Hanger (hungry + anger) is that irritable feeling you get when you’re overly hungry. We have all experienced it. It's not pretty. When you are hangry, you are not the best version of yourself. It hijacks focus, kills peak performance opportunities throughout the day, and sabotages our health goals by making us crave high sugar & high carb foods.
While Hanger has been popularized in recent years, the one thing the media often gets wrong about hanger is that solving it only lies in eating something, anything to fill your hunger void. It’s typically just focused on eating something period, rather than focusing on what you eat.
At a biological level, hanger is the result of the neurochemical & hormone concoction that is produced when your blood sugar is low*.
Our body is constantly fighting to keep our blood sugar balanced, just like it is always working to keep our temperature around 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. When we eat, our blood sugar increases. What we eat and how many carbs & sugars it has determines how large that increase is. When we eat a meal high in carbohydrates or sugar, that spike is quick and dramatic. What goes up, must go down, and our body works to bring blood sugar back to a healthy range by releasing insulin, storing that sugar in the blood, and dramatically bringing blood sugar back down.
On the other hand, when we eat a meal or snack balanced with protein, healthy fats, fiber, and leafy greens, there is a subtle bump in blood sugar that lasts longer, and slowly lowers over the course of several hours. The quick, dramatic drop of blood sugar is what causes hanger, often leading us into a nasty cycle of being hangry, craving more foods that produce hanger (high in carbs and sugar), becoming hangry yet again & repeat.
The real solution to hanger is a proactive one. One that is more concerned with what you eat rather than just eating anything. In fact, eating the wrong thing can worsen your hanger by leading to the dramatic spike & crash of blood sugar yet again.
The good news is this doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You can say goodbye to hanger forever simply through seeing your food through the Mighty 5 lens.
This isn’t a diet and doesn’t involve tireless calorie or macro counting, rather it is a framework that you can apply anywhere & everywhere to always fuel your body for greatness. It also doesn’t mean forever cutting out pleasure foods either. We are all about the 80 / 20 lifestyle here. The Mighty 5 is a framework of five major food groups to focus on getting in at each meal. The five are: protein, healthy fats, fiber, leafy greens or other fibrous vegetables, and water. When you focus on these five & eat them together, there are a host of benefits that follow:
- These are the most satiating foods that balance blood sugar naturally, by turning your post-meal blood sugar curve into a gentle wave rather than a sharp spike.
- A gentle rise and fall of the blood sugar curve, rather than one with sharp spikes and troughs means that you will feel fuller longer, and feel hungry 3-5 hours later, but not hangry.
- By focusing on these five foods first, you effortlessly crowd out the “bad” foods (think processed carbs, sugar, etc.) that we typically crave when we have low blood sugar. If you still want the indulgence, have it, but nine times out of ten, if you’ve eaten your Mighty 5 to satiety first, you will no longer want it.
- Eating through the lens of the Mighty 5 will allow you to lose unwanted fat and support a healthy weight. Through eating nutritional foundations to fuel your body to satiety, curbing cravings, you crowd out the bad habits that lead to weight gain (mindless snacking, stress eating, etc.)
- By focusing on the Mighty 5 & limiting your consumption of carbs & sugar, you equip your body to burn fat by using ketones for energy rather than glucose.
Try it out. Start eating through the lens of the Mighty 5 and see how you feel. Notice how infrequently you feel hungry and are able to focus for longer without thinking about food. Now that’s food freedom!
*When we say low blood sugar, we are talking about the average person’s blood sugar curve, not in a diabetic sense.