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Always Hungry and Tired? Here Are 8 Potential Reasons Why

Why Am I Always Tired and Hungry? | MyFitnessPal
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If you’re like many people, you go from day to day at a frantic pace. From careers to workouts to social events, there’s a lot to pack into daily living.

Always being on the go can make you feel famished quickly and cause fatigue at the end of the day. But if you’re constantly overwhelmed by these feelings, your body might be giving you a signal.

If you wonder, “is my hunger or fatigue nutrition related” it’s time to find the root of the problem. So, we asked Joanna Gregg, a dietitian who works with MyFitnessPal.

8 COMMON REASONS FOR CONSTANT FATIGUE AND HUNGER

Hunger pangs and fatigue are no laughing matter. Here are eight possible causes of why you’re feeling tired and hungry all the time.

1. Skipped or unbalanced breakfast

Busy morning schedules can lead to rushing out the door without eating. Or, you might skip breakfast and grab a granola bar or smoothie on your way to work. This can leave you constantly wanting to eat throughout the day.

“Your brain is an energy hog. While you’re sleeping, your brain works hard to flush toxins, imprint memories, and make sense of new information,” says Gregg. “Your body is also on a fast for 8 to 10 hours. The last thing you want to do is deprive it of nourishment in the morning.”

That’s why you don’t want to skip breakfast in the morning. You can also enjoy a split breakfast with a small meal before working out and the rest as a post-workout snack.

Some research, done mostly on children and adolescents, has shown that eating breakfast enhances cognitive function and reduces brain fog.

ALSO READ > What 30 Grams of Protein Looks Like at Breakfast

2. Improperly fueled exercise

Physical activity is vital for good health, but too much of it too quickly can leave your body tired and hungry. If you are just starting a new activity or are dialing in on your current exercise nutrition, making sure you fuel appropriately is important to make sure you don’t crash later.

“Smaller amounts of proteins and fats can be helpful for intensive workouts to avoid insatiable hunger afterward,” says Gregg. “The post-workout meal should focus on a mix of long-lasting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to replenish stores lost during exercise.”

ALSO READ > 5 Protein-Rich Post-Workout Meals

3. Long hours without meals or snacks

Going too long between meals can lead to unhealthy food cravings. If you’re constantly hungry during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, pay attention. Your body is telling you it’s not getting enough calories and overall nutrition.

Even when restricting calories to lose weight, incorporating healthy snacks is a great way to ensure you are fueled up and not starving come meal time. Nutrient dense snacks like fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are a great way to help improve overall diet quality and help ward off hunger.

4. Lack of sleep

Do you tend to make poor food choices when you don’t get enough sleep? Research shows an association between sleep deprivation and a desire for unhealthy, weight gain promoting foods due to the inability of the brain to effectively control appetite and hunger stimuli.

Hunger hormones are greatly influenced by circadian rhythms. “Ghrelin and leptin are your hunger hormones, and they work together to balance energy, tell you when you’re full, and prepare you for a meal. They can also influence how much progress you make if you’re trying to lose weight,” explains Gregg.

If you’re low on sleep, your ghrelin levels increase and can lead to unnecessary hunger. Meanwhile, your leptin levels decrease. Without leptin giving you the right hunger signals, you are more likely to overeat. One study found an increase in energy intake between 200-500 calories per day in sleep deprived persons leading to excess intake and weight gain.

Severe calorie restriction is also associated with sleep interruptions so making sure you have enough caloric intake to fuel your body during sleep is important as well.

Not sure how nutrition might be impacting your sleep? Now MyFitnessPal users can integrate sleep data with food logging activity to better understand why they’re sleeping like a baby—or not. Download the app to connect these dots and identify habits to keep and change for a better night’s sleep.

ALSO READ > More on MyFitness Pal’s Sleep Insights

5. Nutrient lacking diet

“If your food intake lacks balanced nutrition, you’re likely to feel hungry and sluggish too soon after a meal,” advises Gregg.

Filling your diet with complex carbs such as legumes, whole grains and fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado and lean proteins will help provide sustained energy throughout your entire day. Complex carbohydrates fuel your body and serve as the body’s most readily available energy source. Healthy fats give you energy and boost your cognitive functions. Finally, proteins provide long-lasting satiety, help build muscle health, and stabilize blood sugar levels.

It is important to choose meals and snacks that are nutrient dense and contain fiber to ensure blood sugar levels are sustained without peaks and drops. Foods with high amounts of sugar and little fiber, fat or protein cause blood sugar levels to rise immediately and then dip back down very quickly. Choose meals and snacks that have a combination of protein, fat, carbs and fiber in order to stabilize blood sugar and stave off hunger and fatigue throughout the day. (Unlock nutrition insights on your daily meals by logging them in MyFitnessPal!)

One study showed that people who experience significant drops in blood sugar in the hours between meals consumed ~300 more calories over the course of the day than people whose blood sugar remained steady.

6. Alcohol consumption

Drinking a lot of alcohol is hard on your liver, but it also affects your sleep cycles and appetite. Alcohol can make you tired initially and even lead to insomnia, disrupted REM sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

Another way alcohol affects you is through your appetite. High alcohol consumption leads to increased ghrelin hormones, which stimulate a desire for food. It leads you to eat more and drink more than you ordinarily would. Your self control is also usually inhibited when drinking, which makes choosing more palatable, low nutrient foods over healthy foods more likely.

7. Lack of proper hydration

When you don’t get enough hydration — whether after a workout or throughout regular activities — you can begin to experience fatigue and altered cognition.

Fatigue is one symptom of severe hydration which may be causing you to feel extra tired. The symptoms of dehydration are also very similar to those of hunger and you may overeat to try to make up for the loss of fluids.

8. High levels of stress

Acute and prolonged stress can be difficult and can lead to fatigue and alterations in many physiological functions including hormones that influence eating behaviors.

Some research found that people under stress opted for unhealthy, high fat foods instead of low fat, low sugar foods. Too much stress causes changes in cortisol levels leading to the desire for more palatable foods in place of nutrient dense, healthier foods. Over time the overconsumption of these unhealthy foods leads to weight gain.

ADDRESS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM AND IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL HEALTH

Feeling hungry and tired all the time can be frustrating. It could also be your body’s way of signaling something to you.

The causes of hunger and fatigue vary. The causes listed above are largely reversible and can improve with changes to your diet and lifestyle. However, some causes may be more serious and require medical attention. Once you address the issue, you can move forward with improving your health. Tracking your food intake on MyFitnessPal is a great way to ensure you are getting enough of the right foods to keep you performing at your best.

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