• Why Am I Still Hungry on Paleo?

    Why Am I Still Hungry On Paleo? | stupideasypaleo.com

    Why am I still hungry on Paleo?

    This is a fairly common question that I get from readers, and though the causes can be many, there are a few culprits that can leave you feeling hungry all the time even when you’re eating a Paleo diet.

    You’ll have to take an honest look at your own dietary intake and habits to assess if you’re falling prey to some of these hunger-inducing pitfalls. One of the simplest things to do is to journal your meals for a few days and take an objective look at the composition of your meals and the relative quantity. You don’t necessarily have to crack out on FitDay or start weighing all your food, but just be honest with yourself about your intake.

    Satiety vs. Satiation and Why They Matter

    Let’s take a quick moment to learn the difference between satiety and satiation. (They’re really similar words and concepts, and they often get mixed up.) Satiation is what happens during a meal when you start to feel full, and it’s influenced by many factors like the smell and taste of food and how much your stomach is filled as you eat.

    Satiety, on the other hand, is a longer-term response to the quality and type of nutrition in the food you eat, digest and assimilate. I think you can see how they’re connected: Eat low-satiety, low-nutrition foods, experience low satiation (hunger). And the converse is true. So, if you focus on nutrient-dense, satiating foods, it’s less likely you’ll experience constant hunger.

    Reason #1 You’re Still Hungry: You aren’t eating enough volume.

    Simply put, if you’re still hungry soon after a meal, you might not be eating enough food. This is especially common with people who have a history of restrictive dieting. Relative caloric intake, while it isn’t the only metric of food consumption you should be concerned about—not even by a long shot—still matters. Trying to do Paleo on 1200-1500 calories a day (read: low on calories) will not work long-term.

    Instead of adding in extra snacks throughout the day—which puts a burden on the digestive system to be constantly working—bump up the intake per meal. Example: If you eat two eggs for breakfast, eat three instead. It’s not crazy, I promise. (p.s. Two eggs have 12 grams of protein. That’s not a lot.)

    Reason #2 You’re Still Hungry: You need to eat more protein.

    Of the three dietary macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates and fat—protein has the most potent satiety signal. It’s digested much more slowly than carbohydrate and does not have the same rapid insulin-spiking characteristics that sugars and starches do. If you’re skimping on the protein or you’re not including some protein in each meal, it’s time to change that.

    Before you just pile more veggies on your plate because yes, they do have protein in them, remember that the relative quantity is much less than a dense source such as meat, seafood and eggs. My friends over at Whole30 have a great visual for how much protein to include at a normal meal: as many eggs as you can fit in your hand or 1-2 palm-sized portions of meat or seafood, depending on your body size.

    Reason #3 You’re Still Hungry: You need to eat more fat.

    Paleo is not a low-fat diet. Repeat: Paleo is not a low-fat diet. We need dietary fat as the substrate for building molecules in the body, like the membranes of our cells and to help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. If you’re trying to eat low-fat Paleo, you might be feeling less satiated between meals.

    As with protein, each meal should contain fat. Refer to this meal planning template for a general guideline, and be sure to include a variety of healthy fats from both plant and animals sources.

    Reason #4 You’re Still Hungry: You’re drinking your calories.

    Shakes and smoothies and juices are often considered healthy, especially when they’re made with fruit. They have a dark side, though. Because the food is already liquified it makes its way through your digestive tract much more quickly than something solid that you had to chew. Couple that with the fact that smoothies and juices are often packed with fruit—of which the sugars digest relatively rapidly—and you often have a scenario where hunger ensues just a short time after eating.

    A better bet: Stick mostly to solid foods.

    Reason #5 You’re Still Hungry: You’re not absorbing nutrients well.

    Assuming you’re eating nutrient-dense whole foods in proper amounts, if you’re still constantly hungry—and especially if you’re experiencing issues such as diarrhea, constipation or indigestion—it may be time to peek under the hood and see if you’ve got some underlying gut health issues, problems with digestive enzymes or food sensitivities.

    Your gut lining is the border across which nutrients pass and get absorbed into your blood stream for use in your body. Because of that, you need to make sure the good stuff gets in while the bad stuff—like partially digested food, bacteria and viruses—stays out. If the integrity of your gut lining is damaged from irritating foods or perhaps your gut flora (a lovely sounding word that means bacteria) isn’t up to snuff for a multitude of reasons, you won’t be able to absorb nutrients correctly.

    Additionally, if your digestive enzymes are not working properly, you may not be absorbing nutrients correctly because food is not being broken correctly. If you suspect you have some gut issues going on, you may need to pursue a gut-healing protocol such as GAPS or work with a functional medicine practitioner.

    Reason #6 You’re Still Hungry: You’re choosing too many nutrient-poor foods.

