Those insatiable hunger pangs might not be from eating too little, but could actually be the result of eating too much, according to a new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Over time, we’ve come to believe that overeating is what causes us to get fat. In reality, that may not be the case—getting fat could be what’s causing you to take in excess calories. Doesn’t really make sense, right? To break it down in simpler terms: being overweight deprives your body of the calories needed to fuel your metabolism and boost energy levels because the calories are being stored in fat cells rather than circulating through your bloodstream. This causes your brain to tell your body to eat more. Eating more solves the hunger problem in the short term, but at the same time promotes weight gain. To then remedy that problem you may cut calories from your diet in an effort to drop pounds. This also may work short term, but in time hunger will increase again and your metabolism will slow.
So, is there a solution? Or are we doomed to be hungry around the clock?
A big part of our weight is influenced by biological factors, which affect the storage of calories in fat cells. The factors include things like genetics, levels of physical activity, sleep, and stress. The biggest influencing factor, however, is insulin. Insulin is a hormone and in excess causes weight gain. As you would assume, a deficiency in insulin causes weight loss. How does this tie into your diet? Highly refined carbohydrates produce an incredible amount of insulin in the body, more than any other food. If you take a look at the modern American diet and food supply, the amount of processed carbohydrates—like chips, crackers, white bread, white rice, and anything with added sugar—available and consumed has been increasing significantly, leading to this problem of overeating and greater hunger.
The research regarding this hypothesis in ongoing, but the takeaway here is that it may not be about the number of calories you’re taking in (as long as it’s not extreme), but rather the type of calories you consume. Stick to whole foods, specifically slow-digesting carbs versus highly refined, quick-digesting carbohydrates and you’ll have more control over your hunger and your weight.