Summary: When your stomach is empty, you feel hungry, and your stomach growls. It is called a hunger pang. Let’s talk about the possible causes of hunger pangs and some healthy foods for hunger pangs.
Hunger is an innate mechanism of your body that indicates that it is time to eat. And the craving for food is known as hunger pangs. While most people can easily wait for hours between their meals, some people get frequent cravings to eat.
Although the term hunger pangs indicate the need to have food, these do not necessarily mean an actual need to eat. You may experience hunger pangs because your stomach is empty, and your body needs food. Or it can be just a routine that your body follows, like eating at a specific time every day.
Every individual is unique. Some people do not feel a frequent need to eat, whereas others feel hungry more often. Moreover, there is no hard and fast rule around hunger pangs, like any particular time after which a person should get them. It varies from person to person. Most importantly, everyone experiences these hunger pangs. So, what are the possible causes of hunger pangs? Let’s find out!
What causes hunger pangs?
A hunger pang may be a way that your body behaves in response to the need for nutrients. You can also get hunger pangs because your body is in sync with the routine to eat a certain quantity of food at certain time intervals. Here we have rounded up some of the most common reasons behind hunger pangs. Read on.
- Not consuming enough protein: Protein helps regulate your hunger hormones and controls your appetite. So, when you do not eat enough protein, you are likely to feel hungry more often.
- You might not be getting enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can lead to inconsistencies in the levels of your hunger hormones that might make you feel hungry now and then.
- Eating more refined carbs: Refined carbs, such as white bread, white flour, pasta, carbonated drinks, lack dietary fibers. It can lead to fluctuations in the level of blood sugar while making you feel hungry quite often.
- Low-fat diet: If your diet lacks enough fat, you might feel the need to eat frequently. The reason – fat helps slow down the process of digestion while increasing the levels of fullness-inducing hormones.
- Not drinking sufficient amounts of water: As water has got appetite-reducing properties, if you do not drink enough water, you are likely to feel hungry all the time.
- Stress: Stress can also make you feel hungry more often in response to counter it. Also, stress increases the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body.
- Distracted while eating: Distracted eating is one of the main causes of hunger tweaks almost every time. Therefore, when you eat, focus on your food and not on anything else, such as television and mobile phones.
- Exercising a lot: People who do many high-intensity workouts or for longer durations happen to have a faster metabolism and a bigger appetite. So, it might be a reason behind your frequent hunger pangs.
These are some main factors behind your hunger pangs. However, you can make your hunger episodes healthy by making healthy eating choices. Here we have the top 10 healthy foods for hunger pangs:
10 Healthy Foods to Keep Your Hunger Pangs Away
Egg is one of the best sources of protein. Plus, it constitutes all the essential amino acids. These properties make eggs highly satiating and tummy-filling while keeping hunger pangs away. According to a study by Saint Louis University, USA, having eggs in breakfast increases fullness and makes you eat fewer calories.
Oats are the powerhouse of both soluble and insoluble fibres and are low in calorie count. As oats contain beta-glucan (a soluble fibre), these can hold water for a long time, making your stomach feel full. No wonder oats make one of the healthiest breakfast options.
Legumes, including lentils, beans, soybeans, and peas, contain high levels of plant-based protein and fibers. Plus, their energy density is also low. It means you eat satiating quantities of legumes, and still, your calorie intake will be low. According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), having a bowl of pulses in dinner and lunch is highly recommended.
#4 Paneer or Cottage cheese
Paneer is high in protein and low in carbs and fats. It makes it one of the filling food items that eliminate the need to munch on unhealthy snacks. If you are on a weight loss spree, you can easily include paneer in your diet.
#5 Boiled potatoes
Yes, potatoes! Well, not every form of carbohydrate is bad for health. Potatoes contain a specific type of starch, known as resistant starch, that keeps your tummy full. Also, some enzyme inhibitors in potatoes can help you control your appetite. So, when it comes to healthy foods for hunger pangs, you can consider potatoes and the simple boiled version is the best.
Compared to other protein-rich food products, like eggs, chicken, and fish are on the higher side of the Satiety Index. Fish is one of the richest sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats) that you get from your food.
It is one of the most versatile grains, which you can eat as a part of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is high in protein. And as protein gets digested slowly, it releases energy slowly as well. So, it lets you avoid binge eating.
#8 Dark chocolate
When you are a sweet tooth, and you cannot help it, go for dark chocolate instead of its milky counterpart. Various studies show that dark chocolate protects your brain and heart. Plus, it keeps your blood pressure in check. Also, it is more satiating than milk chocolate and can help you curb your hunger pangs.
These are among those food items which can curb your appetite for a long time. Nuts are rich in fibers and proteins with a high amount of healthy unsaturated fat. So, these come with natural appetite-controlling properties. When protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat come together, it helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
When you drink less water, your body can deceive you into assuming that you are hungry. Yes, you read it right. The reason – the symptoms of both dehydration and hunger are more or less similar, for example – bad mood, irritation, lethargy, etc. So, the next time hunger bothers you, drink some water and wait for a couple of minutes instead of snacking on something you should not. Probably your pangs will subside after drinking water.
So, these are the topmost healthy foods for hunger pangs. The satiety index of a food product depends on three main factors. It includes energy density, protein, and fiber. The food items given above are not only satiating but come with many health benefits. Make sure to include these wholesome and healthy foods in your diet to let go of your hunger pangs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Frequent hunger pangs and frequent urination can be the signs of diabetes (poorly controlled). Frequent urge to urinate can also mean infection in the urinary tract. In case you are experiencing any or both symptoms, make sure to consult your doctor.
A. If you eat fewer calories than needed or your body can burn, your body will probably produce ghrelin (referred to as hunger hormone). Your stomach releases this hormone in response to hunger. Eating a low-calorie diet increases this hunger hormone and makes you feel hungry even after eating.
A. Well, you can go to bed hungry, provided you eat a healthy and balanced diet for the rest of the day. Also, avoiding late-night meals can help increase your BMR while helping with weight loss. However, if you are too hungry to sleep, you can eat something that promotes sleep and is easily digestible. Otherwise, you might find it hard to sleep comfortably. If required one can opt for 2-3 walnuts, 4-5 Almonds or 1 tea cup turmeric milk.
A. Yes, you can keep your hunger pangs in control without eating. Some of the best ways to do that include: 1) Get an adequate amount of sleep. 2) Drink lots of water to keep yourself well hydrated. 3) Work on reducing stress and anxiety. 4) Practice meditation and mindfulness. 5) Try some mindful eating practices.
A. Yes, there are certain medications that you can use to kill your hunger pangs. However, it is not the right thing to do unless specified otherwise. Therefore, make sure to contact your healthcare service provider and discuss your options before popping up any appetite-suppressant pill.