    If a large proportion of your dietary intake is skewed toward nutrient-poor and / or processed foods, it’s hard to feel satiated. To add insult to injury, this junk food is often purposely engineered to make it ping those reward centers in our brains…hard. Ultra sweet, salty and fatty junk foods are often really hard to stop eating so the intake seems high (um, anyone ever eaten a whole bag of Cheetos?), but when it comes time to feel satiated, your body knows it’s had a fast one pulled on it.

    If you’re new to Paleo, one of the best things you can do is to eliminate processed, nutrient-poor foods. Say goodbye to soda and chips and candy. At first, your brain may rebel with cravings worse than a cranky toddler, but once you start really nourishing your body, cravings are likely to diminish.

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    Why Am I Still Hungry On Paleo? | stupideasypaleo.com

    What are your thoughts or experiences on this topic? Share them in the comments below!

    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    51 thoughts on “Why Am I Still Hungry on Paleo?

    1. Good info Steph; I have had this problem in the past but I have bumped up my fat intake and I have trained my body and mind to be ok with being a little hungry at times during the day. I have read lots of articles about not filling yourself up and living with a little hunger and the health aspects of that. Of course I could just be weird !!!!!!!

      1. Well, I think it’s important to distinguish between being a little hungry and having a craving. I definitely also wouldn’t walk around over-full, but for me, I do best when comfortably full. To me, being constantly hungry introduces a distraction :/

    2. Great post, as usual! I have been pretty strictly paleo for about 3 and a half months and it is amazing how much I have learned to become attuned to my body and its’ signals. Love all this info and I have definitely put much of it into practice.

    3. Thank you so much for this article. I am fairly new to eating Paleo and there are some days that I feel like all I do is starve. I am still trying to get the right balance at every meal. Your recipes and blogs are certainly helping.
      Lynn

    4. I am the opposite. Paleo has been the only style of eating that I have tried that has left me feeling satisfied. I could eat a huge meal of carby foods and be hungry within an hour or two; with paleo I can easily go four to six without being hungry at all. The most difficult aspect of paleo for me is the planning and prep. You have a fantastic site btw.

    5. You just became my life saver. I began my Paleo lifestyle on Monday, and have been dealing with hunger like crazy! Can’t wait until it becomes a little bit easier, but right now it is pretty overwhelming…especially when it comes to prepping + getting groceries! Can’t wait to look around more on your site. =)

      1. As someone else mentioned, in the initial phase (the first 1-2 weeks), your body is trying to adapt to burning fat vs an excess of carbs which can sometimes manifest as cravings.

    6. I have a question but it’s not necessarily related to this post so I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ve purchased your Paleo Athlete book and had a few questions. I want to do P90x3 (30min workouts) but also use it to gain mass. Would I use the high intensity recommendations but add extra protein and use BCAAs intra to help gain muscle? Also, is it mainly important to eat certain foods post and pre workout and just “regular” paleo for other meals? Any help much appreciated!

      Jackson

      1. Yes, for the most part. I’ve been making some of the recipes from the cool book and I have to say the egg muffins are great! Also, how much sweet potato would you recommend adding to the ingredients to make it a decent post workout meal? Thanks!

            1. Ok. How many grams of BCAAS would you recommend taking during your workout to prevent entering a catabolic stage?

    7. Great list, but I think you missed an important one, especially for those just transitioning to paleo-style eating: your body is transitioning from being carb-adapted to fat-adapted. This is the same reason that (even for most ‘strict paleo’ eaters) doing a whole30/sugar detox is challenging for the first few days.

      Most people I know that have tried switching to low-carb paleo and ended up quitting did so in the first week or so because they were ‘always hungry’ no matter how much they ate. This ‘hunger’ is caused by sugar/carb addiction.

      1. Good point! I was aiming more for people who have been doing Paleo for a while, but you’re right…the fat adaptation part can be tricky in the beginning.

        I think you mean cravings 😉

    8. I get up at 5:00 am, punch in at work 6:45 am…. not hungry until 9 or 10am …. I have been making breakfast, but am only eating half of it, and almost gagging. I am trying to train my body to be hungry when I first get up, like the book says, but this has been difficult. Any suggestions? Tried postponing coffee, and it hasn’t helped.

        1. I wake up every couple of hours to see what time it is, change position, but usually fall back to sleep. Sleep 7-9 hours… love mornings, so I get up easily.

          1. The reason I ask is that sometimes high cortisol levels will mess with hunger.

            I think I would keep trying and try to include foods that are highly palatable / easy to get down that early.

    9. OMGhee !! That is for me, I cannot wait to try this, I am new to the Paleo lifestyle, but I have been enjoying it so far.

