Tip: Excessively Hungry When Starting Low Carb?

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Do you feel hungrier than usual just after starting a low-carb diet? This can often happen, especially if you’ve been limiting calories before. It is normal and if you want to eat more, do so – make sure you eat more food, especially fat, until satisfied.

It is important that you learn to listen to what your body is telling you.

Remember that low carb AND low fat = starvation. On a low-carb diet you need to eat more good fats. Here are some examples:

  • Butter
  • Full-fat cream
  • Olive oil
  • Meat (including the fat)
  • Fatty fish
  • Bacon
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil

Learn More

Eat When Hungry

The 5 common mistakes on LCHF
The Top 5 Tips For Weight Loss

40 comments

  1. Cassandra
    All well and good. I'm all for eating until satisfied, especially as a way of totally breaking dependence on sugar and carbs. However, big caveat: not everyone loses weight this way.

    Speaking for us menopausal ladies in the BMI 24-28 range, I personally find it impossible to lose any weight if I eat until satisfied all the time. The body wants to defend its fat stores and hunger signals are the way it does so. Because I prefer to eat to satisfaction or just not eat (I find eating little unsatisfying meals much harder than skipping meals), in order to drop any lbs/kg, I absolutely must fast intermittently as you and Dr. Fung promote. And this means being a little hungry sometimes. And this is not a bad thing!

  2. Dawn McVey
    I agree with you. I haven't lost weight on a low carb diet. I'm diabetic so need to eat low carb. I actually lost weight on the Newcastle diet , but I couldn't sustain 800 Cal's a day plus exercise. So gave up and just except I'm going to be overweight.
    Reply: #10
  3. Ann
    Thank you for this helpful tip! I'm so glad that I found this website, there is so much information and positivity. It is greatly appreciated. I have struggled for years trying to maintain a low fat, high carb diet. Since I started the low carb diet, I can feel such an improvement in my energy levels, mood and sleep patterns. My blood sugar levels aren't doing rollercoasters all day long. I've lost 20 pounds so far. Once again, thank you for such a great website.
  4. 1 comment removed
  5. Nina
    I have type 1 diabetes, which means that I need to inject insulin to stay alive. I started Banting in June last year. You are incorrect in your assumption that you need to eat carbs in forms of bread, rice , potatoes, pasta, beans! I have always been slim and well controlled. Since Banting I had to reduce my short acting insulin by almost 3/4! My HbA1c is 6.2....getting better every time I have it tested. I ran a support group for people with diabetes until 2009, when I joined my husband overseas. I wish I had known about Banting then! Since my Banting journey I have met many people with diabetes, mainly with type 2 diabetes, who lost enormous amounts of weight, regained their health - many are off their diabetes medication (type 2!), as well as blood pressure and various other meds associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and eating carbs! Please do some research...go and get support from people who are Banters to regain Your Health, weight loss without hunger and Happiness!
    Comment Deleted Permanently
  6. Karen
    I am pre diabetic and have metabolic syndrome. I started the low carb, high fat protocol on Valentine's Day. I started at 297 and today weigh 266. The diet Doctor knows what he is talking about. My fatty liver numbers are better, triglycerides are down and cholesterol is better. I sleep 9 hours a day. When I finish my 6:00 dinner, I don't eat again until lunch. I have coffee with heavy whipping cream in the morning when I feel hunger coming on and I am not hungry until noon. That is a wonderful time to fast and burn fat. Love it! I am well on my way to abounding joy!
  7. cindy
    I also am pre-diabetic and started the low carb eating. 10 pounds in 1 week. But I do find myself feeling more hungry often and cravings for carbs are getting stronger
  8. Kim
    I'm also been eating low carb for 2 weeks. The first week I lost 7 pounds but started eating chocolate which was a bad idea & this week only lost 2 pounds. I also feel hungry & also craving carbs.
  9. Fahmeda Rahman
    Does this mean that we can eat as much protein as we need until we are full? I've had all my fats and carbs and protein for today and I'm starving.
  10. kimberly cooper
    you don't have to accept being overweight
    have you ever heard of dr. mercola I think you better look him up. we can lose it by eating the amount of fat and protein at meals that we should be doing while cutting our carbs and drink more water. fat keeps you from feeling hungry and starving.
    try looking him up he has great knowledge in his work.

