3

votes

Primary Reason for Constant Hunger

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 03, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Despite taking in 3200 calories a day, I'm constantly hungry, to the point of obsession - I consider it a blessing when my mind is not drifting to thoughts of eating. I am actively maintaining a weight of 125-130 lbs at a height of 5'9" by running about 30 miles a week and staying relatively active besides, and I'm being urged to put on weight.

I've tried eating completely paleo; I've done high fat, low fat, everything; breakfast today was 2 lbs of chicken and 2 lbs of parsnips, and I was starving afterward. I have eaten several lbs of steak and still felt ravenous.

Unfortunately, I also often find myself intensely craving SAD junk; cereal, muffins, ice cream, etc. It's hindering my ability to progress in other aspects of my life.

I just don't know at this point...I want to be thin and I like the way I look, but do I have reason to believe that if I gave in and just ate to satiation (which I've found to be somewhere between 6000 and 8000 calories lol) until I put on significant weight that the constant obsessive thoughts would disappear, or at least become more manageable? This sucks, and I hate not knowing where to go. I don't want to fight myself, but I don't want to become fat again (note: used to be over 200 lbs).

I realize I already posted a thread like this, and I pretty much know what type of responses to expect at this point. It just feels good to type my feelings out :(

Dc0b6400ec0a34615510f4e01cedab28

(385)

on April 23, 2013
at 01:01 AM

not enough fat!!!!

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on December 04, 2011
at 06:05 PM

If you think you can't digest vegetables, you either haven't tried enough of them or you haven't had them cooked properly. Nothing says you have to have your vegetables raw.

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:48 PM

Yum! Avocadoes are going on my shopping list for tomorrow, thanks for the idea!

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:26 PM

yea, how about a sliced avocado over that steak!

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:24 PM

OTOH, I cannot tolerate an all-meat or protein diet without some green veggies. Not sure why, not sure I care, I just eat them. But, since going paleo, I find that I need far fewer veggies to feel satisfied, unless I am stuck eating industrial vegetables.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:22 PM

agreed, but pork also does the trick. Now that I am more regulated, I can eat a couple of pcs. bacon, a couple of eggs, with most of the bacon fat too, and I am good for 6 or more hours.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:20 PM

yes, the nice thing about fats is that you can get lots of energy, but without the cravings or energy swings that come along with carbs for many people.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Matt, try the leptin reset. I had the same situation with IF. It is not for everyone.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:06 PM

I think most comments are aimed at increasing fat...not replacing carbs. The guy is running 30 miles a week and is underweight. I can hardly believe it myself, but I gotta agree with cliff :). This fella just needs to eat till his hearts content till things level out, but I do think a huge part of what he adds needs to be quality fat. Seems quite fat phobic in his choices (i.e. 95/5 lean meat).

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on December 04, 2011
at 04:47 PM

Matt you just need to work on changing your thoughts a little bit. You are not alone in this struggle with fat. Maybe you can decide to let your body do as it will just to try a 30 day experiment where you didn't consider fat intake but just ate according to hunger with the addition of fat? Could you just start playing with your normal menu (fix what you normally make) but add butter to your carbs and throw an avocado into the mix each day and see what happens? Eat the beef in the freezer without regard to its fat content? Then listen to you body and see what it does?

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Ok Matt, start with the grass-fed beef (or whatever other proteins you're going with). Don't skimp on the fat, get the fatty cuts (or better grind some organ meats in there). Or a nice big 1lb steak. Cook it in oodles of coconut oil or with bacon or both. Fry a couple of eggs in there too. Get yourself a good variety of fibrous veg that can soak up the grease. That's breakfast, give it a couple of hours and you can eat sweet potatoes for lunch if you're starving. Keep track of all the calories if you want but don't act on them, act on how you feel, go for a run and enjoy being fed.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 03:59 PM

he's not anorexic, he's happy with how he looks but doesn't understand why he's hungry. It's the dependence on carbs that make people hungry. What 'everyone else' is saying is to eat more fat. Reducing the carbs is just a by-product of that as they'll become unnecessary.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 04, 2011
at 03:06 PM