    10. Well, that explains a lot, the sugar thing in the comments too. I have been eating paleo strictly for 8 days now and I’ve lost 2,8 kgs. It’s insane! Really loving this diet. 🙂

    11. Thank you for gathering this great info. I have found for me a that a diet high in fat, including cold pressed oils and animal fat, has done the trick. My weight stabilized (I needed to gain a little) and hunger doesn’t dip dive with my blood sugar (always was bordering hypoglycemia). I also can speak to the addictive quality of grains, especially the hybridized grains, and other foods, especially sugar, that don’t get consumed on a primal diet…it’s a consumptive force all it’s own. There is a withdrawal that the body goes through, for me it took a couple years to work it out. The body wanted those foods and the cravings read as hunger. As we eat the foods that truly burn cleanest, which is what Paleo is really all about, we will see the emotional and physical effects of the dirty burners fade as time goes by and the diet becomes more pure and nourishing!

    12. Steph,
      I could really use some help here. I’ve been mostly paleo (I have the usual ups and downs, but I’m 80/20) for about a year, but lately I’ve been having some difficulties.
      I’ll eat a meal (generally following the Whole30 plate guidelines), and physically, I can tell my stomach is full. But I still feel HUNGRY. Not craving hungry, I’m sure, because I still feel like I could chow down on fish and veggies. My carb intake has been lower for about a month or so, so is it possible I still haven’t adapted?
      I aso suspect I have leaky gut issues as I am a pretty moderate-severe adult acne sufferer.
      Any thoughts or suggestions?

      Thanks.

      1. It’s really hard for me to hazard any real guesses with that info. Usually that sort of feedback means fat is too low but I have no idea. Perhaps try upping that component and see if you’re satiated for longer. It is also possible you haven’t made the leap to being fat-adapted yet. Some folks take longer than others.

        1. I feel like I’m eating lots of fats. As reference, my lunch today was 1/4-1/3lb ground pork sausage and carrot parsnip hash (probably 2-3 medium carrots and parsnips) with a slice of bacon and all the grease from the meat and fat, plus a handful’s worth of Greek olives and another couple handfuls of raw green beans.
          I’m a 5’6″ 140lb female and I run a couple miles 2-3x a week if that helps.
          Should I try upping my fats more or just stick it out? I’m wondering about variety of oils as I’m trying to minimize my nuts and seeds (I’m worried about how the high omega 6 could be contributing to my skin issues).

            1. Most times. Sometimes even with a higher carb meal. I’ll be getting full, and then moments later that hunger (but full stomach) feeling kicks in again. I’ve tried drinking lots of water, but it doesn’t banish it. Usually after breakfast I feel fine, but get hungry again after 2 hours. I think the most common feeling of hunger is after lunch, oddly enough. Even if it’s the same thing I’ve eaten for other meals.

            2. I really have no idea, Kate. If it’s a persistent problem, I suggest contacting a medical professional.

      2. Offen times thirst feels like hunger. Try drinking a glass of water or a mug of broth when you have that hungry-full feeling. Generally that works to tell me if I’m really still hungry or not.

      3. This has been exactly what I’ve felt like for the past two or three years eating pretty strictly paleo. Honestly, I’ve found that my carb intake was way way too low for me (taking into account my Crossfit workouts 5x a week, plus just my unique needs). When I eat around 200g of good-quality carbs a day (so not so much from fruit as from starches like potatoes and plantains and now I have even added back in legumes and oats), I feel much more satisfied throughout the day and am much less likely to feel like eating five steaks and an entire vegetable garden for one meal. I think that a keto diet might work for some people, but after eating very low-carb for almost a year and completely losing my period, I realized that I personally do much better when eating lots of carbs.

        1. Hi Hannah…glad you mentioned this. Lots of women can’t tolerate very low carb hormonally and amenorrhea is unfortunately too common. CrossFitters usually need more carbs than the average person. God you’re feeling better!

      4. Hello if you are still around and found out what was causing that or how you treated that could you let me know. My symptoms are EXACTLY THE SAME!

    13. Thanks for the post! My uncle has lost over 100 lbs by going Paleo so I’m going to be giving it a try. It’s good to know what kinds of challenges or hurdles I’m going to face and having a ‘bag of tricks’ to each challenge so I can be successful!

    14. When I first started paleo, I was constantly ravenous! After eating a big meal, I would feel like I could eat it all over again! I was getting enough nutrient dense foods, but I had a severe case of “leaky gut” and wasn’t absorbing the nutrients my body needed. Since then, I’ve come a long way and experienced some amazing healing. I feel full and satisfied after a meal, but I still have some days when I can’t get enough. It’s a good sign that something else is going on, like I’m not getting enough sleep or I need to attend to my stress levels more carefully. Thanks for the post!

    15. For me its because i cant eat socially. When everyone else is loading up on pizza and cookies I have to wait till i get home to eat a bite of something that wontt kill me lol

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