Why Am I Hungry All The Time?

I just finished exercising and I’ve worked up a huge appetite! I’m so hungry I could eat a horse! I burned so many calories, I’ve earned a good meal. I’ve been working out for months but instead of losing weight, I seem to be gaining! What?!?!!? I’m working so hard and exercising consistently but no matter what I do I can’t seem to lose weight. I’m sooo frustrated!

How many times have you said or heard something like this?

Displeased young woman sitting at the empty plate. Shallow depth of field, focus on foreground

It stands to reason. If I’m exercising, I’m burning calories. If I’m burning calories, I should be losing (or at least maintaining) weight. If I’m burning calories, I expect I’ll need to eat to replenish what I’ve burned. It’s all logical. So why does none of it seem to be true?

Thirst. The brain can’t differentiate between hunger and thirst. You may think you’re hungry, but in reality you are probably mildly dehydrated. Studies have shown that approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated! Are you one of them?

Our brain lives by the rule of 3. We can survive without food for approximately 3 weeks; without water just 3 days. When our brain perceives inadequate hydration it goes into a little panic attack – 

“Help help help! If I don’t get hydrated quickly I’ll die!!!! Ok, ok, if I don’t have water how else can I do this? Eat eat eat! I can get hydrated from food. Start shouting… Starving! Famished! Ravenous! Get that food – quickly!!!” 

I know it sounds a bit extreme, but when it comes to our instincts it’s not about logic, it’s about survival. 

But I drink plenty of water. Why am I still thirsty and/or starving all the time?

The simple answer is electrolytes. Hydration is a balance of water and electrolytes. Too much or too little of either and you become mildly dehydrated. 

At this point you’ve probably heard of electrolytes, but do you know what they are and why they are important? Don’t worry, most people don’t. Electrolytes are the key minerals that allow our cells to absorb water – think of them as the sponges that soak the water in. When our electrolytes are low, no matter how much water we drink we remain dehydrated. 

What types of minerals are electrolytes? Sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium in specific forms and in specific ratios. Do you regularly crave salty foods? Chips, pretzels, popcorn? Can’t get enough salt on your food? Yup, your body is talking to you! It’s letting you know that your electrolytes are low and you are getting dehydrated.

We lose electrolytes in 2 ways – urination and perspiration. That’s why (sometimes) if you’re drinking a lot of water, no matter how much you drink you are still thirsty and have “cotton mouth”. That’s why when you finish a workout, you think you’re starving and need to eat.

What are some other signs you may be experiencing mild dehydration? 

  • Leg cramps, usually starting in the calf
  • Headaches
  • Empty, pulsating nausea (even vomiting if it’s very extreme)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark urine / infrequent urination

I never experienced these symptoms in the past, but am experiencing some of these more recently. I never needed electrolytes before. Why now?

13+ years ago, when I started working with AccuWeight, the only time I discussed electrolytes was with athletes and those doing high intense exercise (e.g., training for marathon). Thousands of people were following the plan and successfully losing weight with just water and other fluids. For the past 5-6 years, I now find myself discussing electrolytes and proper hydration with just about every client that passes through our doors. 

What’s changed? The best we can surmise is the erratic weather. Our bodies like consistent patterns and the constant change in environment seems to be challenging our bodies to keep hydrated. 

The consumer marketplace appears to agree with our conclusion. Other than Gatorade, it used to be difficult to find electrolyte drinks. Now, the shelves are lined with electrolyte and hydration drinks – the big box stores have all come out with their own brands, as have all the major beverage companies. Clearly there is a new need in the broader consumer marketplace for electrolytes. But buyer beware – many of these electrolyte drinks say “electrolytes added for taste” in small print. Keep an eye out for these labels – these waters will taste crisp and clean (great for helping you drink more water) but will not contribute to proper hydration.

There are more and more great hydration products showing up in the marketplace. Best bets? Look for sugar-free, natural options. Some of our favorites (there are many many more than we are listing)…

For day-to-day hydration without exercise:

For day-to-day higher level and/or with exercise:

So next time you’re thinking, “I’m starving!” head to the fridge and pour yourself a tall glass of water. Better yet, add some electrolytes.

Link to Quick Tip for drinking more water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ0DYjDn0Q8

Link to Quick Tip for hydration with exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIJ1F944wAo


Barbara Schwartz is the CEO and a Weight Loss Consultant at Accu Weight-Loss “The Bead Diet”. A graduate of the 3 Phase Accu Weight-Loss Program, she has been successfully maintaining her weight loss for 15+ years. 

Want to know more about the AccuWeight Program? The AccuWeight Podcast “How and why it works” is available 24/7 at www.accuweight.com/orientation

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By Barbara Schwartz

CEO, Accu Weight-Loss “