Why Do We Feel Hungry? Science Of Hunger Explained | Kidadl


Why Do We Feel Hungry? Science Of Hunger Explained

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

A common feeling among animals, humans, and all living things in this world is hunger, and you should never ignore hunger as it may lead to serious complications.

Whenever we feel that rumbling in our stomachs, we go and grab something to eat. What is the reason for your body to get these feelings of hunger?

This feeling of hunger can be scientifically explained due to a chemical reaction that is happening in your body. Simply explained, hunger is a sensation that you feel and makes you want to eat food. This message makes your stomach growl and gives you hunger pangs. We all know that food is the main source of calories for humans. The same is with other living things like animals and birds. The light energy from the sun makes plants, which is a source of food for humans. It’s all energy passing along the food chain. The main source of human energy is the molecule called glucose. Your meal is the most important source of protein, fat, and calories for your body. Hunger can increase your impulsiveness and reduce your ability to think and make decisions.

You may also want to know why do judges wear wigs and why do we fall?

Why do we feel hungry at specific times?

Is it normal to feel hunger pangs all around the day? Well, we all feel hungry at specific times. It is often connected to the reason when the food we eat starts to break down into simple complexes for digestion. Biologically explaining, when our stomach contracts and our blood sugar (glucose) level is low, or when our body temperature drops, we feel hungry. This could also be a reason why we eat more during winter times. So next time you feel hungry, know that it is the cue that your body is giving you saying it needs more food and nutrients. Hunger felt at specific times like during breakfast time and lunchtime is because of the hormones driven by your body's clock.

The feeling of hunger is related to many things in our bodies. A part of our brain is called the ‘hypothalamus,’ your blood sugar (glucose) levels, how empty your stomach and intestines are, and some hormone levels in your body. Your body has receptors all around connecting your body. And the receptors inside your stomach and intestinal tract look for particular nutrients. If your body has plenty of nutrients available to absorb, the electrical signals are sent to the hypothalamus telling your brain that you have plenty of food. As in the case of no food in the stomach or intestines to absorb, different hormones are released and sent to the hypothalamus with the message of lack of food. The hormones released in your blood are the main reason for a set of neurons in the hypothalamus part of your brain to produce proteins like NPY and AGRP, which are responsible for making you hungry. Also, the proteins like CART and alpha-MSH are produced to make your stomach feel full.

How do you feel when you are hungry?

Different people feel different emotions when they are hungry. Some may feel a high urge to eat anything they see, some may be as angry as a hungry gorilla. Hungry people can feel lightheaded or grouchy. For some, hunger makes them sad and others excited. These are all possible emotions and reactions when people feel their stomachs growl or get hunger pangs.

You may feel your energy dipping little by little if you remain hungry and do not eat anything. You might wonder if it is healthy to go hungry. For some, it sometimes is. Fasting, or not eating for a period of time, can help regulate and clean your body. Even though it may be seen as unhealthy or only for religious purposes, short-term fasting can actually be an excellent health benefitting procedure. Researchers say that fasting is being accepted as a legitimate means of managing weight and preventing diseases.

Ignoring your hunger can also cause unfortunate consequences. Our bodies can get off the balance of the natural rhythms if we keep on ignoring our hunger or allow our stomachs to be empty. When people skip their meals, it can cause their metabolisms to slow down, which could result in weight gain even if you do it hoping for weight loss.

Ghrelin levels are hormones regulated by your food intake. The ghrelin levels in your blood rise making you feel hungry. The timing of when the feeling of hunger arises is very much affected by our regular meal routine. Hence, ghrelin is known to play a major role in bringing out the hunger pangs which serves as a sign that it is time to have your meals. Ghrelin is produced mainly by the stomach. Sometimes it is released by the small intestine, pancreas, and brain as well. The numerous functions of ghrelin include stimulating appetite and hunger, increasing food intake, and fat storage promotion.

