Hunger is not as straightforward as eat food get full, skip food get hungry. We all know that different types of foods can have different metabolic effects on the body, and of course your activity levels and lack there of can have huge effects as well. But there are quite a few other things that can mess with your hunger hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Here are some ways you might be making yourself more hungry.

You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

This is not a drill. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body responds by trying to get energy anyway that it can to get you through the day. One of the most efficient ways that we have of getting energy is to eat food, and when your body is in a rush it will seek just that…a sugar rush. Sugar is the fastest energy source in food, and despite the fact that it doesn’t last very long your tired body really isn’t that concerned when its desperate. Cue in carb cravings for donuts and bagels, that will never stop once you start.

Eating too much fructose will actually prevent the body from stabilizing the levels of ghrelin and leptin so it’s almost impossible to know what your body really needs and what it’s pretending that it does.

You’re Not Eating Enough

It’s not entirely surprising, but dip too low on the calorie scale and your body is going to get mad at you. When we don’t eat enough we send out less of the hunger blocking hormone leptin, and we send out more of the hunger inducing ghrelin. This is one reason why so many people gain all the weight back when they get off a super restrictive diet, it messes with your hormones. One reason why it’s always better to stick with balanced diets than crazy fad ones.

You Don’t Eat Frequently Enough

Don’t be one of those people who waits until dinner to eat and then load up on the day’s worth of calories. Our bodies are meant to be fed regularly to keep our energy levels up, and this therefore keeps our metabolism working all the time which leads to better weight control. Some studies have said that ghrelin runs on a four hour schedule, which is why it is suggested to have a snack or a meal every few hours.

You’re Eating the Wrong Breakfast

Eating breakfast at all is one important step, but eating the right breakfast is crucial. The best way to reduce the ghrelin concentrations in the body at breakfast time is to start with protein, not just carbohydrates and fat. Carbs are great for a morning energy boost, but they burn off faster that protein does, which means that your body will be hungry again soon. If you’re into oatmeal or cereal breakfast, pair it with a hard boiled egg, protein shake, or some sort of protein powder. You’ll not only stay fuller through more of the morning, but you will stabilize your hunger hormones to lead you into the rest of the day.