Pop Quiz: Cracking the Code on Hunger

If you’ve made resolutions this New Year, statistics say that one of those resolutions is likely about losing weight and eating healthier. Unfortunately, reports show that not even 10% of resolutions are kept by the end of January! One reason for giving up on resolutions to lose weight is many people don’t understand the science behind feeling hungry. Take our quiz to understand the physiology of feeling hungry and how to make it work for you so you can tackle your resolutions this New Year.

1. Which of the following will affect your desire to eat food?
A. Hunger: the biological changes throughout the body that signal that you need to eat to maintain your energy levels.
B. Appetite: the desire to eat.
C. Cravings: the desire to eat a specific food.
D. All of the above

2.Which of the following are “hunger hormones” that affect your feelings of hunger, appetite, and cravings?
A. Ghrelin, the appetite increaser that is released primarily in the stomach and is thought to signal hunger to the brain.
B. Leptin, an appetite suppressor made by fat cells that helps signal the brain that the body has enough energy stores, such as body fat.
C. Insulin, an essential hormone that helps your body turn the carbs (sugars) in food into energy and controls your blood sugar levels.
D. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone that increases glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, enhances the brain’s use of glucose, and increases the availability of substances in the body that repair tissues.
E. All of the above

    3. True or false? Research has shown that either a diet rich in either “good” carbohydrates (like whole grains) or a diet high in protein suppresses ghrelin, the appetite increaser, more effectively than a diet high in fat.

    4. True or false? While the complex systems of hunger and appetite generally work well, there are many aspects that can sometimes create a problem with the signals, which wreaks havoc on normal hunger cues.

    5. Which of the following are ways that your eating habits can affect your feelings of hunger and/or your appetite?
    A. Not eating enough protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient that digests slowly, doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, and keeps you feeling full longer.
    B. Eating refined carbs. Foods with refined carbs like white flour, white rice, and anything with sugar will spike blood sugar levels, have little nutritional value, and won’t leave you feeling full for long.
    C. Eating a diet low in fat. Eating a diet low in healthy fats—another macronutrient—can lead to craving carbs and foods high in sugar.
    D. Not eating enough fiber. Fiber in foods like fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, and oats helps you to feel full sooner during a meal and longer after eating, and it helps release appetite-reducing hormones.
    E. All of the above

    6. Not getting your recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can affect your feelings of hunger and/or appetite in which of the following ways
    A. Your body will induce you to eat more so you will become tired and will go to sleep.
    B. Sleep helps regulate ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone, so not getting enough sleep increases ghrelin and leads you to feel hungry.
    C. Without enough sleep, your body’s insulin will not be able to convert enough sugar to energy, so you will feel hungry.
    D. None of the above

    7. True or false? It is easy to confuse hunger and the desire to snack to deal with stress, known as emotional eating. Constant stress can lead to high levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, causing you to feel hungry.

    8. True or false? Oftentimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty and can alleviate the hunger feelings by drinking water.

    9. If you’re hungry and it’s not a mealtime, which of the following is NOT a good choice for a snack?
    A. An apple with peanut butter
    B. A boiled egg with a cheese stick
    C. A candy bar
    D. Whole-grain, low-salt crackers with cheese

    compiled by ERIKA ALDRICH / Information provided by the Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, and the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research.


    1. D. All of the above
    2. E. All of the above
    3. True
    4. True
    5. E. All of the above
    6. B. Sleep helps regulate ghrelin
    7. True
    8. True
    9. C. A candy bar. Choose something that has complex carbs, fiber, and protein.

    Accessibility Toolbar