    http://www.mercola.com/

  11. kimberly cooper
    the person who made this website, your awesome. I believe the reason for starting to feel hungry is all about not eating enough fat. and those that are saying they are and less carbs are not balance in their protein. and if not one of those is not balance. its why I suggest you go to the mercola website I left above. he helps you lose weight.
    Reply: #12
  12. Gentiann
    Are you here just to advertise Mercola web site??????
    Diet Doctor site have every information needed to lose weight.....it is not fair to try to redirect people to some commercial sites!
    Thanks to Dr. Eenfeldt, we are slimmer and in better health now.
    Reply: #13
  13. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Gentiann!

    Thank you for your nice comment! :)

    We usually remove comments with referral to commercial sites if the only purpose seems to be promoting the site (this was a close call :).

    But if someone really have tried to follow our best tips and still don't lose weight then it could be a good idea to look for other possibilities.

    Our best weigh-loss tips can be found here:
    https://www.dietdoctor.com/how-to-lose-weight

    Are you here just to advertise Mercola web site??????
    Diet Doctor site have every information needed to lose weight.....it is not fair to try to redirect people to some commercial sites!
    Thanks to Dr. Eenfeldt, we are slimmer and in better health now.

  14. Val J
    *Very* new to low-carb eating. Pre-diabetic and trying to get everything under control. I do notice that I am hungry more often, especially just an hour or so after having a meal. I don't find a stronger craving for carbs in particular, which is good, and I have plenty of alternatives to snack on. One thing Ive noticed is that my acid reflux problem has vanished. Certainly don't miss that!
  15. Jenn
    I tried low carb, I was always hungry. I ate more fat and gained 2 lbs. I am already slim at 108 and now 110lbs and I don't think this is for me. I would rather eat carbs (but not a huge amount) and everything in moderation - I have found that this works best for me and it makes sense. Once I start limiting food groups, I overeat others and gain weight. No thanks. Moderation is key.
  16. Sandy
    At 55 yrs old, and breezed through menopause, I started low carb 3 months ago. Down 17 lbs and still going. Keep my carb intake around the 20 mark. My success comes largely from logging everything I put in my mouth and no guessing. Getting creative with Coconut flour and almond flour recipes for variety. I can do this!!
  17. Mila
    Agreed I lost 102lbs on keto. And. Anytime I stalled guess what broke it? Increasing my fat intake! and even though in general moderation is recommended in most things I found the reason this worked for me in particular was because I could eat as much as I wanted to
  18. Mila
    Another thing about low-carb or keto is there is pretty much a low carb/low sugar substitute for everything. Pizza brownies pasta Etc so you never really feel like you're missing out
  19. Elisa
    I am trying a diet plan where you eat low carb one day and normal (high) carb the next, while staying within 1500 calories per day. Today is my first day of the diet and a low carb day. I am starving! I was fine until after lunch, and then the hunger hit hard. I had a huge dinner and felt full for about fifteen minutes, and then boom, hungry again! I hope this gets better because I'm pretty miserable. I don't think I could do this daily like you all are doing! All I can think about is how I can have carbs as soon as I wake up in the morning, lol. Good luck to everyone on here!
  20. shirley
    I too, seem to stay hungry between meals, even shortly afterwards. I work at a job where lunch is about 20-25 minutes, so i try to have something like a low carb bread (made from almond meal) that i can stick in my mouth along with a piece of meat, some avocado and a little sour cream to have a combination of fat, protein and carbs. I'm not satisfied long though. Any suggestions
  21. Donna Karacius
    I'm doing Atkins induction phase and I lost 24 pounds since March 21st and it's May 16th. So that was impressive to me. I didn't crave potato chips or french fries or pasta, my biggest enemies! But the past couple days I have been starving, maybe because I ate Chinese for Mother's Day and threw myself off. I was on a roll and still am but I'm hungry now where I wasn't before.
    Any suggestions!!!
    Donna
  22. Donna
    I'm doing Atkins induction phase and I lost 24 pounds since March 21st and it's May 16th. So that was impressive to me. I didn't crave potato chips or french fries or pasta, my biggest enemies! But the past couple days I have been starving, maybe because I ate Chinese for Mother's Day and threw myself off. I was on a roll and still am but I'm hungry now where I wasn't before.
    Any suggestions!!!
    Donna
  23. Greg
    Like some of the other comments, I can't eat "until satisfied". I have kept food diaries, charting everything I've eaten. It's all been high fat/low carb, and I get plenty of fibre. I started this a month ago at 188. 2 days later I was 185, and my spirits soared because it seemed to be working the way it is intended. However, slowly but surely, it's all come back, and more. Today, I'm 192. I'm doing all the recommended that I'm aware of. MCT oil sounds great, but it's 100 calories per tablespoon, and my morning coffee goes from 10 calories black to over 250 calories by the time I add MCT oil and a dollop of heavy whipping cream. Breakfast is usually a protein shake with psyllium husks (0 net carbs), greens and protein powder (4 net carbs). Overall it comes to close to 300 calories. So coffee and a shake and I'm at 500 calories. This is just for an example. To eat until satisfied would probably balloon my calories above 3000. I do all I can to stay under 2000 and it's tough to do. I am unable to go to sleep hungry (believe me I've tried), so a pre-bedtime meal of 2 eggs, cheese and a tablespoon of MCT oil puts that snack over 400 calories. So now I'm at 900 calories for breakfast and nighttime. I've still go lunch and dinner to go.
    Reply: #30
  24. Arryana
    I started a low carb diet not too long ago, I use to feel extremely hungry. I don't really anymore, but im not sure if it's a good thing. I don't feel hungry at all, even in the mornings I dont really have the appetite to eat. Is it because of the diet? Or may there be something much more serious to go see a doctor?
  25. Pam
    What if I don't eat red meet, pork and chicken, and I have high cholesterol? I cut out dairy and that brought my levels down. So now that I what to loose weight and do the Low Carb diet, will adding dairy into my diet increase my cholesterol again?
  26. rh
    I don't know about fiber. I used to supplement fiber, and now that I don't any more, I feel better.

