HANGRY!

So the theory goes: high carb meal -> blood glucose spike -> insulin spikes a little too hard -> hypoglycemia -> hunger, so you eat to replenish blood glucose.

In the original theory of hangry, hypoglycemia was a core component, although as Jane Plain pointed out, it could be the relative, not absolute levels of blood glucose that count (&/or free fatty acids, but that’s a story for another day).  This could be true, in part because:
1) symptoms of hypoglycemia rarely correlate with actual hypoglycemia;
2) many episodes of actual hypoglycemia are asymptomatic; and
3) hunger isn’t even one of the main symptoms of hypoglycemia.

 

Tl;dr: hangry might be a real phenomenon, but there are little/no data to support it, and much to the contrary.

 

The low carb brigade says “LCHF = no hangry.”
Turns out, the same can be said by the high carb brigade (in some contexts), so does it really matter? (see below)

 

What we know: obese insulin resistant patients undergo a spontaneous reduction in appetite upon initiating a carbohydrate-restricted diet.  FACT (P<0.05).  Low carb, high protein meals also induce more satiety than high carb meals in acute scenarios…

Imho, hunger and satiety are complicated biological phenomena that can’t be so easily simplified into cute concepts like “hangry.”

 

 

Overweight/obese, single meal study

Reducing the glycemic index or carbohydrate content of mixed meals reduces postprandial glycemia and insulinemia over the entire day but does not affect satiety (Liu et al., 2012)

[protein and calories were constant]

 

carbs and glycemic index

 

“There were no significant differences in ratings of hunger, fullness, or satiety between the different dietary treatments.”

 

Type 2 diabetic patients, single meal study

A high-glycemic index, low-fiber breakfast affects the postprandial plasma glucose, insulin, and ghrelin responses of patients with type 2 diabetes in a randomized clinical trial (Silva et al., 2015)

 

“Subjective satiety did not differ between breakfasts.”

 

 

Overweight but otherwise healthy, single meal study

Return of hunger following a relatively high carbohydrate breakfast is associated with earlier recorded glucose peak and nadir (Chandler-Laney et al., 2014)

This is the study most cited in support of hangry.  Problem is, it doesn’t really support the concept.

note: glucose nadir >90 mg/dL (ie, not really “low”)

 

glucose and insulin

 

Hunger was a bit higher in the high carb group, and fullness was unaffected:

 

hunger fullness

 

Here’s what the authors had to say about it:

 

exploratory fishing expedition

O_o

 

Overweight/obese, 6 month study

Effect of the glycemic index of the diet on weight loss, modulation of satiety, inflammation and other metabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial (Juanola-Falgarona et al., 2014)

“Despite this tendency for a greater improvement with a low-GI diet, the 3 intervention groups were not observed to have different effects on hunger, satiety…

 

CARNIVORES!

Effect of dietary carbohydrate, fat, and protein on postprandial glycemia and energy intake in cats (Farrow et al., 2013)

 

“High-carbohydrate diets increase postprandial glycemia in healthy cats compared with diets high in fat or protein, although energy intake is lower.”

 

They probably ate less because it wasn’t meat (maybe [although this goes against the protein leverage hypothesis (I think)]), but it still doesn’t entirely jive w/ hangry.

 

 

PROTEIN: Normal weight/overweight/ obese kids, single meal study

Breakfasts higher in protein increase postprandial energy expenditure, increase fat oxidation, and reduce hunger in overweight children from 8 to 12 years of age (Baum et al., 2015)

 

“All participants had decreased feelings of hunger and increased fullness after the PRO than the CHO.”

 

a ha! worded another way, this could be interpreted as kids who ate carbs for breakfast got hangry and ate more at lunch…

However, “There was no effect of breakfast type or body weight over time for blood glucose.”

 

There are definitely more studies out there, some that even show correlations between postprandial hypoglycemia and hunger, but there are a lot that don’t.  I’ve actually seen studies that seemingly do support some models of hangry, albeit in an abstract way; eg, healthy participants jabbed with insulin in the middle of the night spontaneously eat more at breakfast… but these are artificial experimental conditions, not after “people just eating food.”

 

There are plenty of ‘good’ reasons to advocate low carb diets; but “LCHF = no hangry” and “LCHF = effortless fasting” just aren’t them.

 

calories proper

 

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  • Danny J Albers

    I don’t eat carbs I get hungry all the time, I eat when I am hungry, I still lose weight. I think the best cure for hangry is just to eat.

  • http://ashsimmonds.com/ Ash Simmonds

    Studies will forever be burdened with confounders, in the mean time here’s the stack of summaries of this stuff while I chow down on a big fatty steak once a day (or even skipping food a whole day now and then) instead of obsessing about what and how much and how often to eat.

    https://twitter.com/CarnivoresCreed/status/664990858983309312

  • Tuck

    “There are plenty of ‘good’ reasons to advocate low carb diets; but “LCHF = no hangry” and “LCHF = effortless fasting” just aren’t them.”

    I disagree. I also used to get those symptoms after a meal, and on a low-carb diet I don’t.

    The condition does exist, although it’s not well understood. What you need to look up is “idiopathic postprandial syndrome”:

    “The Use of the Plasma Epinephrine Response in the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Postprandial Syndrome”

    “Patients with idiopathic postprandial syndrome (IPS) report recurrent postprandial episodes that resemble the clinical manifestations of hypoglycemia.”

    JAMA. 1984;251(5):612-615. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340290026014.

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

      check out the results section of that paper. It doesn’t disagree with this blog post at all.

  • jasmine johend

    I’m LCHF and I’m always fricking hungry! I can eat a whole roast chicken, meat and fat all day and I’m still hungry. The hunger that made me a fatty in the first place is still there as a weight reduced person. The Bros tell me to eat more..sorry doesn’t work for me. I need to white knuckle and distract myself or IF.

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

      word

  • Ketard Aesthetic Bodybuilder

    Calorie for calorie, carbs are more filling on an acute level because that’s the role of insulin. High fat/protein stretches out for a longer period of time, but is not as immediately gratifying. Using this to your advantage should be obvious, but it seems like only Kiefer and Borge Fagerli have it figured out: Fat/protein during the daytime, some carbs at night (the closer to bedtime, the better).

  • Phil Thompson

    Work to do here Bill, (Juanola-Falgarona et al., 2014) uses a high level of carbohydrate relative to LCHF :

    a) Low-GI diet (40% of energy from fat, 42% from
    low-GI carbohydrates and 18% from protein).
    b) High-GI diet (40% of energy from fat, 42% from
    high-GI carbohydrates and 18% from protein).
    c) Low-fat diet (30% of energy from fat, 52% from
    high-GI carbohydrates and 18% from protein).

    While that might be enough to look for a dose effect I don’t think it addresses the LCHF people eating when it suits them / at meal times with little intervening hunger compared to the constantly munching carbivores.

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

      plenty of ‘carbivores’ eat “when it suits them / at meal times with little intervening hunger.” To suggest otherwise is another LCHF myth.

      • Jack Kruse

        Bill when I get UV and IR light I just dont get hungry……maybe all that time on social media is Jane’s problem? Maybe her and Jimmy have the same problem? Blue light hazard.

        • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

          The sun emits radio waves. : )

          • Alice Petral

            So does every piece of matter in the entire universe.

          • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

            Calories HAVE NOTHING to do with caussl mechqnisms of b8dily matter gain and loss. To kose weight you must remove ATOMS from the body. Calories are IREELEVANT AND HORRIBLE ANAOOOGUE TOMCELLULAR RESPORATION. FIRE ISMINDISCRIMINATE OXIDATION. BIOLOGICZL ISMEXTREMELYNSELECTIVE.

          • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

            Electromagnetic radiation, yes. But I am talknig specific WAVELENGTHS! The sun emits small a ounts of radio waves. You think you are smart but are just misinformed you got the Einstein equation all wro g my friends are @Harvard post docs. The equation is a UNIT CONVERSION EQUATION NO TRANSMUTATION IS DVER OCCURING, PROF MATT STRASSLER WILL SET YOUR UNEDUCATED INTERNET DORK BUTT STRSIGHT

          • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

            Calories are NOT STUFF. SO STOP talking about them like they are. My Harvard post doc physicist friends are laughing at your ignorance, you Internet dork. Energy is NOT STUFF, N8R A SUBSTANCE. E ERGY ITSRLF IS NOT ANYTHING. MATT STRSSSLER KICKS YOUR ASS I TELLECTUALLY ALLLLLL DAY LO NG!

  • weilasmith

    other effect on bg (and thus appetite) for the glucose-challenged: stuffing yourself with low-carb food leads to the ‘chinese restaurant syndrome’, aka the incretin effect.

    • jasmine johend

      Yes absolutely! Stuff myself with meat and then 60 mins later I’m hungrily picking at the leftovers. I’m better off fasting :( Perhaps a HF keto might regulate but i’m scared of regain..

  • Sabine

    From my own experience of switching to high-fat/low-carb, I dismiss all single meal studies outright. It took me weeks, if not months to switch to another metabolism, AND to reduce hunger!
    When I started, I could eat a pound of bacon with a pound of cheese melted on it, just for breakfast. I must have gorged thousands of calories, AND still lost weight. the hunger reduced itself over time. Now I could not even dream of eating that much, especially that much protein, without feeling sick to my stomach.
    I think that this question will have to be approached in very long-term studies, and more holistically. Right now I am eating mostly fat, and moderate protein, scarcely any carbs (I feed most muscle meat to my dog, as humans have done for milennia).

    • 64 magpies

      Yes. Chicken breast = dog food. (Or how to horrify my MIL)

  • Sabine
  • http://contraniche.blogspot.com/ August Hurtel

    I would assume, underlying vagueness of ‘hangry’ is how long does it take for the person to a) snap at someone out of being miserably hungry, or, b) eat whatever is at hand.
    I found, early on in my weight loss experience, that I could eat some brisket at about 10am in the morning and then go about my day without thinking about food, but if I had a banana at 10am, I would be starving by noon.
    Of course, this was in the context of experimenting with the Shangri-La Diet, paleo, low carb, calorie counting. etc… Luckily, SLD kept the appetite suppressed enough so that I could get to 10am- before that I would get ridiculously hungry and find myself at a little coffee shop getting a ham and cheese croissant at nine
    So, if I were trying to track this phenomenon, I’d like the insulin info, but what I am really interested in is how long between eating, or how on target (assuming there is a timed, meal eating plan)?
    Then there’s that whole interesting arena of mitochondrial efficiency, which seems to suggests the need for shifting macros.

    • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

      Calories have no existence in reality. Nor can they put matter on a body…..

  • Sky King

    What’s the problem with “feeling hungry”? You’re not going to die if you just ignore it, especially if you’re trying to lose some weight. The hunger pangs will go away after awhile if you’re willing to be patient and just suck it up.

    I think ONE reason why some people always get hungry is because they’re always in the habit of giving in to their hunger. Another reason could be that they’re really thirsting for water, and are not really hungry.

    • Gerard Pinzone

      You’ve got a good point. When I first went low carb, I had a huge drop in hunger. Over time, my eating frequency and volume went back to normal. Granted, I didn’t feel like passing out when dinner was delayed and I wasn’t tired all the time, but I was still hungry, or at least I thought so. It wasn’t until I started logging what I ate in MyFitnessPal that I began to realize how much and how often I was snacking. Boredom seems to amplify hunger for me. If I’m really busy, I just don’t eat as much.

      • Sky King

        Agreed. I think there are a lot of triggers besides the ones we mentioned that can trigger hunger pangs. Other triggers may be stress, eating highly processed carbs/sugar which causes hypoglycemia a few hours after eating, or having some alcohol, poor sleep, seeing/smelling food cues, etc.

        Logging in a diary what one eats is a great idea. It keeps one honest as to what they’re actually eating during the whole day and can help in determining what’s causing them to become hungry and/or gaining weight.

        Personally, eating a LC-HP diet keeps me from getting too hungry during the day. If I do feel any hunger pangs, I’ll just have some water and wait it out. It passes after a few minutes or so. If not, then I might have a few walnuts. Otherwise, I’ll just wait until my next meal time.

        Getting into the habit of riding through one’s hunger pangs may be difficult at first for someone who’s always giving in to them, but eventually they become very manageable.

  • Gerard Pinzone

    I looked up the first three studies, but stopped at the cat one. Here is what I found:

    Liu et al., 2012
    High Carb: 300g/day. Low Carb: 225g/day

    Chandler-Laney et al., 2014
    HC/LF; 55:27:18% kcals from carbohydrate: fat: protein
    LC/HF; 43:39:18% kcals from carbohydrate: fat: protein

    Juanola-Falgarona et al., 2014
    LGI: 42:40:18 with GI: 34
    HGI: 42:40:18 with GI: 62
    LF: 52:30:18 with GI: 65

    Do you have any studies that tested an actual low carb diet?

    • http://ashsimmonds.com/ Ash Simmonds

      It’s a joke, isn’t it? Why this stuff is “mythology” because it’s reported so badly.

      This is EXACTLY why the first thing I put in Principia Ketogenica is how *I* defined “low carb” etc, by going through the studies and ignoring the researchers own assertions, because the researchers who publish this stuff are nonsensical and too close to their own work, and then every other bastard just trusts their abstracts and re-publishes them to their own bias.

      https://twitter.com/CarnivoresCreed/status/594801888723251200

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

      Effects of Diet Composition on Postprandial Energy Availability during Weight Loss Maintenance

      http://bit.ly/1NXl4kY

      60% vs 40% vs 20% carbs.

      “There was a significant effect of time on hunger ratings, but no effect of diet and no diet×time interaction. Hunger did not differ significantly among diets in either the early or late postprandial period.”

      • Gerard Pinzone

        Let’s assume the “H” part of “hangry” is the same across all three. (The graph looks that way to me, but the statement that “Hunger did not differ significantly among diets in either the early or late postprandial period” seems to imply it DID differ in the middle. I.e. a short time after they ate, but not right after.) The glucose and insulin curves imply the “angry” part of “hangry” might indeed be different since blood sugar can affect mood. They didn’t specifically ask or test mood, so it’s an unknown. Also, the glucose and insulin curves look like the test subjects all had pretty good glucose tolerance even though their BMI registers them as obese. Funny that.

        • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

          “but the statement that ‘Hunger did not differ significantly among diets
          in either the early or late postprandial period’ seems to imply it DID
          differ in the middle. I.e. a short time after they ate, but not right
          after”

          they divided the postprandial period in half: early (30-150 minutes) and late (180-300 minutes)

    • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

      Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets
      http://bit.ly/1YdJhWY

      40% vs 5% carbs.

      “Hunger ratings tended to improve over the 6-wk trial in both diet groups, from “no particular feeling” (the middle of the range) to “satisfied,” and hunger ratings did not differ significantly between diet groups.”

      • Gerard Pinzone

        Comparison of ad libitum KLC and MLC diets on hunger, appetite, and weight loss

        http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/1/44.full

        Bonus: Wasn’t run by someone selling a diet plan with an axe to grind and the people on a ketogenic diet were ACTUALLY in ketosis. (1.52 mmol/L in plasma vs 0.333 after 6 weeks.)

        • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

          Sooo… lower glucose correlated w/ less hunger..?

          that’s the opposite of hangry (sort of)

          • rs711

            1) “scores of vigor” = reactive hypoglycemia? LOL
            2) “low” glucose with little capacity to use other substrates is pathological & would come under the umbrella of reactive hypoglycemia. “low” glucose with good capacity to use other substrates is non-pathological and isn’t reactive hypoglycemia. Not that complicated…it’s analogous to purposely not making the distinction between “fasting” and “starvation”…..Smh + o_0

  • http://www.caloriesproper.com/ Bill Lagakos

    Mandatory reading: “The Inadmissibility of What We Eat in America and NHANES Dietary Data in Nutrition and Obesity Research and the Scientific Formulation of National Dietary Guidelines”

    http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(15)00319-5/fulltext

    • Kurt Lass

      Garbage In = Garbage Out

    • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

      That stuff is not science . White coats, journals etc, none of that stuff matters…….

      Medicine and the fitness industry are notorious for poor quality. Scientific fields have central theories that define the field.

      Real mandatory reading would be The Feynman Lectures on physics. Also, Stephen Hawking explaining how the ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCE governs all chemical reactions and biology. This force is behind metabolism as well.

  • Vikram Khare

    Eating high carb / high glycemic load =’s hunger non-stop. Even the satiety index and those beloved potatoes don’t do the trick. I’ll stick with the pseudo-science on this one 😉

    • Robert Rio

      Yeah I can eat a pound of potatoes (without embellishments like butter/sourcream) and when I’m done it’s like “Time to eat!”

  • Raymund Edwards

    Training to estimate blood glucose and to form associations with initial hunger

    ” Conclusion: Subjects could be trained to accurately estimate their blood glucose and to recognize their sensations of initial hunger at low glucose concentrations. These results suggest that it is possible to make a behavioral distinction between unconditioned and conditioned hunger, and to achieve a cognitive will to eat by training. ”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1702540/

    • Raymund Edwards

      Having some ketones too helps – People report reduced appetite when taking exogenous ketone products or when on a diet producing serum ketones ( or FASTING )

      Pete Attita ” Finally, these compounds seemed to have a profound impact on my appetite (they produced a strong tendency towards appetite suppression). I think there are at least two good explanations for this, which I plan to write about in a dedicated post. This particular topic—appetite regulation—is too interesting to warrant anything less. ”

      http://eatingacademy.com/personal/experience-exogenous-ketones

      Study ->

      Malonyl-CoA is also known to be an anorexigenic metabolite and to be associated with decreased food intake (16, 17). Our data suggest that feeding ketone body esters, which decreased food intake for 6 days (Fig. 2), has a longer lasting effect in normal lean animals than the fatty acid synthase inhibitor C75, which decreased food intake for only 1 day (20).

      A Ketone Ester Diet Increases Brain Malonyl-CoA and Uncoupling Proteins 4 and 5 while Decreasing Food Intake in the Normal Wistar Rat

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923987/

  • Janknitz

    Quote all the studies you like. Here’s my real life: when I was a carbivore symptoms of “hangry” happened every two hours or so, particularly when I was eating lots of “healthy whole grains” and low fat. Ask my husband how it was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. The man is a saint to have put up with that! I spent my days looking for the next snack or meal to stave off the hangries. I couldn’t go more than a few hours without eating and life revolved around my cravings. Once, at a health fair, I had my bg tested during a “hangry” period. 55!!! But since my fasting BG was still under 100 (I think it was in the high 90’s in those days) and my A1C was below 6, I was “normal”. Ha! Life was a miserable roller coaster. Btw, I had PCOS, and it took me decades to find a reproductive endo who understood the metabolic component of PCOS and recommend a low carb diet. Did you hear the angels sing? Suddenly the hangries were GONE. A smooth, even mood, and I can go hours–even days–without food. In my case I’m pretty sure there were huge blood sugar excursions going on. It may not be the same for everyone. So cite all the studies you want, only those who have never experienced this can deny the connection between carbs and hangries.

  • JonGrant

    When scientists get this worked out (and it may be decades before they do), my prediction is that it has a lot to do with the gut microbiota, and a lot of the religious zeal on all sides of this issue will dissipate (but will never disappear entirely).

  • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

    Energy has no existence in reality. It is a made up human mathematical ABSTRACT CONCEPT. Calories are a unit of energy. They have no,existence in reality. Calories CANNOT become fatmtissue which is MATTER. ENERGY CAN ONLYMEVER BE CONVERTED INTO OTHER,FORMS OFMENERGY ONLY!

    • Alice Petral

      Except the major flaw in your thinking is forgetting energy can also be stored. Since the force you oh so love called electromagnetic force uses a currency called energy that you so hate to agree upon its existence. Since the force exerted by electromagnetism transfers this fantastic thing called energy. If a force is applied to ANYTHING there is a transfer of energy. The atoms held in molecule indeed are being forced into place by electromagnetic forces. However to achieve that state of entropy, an external amount of energy must be given to it, to reach a more stable state. (Since the electrons must exist in the most probable locations, where repulsive and attractive forces are in equilibrium) These bonds are exactly that. Energy in existence to allow the forces to be in equilibrium. If you can’t agree on probabilities being the bases of almost all existence then you have no place to talk about quantum mechanics, which is entirely probabilistic based. However no one really fully understands quantum mechanics and they never will. However it just works and it’s the best explanation of the natural phenomenon in the universe we have to date. By the way Dr. Feyhman mentioned that if you actually knew what he was saying.

      • BungleeayvuhCockleberry

        Energy and mass are NOT THINGS, THEY ARE NOT STUFF AND HAVE NO EXISTENCE IN PHYSICAL REALITY. DR. MATT STRASSLER GIVES YOU INTELKECTUAL ASS REDDENING….,