There’s always an adjustment period when switching to a new diet or healthy eating routine. Especially if your new routine with 310 is a big shift from what you were eating before! As part of this adjustment period, you might start experiencing hunger pangs.
Often that hunger pang is a signal from your body that it’s time to eat! And at no point in your 310 journey should you be depriving yourself of needed nutrients. But sometimes what we initially perceive as hunger signals are not actual signs of hunger at all.
Sugar withdrawal, strong emotional feelings, lack of sleep, and dehydration can trick your brain into thinking you’re hungry. And giving into these confusing signals can result in an unhealthy relationship with food that often works against your healthy eating goals.
If you’re just starting 310 and asking yourself, “Why am I always hungry?” take some time to read through our article below. We’ll help you not only identify the cause of your hunger but give you some action steps to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs (and not the sugar it might be craving)!
Why Am I Feeling Hungry?
From actual hunger to dehydration, there are many reasons why you might be experiencing hunger pangs when starting 310. Here are a few signals your body might be giving you:
Sugar is easy to mindlessly consume because you never feel full or satisfied after eating or drinking something high in sugar. This trains your brain to want more to satisfy your unfulfilled cravings. And the more sugar you eat, the more your brain craves it. That’s because sugar triggers your brain’s reward center, similar to addictive drugs. (1)
So if you’re cutting out sugar from your diet and opting for healthier, more balanced foods with 310, this could result in heightened cravings for high-sugar foods. And this is easy to mistake for hunger when in reality it's your brain going through a sugar withdrawal.
If your stomach is aching for a specific type of food (like a high-sugar pastry or sugary cereal), then chances are you’re not experiencing hunger pangs, but sugar cravings. The only way to make sugar cravings go away is to resist your hankering for sugar and start limiting your sugar intake. Eventually, your body will start craving it less and less. (2)
It’s also easy to mistake emotional hunger for physical hunger. Your desire for food can feel so strong that you assume you’re eating to feed your stomach when you’re really eating to feed your emotions.
This is emotional eating. With emotional eating, that pint of ice cream or bag of cookies is not about your hunger, but about eating to forget, pacify, or overcome a particular emotion you’re experiencing. This can be any kind of emotion like boredom, anger, exhaustion, anxiety, loneliness, guilt, and so on.
Here are a few ways to spot emotional hunger: (2,3)
- Your hunger came on suddenly: Actual hunger comes on slowly while emotional hunger can come on in an instant. If you go from not hungry at all to suddenly ravenous and craving comfort food, it might not be physical hunger driving that impulse!
- You’re not satisfied after eating: If you finish eating and feel better, you were most likely hungry and needed food to get you back on track. If you finish eating and feel worse or the same, an emotion that isn’t hunger needs addressing.
- You just ate: If you ate not that long ago and you’re still craving food, it could be your emotions and not your stomach. Try and do something else instead of eating and if you still feel hungry after that activity, it might be physical hunger.
- You experienced an emotional trigger: Check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed, anxious, sad, angry, or some other strong emotion? Could that emotion be the cause of your hunger? And is there a better way to manage that emotion—like going for a walk or calling up a friend—rather than reaching for food?
- It’s mindless: If you’re not even aware that you’re eating as you’re eating, that could be a sign of emotional hunger. An example of this is eating because there is a bag of chips in front of you as you watch TV. Be mindful of these moments!
Lack of Sleep
When you aren’t getting your recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, this can throw off the balance of some important hormones responsible for hunger signals and digestion. These hormones are ghrelin and leptin. (4)
Ghrelin is a hormone that sends a signal to your brain when it’s time to eat. Then leptin signals when it’s time to stop eating. A lack of sleep can increase your ghrelin hormone levels and decrease leptin. This results in misleading signals between your stomach and your brain. (5,6)
A lack of sleep also affects your ability to make smart decisions and slows down your digestive processes. This means that all in all, not getting enough shut-eye can lead to poor food decisions, brain miscommunication, and a slower digestive system that ends up converting a lot of those extra calories to fat than actual energy. (7)
By building a better sleep routine you can reduce some of those food cravings and start making healthier decisions. Plus, there are a ton of other health benefits to a full night’s rest!
And sometimes that feeling of hunger is actually your body desperately trying to communicate that it’s thirsty! Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much water have I had today?
- When’s the last time I had a sip of water?
- How much caffeine have I been drinking?
- Do I still feel hungry after drinking a glass of water?
High caffeine beverages like coffee, energy drinks, or tea can dehydrate you. And if you’re already not getting enough water throughout the day this can create signals that misplace themselves as hunger when what you really need is a big glass of water. (3,6)
Water is also a natural appetite suppressant! Being full and satisfied with water also helps to reduce cravings, so you’ll end up eating fewer calories each day when you stay hydrated.
And sometimes you’re feeling hungry because you’re… hungry! Your body needs nutrients to perform at its best and sometimes that hunger pang is an actual sign from your body that it needs food.
