8 months paleo, sudden night hunger

Answered on February 17, 2014
Created February 16, 2014 at 9:46 AM

For a week and a half I've been waking up in the middle of the night or early morning, feeling like I have hardly slept, and starving. I have to get up and eat. I don't know what's wrong, as I feel that I eat enough during the day.

I'm a skinny male, 26 years, 73kg, 194 cm (11,5 stones/ 6ft 4in). Trying to gain weight.

I've been eating strict autoimmune paleo with no cheating for 8 months. There has been no changes in my lifestyle or diet recently.

I start every day with home cooked bone broth including meat and vegetables, and often a box of sardines. I eat fatty fish for dinner nearly every day. A few times weekly I have offal, either ox liver or heart. Plenty of veggies, including fermented ones with each meal. I also eat a lot of coconut fat and olive oil, and a tiny bit of fruit and berries some days. (I don't keep track of how much fat/protein/carbs I eat)

I go to bed at 11 pm and get up at 7.30???8 am every day. (Used to have trouble falling asleep when going to bed, but paleo solved this for me.) I suspected low cortisol levels, since I also have black lines on my finger tips and multi-frequency tinnitus. Testing showed normal levels, though. Some days I feel irritated for no reason. I have always had strong libido, but since going paleo this has been low. I meditate regularly and might fall asleep for a minute during the meditation, despite not feeling tired.

The only thing blood tests have ever shown to be lacking is vitamin D, although I drink cod liver oil and expose myself to daylight every day (I live in Norway, with little sunlight during winter)

Anyone have any suggestions on what's causing this sudden, overwhelming night time hunger?

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

3 Answers


on February 17, 2014
at 07:47 AM

I eat quite a lot of starch already, including daily servings of sweet potatoe, plantain, bananas, carrots, celery root, rutabaga, butternut squash. I think @raydawg could be right about the calories, and possibly about the saturated fat as well. Starting today I will keep track to ensure I get enough calories. Things like home made bone broth makes it really hard to log though.

I know this will be different for everyone, but how much calories should come from fat, and how much from unsaturated in particular? I already eat tallow, adding large scoops to my meals, but since fish is the staple I might not get enough saturated fat.

The autoimmune protocol says aim for fewer meals to let the digestion rest in between. The last few days I've gone away from that though, adding a small lunch again to my two daily meals, as well as a cup of bone broth in the evening. But still, I wake up at 5 am, hungry. I think I need at least three meals per day to get enough calories - should I be eating lunch or an evening meal, or both?



on February 16, 2014
at 02:29 PM

My suggestion is to increase the glycemic load with rather healthier carb sources such as purple sweet potatoes and see what happens. You might not have adapted to burn enough fat.



on February 16, 2014
at 02:23 PM

You're probably not eating enough, especially from saturated fats which are required to make hormones. Things like grassfed butter, avocado, fats from grassfed ruminants (beef, lamb, goat.), egg yolks. Coconut oil is great, but in some people it can cause weight loss.

Low cortisol can be dealt with via DGL or licorice root - this prevents existing cortisol from being absorbed as readily, although the licorice root can cause higher blood pressure levels so it's not recommended to consume it for too long.

In terms of libido, saturated fat (higher cholesterol actually) is what's needed, but you can signal more testosterone creation either through tribulus terrestris or longjack (aka tongkat ali). Vitamin D levels can be low both due to lack of enough cholesterol and not enough sun exposure. Since your libido is low, perhaps your cholesterol levels aren't high enough - though living in higher lattitudes is also a problem. You coud supplement with D3.

Since you're trying to gain weight, perhaps starchy carbs would help? sweet potatoes, white potatoes (without skins), white rice, carrots, parsnips, etc.

Feeling irritated for no reason is also a sign of hunger, though it could be a sign of not enough protein (protein needed to create sufficient neurotransmitters.)

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!