Why does coffee make me so hungry?
June 25, 2010 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Why does drinking coffee make me hungry?

A few times a week, after breakfast, I will make myself a latte or a shot of espresso. Then I take a dump. (That's relevant, right?) Then after about 10 minutes I enter ravenous hunger stage where I want to devour anything and everything. So then I eat something but it's NEVER ENOUGH. It seems like no matter how much I eat, I can never feel satisfied. This continues for several hours after the coffee and it's really annoying.

Is this normal? I always hear how coffee is suppose to suppress your appetite, not put it into overdrive. And what can I do to solve it? (Yeah, give up coffee. But it's so delicious!) I am drinking a lot of water so I don't think I'm dehydrated. I'm 21 with no underlying health problems.
posted by joeyjoejoejr to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
the caffeine is causing some tummy somersaults - the pooping is causing some readjusting - the feeling of both of those put together feels just like ravenous hunger in me. my body is so freaking psychosomatic that i start getting blood sugar crashing signs (shakes, risen body heat, fuzzy head) and i pretty much have to give it something. if i'm being not healthy i eat a carb of some kind - like a piece of bread or a pita and hummus. if i'm being good, i eat a bell pepper or something like that. then, even though i still feel like i could eat the world, i sip on water and give it an hour. usually it works itself out.
posted by nadawi at 1:16 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, coffee and caffeine can affect your body's blood sugar and insulin response, so that might be what's happening.

What are you eating for breakfast? Are you getting enough protein there? If not, try eating more protein. You say "But it's so delicious!" - if it's primarily the taste that you'll miss, try decaf or half-caf coffee.
posted by Knicke at 1:18 PM on June 25, 2010

No drug works the same on every person. Caffeine, of course, is a drug. For many, it suppresses the appetite. For others, it does the opposite, because it increase your production of insulin which can make you hungry.

Bottom line: switch to decaf or lock up the cabinets.
posted by inturnaround at 1:19 PM on June 25, 2010

Do you get hungry after breakfast when you don't drink coffee? Does it depend on what you eat for breakfast? What about when you drink coffee at other times?

If you want to determine whether coffee and hunger are causally related you'll have to control for as many confounding factors as you can.
posted by k. at 1:21 PM on June 25, 2010

When I would drink my coffee with sugar in it, I'd have pretty much this reaction. If you're having a not-very-proteiny breakfast and then putting a bunch of caffeine on top of it then you're probably getting something approzimating a sugar/carbs crash. For me, oddly, I don't have this when I drink coffee w/o sugar and/or have breakfast after i have coffee.
posted by jessamyn at 1:36 PM on June 25, 2010

Just another data point for you... I only drink coffee about once a week, and I find it makes me less hungry. I drink tea about six times a week, and as far as I can tell, it has no effect on my appetite.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:04 PM on June 25, 2010

I drink lots of (strong, black) coffee. It makes me hungry if and only if I haven't eaten properly, meaning a small meal of non processed food that contains protein within the past 2-3 hours.
posted by bearwife at 2:38 PM on June 25, 2010

It sounds to me like the coffee is stimulating your bowel to make you poop and in turn that newly freed up space triggers release of ghrelin or some other hormone like it which makes you hungry. Is there any way you can reverse the order, so that you get up and poop first thing and then eat?
posted by Rhomboid at 2:54 PM on June 25, 2010

Response by poster: For example yesterday I had a piece of toast with cheese, ham and an egg. And a yogurt/fruit smoothie I made. Then a latte. I actually made a point of eating protein that morning. But the sugar thing could definitely be a part of it. I will definitely try cutting that out and see if it helps. I will also try drinking coffee first thing in the morning but I feel like it might just go coffee --> food --> #2 ---> "FEED ME"
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2010

Do you normally eat breakfast?

I don't. If I drink something without many calories--no milk, no sugar--I can go until lunch before my body says "hey, you need to eat something now." But if I have some kind of sweet or milky drink, I'll get hungry much earlier. A little something wakes up my appetite.

(I should eat breakfast but I'm just TOO LAZY.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:04 PM on June 25, 2010

i'm with rhomboid - and with your assumptions in the question - i think the bathroom is definitely related.
posted by nadawi at 3:05 PM on June 25, 2010

And you answered my question while I was posting it. That's probably not it, then.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:06 PM on June 25, 2010

I dunno about the hunger, but in terms of the pre-hunger dump: caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger peristalsis of the gastrointestinal tract.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:12 PM on June 25, 2010

The South Beach Diet book talks about this in detail. Caffeine, insulin, etc.
posted by bingo at 3:35 PM on June 25, 2010

This happens to me, but it has not been as extreme. The hunger is worse when I drink coffee on an empty stomach. I always have coffee black. Not sure if milk/cream would help. Espresso has a larger effect than normal coffee, by far. I have heard that the effects may be related to acidity. Can you try a different blend, which will have different caffeine levels and acidity? It will taste different, but the compromise may be worth it. I used to die every afternoon after my espresso shot at work. For other reasons I now drink brewed coffee more, and I just get a bit hungry, no "ravenous hunger."
posted by bread-eater at 4:54 PM on June 25, 2010

This happens to me too, so I make a habit to always have some kind of protein snack within reach, for those 10am shakes. I am hypoglycemic, so being suddenly and ravenously hungry is not unusual. (I only mention that in order to justify why I won't just stopped having coffee... the benefits outweigh the negatives if I'm careful.) It messes with my blood sugar, but good lord I love it so! Yogurt or oatmeal seem to keep me not-starving for longer than just cereal or toast. I make these trail bars and tote them around with me everywhere, with a stash at my work fridge etc.
posted by wowbobwow at 5:37 PM on June 25, 2010

Caffeine has some weird effects on me as well.

hot soup girl is right about the stimulant effect on the GI tract (lot of people notice this with nicotine as well.)

As far as the hunger goes, caffeine has been shown recently (I think) to stimulate hepatic glucose production, meaning it can actually raise one's blood sugar. And it seems to do this to me, at least temporarily. But when the stimulant/appetite suppressant effect wears off, I'm often RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY. I wonder if this is because of that hepatic glucose production -- your blood sugar is raised for a while, and you might get acclimated to it and happily putter along briefly -- but you only have so much of that glycogen stored in your liver to go on, and when it runs out, BAM. You might hit a wall and feel hungry.

You might try not only eating breakfast with protein, but with more complex carbs and see what happens. Instead of one piece of toast with some protein, try a few pieces of toast, or a large bowl of cereal with a bit of protein.

You might even try to have a complex carb-containing bedtime snack (do you go quite a while between eating dinner and going to bed at night?) This could give you a similar effect to carb-loading for an athlete who doesn't want to suddenly hit The Wall when working out.

This is all entirely speculative, btw, but I've been giving it some thought. There's also the possibility that, for whatever reason, the GI stimulating effect of the caffeine overrides the appetite suppressing effect for you, and that it's just going to wake up your gut and make it overactive and hungry. You can plan for this by maybe just scheduling to have breakfast as soon as you've had your coffee. To reduce how intense it is, you can try doing half-caffeinated coffee, doing half-coffee, half-milk (I personally love this as a breakfast drink), or decaf.

Experiment and let us know what works, if anything :)
posted by Ouisch at 4:50 PM on June 26, 2010

Response by poster: Update: So the other day I tried to eliminate added sugar from my breakfast. I followed up my breakfast an hour later with some trail mix and lo and behold, I did not want to eat like a crazy starved person. Yay! If anything, I think I actually felt the appetite suppressant effects of the coffee.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 8:38 AM on June 27, 2010

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