Feeling hungry late afternoon and evening is not unusual and it can have many reasons.
Research tells us that some reasons can be quite obvious and we can actually do something about those. And some are not as easy to change.
There’s a fickle hormone called Ghrelin. And it has a lot to answer for.
Among many other things, it triggers hunger.
This action of increasing our appetite is of course an important factor for the survival of the species. But sometimes I wish ghrelin would just go away. I’d have a much easier time with my own weight management without hunger 😉
Besides making us hungry, ghrelin stimulates your desire for carbs, sugar, and fat. And it activates body fat production.
And if that isn’t enough, it likes to do all these things after 4 pm when your metabolism is getting ready to slow down.
So as you can see, when one is trying to lose or maintain weight, this hormone can be really annoying.
But there are some things that we do that can activate or reduce this hunger hormone.
So let’s see what they are
1) Don’t use overly restrictive diets.
If your diet is very low in calories and nutrients, it will activate ghrelin. The reason is that your body always tries to protect you from starvation. So it pushes out this hormone to force you to ‘go and eat something already’!
Even after just one day of strict eating, you might find that this occurs. Especially after fasting.
2) Watch your weight
It would be best not to gain any excess weight. Because even a gentle, but long-term diet can increase hunger hormones and reduce your fullness hormones.
And because your metabolic rate reduces during ongoing calorie restrictions, these adaptations make it much harder to lose and keep the weight off.
So don’t let the pounds add up too much. When you gain a couple of kilos, that’s the time to re-assess your eating plan, improve your food choices, and adjust portion sizes. Remember: after weight loss, your body’s main desire is to regain its fat reserves by cranking up your hunger level.
3) Lack of sleep.
I’m sure you’ve read by now that lack of sleep not only increases fat layering around your waist and stomach but also pumps up hunger hormones and carb cravings. Therefore ensure you have enough hours of good quality sleep.
If you have problems falling or staying asleep, please research how you can overcome this. Don’t let it go on for too long.
High levels of chronic stress can elevate ghrelin levels. Use methods like meditation, yoga, walking, finding an immersive hobby, listening to music etc. All this will assist to reduce stress.
Certain types of exercises will increase your hunger levels but not equally in both sexes. They haven’t quite figured out the whole story, but are working on it. A review in 2018 showed that aerobics reduced ghrelin, but circuit training may increase it.
6) Resistance or weight training.
Lean muscle mass is associated with lower levels of ghrelin. So get out the resistance bands or free weights and get those muscles built back up.
Although the experiences during menopause are highly individual, we noticed that many women start layering body fat around the waist and belly around this time of their lives. The various hormonal changes that occur can cause an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in the fullness hormones.
NOTE: Women who are already overweight when entering menopause may see more weight gain than those who are slim.
8) Eat a bit more Protein.
Easier said than done when we’re eating whole food plant-based diets. However, if you totally ignore this suggestion, you might find yourself being hungrier than you need to be.
Protein is the nutrient that can reduce ghrelin and increase the satiety hormone.
Vegans should aim to eat between 0.9g to 1g protein per kilo of healthy body weight. This means if you weigh 63kg but should weigh 53kg, use the 53kg amount.
Therefore 53 x 0.9g or 1g means: eat around 48 to 53g protein per day.
This is higher than the standard recommendation of 0.83g for the average nonvegan. It is said that due to our delicious high fibre diet, not all protein gets absorbed and utilized. Therefore add legumes, tofu, edamame beans, tempeh and even some pure protein powders to your meal plan to better prevent hunger.
9) And last but not least: as mentioned at the beginning of the article, ghrelin increases naturally towards the end of the day.
This is exasperated even further if you’ve not eaten enough during the day.
SOLUTION: Ensure that you eat a balanced filling diet throughout the day focusing on adding high protein plant foods to each meal and snack. And if you get hungry late afternoon or evening, hopefully, you’ve got some cut-up vegetable sticks and hummus waiting in the fridge for you. Way better than grabbing salty fatty potato crips!
For more tips on weight management and wellness, do come and join us in the Vegan Wellness Club.
Look it up in the Menu area and read up on it. If you have any questions about the Club, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.