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10 possible reasons why you’re experiencing an increased appetite

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on February 18, 2020. Written by Libby Pellegrini To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Your appetite, or desire for food, drives your nutritional intake—and is important for your body’s well-being. But you may have been wondering recently, “Why has my appetite increased?”

There are many possible reasons why someone might experience an increased appetite. Understanding the potential causes can help inform you as you discuss this with your healthcare provider—so read on to learn 10 reasons why you may have an increased appetite.

Causes of increased appetite

  1. Increased physical activity. If you have increased physical activity, whether this is from a particularly busy day or new exercise routine, your body’s caloric needs will be higher so you may experience an increased appetite.
  2. Illness. When you are sick, your immune system kicks into gear. This activation, and the immune battle that results, requires calories beyond your body’s “basal” (or baseline) need—causing an appetite increase.
  3. Recovery from surgery. When your body is trying to heal and rebuild, your metabolism is in an “anabolic” state, or a state of construction. This requires calories, and your appetite will naturally increase.
  4. Pregnancy. One of the most common reasons for increased appetite is pregnancy and the breastfeeding that follows.
  5. Diabetes. The onset of diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes, can cause a sudden increased appetite, along with increased thirst and unintentional weight loss. Other types of diabetes, such as type 2, can have a subtler onset of symptoms.
  6. Weight loss. Weight loss alone can increase your level of ghrelin, otherwise known as the “hunger hormone,” thereby increasing your appetite.
  7. Decreased food intake. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, whether intentionally or unintentionally, your appetite may increase. Reduced eating creates a calorie deficit, so the body responds by increasing your appetite to prevent weight loss.
  8. Dietary changes. If your diet does not contain enough satiating foods, such as fat and protein, your appetite may increase. If you are eating a lot of carbohydrates, your insulin levels could fluctuate more readily—which can, in turn, increase your appetite.
  9. Stress. Chronic stress can impact your appetite. Some people may use food as a coping mechanism for stressful situations, which conditions the body to associate stress with the positive reward of food and calories.
  10. Decreased sleep. Insufficient rest may stimulate appetite in some people. This may be due to the effects that lack of sleep can have on appetite-regulating hormones.

Learn more about your hormones related to stress—as well as sleep—with the at-home Sleep & Stress Test.


Aside from diabetes, chronic stress, and sleep deprivation (mentioned above), other health conditions can cause an increased appetite, as well. Hormone conditions, thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism, genetic conditions, and even growth-hormone secreting tumors can all cause an increased appetite. Certain supplements and prescription medications (like steroids), can also cause an appetite increase.


To see if your thyroid hormones are balanced, take the Everlywell at-home Thyroid Test—which measures your levels of 3 key thyroid hormones, plus thyroid antibodies.


Seeking medical care for increased appetite

If you are experiencing an increased appetite, your healthcare provider may perform a detailed health history and ask you questions that are related to your symptoms. They may perform a focused physical exam and recommend certain blood tests to check for diabetes and other medical conditions that affect the metabolism.

Common questions

What causes increased appetite?

An increased appetite can be caused by a number of factors, including the ten listed above. Consider checking in with your healthcare provider to better understand the reason for your increased appetite.


References

1. King JA, Wasse LK, Stensel DJ. The acute effects of swimming on appetite, food intake, and plasma acylated ghrelin. J Obes. 2011;2011:351628. doi:10.1155/2011/351628

2. Calder PC. Feeding the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013;72(3):299-309. doi:10.1017/S0029665113001286

3. Demling RH. Nutrition, anabolism, and the wound healing process: an overview. Eplasty. 2009;9:e9.

4. Ladyman SR, Augustine RA, Grattan DR. Hormone interactions regulating energy balance during pregnancy. J Neuroendocrinol. 2010;22(7):805-817. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.02017.x

5. Type 1 diabetes. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 18, 2020.

6. Polidori D, Sanghvi A, Seeley RJ, Hall KD. How Strongly Does Appetite Counter Weight Loss? Quantification of the Feedback Control of Human Energy Intake. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016;24(11):2289-2295. doi:10.1002/oby.21653

7. Bendtsen LQ, Lorenzen JK, Bendsen NT, Rasmussen C, Astrup A. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(4):418-438. doi:10.3945/an.113.003723

8. Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013;38(3):255-267.

9. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 18, 2020.

10. Corticosteroids. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed February 18, 2020.