    I do best if I eat fatty meats, heavy cream, avocado with a green salad. My workplace is terrible; we really don't have many options to eat healthy - it is a salad or nothing. I am thinking of buying mayonnaise packages to supplement fats.

    The one thing I am sure of is even if I don't lose weight like I want to, I do feel a lot better and yes, acid reflux is less.

    Reply: #28
  27. Ashley
    I'm only in my second day of my Keto' journey and man am I hungry! I have this hunger and anxiety that is reminiscent of quitting smoking.
    I've just eaten two bowls of raw cabbage drizzled with butter. In one bowl I had a can of plain tuna, in the second a boiled egg. Yummy!
    It's done the trick for now, but it's tougher than I thought getting off the carbs. I never realised how dependent I was on them.
    Ash
  28. Ashley
    @rh: I'm not sure where you are, but it's almost impossible finding mayonnaise in Australia that isn't primarily made from toxic seed oils.
    If I find one made from saturated fat I'll be a heavy consumer, so if you know of one then let me know.
    Ash
  29. Debbie
    Ash, you can make your own mayo. It's really simple! Lots of videos on Youtube. Make avocado oil mayo or olive mayo. If you're worried about raw eggs, don't be, just buy from a trustworthy source. They sell pasteurized eggs at my grocery store but I don't bother. I just buy eggs.
  30. Abe
    Greg, it's nearly a year since you left your post, but I'm glad you wrote it. I've been on low carb (under 20g/day, only whole foods I cook myself so I know exactly what the ingredients are) with my fat/protein macros supervised by a professional dietician at a nearby hospital. I stick to the diet religiously. I drink enough water and get enough sleep. After months on the diet I'm always hungry. I was told the hunger would subside after the first two days. Then when it didn't, I was told to give it a full week. I did and was still hungry. The estimate went up to two weeks to a month. I'm always hungry and the only way I can not maintain weight (that is, keep losing weight) is to NOT eat until I'm satisfied. As soon as I do that, weight loss stops.

