Feeling hungry? You should eat. But what if the foods you’re eating actually make you hungrier than you were before you dug in? It’s a more common conundrum than you might think. Here are 5 foods that can make you feel like you’re running on empty—even when your stomach is stuffed.
5. White bread
In a recent Spanish study, researchers tracked the eating habits and weights of more than 9,000 people and found that those who ate two or more servings of white bread a day were 40 percent more likely to become overweight or obese over a five-year period compared to those who ate less of it.
4. Salty snacks
There’s a reason why you crave something sweet after polishing off a bag of potato chips. Chips, pretzels, and salty snack mixes are little more than quick-digesting simple carbs, which can spur insulin highs and subsequent lows, Dulan said. And since your taste buds and brain link fast-acting energy with sweet foods, it’s common to have a craving for something sweet once you finish your salty nosh. What’s more, thanks to a phenomenon known as sensory specific satiety, you can fill up on chips and feel like only your salty stomach is full. Your sweet one can still feel empty, Dulan said. So get ready to eat two stomachs’ worth of food.
Alcohol doesn’t just lower your healthy-eating resolve, it downright makes you hungrier: According to research published in Alcohol & Alcoholism, just three servings can slash your body’s levels of leptin—a hormone designed to squash hunger and keep you feeling full—by 30 percent.
2. Artificial sweeteners
Whether they are in your diet soda or sprinkled in your coffee, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others) excite your brain cells, making them think they are about to get a sweet serving of energy (aka calories), and then let them down—hard, Decotiis said.The upshot: You may crave—and eat—more sweets throughout the day, trying to make up for the letdown. Over time, this process can actually affect the hunger control centers of the brain, she said. And get this: It has been proposed that artificial sweeteners cause insulin spikes just like real, calorie-packed sugar.
You know you can’t eat just one slice—no matter how big it is. That’s because your favorite pizza joint’s combination of white flour dough, hydrogenated oils, processed cheeses, and preservatives can throw off your blood sugar levels, production of satiety hormones, and hunger-regulating regions of the brain, according to Decotiis. That said, if you make pizza at home with whole-wheat dough and top it with lean meat, lots of veggies, and just a sprinkling of cheese, then you’ll have a fiber- and protein-packed meal that’s less likely to have you reaching for more food in an hour.