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Why Don’t You Feel Hungry When You Are On A Keto Diet?

Why Don’t You Feel Hungry When You Are On A Keto Diet?

A loss of appetite is not taken to be a healthy sign. Moreover, for those who want to lose weight, hunger is one of the most significant challenges to overcome. When you count up your calories and find you're eating almost nothing – not because you're trying to starve yourself, but because you aren't hungry for it at all. Though, a reduction in hunger pangs often happens when we're sick, stressed out, or otherwise traumatized. In general, diets tend to make people feel hungrier, creating a never-ending battle between an individual's cravings and dietary restrictions. However, people tend to experience hunger and appetite in a surprisingly different aspect when it comes to the ketogenic diet!

Keto Diet: What is it?

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It is a protein-based diet that powers the body to consume fats instead of starches to produce vitality. Ketosis is the driving mechanism of the ketogenic diet, and the concepts behind it are pretty simple. When your body is devoid of sufficient carbs to burn for energy, it starts burning fat, which results in ketone formation and is used to draw power for all the activities; this process is known as KetosisMany people follow low-carb diets because if the body does not receive more carbohydrates, it will not store excess fat. The idea, then, is that the body will burn some of the stored fat rather than the carbs, which will promote fat loss.

Metabolic Pathways:

The body, in general, follows two metabolic pathways, namely, glycolysis and Ketosis. In the absence of sufficient carbohydrates, the body resorts to Ketosis in which it starts burning the fats stored in the body to gain energy.

Glycolysis:
  • The body breaks down carbs into glucose, which can then enter your bloodstream. If glucose in your bloodstream and energy is relatively high, then your body will convert glucose into glycogen. 
  • Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver for later use.
  • When carbs are scarce, and glucose levels in the blood are low, your body will start converting glycogen back to glucose for energy. 
Ketosis:
  • However, what happens if your body's glycogen stores start dropping down? Once you've depleted your glycogen stores, your body has to turn to ketone bodies for energy. 
  • Our bodies are always producing small amounts of ketones. However, in a state of ketosis, your body will boost the production of ketones from fat. This fat either comes from your food or already stored body fat. 
  • Contrary to glucose, ketones that aren't used as a fuel source are not stored and are waste products. The kidneys filter them out of the blood, which is then excreted out from the body.
keto diet

What role does protein play in a keto diet?

Protein encompasses numerous excellent benefits for the body. It regulates the optimum functioning of body organs and tissues and helps in keeping up a healthy weight. Numerous scientific researches have proposed that getting enough protein can help control weight more straightforwardly. What's more? Protein has satiating properties. It diminishes hunger and forestalls overeating by releasing hormones that advance sentiments of totality and fulfilment. 

Appetite-suppressing properties of a Keto Diet

One of the best-known side effects of ketosis is the loss of appetite. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this – it's one of the reasons why ketogenic diets can be so great for weight loss. If you want to lose weight or don't mind the appetite loss, then sit back and enjoy the hunger-free ride! We don't know with absolute certainty all areas of the body that ketosis impacts to affect hunger. But there are a few presumed ways that ketosis either increases or decreases appetite. But before we jump to discover those reasons, let's clear our view on some standard terms.

Can Hunger and Appetite be used interchangeably?
  • Hunger is the urgent need for food due to lack of eating. It's a fantastic feeling of discomfort and is determined by the actual emptiness of the stomach. 
  • On the other hand, appetite is a desire to eat, usually after seeing, smelling, or thinking about food. Humans are capable of experiencing craving regardless of how long it's been since they've eaten.
  • The feeling of hunger results from a series of chain chemical reactions, which tells us it's time to eat.
  • For many people, appetite is associated with cravings and has little to do with our actual dietary needs. It's also the mechanism that tells our body to stop eating, even when we still need to take in nutrition, often when people are ill or feel stressed. Now, let's have a look at the possible ways a keto diet decreases your appetite.
  • When you are in ketosis, there is plenty of stored fat your body can access to fuel you. Hunger is only happening if your body cannot access the fat you stored as fuel or if you don't have enough fat. 
  • Hunger pangs are also felt at the beginning of ketosis when your body is still inefficient inadequately using your ketones.
  • Along with hormones like leptin and ghrelin, cholecystokinin also impacts our satiety. Levels of cholecystokinin increase when partially digested fatty acids and protein enter your small intestine. 
  • When this happens, it facilitates the release of digestive enzymes and bile. Elevated levels of cholecystokinin may impact satiety. A diet higher in fat will deliver more fatty acids to the small intestine, releasing more cholecystokinin. 
  • Management of GABA levels on a keto diet varies, which may either surge up or fall. Well, GABA typically increases hunger in the body. 
  • Also, increased production and release of hormone adiponectin that is involved in regulating glucose levels. Increased levels of this hormone would lead to a greater feeling of hunger. Hence, on ketosis, the level of this hormone drops significantly, thus suppressing appetite.
  • Also, glucose conversion is an energy-expensive process, so you use more energy in glucose conversion and burning than in fat conversion, which doesn’t create super oxides, and burning. Hence, those in ketosis eat less: as they use less energy in our food-to-energy conversion process.
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Still, feeling hungry on ketosis? Try the following tips:

Even if you are in ketosis, you can still experience cravings and hunger. And when that happens, here are a few tips that can further help reduce them.

  • We know that carbs cause a significant increase in food consumption. Therefore, try further reducing your intake of carbohydrates.
  • Not only is fat extremely satiating, but it also promotes ketosis. Hence, eat more healthy fats!
  • Eating one or two big meals a day is going to reduce any insulin response between those eating periods. It is also essential to not be nibbling on foodstuff all day long.
  • Coffee and Intermittent Fasting are great tools to push you further into ketosis as well as boost dopamine.
  • Your gut microbiome needs the fibre from veggies. You need the vitamins that vegetables provide. Bacon all day long isn’t going to cut it. So, boost your consumption of fresh, green, leafy vegetables.
  • We lose enough water on keto as it is. Make sure you are hydrating throughout the day. It will help to reduce hunger – especially during intermittent fasting.
  • There are multiple studies on sleep and hunger. Not sleeping means craving more calorie-dense foods. Nourish your body by letting it take a peaceful sleep!
Important note:

keto can reduce appetite but not hunger, you may experience symptoms associated with starvation, yet still not feel the urge to eat, which is known as the keto flu. 

Side effects of this can include:
  • Light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Headaches and cramping 
  • Decreased energy levels and irritability 

To fight this focus on high-quality fats, increase electrolytes, and protein intake, drink plenty of water, rest and ensure you're eating enough calories.

keto diet

Is it always normal to not be having a lot of appetite on a keto diet?

You may find your appetite will come and go as you progress through the beginning of your keto journey.

  • Initially, you may experience a dramatic increase in appetite. Your body is using up the last of its glucose and glycogen and is running on empty. The body sends hunger signals to the brain, asking to eat more food.
  • After the first few days of keto, your hunger levels may reverse, leaving you feeling less hungry than ever before. Some people struggle to hit their target calories for the day, feeling full after just a few bites. 
  • Eventually, the body gets used to a low carb high-fat diet your energy and hunger levels should balance out. Most people still feel less hungry than they do while on a full-carb diet, but don't have difficulty eating or hitting their target macros for the day. However, if you're still experiencing drastic side effects of appetite suppression after several weeks, it may be time to consult a physician or nutrition professional.

Bottom Line:

The keto diet can throw hunger and appetite levels for a loop, which can be a frightening experience for many. The critical thing to remember is that every keto journey starts with an imbalance, and then slowly, our bodies adjust to a new normal.

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