Vegetables(greens) are not very digestible in my experience so not a good dependable choice to nutrition.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 04, 2011
at 02:20 PM

Also, I've a confession to make - we've got several pounds of grass-fed ground beef in the freezer, but I haven't been eating much of it because I don't have any clue what the fat percentage is, and I've been counting it as ~220 calories for 4 oz raw but I'd hate to be depriving myself if it is in fact leaner. I know, I know, so irrational

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 04, 2011
at 02:14 PM

Not weight, haha...the doc would have a fit XD

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 01:49 PM

That's your primary reason for constant hunger then, you're hungry! Cheese, nuts and chocolate are only good in limited quantities. If you can't get grass-fed then you don't want to be going crazy with animal fats either. Coconut oil and avocado. 100g is just 30% of your calories, you can afford more fat, and you can use it as an energy source. Honestly! "Fat burns in a carbohydrate fire". It's really hard being stuck between two camps. Embrace the fat as your primary energy source, allow decreased performance while you adjust. What have you got to lose?

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 04, 2011
at 01:23 PM

I'm a calorie counter, so it's tough to break the whole "add-fat-sacrifice-precious-calories" mentality. I guess I consider days when I break 100g to be "high fat." As mentioned, this usually occurs due to cheese, nut butter, or chocolate. Sometimes I'll have some 80/20 beef, but it's usually 95/5. Because I run at least 5k a day and am definitely still a sugar-burner, I end up having less energy but a more consistent mood on higher fat days. I should note that my protein intake admittedly borders on the ridiculous when I drop carbs, frequently exceeding 350g.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:07 PM

Great! Just so you know, Matt--you can edit your original post to update everyone, or comment on each answer. It's easier to find your response that way!

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 10:27 AM

Up the fats, and if you're not gaining weight then sure, stick with the carbs. But if you tried going below 150g carb without enough to replace it then I'm not surprised it caused problems. But try and keep to eating them either side of a run. And don't write off checking how dependent you are on them in future, because I seriously love being able to run around all day without sucking down glucose every hour.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on December 04, 2011
at 04:27 AM

Matt looking at your typical menu below and the 75g of fat you are not adding ANY fat to your food. You can't be with numbers like that. Is there a reason for this? I know you said you tried "high fat" but have to wonder what high fat is to you? How high was high and how did you feel?

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:39 PM

In short, eat more fat and drop some of the nutritionally weak carb (and artificial carb) sources. Get your fat metabolism running. A bit of fasting may be a good way to kick it off.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:37 PM

Unless you're doing more intense workouts than you've mentioned, I don't see why you would want significant amounts of 'starch' veg. 1 pound of sweet potato is about 100g carbs which is as much as many eat in total. You've then got you're other veggies which should be provided the bulk of your vitamins and minerals but you don't seem to have as much of them. I'd say you want to get more bulk from other veg with perhaps 1 'serving' of starch in the day. There's then the sugar content in the dairy. Plus the problems with artificial sweeteners. And 70g fat is low, less than quarter calories

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:35 PM

OK I just saw your comment to Andy and you definitely need to up your fats!! Also, maybe your body is still missing something: a vitamin or a mineral that it's not getting. Start looking into supplementation.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Then maybe being hungry is your body's way of telling you it needs something; a vitamin or a mineral or something that it's not getting with just chicken, parsnips and steak. For now, use more fat to cook with and get started on some supplements if you're not already.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:29 PM

I already IF. I end up spending my entire day thinking about my next meal. 2 a day. Once in the morning, once at night.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:12 PM

My daily diet these days usually consists of 2-4 lbs of lean meat, 1-2 lbs of root vegetable/starch (sweet potatoes, plantains, etc.), 1-5 servings of fibrous veggies, and 2-4 servings of dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.). I do drink 1-3 artificially sweetened drinks, and I use stevia in my 1-2 cups of coffee. I also like to incorporate small amounts of chocolate and cheese, with the occasional dip into nut butter. Fats average around 70g, but I routinely fall below 55g and as high as 105g.

