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Feeling Hangry? It's Not Your Imagination

A quick read on the science behind 'hanger' and how to minimize the feeling when it creeps up.


It’s not your imagination: “Hanger” is real, according to science.

In a recent study, scientists compared two groups of women: One had fasted for the previous 14 hours; the other had just eaten.

The fasting group reported:

  • More negative emotions—including anger, tension, fatigue, and confusion

  • Fewer positive emotions—specifically, lower vigor and slightly lower feelings of self-esteem

Image credit: Precision Nutrition, used with permission

For some folks, this can be problematic. That’s because negative emotions are linked to overeating, unsuccessful diets, and weight gain.[2]

You don’t need to be a nutrition scientist to see how those things might affect one another.

So what can you do about hanger?

If you experience hanger often, your diet might be too restrictive.

Try focusing less on restriction and more on adding foods that support your goals. (Produce -- i.e., fruits & veggies -- is a great place to start.)

Granted, everyone feels hungry at times.

But there’s a difference between being “a little bit hungry” and “so hungry my brain is going to explode!”

“A little bit hungry” is normal, and you can build your tolerance for it with practice.

One way: Remind yourself that most hunger isn’t an emergency and comes in waves (if you wait, it dissipates).

This is a worthwhile skill, NOT because you want to restrict yourself.

Instead, it’s a tool for when you really can’t eat.

Like when you’re prepping for a colonoscopy or stuck in traffic and don't have snacks with you.

Because in those times? Hanger only makes a bad situation worse.

Read the Study

PMID: 34637770

Ackermans MA, Jonker NC, Bennik EC, de Jong PJ. Hunger increases negative and decreases positive emotions in women with a healthy weight. Appetite. 2022 Jan 1;168:105746.Intro to the lesson.


Get off the dieting & exercise rollercoaster for good! Learn how to transform your inconsistent health and fitness patterns into the healthy lifestyle you've always wanted.



Hey there! My name is Marissa Rivera-Davis, and I'm a certified health fitness professional and founder of Her365 Fitness, a 24-hour studio gym & wellness community for women. I help women find the time and energy to move more and eat better so they can finally achieve the health & fitness goals that matter to them. My mission is to empower women with the skills and support they need to break free from a mindset of limitation & restriction to find pleasure and joy on their path to improved well-being. Learn more here.

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Pamela Miller-Lewis
Pamela Miller-Lewis
29 Sep 2023

Thank you. This is very helpful.


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