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Always hungry? A critical look at causes and solutions

We've all experienced it. You have just eaten, but shortly afterwards you find yourself on the hunt for a snack again. You are hungry again. Or you just need to eat something. When this problem is chronic and you experience a constant feeling of hunger, it can be quite annoying.

Constant hunger can be frustrating and confusing. Especially when it feels like you're eating enough. In this blog post, you'll read more about why we feel hungry, possible reasons for constant hunger, the role of the GLP-1 hormone and how a stressed liver can make weight loss difficult.

What causes constant hunger and cravings?

A constant feeling of hunger or cravings can be influenced by several factors. Biological, psychological and social factors can all contribute to this.

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Hormonal disturbances

Important hormones such as ghrelin, which triggers hunger, and leptin, which makes us feel full, play a crucial role in our appetite. When these hormones are out of balance, it can lead to increased hunger and overeating.

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Emotional triggers

Emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression often cause people to seek comfort in food. Foods high in sugar and fat can provide temporary relief. This leads to a repetitive pattern of emotional eating.

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Nutrient deficiencies

Excessive cravings for food can sometimes be the body's way of signalling a deficiency in specific nutrients. Cravings for chocolate, for example, may indicate that your body needs more magnesium. A craving for meat, in turn, may indicate iron deficiency.

Make sure you don't have any nutritional deficiencies, so at least they can't be the cause of your excessive hunger pangs.

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Foods with refined carbohydrates and sugars

Foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can cause rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. This can make you feel hungry shortly after eating.

Foods such as white bread, cakes and sugary drinks, cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This spike is followed by a rapid drop as insulin is released to control the sugar fluctuation. The rapid drop in blood sugar can trigger a feeling of hunger in your brain, making you hungry again.

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Lack of protein and fibre

Meals low in protein and fibre can make you feel hungry faster. Protein and fibre take longer to digest, which promotes a feeling of fullness.

  • Proteins are essential for satiety. They stimulate the release of hormones such as peptide YY and GLP1, which send a feeling of satiety to the brain. In addition, protein takes longer to break down compared to carbohydrates. This keeps you feeling satiated for longer. Sources of protein-rich foods include lean meat, fish, skyr, eggs and legumes.

  • Dietary fibres found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes add mass to your diet, so to speak, and slow down digestion. This prolongs the feeling of satiety. Fibre also stabilises blood sugar levels, preventing peaks and drops that cause hunger. Soluble fibre, in particular, forms a gel-like substance in the intestines that slows the absorption of nutrients, increasing the feeling of satiety.
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When you're hungry, it can sometimes pay to just drink a big glass of water. In fact, thirst and hunger are often confused. Making sure you're sufficiently hydrated is crucial to sending the right signals to your brain.

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Insufficient sleep

After a night of staying out late and perhaps drinking too much, you often don't sleep well and feel hungrier the next day. Sleeping badly can upset the hunger hormones balance. Ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels decrease, causing you to experience more hunger.

Try to get enough sleep every night. Although everyone's sleep needs are different, aim for at least seven hours.

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Chronic stress

Chronic stress increases levels of cortisol, the dreaded stress hormone. Cortisol is useful in dangerous situations, activating our fight or flight response. The problem is that in our stressful society, that fight or flight response is often chronically activated. Consequently, cortisol levels are also chronically too high in many people.

Elevated cortisol levels make us reach for high-calorie comfort food more often. It also tends to make us overeat. Managing stress through activities like meditation, exercise and adequate rest can help control your cortisol levels.

The role of the GLP-1 hormone

We briefly mentioned the satiety hormone GLP1 or GLP-1 above. This hormone is produced in our intestines and largely regulates our sense of hunger.

GLP1 makes us feel fuller. It makes our food move slower from our stomach to the intestines, which also makes us feel satiated for longer. Moreover, it also regulates the release of insulin.

How exactly does GLP1 work?

As soon as we eat something, the hormone GLP1 is released. This sends satiety signals to the brain.

The satiety hormone is also responsible for the release of insulin. In this way, GLP1 indirectly helps regulate our blood sugar levels. Frequent peaks and drops in blood sugar can cause more hunger. Thanks to GLP1, blood sugar levels are better stabilised.

Finally, GLP1 contributes to a healthy weight. Certain GLP-1 agonists used as diabetes medication are used to control weight. Because GLP1 makes you feel less hungry, you will in fact eat less. Read all about GLP1 in our blog "Discover the power of GLP1". You will also read about the crucial difference between the unhealthy hormonal process of some diabetes medications and the healthy mechanical process.

The problem of the overburdened liver

Fatty liver, often called the disease of the century, is becoming increasingly common. It can have a major impact on hunger and weight management.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver is characterised by the accumulation of excess fat in liver cells. Excess sugars, drugs and pollutants can accumulate in your liver and lead to fatty liver.

Insulin resistance

That burdened liver can in turn lead to insulin resistance. In this, your body cells no longer respond properly to insulin. This makes it difficult to control blood sugar levels. Consequently, you get more hungry and store more fat. This is because the body struggles to balance its energy needs.

Metabolic problems

The liver is key to the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. When this organ is burdened with excess fat, its ability to process these nutrients effectively is hampered. This can result in higher fat levels in the blood, encouraging more fat storage and thus weight gain.

Hormonal disturbances

The liver regulates several hormones related to hunger and metabolism. Fatty liver can disrupt this hormonal balance, increasing hunger pangs and food noise.

"Food noise" is a term that refers to the constant and intrusive thoughts, cravings and preoccupations with food. It often manifests as a persistent internal voice talking about what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. This distracts attention from other activities and can lead to unhealthy eating behaviour."

Hormones such as insulin and leptin often become less effective in people with fatty liver, which can contribute to a constant feeling of hunger. Improving liver health through lifestyle changes and a healthy liver supplement can improve metabolic function, better regulate hunger cues and support weight management.

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Healthy habits such as sufficient protein-rich food, a high-fibre diet, stress management and sufficient sleep combined with our pack can undoubtedly silence your chronic hunger pangs!