Feeling hungry all the time may be a sign of dietary deficiencies, stress, not getting enough sleep, or hormone imbalances. Some tips to reduce hunger include eating enough protein and staying hydrated.

Hunger is your body’s natural cue that it needs more food.

When you’re hungry, your stomach may “growl” and feel empty, or you may get a headache, feel irritable, or be unable to concentrate.

Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again. However, you might also find yourself feeling hungry all the time, even right after eating.

Keep reading to learn more about 14 reasons for excessive hunger.

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Consuming enough protein is important for appetite management.

The authors of a 2020 review found that protein has several hunger-reducing properties. For instance, it may help decrease the amount of ghrelin in your body, which is known as the “hunger” hormone. Eating enough protein may also increase the production of PYY and GLP-1. These two hormones play a role in regulating hunger.

The amount of protein you need to consume each day depends on several factors, such as your height, age, and weight management goals. That said, many foods are high in protein, including animal products and plant-based foods. Including a source of protein in every meal can help prevent excessive hunger.

Getting adequate sleep is important for your health. It also plays a key role in appetite management.

A 2022 review found that poor sleep over extended periods resulted in lower leptin levels. Leptin is known as the “satiety” hormone because it helps promote feelings of fullness.

The authors also found that lower leptin levels caused ghrelin levels to increase, therefore affecting appetite.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

A 2022 review of scientific literature suggests that carbohydrates do not keep you full for as long as protein. But the authors note that not all types of carbohydrates are to be avoided — only digestible carbs, or refined carbs.

Refined carbs are highly processed foods that have fiber, vitamins, and minerals stripped out of them.

Refined carbs are digested quickly and converted into glucose, which could lead to rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This leads to increased levels of insulin, a hormone responsible for transporting sugar into your cells.

Insulin removes sugar from your blood, which may lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. This signals your body that it needs more food.

To reduce your refined carb intake, replace them with nutrient-rich whole foods like vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are still high in carbs, but they’re rich in fiber, which helps keep hunger well managed.

Fat also plays a key role in keeping you full.

This is partly due to its slow gastrointestinal transit time, meaning that it takes longer for you to digest it, and it remains in your stomach for a long time. Eating fat may also lead to the release of various fullness-promoting hormones, such as CCK, GLP-1, and PYY.

Many healthy, high fat foods can help keep you full for longer. Certain types of fats such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and omega-3 fatty acids may also be more beneficial for appetite management than others.

The richest food source of MCT is coconut oil, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

Other sources of nutrient-rich, high fat foods include avocados, olive oil, and eggs.

Drinking enough water has several health-promoting benefits for your brain, heart, skin, and digestive health.

Research also shows that drinking water before a meal may help reduce the number of calories you consume.

For example, a small 2016 study found that the participants who drank 2 cups of water before a meal ate almost 600 fewer calories than those who didn’t drink any water.

Feelings of dehydration may also be mistaken for feelings of hunger, which could lead you to eat more. Drinking 1–2 glasses of water between each meal may help suppress these feelings.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), healthcare professionals recommend that adults drink six to eight 8-ounce (oz) glasses of water per day. Eating lots of water-rich foods will also contribute to your overall hydration needs.

Fiber plays a key role in appetite management.

For example, it helps regulate your gastric emptying and increases your perceived feeling of satiety. This may help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

A high fiber intake also influences the release of appetite-reducing hormones and the production of short-chain fatty acids. These have been shown to have fullness-promoting effects.

It’s important to note that there are different types of fiber.

  • Soluble fiber turns into a soft, gel-like substance during digestion because it absorbs water.
  • Insoluble fiber moves through your intestine undissolved because it doesn’t absorb water.

Several studies have found that soluble fiber is more filling than insoluble fiber.

Consuming lots of high fiber foods like oatmeal, flaxseeds, and sweet potatoes may help keep your hunger well managed. Eating a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough fiber.

Eating while you’re distracted may refer to on-the-go eating, eating while engaging with electronics, and eating while talking with others.

Distracted eating is associated with greater appetite, increased calorie intake, and weight gain.

A 2022 review of scientific literature suggests that this may be due to impaired sensory awareness. For example, eating while doing another task affects the amount of energy your brain allocates to each task. This may prevent you from recognizing your body’s fullness signals as efficiently as when you’re not distracted.

Distracted eating may also affect your taste perception. This may lead to eating more frequently throughout the day, as well as consuming more food during meals.

To avoid distracted eating, try using mindful eating techniques, minimizing screen time, and silencing your electronic devices. This will allow you to sit down and taste your food, helping you better recognize your body’s fullness signals.

Individuals who exercise frequently burn a lot of calories.

Regular resistance exercise may help speed up your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This refers to the number of calories your body burns to perform its life-sustaining functions, such as breathing.

