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Why do I get hungry at 4pm?

As the clock strikes 4pm, many of us start to feel hungry, even if we’ve had a hearty lunch just a few hours ago. This sudden craving for food is not unusual, and there are many reasons why it might happen. It could be due to our body’s natural circadian rhythm, or the fact that we may have been too busy to eat enough during the day. Whatever the reason, understanding why we get hungry at 4pm can help us make informed choices about our food and keep our energy levels up throughout the day.

1. Your body may have a natural craving for food by 4pm

It’s possible that your body has a natural craving for food around 4pm due to the gap between lunch and dinner. The human body needs sustenance to function properly and when the gap between meals is too long, it is natural to feel hungry. Additionally, the body can develop a natural eating pattern, which means that you may feel hungry at the same time every day.

Natural craving for food in the evening

2. Your blood sugar levels may be low

Low blood sugar levels can lead to hunger as the body needs to replenish its glucose levels. This can be caused due to various reasons such as skipping meals or consuming high sugar content foods that cause a quick spike in insulin levels. Consuming a balanced diet can help maintain normal blood sugar levels and reduce hunger pangs.

Blood sugar levels in the body

3. Dehydration can lead to false hunger signals

Dehydration can sometimes be the reason behind sudden hunger pangs. The body can sometimes confuse dehydration with hunger and send false signals to the brain, which makes you feel hungry. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day to avoid such false signals.

Dehydration in the body

4. Stress can trigger hunger pangs

Stress can impact different people in different ways. For some, stress can trigger hunger pangs, as the body produces a hormone called cortisol which increases appetite. To prevent stress-induced hunger, it is important to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, exercise, or therapy.

Stress and its impact on the body

5. Lack of sleep can cause hunger

Lack of sleep can disrupt hormone levels in the body, which can lead to increased appetite as the body tries to compensate for lost energy. To avoid sleep-induced hunger, ensure that you have a good night’s sleep of at least 7-8 hours daily.

Sleep deprivation and its impact on the body

6. Your meal portions may not be sufficient

Having insufficient meal portions can lead to hunger pangs at odd hours. It is important to have a proper and balanced diet that includes sufficient portions of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to promote healthy weight maintenance and avoid hunger pangs.

balanced diet and its importance

7. Eating unhealthy snacks for lunch or breakfast

Consuming high sugar content foods or unhealthy snacks for breakfast or lunch can lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels which can eventually lead to hunger pangs. Using a nutritional food chart and consuming a balanced diet can prevent sudden hunger strikes and promote healthy weight management.

Unhealthy foods

8. Physical activity or workout routine

Physical activity and workout routines can lead to increased hunger pangs due to an increase in energy expenditure. In the course of any physical activity, the body uses up stored glucose and hence the body naturally feels hungry and prompts you to consume food for energy replenishment.

Physical activity and its benefits to the body

9. You may have conditioned yourself to eat at that time

If you are used to snacking at 4 PM every day, your body may have conditioned itself to feel hungry at that time. Eating a snack at this point becomes more of a habit than a necessity.

Bad eating habits

10. Medical reasons can cause hunger

In rare cases, persistent hunger pangs at 4 PM could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes. If these hunger pangs do not subside after consistent, and a healthy routine is followed, consult your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Hyperthyroidism and its impact on the body

Why do I feel hungry at 4pm?

There are several reasons why you may feel hungry at 4pm. In this section, we will explore some of these reasons in detail.

Skipping breakfast or having a small portion

One of the main reasons why people feel hungry at 4pm is due to an improper breakfast or skipping it entirely. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you do not consume enough calories in the morning, your body will crave more food later in the day. Additionally, a healthy breakfast provides the essential nutrients and energy required to keep you active and alert throughout the day.

If you skip breakfast, there will be a decrease in blood sugar levels. This will trigger the brain to send signals that the body needs to consume food. When this happens, the body releases hormones such as ghrelin and cortisol that may stimulate hunger.

Lunchtime habits

Another factor that can cause you to feel hungry at 4pm is your lunchtime habits. If you eat a large lunch or consume a lot of carbohydrates, it may cause a spike in insulin levels. As a result, your blood sugar level will drop a few hours after lunch.

If you find yourself feeling hungry at 4pm regularly, you may need to analyze your lunchtime habits. Try to consume a balanced meal that includes protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. This will help to keep your stomach full and your blood sugar levels stable.


