Eating is our body’s natural response to hunger but when an irregularity/abnormality occurs with our eating pattern, it is necessary to check for causative factors.
Factors relating to hunger after completing a meal range from diet to lifestyle and hormones.
Diet related causes:
- The composition of your meal
Meals that do not contain an adequate amount of protein and fiber are less likely to fill you up. Proteins and fibers stimulate the release of fullness/appetite-suppressing hormones like GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and PYY (peptide YY). Fiber takes a long time to digest and slows down the stomach’s emptying rate. Protein-rich foods include turkey, chicken breast and lean beef while foods rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.
- The stretch receptor effect
The stretch receptor finds out how much expansion is done during and after a meal and sends direct signals to the brain to induce the feeling of being full, causing a reduction in appetite. They work with the volume of the meal consumed and not its nutritional composition. However, this feeling of fullness does not last long. Eating foods high in volume and low in calories are more effective. Foods like air-popped popcorn, fresh vegetables, shrimp, turkey, fruits etc. In addition, drinking water before a meal is also used to achieve fullness.
- Resistance to leptin
Leptin, an hormone produced by fat cells, is the main hormone that signals feelings of fullness to the human brain. As a result of its production by fat cells, its blood levels increase in people with more fat mass. In some obese individuals, the leptin doesn’t function as it should in the brain, a condition called ‘leptin resistance’. In this condition, although a lot of leptin is present in the blood, the brain does not recognize it enough to send a signal of fullness and so the individual keeps on eating.
Lifestyle related causes:
- Distraction during a meal
Studies have shown that persons who are distracted while they are eating feel less full and have a tendency to want to eat throughout the rest of the day.
- Eating too fast
Slow chewing and awareness are linked to fullness; so the faster you eat, the less full you become eventually.
- Engaging in continuous exercise
Individuals who perform a lot of exercise usually have bigger appetites and faster metabolisms than others and so they tend to get hungry fast.
Other causes like not eating enough, stress, lack of sleep and high blood sugar can also be involved.