Why am I always hungry? What this means for your health…

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New research into blood sugar levels after eating offer a clue as to why some people find it so much more difficult than others to lose weight.

Do you find that you always feel hungry no matter how much you eat? Are your attempts at diet always thwarted by hunger pangs? If so, the cause might be down to your unique body chemistry and, so too might be the solution.

Why do I feel constantly hungry after eating?

Common reasons for feeling hungry after eating could be that you’re simply not getting enough of the ingredients your body needs. Foods which are lacking protein or other ingredients may leave you feeling somewhat unsatisfied after food. However, a new study may shed a bit more light into the problem.

Research from Kings College London and health science company ZOE found that people who experience a sharp dip in blood sugar levels two to four hours after eating felt more hungry than those for whom the dip was more gradual. As a result they had their next meal sooner than others, and ended up eating hundreds more calories per day.

They took data from 1,070 people after eating standard size breakfasts over a two week period. Each breakfast was based on muffins containing the same amount of calories but varying in terms of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre. Each participant carried out fasting blood sugar response tests to measure how well their bodies processed sugar.

Throughout the study they were attached to glucose monitors and a wearable device to monitor their sleep activity. Using a phone app they also recorded their levels of hunger and alertness and when they ate during the day.

Researchers noticed that some people experienced large dips in blood sugar levels between two and four hours after eating. These big dippers had a 9% increase in reported hunger and waited half an hour less, on average, before starting their next meal. They also ate 74 more calories in the three to four hour period after breakfast and more than 300 calories extra over the course of a day.

Professor Ana Valdes from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, who led the study team, said: “Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off, and just a few hundred extra calories every day can add up to several pounds of weight gain over a year. Our discovery that the size of sugar dips after eating has such a big impact on hunger and appetite has real potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health.”

This pattern translates to a 20 pound weight gain over a year. The study found variations in the size of the dip each day for the same individuals eating the same food, which suggests differences in personal metabolism from day to day could influence the reaction.

For those who experience big dips, the long term consequences can be profound. That extra weight gain translates to a greater risk of all sorts of conditions from cardiovascular disease, to cancer and dementia, all of which can have dramatic lifespan and healthspan consequences. Inevitably, if your blood sugar is dipping, you’ll either need a tremendous sense of will power to stick to your pre set diet plans, or you’ll need to do something about it.

Hangry

How do I stop feeling hungry all the time?

The study appears to show, in black and white, why some people feel hungry soon after eating. Finding foods which are in balance with your own unique biology could hold the key to reducing hunger pangs and making it easier to lose weight.

However, food and our bodies are complicated things. This studies showed that people’s bodies can react dramatically differently to the same input.

The secret will be to find a combination which works for you, and the only way to do that is with data. The rise in wearable technology such as glucose monitors gives people much more information about their own biorhythms. By monitoring how different foods affect your blood sugar levels, you can understand your biology and develop diet and exercise patterns which avoid that big glucose dip.

Is it normal to feel hungry every hour?

Hunger can be a signal. It’s your body’s way of telling when it needs fuel, but if it happens too often it may also be a sign that something is not quiet right. If you are feeling hungry quickly after eating, then the problem may lie deep within your body.

Wearable tech, phone apps and fitness trackers now offers a way to monitor what exactly is going wrong, from scanning barcodes and leveraging extensive food libraries through to calorie counting and exercise syncing. These can all help you to put it right, or realise that perhaps medical advice should be the next step.

Getting into good habits when it comes to food intake and exercise can stave off aging and age-related diseases. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s heart disease or diabetes can be extremely debilitating, so it’s worth building good diet practice as early as possible, to better understand your body’s biorhythms and to foster healthspan.

Access to the report and a FREE executive summary can be found hereand check out our other supplements company profiles here.

Image credits: Andres AyrtonPexels, KoolShootersKetut SubiyantoPexels
Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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