Hunger Science

Hunger is felt by everyone!

  • Those who are struggling with losing weight
  • By those who are struggling to maintain Their current weight
  • And by those who are simply living a healthy lifestyle

However, having a delicious meal every time we feel hunger, is not good for health! That’s because with hunger it is not as simple as it seems.

The feeling of hunger is regulated by complex set of signals in body and brains.

We can’t always tell why this feeling occurs. It can be caused by:

  • Low Energy Levels
  • Different Environmental Factors
  • Or Simply For Fun

Feeling Of Hunger

To alleviate the feeling of hunger, you need more than just a nutritious meal, however it certainly helps.

Big part in hunger plays your wishes, and to know how to go against them. It is equally important to realize your lifestyle’s impact on the matter. Factors that affect hunger are such as:

Did You know that talking about Your wishes can cause You to control Your hunger better?

What Is Hunger? Homeostasis Against Hedonia 

If You are feeling hungry, that can mean two entirely different things.

First, of course, associates with hunger – We think about the fact we haven’t eaten anything in last two hours, stomach begins to growl even louder, and other things appear that we relate with hunger.

These signs are caused by the fact that body requires to intake calories – this is the need that shows this signal. This type of hunger in science is called “Homeostasis Hunger “.

Homeostasis Hunger is caused by organism signal system, that is both in body and in the brains, to warn, that there will be energy deficit.

As soon as energy stores in body lowers, hormones make signals. When it happens, ghrelin levels begin to rise (ghrelin is often referred as hunger hormone), however it will return to normal state when we intake some food.

Nutrition moving further in digestive tract, oral cavity, stomach and small intestine different signals of satisfaction arise, in other words – feeling of satiety. Brain then understands that down there in stomach there is food.

However, other signals take place in brain, of the opposite nature. Firstly, they are hunger stimulating or exogenic peptides, secondly hunger suppressant or anorexigenic peptides.

These peptides are hormones that tell the brain either We are feeling hungry or We are satiated (full).

Best way to get rid of homeostatic hunger is is eating and to keep Yourself satiated for longer You need to eat nutritionally dense food.

By nutritionally dense we mean not full of fats (bad ones) but rather food that consists of lot of fibre and protein. Protein opposite of other nutrients keep you satiated for longer than any other macro nutrient.

However, there are foods that You should be used with caution. For example, non-calorie sweeteners can send faulty signals, tricking the brain and making them think that we have eaten little amount, when the truth is we have eaten a lot, and as a result We are overeating.

Health specialists are discussing how sweeteners affect our body a lot. It is true that they can lower blood sugar levels, however specialists have mixed opinions, how can We gain from it if individuals want to intake fewer calories or lose weight.

Zero calorie sweeteners can affect hunger and satiety sensations.

Product group that should be avoided are semi-finished products and processed foods – these foods have lot of fats and sugar.

We eat not only because of hunger but also to feel pleasure and these products can affect brain, making us want more of it and suppressing healthy, satiety signals. For example, such products are potato chips and frozen pizza. 

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There are people, who can’t physically resist temptation to snack.

If We would eat only to take in some calories everything would be very simple, however that is not the case!

We are eating food not only because of the signals that are related to the energy reserves. Sometimes We eat just because We want to eat, doesn’t matter if We ate 5 minutes ago.

This type of hunger is called “Hedonistic Hunger”, they do not research it as well as homeostatic counterpart. It relates hedonistic hunger with the feeling – “I just want to eat some snacks”; “I want something but I don’t know what”.

At the present time generally accepted theory of hedonistic hunger is that it’s a desire of delicious, nutritionally dense foods. People likes to snack even when they don’t want to eat. The more We eat these foods, the more Our brain tells us to want these foods.

Hedonistic hunger is hunger as a thing – it’s actually a search for pleasure and feeling of joy, rather than a need of calories. But We should understand that pleasure plays an important part in any kind of eating. 

Pleasure is important in both homeostatic and in hedonistic hunger, however the need to intake calories is related to only homeostatic hunger!

For example, if You can feel it then You are thinking about pleasure of eating and having a meal, however individual that feels hedonistic hunger are after only the pleasure.

Someone that hasn’t eaten in 12 or more hours (for example, fasting diet), can feel homeostatic hunger, but someone who lusts for dessert feels hedonistic hunger.