A 2011 study involving 10 males found that metabolic rate increased by 37% for the day after engaging in a vigorous 45-minute workout, compared with another day when they did not exercise.

A higher BMR may cause you to burn more calories, which leads to increased hunger.

A 2015 research review also suggests that long-term exercise tends to increase appetite. Energy may affect various hormonal and energy regulation systems in your body, which could increase your hunger.

That said, research on how exercise affects your BMR is mixed. For example, a 2021 study involving 140 adolescents with overweight or obesity found that exercise did not affect BMR. As such, more research is needed on the role of exercise and metabolism.

One way to help prevent excessive hunger from exercise is eating more to fuel your workouts. This may include eating foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

This mostly applies to those who are avid athletes and work out frequently at a high intensity or for long periods. If you exercise moderately, you probably don’t need to increase your calorie intake.

Alcohol is well known for its appetite-stimulating effects.

Alcohol may affect the part of your brain that controls judgment, desire, and reward. A 2021 study found that drinking alcohol may increase your desire to eat food, as well as increase your food consumption.

Even a modest dose of alcohol may increase how much food you eat. This may be because alcohol is not satiating, which means that you may consume many calories but not feel full.

If you drink alcohol, it may also influence your hunger. For example, consuming alcohol before or with meals is associated with high energy intake.

If you drink, it’s best to consume alcohol moderately or avoid it completely to reduce its hunger-inducing effects.

Liquid and solid foods affect your appetite in different ways.

Liquid foods, such as smoothies and meal replacement shakes, are less satiating than solid foods. This is because liquids are digested more quickly than solid foods. As such, you may be hungrier more often than you would be if you ate more solid foods.

You may also be hungry more often if you consume a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda. Research suggests that these are not satiating and could promote hunger.

Furthermore, research suggests that liquid foods don’t have as great of an impact on the suppression of hunger-promoting hormones, compared with solid foods.

Eating liquid foods also takes less time than eating solid foods. This may lead you to want to eat more because you don’t experience the full sensations of eating and your brain hasn’t had enough time to process fullness signals.

To prevent frequent hunger, it may help to focus on incorporating more solid, whole foods into your diet.

Excess, long-term stress has been associated with increasing appetite.

This may be due to its effects on increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that has been shown to promote hunger and food cravings. For this reason, you might find that you’re always hungry if you experience frequent stress.

Stress-relieving strategies like physical activity, yoga, and deep breathing exercises may help reduce your stress levels. Consequently, this could help manage your appetite.

Several medications may increase your appetite as a side effect.

The most common appetite-inducing medications include antipsychotics, such as clozapine and olanzapine. Other medications that may lead to increased appetite include:

Speak with a healthcare professional if you suspect that medications are the cause of your frequent hunger. There may be alternative medications that don’t make you hungry.

The rate at which you eat may play a role in how hungry you are.

A 2018 research review suggests that eating more slowly and chewing each bite more times may increase satiety and reduce appetite. A 2023 review of scientific literature found similar results. However, the authors note that some studies have also found no link between eating speed and satiety.

The hunger-reducing effects of eating more slowly and chewing more may be due to increased awareness of eating. Additionally, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly may also give your body and brain more time to release anti-hunger hormones and convey fullness signals.

These techniques are a part of mindful eating. Other techniques to try if you’re always hungry include:

  • taking a few deep breaths before meals
  • putting your fork down between bites
  • increasing the extent to which you chew your food

Frequent hunger may be a symptom of certain health conditions, such as:

If you suspect that you may have one of these conditions, speak with a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options.

Why do I still feel hungry even after eating a lot?

Several factors may contribute to feeling hungry after eating a lot of food, such as eating behaviors like eating too quickly or eating distracted. Eating a lot of refined carbs, little protein, and minimal healthy fats may also cause increased hunger. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, may also increase your hunger.

What is causing my constant hunger?

Some causes for constant hunger include eating behaviors, not eating enough protein or healthy fats, long-term stress, frequently burning more calories than you consume, taking certain medication, and having an underlying medical condition.

What are you lacking if you are always hungry?

Constant hunger may be a sign of deficiencies in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. These may all influence several hormones that are responsible for appetite satiety.

Why am I hungry all the time even though I eat well?

You may feel constantly hungry for several reasons, such as experiencing long-term stress, burning more calories than you consume, taking certain medications, or having an underlying health condition. Speak with a healthcare professional if you don’t know the cause of your constant hunger. They can provide a proper diagnosis.

Excessive hunger may be a sign that your body needs more food. However, it may also be caused by some lifestyle and dietary habits, such as eating a low nutrient diet, eating too quickly, and being stressed.

Some medical conditions and medications may also cause frequent hunger.

If you feel hungry often, try assessing your diet and lifestyle to determine if there are changes you can make to help you feel more full.

Speak with a healthcare professional if these don’t work. They can provide a proper diagnosis and help develop a hunger management plan that’s right for you.