has found that exercise is more important in helping people to maintain weight.

    If you feel healthy and energetic and you are not underweight, I wouldn’t worry about forgetting to eat. I do miss the odd meal myself (not often I have to admit), but when you are eating wholesome filling foods and you are satiated (feel full) you stop obsessing about where and when your next snack or meal are coming from and start to be guided properly by your hunger signals and sometimes you just don’t feel like eating.

  10. Amy Turner July 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    I find that eating a light snack when I feel hungry before mealtime helps me to curb my appetite. This way, I don’t tend to overeat or be a glutton anymore.

    • jan July 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Hi Amy
      That’s a good strategy – in winter it’s great to have a vegetable soup as a starter as well, it helps to fill you up and is healthy and low calorie.

  11. Sheree July 22, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I recently did some reading from the book The Sugar Fix. And what they say is that high fructose corn syrup causes hunger. The brain cannot read or interpret HFCS, and so eating HFCS stimulates hunger. When I stopped eating it, my weight normalized. I really love the information you’re providing about weight loss. It’s obviously well researched.

    • jan July 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

      Hi Sheree, I find the whole sugar problem today fascinating, especially since we don’t have the same problem with HFCs in Australia. I haven’t heard about it stimulating the appetite but that books looks like a very interesting book, pity it’s not in a Kindle format!

  12. Salena July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I feel always uncomfortable from my heavy weight. I want to lose weight so i take regular exercise, Cycling, walking and do running. Now I eat very less calories foods in a day and eat always healthy and light foods and i feel always hungry after exercise or because i eat less now. Before starting my exercise or dieting i eat lot of foods and lot of other oily foods but now I start to eat very less as compared to last month so i feel hungry. Can you suggest me what can I eat so that my diet get balanced and i don’t feel hungry.

    • jan July 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Salena
      You need to make sure that you eat plenty of protein and good fats – olive oil, fish, avocado and nuts. I also eat butter and coconut oil. Protein and fats will keep you feeling full for longer. Eat wholegrain carbohydrates not refined white and stay off refined foods altogether. It’s a tough call doing that much exercise and also trying to stick to a low calorie diet.

  13. tess August 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    Totally agree with the point about too much stress. Not many people know about it but it is true.

  14. Liam August 2, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    People often underestimate the role of getting enough sleep when it comes to weight loss.

  15. Gonzalo August 7, 2012 at 5:15 am #


    Good information! Yesterday I read an article that has to be with this one. It’s about “emotional eating”. “Emotional eating is to eat for a reason other than hunger.” It’s like eat looking for change our emotional state.

    I’ve found it very interesting and useful and has a handful of great information and tips.

    - Emotional hunger comes on suddenly but physical hunger occurs gradually.
    - With emotional hunger you crave a specific food, otherwise you’re open to different options.
    - Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re sad or angry.
    - Like you say, drink water and maybe the hunger dissapears. But if it’s real hungry it’s a great way to start on your digestion.

    If I remember where I saw the article I’ll send you the link.

    • jan August 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      Excellent point Gonzalo – I should have thought to add this one! Thanks for the info.

      • Gonzalo August 10, 2012 at 2:45 am #

        Thank you Jan! I’ve found the article again. You can read it full here:


        I find it VERY interesting.

        • jan August 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

          Gonzalo that’s a fantastic link, many thanks, I have touched on emotional eating before but this is some really great info that I think would make a great post.

  16. Hotel Nazareth August 10, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing, I do feel hungry most of the time. This is a very helpful information for me.

  17. alisha August 16, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    Point #3 is really become my bad habit..so stress management is very important for some one like me .. to avoid from the hormone cortisol.

    Great post and very informative.

    • jan August 18, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Hi Alisha
      Stress is pretty difficult to avoid these days. Despite all the labour saving devices we have invented, we are still busy, busy, busy! So very important to take some “me” time and fun time, to help keep the stress levels down.

  18. analy August 19, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    yes i agree, on luck of sleep and not eating enough, is feeling always hungry. will nice post thanks for sharing very informative topic on this blog

  19. Lee August 23, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Hi I always get hungry if I am starved of sleep. I presume it is my body trying to get more fuel into it . As I feel so tired the body wants this fuel to keep it going. The best thing I find for stress is exercise. It helps me de stress every time. Exercising always makes you hungry but that is just to re fuel so I presume no problem there. Hope this is helpful.

    Thanks lee

    • jan August 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      Hi Lee, exercise is definitely one of the best things when you are stressed, I know if I am feeling angry and I go off for a long walk, about 10-15 minutes into it I find myself enjoying the outdoors and thinking about other things!

  20. Sheree August 24, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    I agree with Lee and Jan about the exercise. Two days ago, I was stressed to the max. I slowly talked myself into going to the gym. I did a full, heavy workout, and two hours later, I completely forgot what the stress was about. Also, experts are saying that nutrition accounts for 80 percent of weight loss, and exercise accounts for only 20. But the thing to remember is that muscle burns fat 24 hours a day, so I think that would change that 20% statistic.

    • jan August 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Hi Sheree
      You definitely feel better for the exercise. One of my leaders at Weight Watchers asked us once – who has ever felt worse after doing exercise, and of course nobody did! I will sometimes march off feeling mad and angry and 15 minutes into the walk, like you I have forgotten what it was all about.

      Good point about the muscle burning as well. :)

  21. healthydiet plans to lose weight August 27, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Hey! Great article. I do agree with what you said on point #3. Stress really is one of the main factor on why a person always feels hungry. I hope that other people would also notice it.

  22. lose hip fat September 28, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Very well written! I remember when I was a bit overweight wondering why was I always hungry. I discovered the reason why I always felt this hunger pain all the time was because I was not drinking enough water. I discovered that most of the time when I thought I was hungry I was actually thirsty. Keeping yourself hydrated with water is extremely important.

    • jan September 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      It’s such a simple little trick isn’t it? Glad that it is working for you.

  23. nando November 12, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    now I see why people who got stress always eating :) it was bad habit if we always got stress. I think doing some exercises will be good than eating.

    • jan November 13, 2012 at 12:14 am #

      Most definitely Nando – as my lecturer at Weight Watchers once asked – has anybody ever felt worse after doing exercise – of course nobody said yes because it does tend to make you feel a lot more energetic and positive.