Hunger tends to manifest itself in physical ways, not just a feeling. Signs of hunger include: (3)
- A rumbling stomach
- Low energy levels
- Grumpiness or irritability
- Feeling weak, jittery, or shaky
If you’re experiencing any of these signs then it’s time to eat! No journey to healthy weight loss should involve depriving yourself of needed nutrients.
What to Do if You’re Feeling Hungry After Starting 310
After you’ve identified that your cause of hunger is actual hunger and not a result of an impulse or emotional trigger, the most important thing you should do when you’re feeling hungry is… eat!
Depriving yourself of food in the hopes of losing weight only leads to unhealthy eating behaviors. The best solution to a rumbling stomach is to feed your body healthy and nutritious foods that satisfy your hunger without spiking your sugar levels.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you reach for food when feeling hungry:
Load up on Healthy Macronutrients
Food is your body’s fuel. And the right balance of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and complex carbs is your body's preferred fuel source. These are macronutrients. They’re important for a healthy, balanced diet because they provide needed energy and nutrients to the body.
Here are the macronutrients to turn to when hunger strikes:
- Fruit: Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and immune-supporting antioxidants, making them essential to a healthy diet. Plus they’re loaded with fiber which keeps you feeling full for longer!
- Vegetables: Just like fruits, vegetables are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Whole grains: Healthy whole-grain foods like whole-grain bread, whole-grain crackers, brown rice, quinoa, or oatmeal provide needed fiber along with vitamins and minerals to satisfy your hunger.
- Healthy fats: Not all fat is bad for you! Fats like omega-3 and omega-6, for example, are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that support heart health and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Some great sources include olive oil, olives, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, MCT oil, and avocados.
- Protein: High-quality protein sources like fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, eggs, fat-free dairy, chicken, turkey, or lean beef offer rich sources of protein, vitamins, and amino acids needed for energy, strength, muscle growth, and overall health.
A great way to get all these macronutrients in one meal is with a 310 Shake smoothie! Check out one of our many recipes for suggestions on ways to add in extra fruit, protein, healthy fats (like MCT Oil!), and even veggies into an on-the-go smoothie.
Don’t Fall Back Into Unhealthy Habits
It can be tempting when you feel hungry to go for the familiar comfort foods that you know you enjoy. But just because they taste good doesn’t always mean they are good for you.
And often these types of foods do very little to satisfy the hunger you’re experiencing in the first place. So you’ll end up feeling hungry again in no time, and the cycle continues.
Here are two comfort food pitfalls that are best to avoid because they do little to satisfy your hunger:
- Refined grains: Refined grains are often stripped of their essential healthy components and remain void of vital nutrients and fiber. These are foods like white bread, baked goods, or pasta. Because they don’t contain much fiber, they’ll do very little to satisfy your hunger cravings, meaning you’ll often end up eating more calories than you need. (3)
- Added sugars: High-sugar foods are often high in calories yet offer very little nutritional value. This means they might initially meet your hunger craving, but the sugar spike eventually wears off and results in the all-too-familiar sugar crash. And you’ll end up back where you started, hungry and unsatisfied. (6)
Practice Mindful Instead of Mindless Eating
Mindful eating is all about enjoying the entire experience of your food: the smell, the taste, the way you feel, and any thoughts that arise as you eat it. By eating “mindfully”, you slow down and savor each bite of food and the experience of eating. (2,3)
This mindful way of eating ensures that you’re satisfying your hunger without going overboard. Because when you slow down to enjoy your food you tend to eat less.
Here’s how you can practice mindful eating: (2,3,8)
- Instead of diving into a plate of food, take some time to enjoy its smell and appearance first
- Put down your utensils between bites and focus on chewing and enjoying your food
- Don’t watch TV, work on your laptop, or perform any other activity as you’re eating
- Slow down each bite and pay attention to how the food tastes, the texture, and the smell
- Measure out portions of food versus grabbing from the bag
- After you finish eating, take a few moments to consider if you’re still hungry
Enjoy a Healthy Snack
There’s no need to stick to a 3-meals-a-day schedule if your body is asking for more! Healthy snacks enjoyed throughout the day can help prevent hunger pangs that might lead you down the path to unhealthy temptations. (3)
Here are some great healthy snack options:
- Veggies and hummus
- Homemade guacamole using avocados, tomatoes, onions, and spices of your choosing!
- A 310 Shake smoothie (try one of our many recipes!)
- Cheese, olives, and whole-grain crackers
- Whole grain toast with peanut or nut butter
- A piece of fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Yogurt with granola and fruit
Talk to a 310 Nutritionist/Health Coach
Lastly, if you're still feeling like you could use some personalized guidance and help as you adjust to a new healthy dietary plan that includes 310 Shakes, we have a suggestion... Our team of nutritional experts are here for you to help.
You can find these health coaches in the 310 Community, where you can ask them targeted questions or even set up a free consultation.
Keep in mind that what works best for one person may not work for the next, so it may take a few tries to determine the path that's right for you in feeling your best and meeting your goals. Stay the course and don't give up!