Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on November 18, 2023. 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.
Table of contents
Whether you’re consistently eating more at mealtimes or sneaking candy bars to beat your sugar cravings, constant hunger can impact your mood, physical health, and overall well-being.  If you’ve been wondering recently, “Why has my appetite increased?" the truth is there are many reasons why you may be feeling a sudden surge.
From hormonal imbalances to poor sleeping habits, many intrinsic and extrinsic influences can impact your hunger levels. Sometimes, simple behavioral changes can help soothe your appetite change; in other cases, you may need more intensive therapies to treat it.
Understanding the potential causes of increased hunger can help you stay informed before discussing it with your healthcare provider. Below, we’ll cover 8 reasons why you may be experiencing an increase in appetite so that you can get a clearer picture of your state of health.
If your diet lacks fiber—also called bulk—it’s likely to cause persistent feelings of excessive hunger.  Fiber is a food constituent that your body can’t absorb or store, so it keeps your stomach fuller for longer.
It’s recommended you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day, though, in the US, it’s common to miss that benchmark (Americans tend to eat large amounts of refined carbohydrates, which we’ll explore later). 
To add more fiber to your diet, you can eat :
A diet high in refined carbohydrates can contribute to rapid surges and crashes in your blood glucose (blood sugar), leading to an increased appetite.
To understand why, it’s important to know there are two types of carbohydrates :
Simple carbohydrates, or short-chain carbohydrates. These are digested more quickly because they contain fewer molecules to break down during digestion.
Complex carbohydrates take longer for your digestive system to deconstruct and introduce glucose to your bloodstream more steadily. For this reason, they can help you feel satiated and fuller for longer.
Aiming to eat mostly complex carbohydrates can help increase satiety and possibly manage or balance appetite fluctuations. You can switch simple carbohydrates for complex ones with some easy food intake swaps. For instance, try eating whole-wheat bread and pasta instead of those made with white flour. Or, enjoy fruit as a snack instead of sugary fruit juice. 
Protein is one of three essential macronutrients that are critical for human health (the others are carbohydrates and fats). 
When you don’t get sufficient protein, your body often communicates that it needs more by heightening your hunger levels. In general, adults need at least .36 grams of protein per pound of body mass.  So, if you weigh 150 lbs., aim to get at least 54 grams of protein each day.
Insufficient rest may stimulate an increase in appetite in some people.  When you don’t get enough high-quality sleep, it can interfere with two hormones that play integral roles in regulating appetite :
Over time, a lack of sleep can cause ghrelin to spike while leptin depresses.  To prevent interference with your appetite, the CDC recommends getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. 
When your body lacks moisture, it’s not uncommon to mistake your thirst for hunger. If you’re struggling to manage your appetite, you might try drinking a full, 8-ounce glass of water and waiting 15 minutes before heading to the pantry for a snack.
Alternatively, you might try making a conscious effort to eat more water-rich foods daily. Your body can achieve optimal hydration levels from water-dense fruits and vegetables and beverages like water or herbal teas.
Finally, consuming a lot of caffeine or lifestyle habits like smoking or vaping can contribute to dehydration. If you habitually use any of these substances, aim to counteract their dehydrating effects by increasing your hydration levels through your drink and food intake. 
It’s been shown that stress affects digestion. When we’re under stress, it’s normal to reach for an accessible source of pleasure like food. On a hormonal level, cortisol—the main stress hormone—has been shown to trigger cravings for high-sugar, high-salt, or other caloric foods in some people, as well as feelings of false hunger. 
If you’ve been asking yourself, “Why has my appetite increased,” consider also asking whether your activity levels have changed. If you’ve started a regular exercise routine or your days have gotten busier recently, your daily energy needs may have increased, leading to more excessive hunger.
Fortunately, appetite change is a completely normal and healthy response to increased activity. To satiate your hunger, reach for complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich veggies, and foods packed with protein.
One reason for a sudden increase in appetite is relatively simple: you aren’t eating enough food. For instance, if you’ve recently started restricting calories for a purpose (like weight loss), it’s normal for your body to respond by asking for more food.
If your healthcare provider has recommended you lose weight, know that it’s normal to need some time to adjust to the calorie deficit created by your new eating habits. However, if your body weight is in a normal range, it’s possible your new eating practices aren’t providing you with sufficient energy.
You can get an estimate of how much energy you need daily by calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or working with a healthcare provider to come up with a suitable diet. 
For the most part, appetite fluctuations are an entirely normal part of being a human. But if your increase in appetite has suddenly set it, or if it’s difficult to manage your cravings, eating habits, or a healthy weight, you might benefit from learning about some conditions linked to this symptom.
Several health conditions are associated with a heightened appetite or constant hunger, including:
Hyperthyroidism – Hyperthyroidism is a condition wherein the thyroid produces TSH, the main thyroid hormone, in excess. Most people who have hyperthyroidism also have the autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease.  When you have an overactive thyroid, your metabolic rate tends to heighten. This can cause you to burn through energy more quickly, leading to increased appetite or insatiable feelings of hunger. 
Diabetes – Many people with diabetes experience hyperphagia—an extreme sense of hunger that’s difficult to satiate. It’s also possible to experience polydipsia, or extreme, unquenchable thirst.  In people with diabetes, these conditions are associated with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
If you’re concerned about your appetite increase, you might consider getting tested for a hormonal condition like hyperthyroidism to ensure dysregulated hormones aren’t to blame. If lifestyle changes don’t help, it’s best to reach out to a healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of an underlying health condition.
It may be worth implementing behavioral changes to see if modifying your eating habits helps you feel satiated. You can try regulating your appetite by:
Eating regular meals– Eating at regular intervals may assist in keeping your blood glucose levels in check, which could prevent you from feeling excessively hungry. Sticking to regular meal times may also help prevent overeating or reaching for high-sugar or high-salt foods when it’s time to have a meal.
Limiting or eliminating processed foods – Certain foods tend to fill you up with calories without meeting your nutritional needs. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that American adults eat up to 30 teaspoons of extra added sugar each day.  In rarer cases, it’s even possible to become chemically dependent on sugar.
To help curb cravings, try limiting your sugar intake or eliminating processed foods entirely. Focusing on eating whole, home-cooked meals rather than pre-packaged snacks or restaurant meals may help regulate cravings and bring your appetite back into balance.
Sometimes, behavioral interventions don’t help regulate your appetite. In these cases, it’s possible your elevated hunger is the result of a hormonal imbalance, such as:
If your appetite doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes, reach out to a healthcare provider for evaluation. They can assess what might be triggering your hunger spells and provide interventions to ensure you get the treatment you need.
If you’re not quite ready to visit your healthcare provider, an at-home thyroid test could serve to clarify what might be behind your elevated hunger levels.
The at-home Thyroid Test from Everlywell assesses levels of TSH, Free T3, and Free T4 to gauge whether thyroid dysfunction is causing your increased appetite. If results detect abnormalities, Everlywell will even connect you to a telehealth professional who can counsel you on the next steps to help get your appetite back on track.
Learn more about thyroid testing and other wellness at-home tests by browsing our complete collection today.