Hunger can tell us a lot about what’s going on inside our bodies, such as how well our metabolism, hormones, thyroid, & gut are functioning. It can also give us insight into sleep quality, stress levels, digestion, hydration, and much more! If you struggle with high and low hunger days, read on! By tuning into your body to better understand where that hunger comes from, you’ll be able to better understand your body’s needs as it pertains to your health and fitness goals.
Let’s start with the obvious –Timing between meals
This one is a little more obvious than others. Going too long in between meals will leave you feeling ravenous, which can trigger over eating at your next snack or meal. Going too long without eating leads to a drop in blood sugar as a cue for the body to eat and get more energy. Aim to leave no more than 5 hours between meals, and have healthy snacks on hand throughout the day to help control your hunger and cravings.
Some days your meals may be full of fiber nutrient rich carbs, vegetables, and protein. Other days you may find yourself eating fast food and ice cream. Some days you may fit both in. It’s all about balance, right?! That said, 2,000 calories of nachos and beer will not keep you as full as 2,000 calories of a well-balanced meal with fiber, protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. The differences in meal composition can affect your hunger levels. Be aware of this as you plan out your day. If you know you have dinner plans with the girls at night, make sure you eat a well balanced breakfast and lunch beforehand.
There are many benefits of a good night’s sleep. But poor sleep can affect us negatively as well. Poor sleep can be defined by either not enough sleep or low-quality sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies need more energy. This energy ends up coming from our food. As a result, our bodies increase the production of ghrelin (the hormone that makes us hungry) and decreases the production of leptin (the hormone that makes us full) so that our bodies can get more energy. This makes us hungrier throughout the day. The CDC recommends adults 18 years and older get 7 or more hours of sleep per night. Plan your bedtime and set your alarm to ensure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
A tough workout or burning more calories than normal
The Edge Strong class or tough cardio session you did this morning could leave you feeling hungrier than normal later in the day or even the next day. When we use more calories, we tend to be hungrier. Less activity means less hunger. Needing more recovery may also leave you feeling hungrier. This is not to say you should limit your workouts, but be conscious of what type of workout you're doing and how you will need to fuel your body before and after you workout.
If you are on a diet, you are working on a calorie deficit and therefore some hunger will be normal. When limiting your caloric intake, expect to have some hunger pains. To help manage this, remind yourself that hunger typically peaks after about ten minutes and then subsides. This too shall pass.Hydration
Mild dehydration is often masked by feelings of hunger, when really all your body needs is some H20! Aim to keep your water intake consistent on a daily basis and be sure you’re getting enough – especially now that it’s summer! How much water should you drink daily? The Mayo Clinic suggests 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. But this may vary depending on individual needs, click here for an in-depth look at how much water you should drink. An easy way to ensure you’re hydrated is to keep a water bottle near you at all times, you’ll find yourself sipping on it without even noticing!