Dehydration can also be a reason why you are feeling hungry at 4pm. When you are dehydrated, the brain may misinterpret thirst as hunger. As a result, you may end up eating when all your body needs is water.


Stress can trigger hunger pangs at any time of the day. This is because when you are under stress, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can increase your appetite. Additionally, stress can lead to emotional eating, which can cause you to crave sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods.

If you find that stress is causing your 4pm hunger, try to reduce your stress levels with activities such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.


Some people are more susceptible to feeling hungry at 4pm due to their genetics. If your parents or siblings also feel hungry at this time, it is likely that it is an inherited trait.

Low-calorie diet

If you are following a low-calorie diet, you may feel hungry at 4pm due to a lack of calories in your diet. When you consume fewer calories than your body requires, your brain may signal that you are hungry to make up for the deficit.

Sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep can also cause you to feel hungry at 4pm. When you are sleep-deprived, your body produces more ghrelin and less leptin, which are hormones that regulate hunger and fullness.

To counteract sleep deprivation, ensure that you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Activity level

If your activity level is high, it can cause you to feel hungry at 4pm. This is because your body requires more energy to keep up with your physical activity.

If you find that you are feeling hungry at 4pm due to an active lifestyle, you may need to consume more calories throughout the day to keep your energy levels up.


Boredom can also cause you to crave food. If you are sitting at your desk with nothing to do, you may find yourself wandering towards the vending machine or the office snack cupboard.

To combat boredom-induced hunger at 4pm, try to keep yourself entertained with activities such as reading, listening to music or taking a short walk.

Medical conditions

In some cases, feeling hungry at 4pm may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, hypoglycemia or insulin resistance. If you are regularly feeling hungry at 4pm and suspect that it may be due to a medical condition, speak to your doctor.

Factors that contribute to mid-afternoon hunger

While you may blame your mid-afternoon cravings on a lack of willpower or self-control, there are actually several scientific reasons why you may feel hungry at 4pm. Here are five factors that can contribute to your mid-afternoon hunger:

1. Circadian Rhythm

Your body has a natural daily cycle, known as the circadian rhythm, that influences your sleep-wake cycle, hormone levels, and metabolism. One of the hormones that is affected by the circadian rhythm is cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Cortisol levels are typically highest in the morning and gradually decrease throughout the day. However, some people experience a spike in cortisol levels in the mid-afternoon, which can cause an increase in appetite.


2. Meal Timing

The timing of your meals can also play a role in mid-afternoon hunger. If you eat lunch earlier in the day, or if you have a particularly light lunch, you may find yourself feeling hungry by mid-afternoon. Additionally, if you eat a high-carbohydrate or high-sugar meal for lunch, your blood sugar levels may spike and then crash, causing you to feel hungry soon after.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. If you haven’t been drinking enough water throughout the day, your body may send hunger signals as a way to encourage you to consume more fluids. Drinking a glass of water or two may help quell your hunger pangs.


4. Lack of Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient that helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. If your lunch didn’t include enough protein, or if your body has metabolized it all by mid-afternoon, you may find yourself feeling hungry. Incorporating protein-rich snacks, such as nuts or hummus, can help keep you feeling fuller longer.

5. Boredom or Stress

Mindless snacking is a common problem, especially in the mid-afternoon when energy levels may be low. If you’re bored or stressed, you may be more likely to turn to food as a way to cope. Finding other ways to relieve stress, such as going for a walk or practicing deep breathing, can help reduce your mid-afternoon snacking.

Factors Contributing to Mid-Afternoon Hunger
Circadian Rhythm
Meal Timing
Lack of Protein
Boredom or Stress

In conclusion, feeling hungry in the mid-afternoon is a common complaint. However, there are several factors that can contribute to this sensation, such as the circadian rhythm, meal timing, dehydration, lack of protein, and boredom or stress. By understanding the root causes of your hunger, you can make more informed choices about what and when you eat, and take steps to manage your cravings.

I found an article that explains the science behind feeling hunger at a particular time of day. Check out this Eat This, Not That write-up to understand why you may be experiencing regular hunger pangs around 4pm.

Thanks for Reading!

So there you have it – the reasons why you might be feeling hungry at 4pm. Whether it’s due to your circadian rhythm, inadequate nutrient intake or simply because you didn’t have a big enough lunch, there are ways to combat the hunger pangs. So next time you feel those cravings coming on, try snacking on a protein-rich food or having a small meal to see if that satisfies your appetite. And remember, if you want more interesting articles and information, be sure to visit us again later. Thanks for reading!

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