Even if we realize that it’s hedonistic hunger, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to overcome. Most effective countermeasure is to have no sweets at home, to help regulate the urges to try eating fruits instead and then think to Yourself do You really want to eat something sweet and unhealthy.

Did You know that appetite suppressants in USA is big industry with billions of net worth?

Control Of Desires

Desire to eat sounds very similar to food craving, and in fact both of them overlaps largely.

However, food craving can be explained as short-term desire to eat specific food, however hedonistic hunger is a desire for delicious foods. Desire is part of hunger.

 One of theory, how hunger desire arises, is called elaborated intrusion theory.

 This theory basis is, opinion that food cravings are one of disorders, that can affect humans.

Often happens that individual doesn’t even realize his hunger till the moment, sensation is so strong or there is nothing more important to do, and therefore hunger is in center of attention. 

For example, if an individual is working on something till he has finished it, there is a high chance he will appear hungry.

This transition from subconscious to conscious seemingly makes hunger very important, therefore we instinctively try to satisfy it. These thoughts are called “intrusive thoughts “.

Did You know that nutrition with high fibre promotes release of the hormones that raises satiety sensation?

If an individual would get a meal, thoughts should disappear and so should the desire, however, if He doesn’t the thought will return again and again.

These thoughts onward just keeps on growing, next You will imagine how the food smells and tastes, You keep thinking where could You get this food and so on.

Thinking about food brings joy to people, therefore making the thought unbearable. The smaller details we imagine, more likely it will cause emotional reaction, that will cause the desire to eat something.

Food visualization is closely connected with desire, the request of thinking about specific product can cause appetite.

To control desires, we suggest suppressing mental processes that are related with food visualization. For example, distract brain attention to another task. Desires are different and with a certain intensity level.

Take Charge Of Your Hunger For Good!

Hunger is not just a feeling that you want to eat – it is related to different complex mechanisms in organism, and nutrition, and many other factors can affect them. For example, sleep, physical activities and stress.

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Insufficient sleep intensifies hunger. If individual doesn’t get enough sleep, ghrelin levels may increase and leptin levels drop.

Till now it was believed, that these changes are related with homeostatic hunger, however, lately more evidence have been obtained, that sleep deprivation can intesify hedonic hunger aswell.

Scientists have proven, individuals that sleeps little, certifies – appetite is bigger and more distressing than usual.

Research tells Us, that sleepless individuals intakes much more calories, than necessary – that makes Us think that purpose of eating is pleasure, that nutrition gives Us, rather than actual necessity.

Hedonic hunger can be measured by – endocannabinoid level in blood. Endocanabinoids activates those same receptors as active substances in cannabis does and cause intensified feeling of pleasure.

Usually endocannabinoid level in body raises and then drops – it is related with eating. But there is still one question to be answered – does it cause appetite or makes stopping difficult, when We have begun eating.

24 hours of sleepless night (for example, if individual has slept only 4 hours instead of 8), endocanabinoid levels in other half of the day raises rapidly and  stays high for longer periods of time, than if he would have slept for 8 hours.

Sleeplessness has big impact on hunger regulation. But to know more about sleep impact on hunger there must be more research done.

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Physical Activities

For anyone that has done physical activities and has felt hunger, this suggestion would seem like rubbish.

However, there are research that proves certain physical activities on brief intervals with high intensity decreases hormones that handle appetite.

Sport activities increase other hormone levels, for example, cholecystokinin and YY peptide, who decrease appetite.

However, not all workouts have the same effect. Most people use low or medium intensity workouts, and it only intensifies the hunger.

After low or medium intensity workout body tries to regain lost calories. However, after high-intensity workout, caloric deficit is only one link in diverse metabolic processes in organism.

Body would like to regain lost calories it prioritizes other things. So in theory if we would be starving and did high intensity workout, the hunger should decrease.

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Talking about factors that affect hunger, it is impossible to avoid stress. Stress can cause overeating. Stress comes in many shapes and forms, and people have different reactions to it.

Universal stress factors like war, famine, serious injuries are tied with serious mental disorders  – Depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

We relate these disorders with appetite changes. 

Stress eating is caused by stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels, medication or illness can cause which, affect metabolism.

However, there is not enough research to prove why stress is causing the appetite.

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