    I'm happy to be on low carb. I was pre-diabetic, had lots of very bad joint pain, even had breathing difficulties. Since going low carb, my conditions are all manageable and I don't need prescription meds. But the trade-off is the ever-present, gnawing hunger. I just cannot eat to being satisfied. And while I thought I could eat unlimited green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli...), I cannot. I even have to watch my vegetable intake to stay under 20g carbs/day. Right now it's 2:42AM where I am and I'm up for the zillionth time researching online ways to kill the hunger while on low carb. What nearly everyone else says--that low carb destroys appetite--is just not true for me. And I'm working with a team of medical and nutrition specialists. I don't know how I can keep this up much longer always being hungry.

    Good luck to you!

    Reply: #31
  31. Gentiann
    Abe, what exactly do you eat ? I'm afraid that your nutrition specialists are keeping you from eating enough fat !
    Fat + proteins satisfy your appetite and keep you from being hungry for many hours. Try, on your own, to add butter to your food and see if you feel more satieted.
  32. Julia
    Day two is low carbs and IM STARVING!!!!
    Reply: #33
  33. Kristin Parker Team Diet Doctor

    Day two is low carbs and IM STARVING!!!!

    Eat! Make sure your meals are high fat and that will help a lot.

  34. Colin D Braiding
    I am good on LCHF until family members start cooking their meals. The smell of rice and butter chicken cause my DNA to scream hunger to me :). Gosh It is hard at times.
    Also the day after a hike can cause me to get ravenous. Even having the macros can not always satisfy me. I do find having broccoli soup with cream or a few boiled eggs help. You have to learn what works for you I guess. Well that and going out when my daughter is cooking all her meal plan recipes
    for the week.
  35. Gayle s
    I’m hungry all the time. I eat paleo and find that carbs bloat me so I cut down to 35-45 net carbs a day. I am starving! I normally maintain at 1700 calories a day but just the last two days I’ve had to eat 2000+ calories just to survive. Does this constant hunger go away?
    Replies: #36, #37
  36. Gayle s
    I should also note, I’m drinking 100oz of water each day and I am sleeping well.
  37. Kristin Parker Team Diet Doctor

    I’m hungry all the time. I eat paleo and find that carbs bloat me so I cut down to 35-45 net carbs a day. I am starving! I normally maintain at 1700 calories a day but just the last two days I’ve had to eat 2000+ calories just to survive. Does this constant hunger go away?

    If you are not incorporating the higher fat component, that could be the issue. Check out some of our recipes to see how to incorporate the higher fat, which will fill you up and keep you full.

  38. carolyn
    I have been eating all day and I'm starving! Ive eaten 1/2 an avocado, full fat cottage cheese, eggs for breakfast with chicken sausage, a fat bomb, a cheeseburger and broccoli for dinner. I'm starving! What the heck?
    Reply: #39
  39. Kristin Parker Team Diet Doctor

    I have been eating all day and I'm starving! Ive eaten 1/2 an avocado, full fat cottage cheese, eggs for breakfast with chicken sausage, a fat bomb, a cheeseburger and broccoli for dinner. I'm starving! What the heck?

    It can be normal! Eat to hunger, focusing on keeping carbs low.

  40. Kathy Stipsky
    Kathy Stipsky........ I started a low carb diet when I was 30 years old and lost about 30 pds. I find that I do not think about
    food when I am busy but now I am retired and resorting back to the same diet and I have lost about five pounds in one week.
    I try and eat alot of Eggs, and and low fat meat like Turkey ham for breakfast. For lunch I eat tuna and mayonaisse or another piece
    of meat and carrots and dinner tons of salads and then every other night a piece of meat and brocolli or tomatoes . For fillers
    which really gets rid of those hunger pains I eat several large teaspoons of peanut butter or cheese and carrots...
    For those that are hungry peanut butter is low in carbs, a great filler and good on both the keto diet and low carb diet. Drinking
    alot of water fills you up too. I do not even count carbs.....I just eat things that are high in fat and low in carbs . The weight is coming
    off just slowly but surely. Exercise definitely helps as I walk my dog about four miles every am due to the heat here and then work out
    after I relax a little in the afternoon. Pnut butter and cheese and carrots are my life savers.
    Reply: #41
  41. Gentiann
    Peanut butter and carrots are not the best choice for low carb foods. The key is feeling satisfied, not filling up with low calorie food.

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