One of the weirdest feelings you can experience is still being hungry after eating a meal.
The reason you’re eating is that you’re hungry — but how can you still be hungry if you literally just ate?
It’s happened to all of us, and it might be a frequent occurrence for you even if you don’t realize it. The hunger you feel doesn’t necessarily have to be felt immediately after eating. But still — if you just ate a big meal, that should keep you full for at least the next few hours, right?
Perhaps you ate a big, healthy lunch. You feel satisfied after and continue through your day. After about an hour, you experience that weird, empty, gurgling feeling in your stomach.
Why? You just had a big meal, so why are you suddenly craving a snack or another lunch?
For some people, this feeling can hit right after they eat, and it can be a big problem because it becomes easy to turn to junk food or fast food for a quick and convenient snack to hold you over until the next meal.
Thankfully, there are a few logical explanations for why this feeling occurs. It can depend on two factors: the meal itself and what you do during the day.
It’s a perfectly normal feeling, so don’t freak out because you want to eat more after a meal. There are easy ways to eliminate that hunger, and we’re going to break them down for you.
Below, you’ll find the two most significant causes of feeling hungry after eating — lack of nutrients and lifestyle choices — and how you can quickly solve these problems to avoid overeating.
Let’s run through another example. You had a big leafy green salad with minimal toppings and dressing for lunch. You’re eating a lot of greens — which is good — but you return to work or school feeling hungry.
To subside this hunger, you grab a bag of chips or candy bar from a vending machine. This snack leaves you wondering why your stomach is still rumbling after eating such a big salad.
Foods like soup or a protein smoothie will likely have the same outcome. This is because foods low in filling nutrients, specifically protein and carbs in the form of fiber, won’t leave you feeling full.
Protein can help your diet in so many ways. Specifically, high amounts of protein will make you feel full compared to many other nutrients.
Protein takes a lot more energy and time to digest, meaning you won’t feel hungry after a big meal with plenty of protein, and you can avoid those unhealthy placeholders until your next meal.
Here are some healthy meals and snacks that are full of protein:
Eggs, milk, meat, fish, you name it! You can get some of the most quality protein from animal-based products.
Also, meat and fish tend to be consumed in abundance compared to others on this list, meaning you’re getting way more protein and will feel full. Be careful not to overindulge as red meats can often be high in fats and cholesterol.
We could write 10,000 words on the health benefits of vegetables, but we’ll focus on their protein count for now. While vegetables likely won’t leave you feeling as full as a piece of steak or chicken, their protein levels are high relative to their size.
They’re among the best high-density, low-calorie foods in terms of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They make for an excellent snack or side dish.
If you feel hungry after a meal, nuts are a perfect solution to avoid overeating. They provide energy, healthy fats, and, most importantly, protein! Considering their size, even a small package of nuts can make you feel pretty full. You can also add them to salads, yogurt, and other meals as a delicious topping.
Like protein, fiber takes a longer time to digest and will leave you full and satisfied. Fiber is unique because it can also trigger the release of hormones that can suppress your appetite.
Without a diet that incorporates a good amount of fiber, you’re likely to be feeling hungry after meals, no matter how big they are.
Here are some commonly consumed foods and snacks with an exceptionally high fiber count:
Sandwiches come to mind first when thinking about incorporating bread into your diet. If you have no dietary restrictions, a sandwich with meat and cheese is a perfect way to ensure you’re feeling full after lunch or breakfast.
A vegetable-based sandwich is an excellent alternative if you don’t eat animal products, as you’re still getting fiber and protein. Sandwiches are incredibly versatile, meaning you can add whatever healthy toppings you enjoy to create a filling meal.
Pasta is an excellent source of fiber and protein. You can add healthy sauces, cheeses, and meats to make it a complete meal or eat it by itself with some seasonings. Either way, it tastes great, it’s cheap, and you can consume a lot of it and still feel full after.
Rice goes with almost any meal, sauce, and seasoning. You are also getting reasonable amounts of fiber and protein, just like pasta. Try a rice bowl with your favorite toppings to get a perfectly filling lunch or dinner.
Suppose you eat a rice bowl for lunch packed with protein and fiber. You’re feeling full, energized, and ready to take on the day. You decide to get some physical activity in during your free time. Only a short time after eating and getting your heart rate up, you are just as hungry as you were before.
This hunger is because you’re burning calories and carbohydrates. You need both for energy, and after you’ve used a lot of them during physical activity, your body needs to be replenished.
This is nobody’s fault, and it can be tricky to navigate. We recommend eating a smaller snack instead of another big meal, such as nuts, a serving of fruits, or a serving of vegetables.
If you’re getting consistent physical activity, eating a little more usually isn’t going to hurt your fitness efforts. Sometimes you need a boost to get through your day after losing all of that energy. Just be careful not to overeat unless your goal is weight gain.
More lifestyle factors can lead to feeling hungry after eating.
If you’re going through a stressful time, whether it’s familial, work, or school-related, you might be tempted to overindulge. This is called stress eating.
Stressful jobs and lives have been connected to weight gain for a long time. People often turn to “comfort foods,” also known as junk food, in times of uncertainty.
We’ve all been there — a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips when we’re bummed out or need to relax. After we’ve gotten our sugar fix, we keep wanting to come back for more.
This vicious cycle makes it easy to overindulge and throw our goals away. There are a few ways you can avoid this:
We know - this is much easier said than done. But the “out of sight out of mind” method does work. If you’re stressed, not having junk food in your cabinet will go a long way in altogether avoiding it.
Distract yourself. Pick up a new hobby, go for a run, or watch a good movie or TV show to help take your mind off things. We recommend doing something that gets your heart pumping, but you can also settle for something that stimulates your mind. As long as you do not stress-eat, you’re good!
Nutrition and lifestyle choices go hand-in-hand to help you avoid feeling hungry after eating. No matter your goals, overindulging in unhealthy foods will be detrimental to your health.
Able is here to help you precisely define those goals and how you can achieve them.
From motivation to movement routines, Able makes getting healthier easy. Changing your lifestyle can be complicated and overwhelming, and some extra help certainly can’t hurt.
Get ready to work with Able, and enjoy a healthier and happier you.
Extra protein is a decent dietary choice, but don’t overdo it | Harvard Health
Protein - which is best? | National Library of Medicine
Dietary Fiber | National Library of Medicine
Improving Your Health With Fiber | Cleveland Clinic
The effect of an incremental increase in exercise on appetite, eating behaviour and energy balance in lean men and women feeding | Cambridge Health
Why stress causes people to overeat | Harvard Health