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13 Answers

3
Medium avatar

on December 04, 2011
at 07:42 AM

I agree with all the people who say increase your fat intake since it is calorie dense and fills you up longer than carbs without the addictive properties. There are many possible reasons for food cravings, such as bacterial dysbiosis, leptin/insulin resistance, nutritional deficiencies, and more. It seems like you aren't losing weight, so I'd recommend cutting back on the running temporarily and see if you gain weight. If you still have the cravings and start to gain weight rapidly it's likely you have leptin resistance to some degree, especially since you mentioned you had weight problems before. I just noticed in one of your replies to an answer that you drink 1-3 drinks with artificial sweeteners per day. That alone could easily explain your cravings. Artificial sweeteners are linked to obesity, and a study compared rats who had pure sugar to rats who had the sweeteners, and the ones with the sweeteners had bigger appetites and a higher percentage of body fat. I shadowed a dietitian over the summer and I saw many obese patients referred from doctors who were drinking diet soda every day as their source of water. So before you do anything else try eliminating those first and see if your cravings go away, then increase fats while decreasing carbs. I know it's easier said than done but in the end it's worth it.

3
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on December 04, 2011
at 02:37 AM

Fats average around 70g, but I routinely fall below 55g and as high as 105g. ??? Matt 4 hours ago

EAT MORE FAT!

I eat 60-70% of my calories from fat.

That means 100-115g of fat per day for my 1500 calories. So you need about 200 g of fat.

You are waaaay too skinny for your height/gender. I am a 5'6" female at 125 lbs, small build.

And over time, drop the artificial sweeteners. But focus on upping the fat first.

2
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 04, 2011
at 03:06 PM

Stop torturing yourself, eat as much as you want for a couple days and eventually you will normalize out to a reasonable calorie intake. I guarantee you won't be able to eat close to 8000 cals and if you do you'll probably do it for a day or 2 before losing your appetite. Your calorie counting and restricting is just making the problem 100 times worse, forget about calories for a week and just eat a variety of whole foods to satiation.

You obviously have an irrational fear of gaining weight, at your current weight you are borderline underweight and I promise you won't gain back to 200 pounds overnight :)

Forget about restricting, eat whatever you want provided its a whole food. You eat a lot of protein(over 250g if you eat 4lbs of lean meat) which could be an issue, try decreasing that and replacing it with carbs or fat. Its pretty obvious why your hungry if your running 30 miles a week.

It too bad everyone else is just supporting your anorexic behaviour by telling you to limit even more(carbs)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:06 PM

I think most comments are aimed at increasing fat...not replacing carbs. The guy is running 30 miles a week and is underweight. I can hardly believe it myself, but I gotta agree with cliff :). This fella just needs to eat till his hearts content till things level out, but I do think a huge part of what he adds needs to be quality fat. Seems quite fat phobic in his choices (i.e. 95/5 lean meat).

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 03:59 PM

he's not anorexic, he's happy with how he looks but doesn't understand why he's hungry. It's the dependence on carbs that make people hungry. What 'everyone else' is saying is to eat more fat. Reducing the carbs is just a by-product of that as they'll become unnecessary.

2
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on December 04, 2011
at 02:21 PM

I have had a similar experience with being constantly hungry when I am working out on the regular. Something that has helped me is to maximize the nutrients in the foods that I eat. I believe that when the body is constantly hungry, it is often due to some missing nutrients rather than the need for more calories.

For example, eating a largeish portion of liver (say a pound) tends to completely satisfy me and kills my appetite for several hours at least. The same is true of greens like kale. Pastured eggs can have 5x or more the nutrients of supermarket eggs, and I find them a lot more satisfying. I also find grass fed beef more satisfying than grain fed. Paleo foods are generally higher in nutrients than SAD foods, but some Paleo foods are higher than others.