What are the physical signs of hunger?

Young girl eating fresh green vegetales

Sometimes the smell or sight or taste and texture of food can be hunger triggering. Food colors can also be a factor in making you hungry.  Whenever we see pink strawberries, red apples, or colorful cake, we get water in our mouths. Also when we smell biryani being prepared at our homes, the smell itself could make us suddenly hungry.

Our body gives out physical as well as mental signs indicating the need for a wholesome diet to produce and release energy to make our body and its cells function properly. Also, they release signals telling if your stomach is full. We sometimes do not pay the right attention to these body signals and act accordingly. You should never ignore your hunger. It is always good to follow a healthy meal cycle at the right time with regular intervals. Some people may go hungry to bed for sleep and weight loss. But it is important to know that lack of food in your body can actually increase a high risk of obesity, asthma, and other health problems. Therefore children are not supposed to have restricted diets and eat less than they should, as it might result in health problems in their future.

Another question that we all want to get answered is, how do our bodies know we are full? Well, fullness is a feeling of satisfaction. A feeling after you have eaten that your stomach tells your brain that it is full and happy. Normally after you have got this feeling, you will stop eating more food. This feeling is controlled by the part of the hypothalamus in your brain.

Why do we feel hungry after physical activity?

People feel hungry after exercise. You may feel hungry just by doing any physical activity.

You might want to eat more food. Energy is an important source for our body to work, move, or even survive. These physical activities and exercises burn calories, making you short of energy.

These physical activities use up your glycogen which is stored and stimulates your appetite. Increased appetite causes overeating, which is not good for your health.

Running low on energy creates a need to eat. Hours and hours of calorie-burning exercises can make you really hungry and thirsty. Medical advice tells that, drinking enough water before and after your workout is important. Drinking enough water may help you to keep your body hydrated. The more intense your workout is, the less ghrelin your body produces. The length of your workout can affect your hunger levels.

After intense physical activities such as walking, running, and exercising, we breathe faster as we need more energy. This high breathing supplies more oxygen to our cells and body’s speeding up the process of food breakdown and thus releasing energy. As this process includes burning down the food, it creates an emptiness in our stomach and that makes us feel hungry after physical activities.

Your body's systems are quite complex. The signals are given by the brain due to hunger hormones called ghrelin in your blood and an empty stomach, telling you that you are feeling hungry. Sometimes the signals sent by nerves in the stomach saying you are full take up to 20 minutes to communicate. By that time, you may have eaten more because you felt hungry even after a full meal course.

Your body’s appetite is a desire for food. Usually seeing, smelling, or even thinking about food may create this feeling of appetite. Everyone needs to have a healthy appetite in life. Sometimes even after you get the feeling of a full stomach too, your appetite can cause you to eat more and more. An appetite can also make you not able to eat anything even if you are hungry. Eating disorders such as difficulty to digest fats or protein are related to these appetite problems. This might be a cause of sickness or feeling stressed. If you seek medical advice pertaining to your personal condition, it is a good idea to get in touch with your doctor.

Eating enough protein is important for controlling your appetite. Protein has hunger-reducing properties that help you automatically consume only needed food. It works by increasing the hormones of fullness and reducing ghrelin hunger hormones. Not eating enough protein can make you feel hungry at frequent times, even if you have consumed the required amount of food for the day. Sleep deprivation can cause fluctuations in your ghrelin hunger hormone levels, making you feel more hungry. Eating too many refined carbs lacking fiber-rich nutrients may cause blood sugar fluctuations. These could make you want to eat more even if you are full.

Fat plays an important role in satisfying your fullness. If your diet is low in fat, the speed of the digestive system to digest the meal becomes slower and your fullness hormone levels may get lower. So, you must ensure adequate quantities of fats in your diet as having a healthy diet will certainly help you sleep better.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we feel hungry, then why not take a look at why do we need elections, or why do men grow beards?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?