Because there’s little worse than incessant hunger. You know, the type that leaves you thinking about nothing other than what you can eat – and when.

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While occasional cravings are completely normal, constant hunger can be an indicator that all is not right with your baseline diet. So here are the most common reasons you may be hungry and the easy ways to take control before you eat an entire block of Cadbury’s or packet of Tim Tam’s.

Too few carbs

While we often cut back on carbs to ditch the kilos, the irony is that if we consume too few carbs, the body will quickly identify that it is not getting enough fuel and send out some pretty strong hunger signals. This is commonly observed late afternoon when your lunch choice has been on a light side – a tuna salad; fish and vegetables or a soup can often leave us with strong sugar cravings a couple of hours later. The solution? Make sure that you include a portion controlled serve of good quality carbs in your first few meals before tapering off late afternoon and evening. Good choices include 1/2 a cup of wholegrain carbs such as brown rice, oats or quinoa; fruit, wholegrain bread or veggie carbs such as corn or sweet potato.

RELATED: Natural sweeteners to add to your coffee – that aren’t sugar

Too few calories

Once you consume fewer than 1000-1200 calories each day, particularly over a long period of time in which you lost weight initially, the body attempts to prevent long term starvation and serious hunger can occur. This scenario is commonly seen in long term dieters who describe constant hunger after losing significant amounts of weight. The best way to manage this scenario is to ensure you always consume a baseline of 1200 calories each day with regular meals and snacks. Another option is to occasionally (1-2 times each week) consume significantly more calories via a large meal or treat. This in turn tells the body there are plenty of calories around in an attempt to buffer the starvation response.

Not enough protein

Protein as a nutrient is digested more slowly than carbohydrate and as such helps control hormone levels in the body, and keep us full. For this reason, ensuring that your meals include 20-30g of protein (and your snacks 5-10g) will help with appetite management through the day. Nutritionally, protein rich foods including dairy, nuts, meat, fish and legumes also offer a range of other key nutrients including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and essential fats.

Not enough fibre

We do not hear a lot about fibre but fibre remains a key part of gut health and also helps to slow digestion and keep us full. For this reason, diets lacking in fibre when fruits, carb rich foods such as breads and cereals and starchy veggies are eliminated are also relatively low in fibre. To get the 30g of fibre an adult requires each day, you need to consume 2 pieces of fruit, 2-3 cups of vegetables as well as a couple of serves of wholegrains via breads, cereals, grains or legumes.

Your hormones are out of control

Extreme fatigue, irregular periods, bad skin, extreme mood swings and unexplained weight gain my all be reasons that you are not getting the weight loss results you have been expecting. Your thyroid, insulin levels, adrenal hormones and even pituitary can all be factors that significantly influence our energy levels and even our ability to burn body fat. So if you have been feeling out of sorts, maybe it is time to book a thorough check up with your GP to make sure that an underlying hormonal issues is not actively working against fat loss.

November 11, 20168:33am

nutrition | body+soul

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