Everyone knows that you tend to eat more when your pregnant, but why does this increased appetite continue into motherhood? This post exploded three reasons why you might be hungry.
1 You are not eating enough protein.
Consuming enough protein is important for appetite control.
Protein has hunger-reducing properties that may help you automatically consume fewer calories during the day. It works by increasing the production of hormones that signal fullness and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger (ref).
Due to these effects, you may feel hungry frequently if you’re not eating enough protein.
How much protein do I need?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.(ref)
It turns out that the right amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors, including their activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health.
2 You are not getting enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is a factor in appetite control, as it helps regulate ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone. Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived (ref)
In one study, 15 people who were sleep deprived for only 1 night reported being significantly more hungry and chose 14% larger portion sizes, compared with a group that slept for 8 hours (ref).
Getting enough sleep also helps ensure adequate levels of leptin, a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness (ref).
3) It’s your hormones fault, again.
Hormones - our body’s chemical messengers - have an impact on many of our body’s functions, including appetite. Some hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin, actively control it, and are known as the ‘hunger hormones’. Ghrelin, for example, is made in the stomach (with the tell-tale gurgling sound) and signals hunger in the brain, whilst leptin decreases your appetite.
Your sex hormones may also impact your appetite: estrogen usually inhibits appetite, whilst testosterone and progesterone may stimulate it (ref).
These hormones are to blame for that pregnancy hunger too. The levels of progesterone in your body are going up during the first trimester of pregnancy, because of which you may experience nausea (often leading to morning sickness) and elevated levels of hunger. Moreover, you are likely to feel hungry during pregnancy because your body needs the calories you lost when vomiting, and because your baby needs nutrition to grow inside your belly.
Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your doctor.