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Health Hub

How to stop feeling hungry all the time: 5 evidence-backed ways

It's important to understand why you feel hungry all the time.

How to Stop Feeling Hungry All the Time | Juniper

The realm of weight loss, weight gain, diets, and food intake is complex physically, mentally, and emotionally for many of us.

Whether it's due to lifestyle factors or medical conditions, throughout different periods of our lives, most of us will have some sort of issue or struggle when it comes to health and weight.

For some people, weight management and sticking to a balanced diet is often difficult due to food cravings and constant hunger pangs, particularly if you are limiting your calorie intake.

There can be several reasons for constantly feeling hungry and unsatisfied with your food, but there is also a lot of misinformation out there, so it is important to make sure any information you take on board is well-researched and backed by medical professionals.

That's where we come in, with evidence-backed ways to stop feeling hungry all the time.

But first, it's important to understand the potential causes so you can reduce hunger and make changes that support your physical and mental health.

Why do I always feel hungry?

Put simply, we feel hungry when our body is in need of fuel, which generally comes in the form of food.

Metabolism and basal metabolic rate refer to how much energy — that is, how many calories or kilojoules — we need to function [1]. Everybody's metabolism and metabolic rate are different and can depend on factors such as age, sex, muscle mass, and activity level.

If you aren't meeting your body's nutritional needs, this could be a key reason for often feeling hungry.

But it could also be due to a variety of other factors.

Sleep restriction or impaired sleep, for example, impacts appetite control, energy balance, metabolism, glucose balance, and regulating the hunger hormone, ghrelin [2].

Similarly, mental health conditions, hormone-related conditions, and some types of medication can all contribute to fluctuating hunger levels [3].

Sometimes, when we feel the hunger pangs start to hit, it can also be a sign of thirst. If you are somebody who regularly forgets to drink water, this could be a cause of constant 'hunger' and confusion in your body.

Weight, hunger hormones, and feelings of fullness can also be linked to our emotions and stress levels [4].

True hunger vs emotional hunger

Stress and other feelings can reduce your appetite or increase feelings of hunger, which is sometimes referred to as emotional hunger.

While emotional eating is common and not always a bad thing, it is important to understand why you might be craving certain things, and whether or not you are experiencing physical hunger.

Some common signs of emotional hunger are hunger that is felt mostly in your head, hunger coming on quickly, strong cravings for a specific type of food (usually not a healthy option), and not feeling satisfied after eating [5].

Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on gradually, is felt in your stomach, and can be satisfied by a healthy meal.

If you are regularly experiencing emotional hunger for extended periods of time, constantly thinking about your next meal, struggling to identify hunger cues or grappling with binge eating, it may help to speak to a mental health professional.

What are the best ways to curb hunger and feel satiated?

One of the best ways to curb hunger and feel satisfied is to pay attention to your satiety and food intake and practice mindful eating.

If you are consistently eating more calories than your body needs, this can lead to weight gain and impact your hunger hormone, but eating too little can also be harmful.

If you are regularly eating fewer calories than your body needs, you may find yourself often feeling hungry, or if your body gets used to existing on a low-calorie intake, you can actually damage your metabolism, resulting in a lower BMR or higher body fat [1].

It's not just about the amount of food though — you also need to make sure you are meeting your needs for carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins. If you are trying to lose weight, high-protein diets are particularly important in aiding your metabolism and helping you feel fuller for longer, and they often naturally contain fewer calories than diets low in protein [6].

Similarly, if your meals are mostly made up of refined carbohydrates (such as white bread) and you are snacking on processed foods and sugary snacks, you may not feel satisfied or full. These food groups are generally high in fructose and low in dietary fibre, which means they can spike your blood sugar levels and decrease feelings of fullness.

Healthy fats — such as those found in avocado, nuts, seeds, and olives — also play a key role in fullness hormones. In fact, studies of overweight and obese subjects have found those on low-fat diets often struggle more with satiety and often feel hungry [7][8].

In short; high-fibre diets, high protein foods, and healthy fats all have important health benefits, and, along with knowing how much food you need, are key ingredients in reducing hunger and maintaining a healthy weight.

How can I stop hunger without eating?

If you are actually hungry, it is important to eat. We do not advise starving yourself or skipping meals.

However, if you feel hungry even when you know you have eaten adequately, there are several evidence-backed ways to curb appetite without eating.

A natural appetite suppressant such as green tea or fenugreek, can help reduce your appetite, particularly for those times when you feel hungry but there's a while before your next meal.

If you would like more support managing your hunger and weight, programmes such as the Juniper Weight Reset offer a healthy, evidence-backed approach that you can follow under the guidance of registered clinicians.

The Juniper Weight Reset Programme takes a medical-based approach, with both medication and non-medication options to suit your individual needs.

Using medication to manage weight has been somewhat taboo for a long time, but for many people, it is a helpful and healthy option. The Juniper Weight Reset medication, which is available to eligible patients, is designed to promote weight loss, suppress appetite, and improve metabolic function.

The non-medication approach involves high-protein meal-replacement shakes — Juniper's Nourish Shakes — and both options offer health tracking and specialist advice.

How to stop being hungry all the time

Here are some steps you can take to stop feeling hungry constantly:

1. Examine your diet and eating habits

As we have discussed, fuelling your body with the right amount of food as well as the right type, can help reduce hunger, improve health, and lose weight if that is your goal. Speak to a professional to work out your BMR, increase your protein intake if needed, and try mindful eating and chewing slowly with a glass of water.

2. Start a weight loss programme

An evidence-backed weight reset programme or medication can help suppress appetite, regulate metabolic function, reduce cravings, and even contribute to low blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

3. Improve your sleep

Getting enough sleep — both quality and quantity — is important for many aspects of our health, including appetite regulation. Impaired sleep can impact both your appetite-inhibiting hormone, leptin, and your appetite-stimulating peptide, ghrelin, and lead to an increase in appetite and food consumption [4].

4. Address stress levels

Mental health and physical health are linked in many ways, and stress levels can stimulate or suppress appetite. Studies have found correlations between frequent high stress levels, the hormone cortisol, cravings, calorie intake, and feeling the desire to eat [2].

The occasional emotional eating (for example, a celebration) is not inherently harmful, but if you often feel stressed or are prone to emotional hunger, you could benefit from mindfulness practices, anxiety management techniques, or professional support.

5. Try a natural appetite suppressant

Appetite suppressants should not replace solid foods and nutritious meals, nor should they be relied on too heavily, but they can help tide you over until your next meal, particularly if you have recently reduced your caloric intake and are trying to lose weight.

Some options include ginger, peppermint, dark chocolate, green tea, and other drinks containing caffeine and soluble fibre [9].

Most of all, it is important to be kind to yourself and remember that every person's body is different, and what works for somebody else might not work for you. Always seek professional advice before beginning a new medication, and make sure to follow evidence-based research.

Photo credit: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels