Are You Confusing Thirst for Hunger?
You ever been going through your day just trying to exist and suddenly realize you’re feeling a little...off?
You’re sort of groggy, tired, and can’t concentrate. Not really motivated to do much even?
Okay, that sounds like all of us at work. Bad example.
What I’m getting at is it sounds like you’re hungry, right? Interestingly enough, these well-known signs of hunger are also signs of dehydration. It makes sense, then, that it would be super difficult for us to tell which one we’re suffering from when we start feeling weird.
Okay, Destini, why do we give a crap?
Well, studies have shown that our hunger and thirst cues send very similar signals to our brain, often resulting in misinterpretation. Basically, many times we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty.
Where the problem arises is that it is human nature for us to react rather than stop and ask ourselves if we are interpreting these cues correctly. This reaction often comes in the form of eating, when we should actually be drinking.
In fact, one study found that people misinterpreted their thirst for hunger 62% of the time. Even more compelling, a study conducted in 2016 found that dehydration was associated with weighing more. Basically, people who weighed more tended to not drink enough water. This could have been due to a number of factors, such as the fact that people who weigh more need more water keep a larger mass of body hydrated than those who weigh less.
However, even people that are not overweight could end up that way gradually if they misinterpret these cues often.
So, what can you do to make sure your weight loss goals are not sabotaged by these damn confusing cues?
First off, once you have removed the possibility of even mild dehydration from the picture, identifying hunger becomes much easier. Unfortunately, there’s not one universal standard for hydration goals. You always hear people say “Eight 8 ounce glasses a day!”
However, no one really knows where this recommendation really came from, so despite what you’ve heard, there’s no one true recommendation. Sorry to disappoint.
If you are an athlete, my recommendations are usually to drink 3 liters of water a day and 1 additional liter for every hour of exercise, especially if you’re in season.
If you lift weights, the recommendation is similar.
Keep in mind that water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated, fruits and vegetables (especially those like watermelon, grapes and cucumbers) and could also include beverages such as tea or milk.
The bottom line? One of my favorite tips to give to avoid the confusion between your hunger brain and your thirst brain is that when you think that you’re feeling hungry, try drinking 8-16 ounces of water and waiting 20 minutes. If your hunger goes away, then it’s a safe bet that you were just thirsty and don’t need those seconds of tacos after all.
Again, sorry to disappoint...because tacos are freaking delicious.