6 Reasons Why You're Not Hungry in the Morning

July 1, 2021

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

But just because this is a popular saying doesn’t mean you feel hungry in the morning. And if you don’t, eating a healthy breakfast may feel like a challenge.

Although in some cases a lack of hunger in the morning could be a sign of a serious issue, it’s most likely perfectly normal and no cause for concern.

Here are 6 possible reasons why you may not feel hungry in the morning.

1. You ate a large dinner or late-night snacks

One of the main reasons why you may not feel hungry when you wake up is that you ate a large dinner or snacks the night before.

This may be especially true if you ate a meal high in fat or protein. These macronutrients can slow the emptying of your stomach and keep you feeling fuller longer — even into the next morning 

Protein, in particular, can also significantly alter the levels of hormones that regulate your hunger and appetite, including ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin.

Similarly, high fat meals may alter levels of certain hormones associated with appetite and feelings of fullness, leading to decreased hunger.

If you prefer to enjoy a large dinner and skip or delay breakfast the next morning, that’s completely fine — as long as you make sure to get the nutrients and hydration you need throughout your day.

2. Your hormone levels change overnight

Overnight and during sleep, the levels of several hormones in your body fluctuate. This can change your appetite.

In particular, research shows that levels of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, tend to be higher in the morning.

It’s believed that this hormone suppresses appetite by slowing the rate at which your stomach empties and increasing the breakdown of carbohydrates stored in your liver and muscles to fuel your body.

What’s more, one study observed that levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, were lower in the morning than the night before. This could also explain why you feel less hungry when you wake up.

Lastly, some research suggests that levels of leptin, a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness, may also be higher in the morning. However, studies have turned up mixed results.

Note that these daily hormone fluctuations are perfectly natural and not usually a cause for concern. However, if you experience sudden or extreme changes in hunger or appetite, consider talking with a healthcare professional. 

3. You feel anxious or depressed

Both anxiety and depression can significantly impact your hunger levels.

In addition to symptoms such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, and loss of interest, depression can cause appetite changes.

Meanwhile, anxiety can increase levels of certain stress hormones that reduce your appetite.

However, anxiety and depression affect people differently. Some studies have found that these conditions are instead linked with increased appetite and food intake for some people.

If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression and suspect that it may be affecting your appetite or other aspects of your health, talk with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for you.

4. You’re pregnant

Morning sickness is a common issue characterized by nausea and vomiting. It affects around 80% of people during pregnancy.

Although morning sickness can affect you at any time of day, it often occurs in the morning — hence its name. In most cases, it improves or disappears after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

(Morning sickness can reduce your appetite. In fact, in one study in 2,270 pregnant women, 34% reported eating less during early pregnancy).

Besides morning sickness, pregnancy can cause other hunger-reducing symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, and delayed emptying of the stomach.

Staying hydrated, sticking to small meals, trying certain recipes, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your home well-ventilated to avoid scents that trigger nausea are all strategies that may reduce symptoms and improve your appetite.

If you experience persistent morning sickness or other symptoms of early pregnancy, consider taking a pregnancy test or talking with a healthcare professional.

5. You’re sick

Feeling under the weather often causes a decrease in appetite and hunger levels.

In particular, respiratory infections such as the common cold, the flu, and pneumonia are known to make you feel less hungry.

In some cases, these infections also limit your senses of taste and smell, which may reduce your appetite.

Certain infections, such as the flu, can also cause symptoms that reduce hunger and appetite, including nausea and vomiting.

Keep in mind that it’s especially important to stay hydrated and fuel your body when you’re sick, even if you don’t feel hungry. Soup, hot tea, bananas, crackers, and applesauce are a few easy-on-the-stomach options to try when you’re not feeling well.

6. Other underlying causes

In addition to the more common factors listed above, there are several other possible reasons why you may not feel hungry when you wake up.

Here are a few other potential causes of decreased hunger in the morning:

  • You’re taking certain medications. Many types of medication, including diuretics and antibiotics, can reduce hunger and appetite.
  • You’re getting older. Decreased appetite is common among older adults and can be caused by changes in energy needs, hormones, taste or smell, and social circumstances.
  • You have a thyroid issue. Appetite loss can be a sign of hypothyroidism or decreased thyroid function.
  • You’re ovulating. Estrogen, a female sex hormone that increases during ovulation, may suppress your appetite.
  • You have a chronic condition. Certain conditions such as liver disease, heart failure, kidney disease, HIV, and cancer can all cause appetite loss.

If you suspect that an underlying condition may be contributing to your lack of hunger in the morning, consult a healthcare professional.

 

What to do

If you’re not feeling hungry right when you wake up, it’s perfectly fine to wait a bit before eating breakfast.

Sometimes, by the time you’ve taken a shower, gotten dressed, and started getting ready for the day, you might feel hungry and ready to eat.

If you’re still not feeling hungry, you can try eating something small and nutrient-dense to stimulate your appetite. Sticking to familiar favorites or experimenting with new ingredients can also get you excited about eating breakfast and spark your appetite.

Here are a few healthy and delicious breakfast ideas:

  • yogurt with berries and granola
  • oatmeal with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey
  • smoothie with spinach, fresh fruit, and protein powder
  • omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cheese
  • avocado toast topped with an egg

If you find it difficult to eat breakfast because you’re feeling anxious or depressed, building it into your morning routine may be beneficial.

Also, know that it’s completely fine if you prefer to skip breakfast altogether. Just make sure to get the nutrients you need later in the day, hydrate properly, and not ignore any potential negative effects from not eating in the morning, such as headaches, fatigue, or irritability.

Lastly, if you suspect that an underlying health condition could be contributing to your appetite loss, talk with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for you.

The bottom line

There are many reasons why you may not feel hungry right when you wake up.

In some cases, it could be the result of eating a large dinner the night before, natural fluctuations in your hormone levels, pregnancy, or feeling under the weather.

Sometimes, it may be a sign of a more serious issue, such as anxiety, depression, or another underlying health condition. If you suspect this could be the case, get in touch with a healthcare professional.

Waiting a bit before you eat breakfast, experimenting with new ingredients, or setting healthy habits by building a morning routine may help boost your morning hunger.

SOURCE: Why Am I Not Hungry in the Morning? 6 Causes (healthline.com)