We all seem to experience a case of those afternoon “munchies.” Cravings take over, and we NEED to eat something! What causes these munchies, and how can they be controlled? Recent studies provide all the answers you need.
The afternoon munchies can be influenced by hunger or boredom, but a study published in the SLEEP journal states that the biggest culprit could be sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep triggers chemicals in the brain that fuel your appetite, which is similar to the effects of using marijuana. This increase in appetite can cause overeating and weight gain.
Although lack of sleep has been commonly associated with overeating, researchers at the University of Chicago have linked endocannabinoids—a chemical in the body similar to THC, marijuana’s active component—to overeating foods with a high fat, sugar, and salt content. Study results found that getting only four-and-a-half hours of sleep caused up to 33% more endocannabinoids than eight-and-a-half hours of sleep. According to Erin C. Hanlon, PhD, Assistant Professor of Endocrinology at the University of Chicago, this resulted in a 46% increase of calorie intake and double the consumption of fat.
Overeating can be the next-day result of sleep deprivation. Not everyone can get eight-and-a-half hours of sleep each night; in fact, the average adult gets between seven and nine hours. But when those cravings hit, there are some tools that you can use to control those afternoon munchies.
- A Healthy Plate
If you didn’t get a good night’s rest, anticipate those munchies and plan larger portions of vegetables with lean protein sources. According to Georgie Fear, RD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss, 30% of calories from each meal should come from protein.
- Stock Up
When the cravings hit, make sure your drawers are stocked with healthy snacks instead of cookies and candy. Low energy can result in sugar food cravings, so boost it with a natural sugar food like an apple.
- Healthy Fats
According to the University of Chicago study, high-carb and high-fat food cravings are the most common. If your cravings lean this way, try grabbing more healthy fat foods like an avocado or Greek yogurt.
Source: Cnn.com, SLEEP
a Lack of sleep could result in consuming 46% more calories and could double your fat intake.