Many Paleo folks avoid vegetables, which I really don't understand because they are a great source of nutrients. Enter everything that you eat for a week or two into FitDay and see if you are low on any nutrients. I did this and was somewhat surprised to learn that, even though I ate what I thought was a very good Paleo diet, I was seriously low (like less than 50% of RDA) in magnesium, manganese, calcium, vit E, and a few other things. Rather than fill in these gaps with supplements, I try to eat foods that are high in these nutrients, which is primarily vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 04, 2011
at 03:06 PM

Vegetables(greens) are not very digestible in my experience so not a good dependable choice to nutrition.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:24 PM

OTOH, I cannot tolerate an all-meat or protein diet without some green veggies. Not sure why, not sure I care, I just eat them. But, since going paleo, I find that I need far fewer veggies to feel satisfied, unless I am stuck eating industrial vegetables.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on December 04, 2011
at 06:05 PM

If you think you can't digest vegetables, you either haven't tried enough of them or you haven't had them cooked properly. Nothing says you have to have your vegetables raw.

2
B33f7c04c09d8bbbf181dd8aca04f373

on December 04, 2011
at 12:43 AM

I agree with the eat more fats, and would add on average a 5'9 female should weigh between 130-160 depending on frame and BF%, a 5'9 male would need to weigh between 150-170, again dependent on BF% and comp. It would seem to me, unless you are extremely small framed and fine boned, some more weight would be beneficial to you.

2
Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:15 PM

I used to be this way too. I ate a lot (1000+ calorie meals) and was still craving snacks 2 hours later. Then I tried intermittent fasting (IF). If you haven't heard about it, check out the threads here on Paleohacks (there are several). It was hard for me for a few days, with strong hunger pangs during the 16 hour fast. But now, I'm fine and I don't need feel the need to eat every few hours. I eat two meals a day and I rarely snack and I'm not hungry between those meals. I think I used to eat upwards of 2500 calories and still hungry, but now I'm doing IF and I'm getting by on about 2000.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:35 PM

OK I just saw your comment to Andy and you definitely need to up your fats!! Also, maybe your body is still missing something: a vitamin or a mineral that it's not getting. Start looking into supplementation.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Then maybe being hungry is your body's way of telling you it needs something; a vitamin or a mineral or something that it's not getting with just chicken, parsnips and steak. For now, use more fat to cook with and get started on some supplements if you're not already.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:29 PM

I already IF. I end up spending my entire day thinking about my next meal. 2 a day. Once in the morning, once at night.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Matt, try the leptin reset. I had the same situation with IF. It is not for everyone.

2
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:27 PM

It sounds like you are addicted to carbs and would do well trying to rein them in for a time. If you cave, you are quite likely to go towards "skinny fat" and then regular fat again. You might try replacing many of the carb calories with real fat for a time, until you can get control of your cravings. Even though you like the way you look, perhaps your body thinks it is too thin, and maybe it is right this time.

2
Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 03, 2011
at 09:54 PM

I'm guessing the typical responses will be along the lines of needing more details about what you eat!

2lbs of chicken and 2lbs of parsnips is missing not only fat but a whole bunch of other micronutrients, a deficiency in any one of which could be driving hunger. Or it could be thirst.

Craving SAD junk sounds odd if you're eating clean too. I'd say try eating to satiation on strict paleo, with good balance making sure you get the full range of veg, protein and fat. I'd be surprised if you felt like you wanted to do that every day. It could just be that you're 1000 calories 'behind' and you're not allowing yourself to catch up, like with sleep, and if you eat til you're sick one day on a variety of paleo foods you'll be able to move on. Why not? Imagine you just bagged a mammoth.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 03, 2011
at 10:12 PM

My daily diet these days usually consists of 2-4 lbs of lean meat, 1-2 lbs of root vegetable/starch (sweet potatoes, plantains, etc.), 1-5 servings of fibrous veggies, and 2-4 servings of dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.). I do drink 1-3 artificially sweetened drinks, and I use stevia in my 1-2 cups of coffee. I also like to incorporate small amounts of chocolate and cheese, with the occasional dip into nut butter. Fats average around 70g, but I routinely fall below 55g and as high as 105g.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:37 PM

Unless you're doing more intense workouts than you've mentioned, I don't see why you would want significant amounts of 'starch' veg. 1 pound of sweet potato is about 100g carbs which is as much as many eat in total. You've then got you're other veggies which should be provided the bulk of your vitamins and minerals but you don't seem to have as much of them. I'd say you want to get more bulk from other veg with perhaps 1 'serving' of starch in the day. There's then the sugar content in the dairy. Plus the problems with artificial sweeteners. And 70g fat is low, less than quarter calories

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 03, 2011
at 11:39 PM

In short, eat more fat and drop some of the nutritionally weak carb (and artificial carb) sources. Get your fat metabolism running. A bit of fasting may be a good way to kick it off.

