Do you find yourself wondering, why do I feel hungry after eating? If so – you aren’t alone!
Feeling hungry after eating a meal can leave you feeling crazy and confused. Since you just ate, you shouldn’t be feeling hungry right away, right, or do you have a tapeworm? However, this isn’t always the case.
It’s completely normal to still feel the tummy rumbles after a meal. You may feel this way for various reasons, with actual hunger being one of them.
Keep reading to learn 8 reasons why you may be hungry after eating and how to prevent it moving forward.
1. You didn’t have a balanced breakfast
This is one of the top habits I see in my clients, and it can lead to a host of eating problems throughout the day.
Not starting your day with a balanced breakfast can leave you feeling extra hungry throughout the day. According to research, daily breakfast consumption is protective against weight gain.
Eating a quality breakfast fills you up, causing you to feel fewer hunger pangs and food cravings later on. It also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, which can intensify hunger and related symptoms.
Start your day with a balanced breakfast ideally composed of:
- High-fiber carbs – whole grain bread or oatmeal
- A lean protein source – eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- One serving of healthy fats – avocado, nuts, nut butter
- Fresh produce (fruits and/or veggies) – berries on the side or leafy greens with eggs or a smoothie
2. You didn’t eat enough protein
Protein is a crucial macronutrient that helps keep you full. Many of my clients think they are getting enough protein until they start tracking their food intake.
Research shows that people who ate a high-protein diet went longer in-between meals and ate less during those meals. In this way, it can support weight loss and help prevent those constant hunger pangs you may be having.
Try to include at least 15-25 grams of protein in your meals and 8-12 grams in your snacks. Don’t worry, it adds up fast. High-protein food examples include meat, poultry, eggs, tofu, and Greek yogurt.
Dietitian tip: Add a bonus source of plant protein, such as lentils, beans, or chickpeas, in your tacos or grain bowls to bump up the protein.
3. You didn’t have enough fiber
Another nutrient that plays a role in satiety is fiber. If you aren’t getting enough in your meals, this can leave you feeling hungry right after eating.
A typical American diet is high in refined carbs that lack fiber, such as white pasta and bread. When you eat refined carbs, they are quickly digested and turned into sugars.
However, eating foods full of fiber slows down your digestion and takes foods longer to break down. Because of this, the fiber stays in your stomach, giving you a greater sense of fullness.
Fiber is in various plant foods, including whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and fruit and vegetables. Add 1-2 high-fiber foods to your meal to curb hunger and promote weight loss.
4. You’re thirsty
Are you hungry… or maybe just thirsty? Dehydration can present symptoms similar to hunger. If you feel headaches, fatigue, or dizziness, you could be thirsty and not hungry!
Even being mildly dehydrated can cause your body to react, which is why adequate hydration throughout your day is essential. On average, men should drink at least 15.5 cups of water a day, and women need 11.5 cups.
When you find yourself still hungry after eating, try drinking an 8 oz glass of water. Then wait a few moments to assess your hunger level from there.
Dietitian tip: Keep water by your bed and drink a full glass right when you wake up. This can start the habit right away and make it easier to remember throughout the day.
5. You waited too long to refuel after exercise
Have you ever waited too long to eat after a workout and think to yourself: Why am I more hungry after eating than before?
Refueling after you exercise is essential to replenish your body with the energy you just burned. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may be tempted to skip a post-workout snack, but your body needs it to recover. This is because while working out, your body is utilizing your fuel for energy.
Then when you finish, your energy stores are depleted. If you wait too long to eat, your body will intensify its signals that tell you it needs fuel. You may finally eat and then still feel hungry after a typical meal size.
To avoid this, keep an easy-to-grab snack on hand that you can eat directly after your workout or run. Great options include a mix of carbs and protein, including a protein shake or bar, protein oats, or energy bites.
6. You ate too fast
When your body has eaten enough food, it sends hormonal signals from your stomach to your brain that say I’m full!
These signals take time to register, so your body can’t catch up if you are eating too fast. Then you end up continuing to eat because you still feel hungry.
Instead, practice a more mindful eating approach, which looks like slowing down, pausing every few bites, and thoroughly chewing your food.
You can use the fork trick, where you set your fork down in-between bites. This will cause you to slow down and pause naturally.
7. You aren’t sleeping enough
Sleep is an underrated factor in why you continue to crave food after eating. You may be staying up too late, getting sucked into social media, or consistently tossing and turning.
Not getting enough or good quality sleep impacts your hunger hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates your appetite, while leptin suppresses it.
Research also shows that a lack of sleep increases your risk for sugar cravings. So if you keep reaching for a sweet treat after meals, your sleep could be to blame.
Start with creating a basic sleep hygiene routine before you go to bed. Your bedtime ritual can include turning your blue light off 30 minutes before bed, turning on a white noise machine, or taking a hot bath/shower.
Running on caffeine all day? Drinking caffeine too late in the day can impact your duration and sleep quality. Try to cut the caffeine within eight hours of when you go to bed (so if your bedtime is 10 pm, stop at 2 pm).
8. You have an underlying condition
Certain underlying conditions can cause an increase in hunger. A few of the most common are diabetes, PCOS, and thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism.
Do you have one of these conditions and find yourself asking, “Why do I still feel hungry after eating?”. Many of these conditions lead to an imbalance in hormones that can subsequently impact your hunger hormones.
Make sure to book a consult with your healthcare team if you continue to feel consistently hungry after eating. You may have an undiagnosed condition you aren’t aware of.
Additionally, if you’re on medications, you may want to check to see if appetite stimulation is a side effect of the medicine you’re on.
There are certain medications out there, such as corticosteroids and specific antidepressants, that are known to stimulate hunger. If you need to take these medications, modifying your diet and eating schedule can help you control your hunger and keep your weight in check.
Why Do I Feel Hungry After Eating? Bottom Line
Lingering hunger after eating is very common and can contribute to overeating and weight gain. If you’re frequently feeling hungry after eating, it’s important to get to the bottom of it.
Simple nutrition and lifestyle strategies, such as eating a balanced breakfast, slowing down your chewing, and getting enough sleep, are a great place to start.
And while you may be eating regularly, you may not be eating the right foods, which can lead to constant hunger and difficulty losing weight. Make sure to prioritize protein and fiber at most meals to help alleviate unwanted hunger pangs.
Need help with getting your hunger under control so you start seeing weight loss results? Contact me to learn more about my sustainable weight loss program to see if it’s a good fit for your goals.