This is me. I am always hungry, and could eat a scabby horse, as they say, especially about an hour after lunch, no matter what I eat.
There can be several reasons why we are craving food all the time.
A biggie is that you are so-called ‘starving in the midst of plenty‘. In other words, you are constantly eating, but mainly low nutrient-density food, so your body just keeps asking for more until it gets the level of macro and micro nutrients it needs. It will particularly ask for sweet things because your brain cannot function without enough glucose, and it needs a quick fix. The solution: eat a better diet!
Malabsorption is another one I see a lot in people. Same as above in that you’re usually eating plenty – and even of really good foods (me) – yet you are not absorbing properly. So, again, the body will keep you hungry until it gets enough protein, magnesium etc, or whatever it is short of. What you crave is usually a bit of a teller. People who constantly want chocolate, for example, are usually deficient in magnesium, which chocolate contains a significant amount of. Take the hint and test/increase your magnesium levels.
Solution: check why malabsorption might be happening. For example, check stomach acid and enzymes, gut health, gluten disease like coeliac etc. At the very least, take some extra enzymes like this kind of thing, one with your main meals.
It could be that you are specifically short of some of the nutrients. A lack of chromium, for example, often leads to sugar/sweet cravings. A deficiency in essential fatty acids or the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E etc), will make you crave fatty foods.
Solution: ensure a good diet and absorption as above. Take the wellbeing protocol: a good multi (and I mean good otherwise there’s not much point!), a good broad-spectrum probiotic with several strains to help absorption/gut health/production of nutrients in the body and an essential fatty acid supplement. I know that one is on the pricier side, but we tested them for value once and that far exceeded all the others for the sheer amount of goodness you get for the money. You can take up to 6 per day, but 2 would be a great day to day level.
One cause of constant hunger that most people don’t know about is a lack of leptin, or leptin resistance. Leptin helps us control appetite and hunger, specifically telling the brain how much fat there is in storage and asking for more or less to be consumed. You can imagine what happens if you don’t have enough leptin, or – very commonly – you are no longer listening to the leptin signals because there’s too much about and the body no longer believes you.
It’s a bit the same as the pancreas and insulin – levels of insulin go higher and higher until the brain and tissues become resistant to it and no longer take any notice. That’s a very simplified way of putting it obviously, but you get the gist!
Fat cells in the body produce leptin, so one cause of leptin resistance is too many fat cells in the body. Fat cells produce more and more leptin and you gradually become more and more resistant to it. Of course, then you want to eat more, the fat cells and body level increases and it becomes a cycle.
It would be great to know, then, how much leptin you have and if you are leptin-resistant, wouldn’t it? Happily, we can do that. Check out the Metabolomic Profile, which includes leptin and several other markers of pre-diabetes. It also measures CRP, an inflammation marker, and that’s important because CRP can bind to leptin and make it unavailable to the brain. So, you could look like you have enough leptin, but it’s not going anywhere; the train is not leaving the station! The body will simply make you produce more.
Treating Leptin Resistance
Since we know that the more fat cells you have, the more leptin you will produce – and therefore the higher your risk of becoming resistant to it becomes – the most obvious way to treat or prevent leptin resistance is to lose body excess body fat. That’s exercise and diet, of course. Check my Weight Loss factsheet out here for how to design a programme that works!
A bit of extra help might be to ensure you have enough chromium, as discussed above. Go that one stage further, though, and consider a combo like this that really supports your insulin and glucose control well. Also, sometimes a carb-blocker like konjac can really help to keep you feeling fuller for longer so you naturally eat less – and it doesn’t hit your blood sugar as hard because you absorb the carbs more slowly. Try this kind of thing.
Re exercise, we know that it can increase leptin sensitivity again in tissues, so increasing your day to day activity has to be a good strategy. A combination of cardio (walking, dancing, whatever) and weights to build muscle and bone will help. Check my free 10 Minute Mind and Body Exercise Factsheet for ideas.
Finally, some studies suggest that a substance in Korean Ginseng can improve leptin signalling and sensitivity. Since ginseng is known to help with vitality and mental function too, this is a happy coincidence! Try and find one like this that has a high level of ginsenosides, the active ingredient.
OK, hope you enjoyed that and found it useful. Here’s to a less hungry time!
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