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 04, 2011
at 02:43 AM

I just posted a question myself and the crux of that one is that I find fatty beef does the best job of suppressing my appetite. Personally, I don't find chicken, eggs or veggies do anything to lessen my appetite although they are delicious food.

As I said, I'm not assuming it'll be a miracle cure for you but fatty beef shuts my appetite right down--I practice IF and I don't feel a twinge of hunger until well into the next day.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:22 PM

agreed, but pork also does the trick. Now that I am more regulated, I can eat a couple of pcs. bacon, a couple of eggs, with most of the bacon fat too, and I am good for 6 or more hours.

1
559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

on December 03, 2011
at 11:56 PM

I agree that 2lb of parsnips sounds like a lot of carbs to have in one go and could set off cravings. It might be better to replace some of these calories with fat.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:20 PM

yes, the nice thing about fats is that you can get lots of energy, but without the cravings or energy swings that come along with carbs for many people.

0
Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 04, 2011
at 09:27 AM

Thanks for the advice. I'm honestly not ready to give up the sweetener, but I'll try upping fats. I'll still keep the starches though, as I find that going below 150g of carbs really screws with my endurance, and I'd like to be able to continue running.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:07 PM

Great! Just so you know, Matt--you can edit your original post to update everyone, or comment on each answer. It's easier to find your response that way!

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 04, 2011
at 10:27 AM

Up the fats, and if you're not gaining weight then sure, stick with the carbs. But if you tried going below 150g carb without enough to replace it then I'm not surprised it caused problems. But try and keep to eating them either side of a run. And don't write off checking how dependent you are on them in future, because I seriously love being able to run around all day without sucking down glucose every hour.

0
Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on December 04, 2011
at 06:07 AM

oh yeah? Eat nothing but simple/non-seasoned steak, plain sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. all unsalted. lets see how hungry you still are.

(lower your food palatability while still eating Paleo)

0
421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

on December 04, 2011
at 12:47 AM

Matt, I can completely 100% relate to this issue - This was me about 2 months ago!

I had been eating ground beef or chicken, sometimes both, for breakfast with veggies like mushrooms or zucchini. I would feel satisfied initially after this breakfast but would be insanely hungry approx 1.5 to 2 hours later. I would always end up craving SAD foods and dried fruits and was eating up to 200g of cashew nuts in one go - It was the only way that I would feel full! I was constantly thinking about food, was never full after my lunch and was constantly planning what I would snack on next and how I would make it to dinner without snacking on my journey home from work.

Lately, my breakfast consists of steak (probably 6-8oz, it can vary from day to day), 2 slices of bacon and approx 1 tbsp of coconut oil. This breakfast has been a lifesaver for me. It generally keeps me full for 3 to 4 hours and has almost completely gotten rid of my cravings for sweets and junk food. I can also now eat a small handful of cashews or any other type of nut and not feel that I need to eat the entire packet in one go!

For lunch, I generally eat some protein (usually pork or chicken), with some veggies and a medium sized sweet potato. Eating sweet potatoes at lunch time has also been hugely helpful in controlling hunger and cravings for me.

Dinner is generally more meat or some oily fish like salmon with veggies.

I know that the same method may not work for everyone, but seeing as your issues and symptoms are so similar to mine, it might be worth trying out the steak/bacon/coconut oil breakfast to see if it works for you. And if you're not a fan of coconut oil, you can always replace with another healthy oil.

I really hope that this helps - Wishing you the best of luck!!

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:26 PM

yea, how about a sliced avocado over that steak!

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on December 04, 2011
at 05:48 PM

Yum! Avocadoes are going on my shopping list for tomorrow, thanks for the idea!

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