Why Am I Always Hungry, Even After I Eat? It May Be Leptin Resistance

What does it mean if you frequently find yourself wondering, "Why am I always hungry?" It could point to leptin resistance.

why am i always hungry

Do you frequently wonder, “Why am I always hungry?” The first step may be to normalize your leptin levels.

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Leptin is a hormone product by body fat and it controls whether or not you feel full after eating. If you find yourself asking “Why am I always hungry?”, even after eating a meal, you could be experiencing leptin resistance.

Effects of Leptin Resistance

Someone with normal leptin function will not feel hunger after eating until it’s time for the next meal. This is because the body secretes leptin when you’ve had enough to eat and tells your brain you’re full.   Leptin function is compromised when there is excess fat tissue in the body. This leads to leptin resistance, which causes feelings of hunger, even if a person already had enough to eat.

When there is too much leptin circulating in the bloodstream the following areas of the body are affected:

  • The body’s cells are overwhelmed when there is too much leptin circulating in the bloodstream, and the cells shut down their receptors for leptin, causing leptin resistance. With no leptin getting into cells, the brain never receives the message it is full, and a person is prone to overeating.
  • Leptin promotes additional fat storage.
  • Leptin also affects fertility, libido, and puberty. Leptin resistance could explain why obese girls are 80% more likely to start puberty earlier than normal.

The Relationship Between High Triglycerides and Leptin

Leptin resistance isn’t the only battle in the fight against overeating. High triglycerides have been shown to block leptin’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (a thin lining that protects the brain) to deliver its satiety signal to the brain.

Sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods such as breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes raise triglycerides considerably, thus blocking leptin’s ability to tell your brain you’re full.

Leptin Resistance Diet

Diet may be one way to normalize leptin levels. Overeating and eating too many sweets and starchy foods can lead to leptin resistance, high triglycerides, and hence the feelings of hunger and intense food cravings. Therefore, the key to unwinding leptin resistance is to adopt a leptin-sensitivity diet that can also help you shed unwanted pounds.

To overcome leptin resistance, try incorporating the following into your diet:

  • Ditch the sweets and sodas. Sugar and corn syrup have been shown to directly make the brain resistant to leptin. Sweets also raise triglycerides so leptin can’t reach the brain.
  • Eat a lower-carb diet. Starchy foods (pasta, rice, breads, potatoes, corn, pastries, etc.) spike blood sugar and insulin levels. This in turn increases leptin.
  • Consume healthy fats such as ghee, uncooked olive oil, avocado, salmon, etc. Adequate, healthy fats turn on leptin’s satiety switch.
  • Consider taking a fish or krill oil supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate leptin.

Regular exercise, particularly strength training and interval training, helps to lower leptin levels as well.

Originally published in 2012, this post is regularly updated.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Comments Comments Policy
  • the article ends on a misleading note…emphasizing pasta rice and bread? Are these not starchy foods that are to be avoided?

  • I agree with robin above, at the beginning it says not to eat pasta rice and bread too much then ends telling us to eat them????

  • Yall, if you actually read what it said, it was advising you avoid pasta rice and bread etc as examples of what raises leptin

  • morgan p: Yes, at the beginning, the article says to avoid paste, rice and bread because of the leptin issue, but at the bottom it says: “Eat a variety of foods, emphasizing pasta, rice, bread, and other whole-grain foods as well as fruits and vegetables . . .[t]hese foods are filling, but lower in calories than foods rich in fats or oils.” So, encouraging us to “emphasize” pasta, etc. contradicts the advice to “avoid” it.

  • I’m an athlete, consume generally healthy and organic foods, and I haven’t experienced weight gain, yet I am constantly hungry and never full after meals. Is it still possible that I have leptin resistance or is it something else?

  • I have been eating minimal carbohydrates, no sugar, no pasta and my hunger has not diminished one iota. This is not a helpful article at all. I keep trying to find something that will make my chronic hunger go away. Eating protein and fiber don’t help at all. It is not pleasant to try to lose weight when you feel like you are starving all the time. It would be nice if someone could come up with an idea that would actually work.

  • My 21 years old son get hungry every 30min to 1hr. He give me so much concern. He just want to eat every time till 2am in d night

  • Some of the symptoms of diabetes is hunger, weight loss and fatigue. I recommend you get your blood sugar checked just in case 🙂

  • I had the same problem and I wanted to die at first, coz every 30min-1 hours I had excessive hunger and tiredness, I had to eat the whole night, this is one of the hardest disease. It has reduced to now 2-3 hours. He must improve on diet and exercise.

  • I eat a very low carbohydrate diet. No bread, no pasta, no potatoes, no apples, 1 kiwi a day (somehow need to get my 5 a day) eat heaps of healthy veggies like eggs, cheese, egg plant, celery and so on. I walk EVERY DAY up to 8/9 km. Yes I have lost weight but the cost is ALWAYS HUNGRY. I’ve been doing this regime since November 18. So what else can I do to shut up those growling grellins?

  • A couple of the comments are from people who are eating low carbs but always hungry. If you go low carb you also have to increase fats — a lot. Best site I’ve found is “diet doctor dot com”.

  • If we lived in another country without so many GMO products we could eat healthy grains and breads and pastas with our meals and not either become ill or have the side effects of these monster grains

  • I gained a significant amount of weight after marrying a chef, opening a food service company with so much exposure to ‘fun foods.’ It led to an assortment of health issues which forced me to rebuild my gut with fermented foods, probiotics, minerals, vitamins, various other nutrients (mushrooms), and whole foods. Now I’m not hungry or craving any sugars or starches, and I’m probably getting into the best shape of my life. I’m in my 50’s.

  • I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. As per evidenced-based research, coconut oil and butter should not be listed as “healthy fats” . I am not against their use depending on one’s overall diet, but to say healthy is misleading.

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