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  • Writer's pictureJackie K

Hey runner... always hungry? Here's why.

Hangry all the time? Maybe you prefer the term "rungry". Either way, you're running all the miles... and your stomach is constantly rumbling. Maybe you're eating 3 meals every day, a recovery snack after your run, and a bite before bed. And yet... your stomach is gnawing at you asking for some food! Why is this???

🌮 You're not eating enough.

This one seems obvious enough, but it can actually be kind of sneaky. Many runners DO think they're eating enough - but it turns out they actually aren't. This can happen even if you're eating more than your friends and family and even if you're not skipping meals or snacks.

Sometimes runners aren't eating enough because they're trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, if you cut back on your intake TOO much, your metabolism will slow down and you won't get the results you're looking for. There's a fine line between eating enough to still be able to complete your runs but also be successful in your weight loss goals.

Sometimes runners are eating too much of a good thing. You're trying to be healthy by running and maintaining an active lifestyle - that's great! But if you're eating mostly salads and vegetables, skimping on oils or fats, limiting your carbs, or avoiding the occasional treat, then it's quite possible you just aren't eating enough!

Physical hunger is a sign that you need to eat more. It is your body's way of saying "HELLO?! I need fuel please!" Please listen to it, and go eat something!

🍔 You're stressed out.

When your stress levels are high, your hormones are out of whack. Cortisol - the stress hormone - can actually increase your appetite. And when this happens, you're a lot more likely to reach for comfort foods - maybe chips🍟or candy🍬. Unfortunately these foods offer little satiety - that is, they're not going to make you feel satisfied and keep you going for long. Then you're prone to sugar crashes and feeling hungry again soon!

Make sure you do something for yourself regularly to deal with stress. Make sure that you do it because you enjoy it, not because somebody on the Internet told you it was the best way to relax. If the idea of taking a bubblebath🛁 to chill out sounds like a nightmare, then don't do it!

🍕 You haven't been sleeping enough.

Are you getting enough rest? Life is busy so it can be hard to get enough sleep. Yet constantly lacking your zzz's can mean that your hormones get off-balance, particularly your hunger hormones. Leptin - the hormone that lets you know that you're satisfied - is low. Meanwhile, ghrelin - the hormone that makes you feel hungry - is elevated. It's a double whammy! This leads to increased hunger and cravings - often for things like sugary foods!

Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Get into a regular bedtime and morning routine, and try to stick pretty close to it even on the weekends.

🥤 You're dehydrated.

Are you neglecting your water intake? It is so important to stay hydrated throughout the day - especially to rehydrate yourself after a sweat session!

Sometimes we confuse hunger and thirst. Did you just eat something? It is possible that you're just thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting a bit. Still feeling uncomfortable? Then try a snack, ideally one that has some protein in it as that will help you feel more satisfied.

DON'T use water to mask true hunger though. Like I said above, physical hunger is your body's way of saying it needs fuel. In that case, water is not going to cut it.

🥩 You're not eating enough protein... or not eating it often enough.

Protein is filling; it makes us feel full and satisfied. Unfortunately, a "typical" diet (in the United States, anyway) has almost NO protein at breakfast, a little bit at lunch, and a LOT at dinner! Is it any wonder that you're hungry by mid-morning even if you ate 2 bowls of cereal with toast and juice at 8am? Considering the abysmal amount of protein in that meal, I would say it isn't surprising at all!

You should aim to eat at least 20-30 grams per meal - and ideally ~10 grams at a snack! Runners, make sure you concentrate on more than just eating enough carbs and get enough protein in at your meals (and your snacks) too!

🍩 Your eating hasn't kept up with your increase in your activity level.

Are you eating the same amount as you were before you started running, training, or increasing your activity or intensity level? This could be the reason you're hungry. All that extra activity takes energy, and if you're not keeping up with demand, your body is going to ask you for more fuel.

So if you're hungry all the time and you just started a new training program or your mileage went from 20 miles a week up to 40 miles a week, then you're going to need to increase your food intake to keep up. And yes, this holds true even if you're trying to lose weight! If you are in too much of an energy deficit, your metabolism will slow down and you'll be less likely to complete your runs.

🍟 You aren't paying attention when you're eating.

When you eat distractedly, you're not paying attention to the signals your body is sending you about your food. You're not as in tune with how it tastes, how it smells, what the texture is like, or how much you've eaten. And thus you're more likely to look down and realize that you ate more than you realized or intended.

Eating can be a pleasurable experience; it is a shame to not let yourself enjoy it! When you're out of touch with what you ate and how much you ate, you're more likely to have cravings and feel hungry... even if your body consumed enough food. So slow down, turn off the TV, and try to enjoy your meal.

Are you constantly hungry? Why do you think that is? What are you going to do about it? This stuff can be hard!

If you want to smash your next PR without smashing a wall because you're so #rungry, I can help with that. If you want to lose weight while running and do so without getting #hangry at everyone, then I can help with that too. And if you just want to better manage your hunger while being the best runner/human you can be, I can help with that as well. Click here to schedule your runner's nutrition strategy call to find out how I help!

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