(Image via Pinterest)
Hungry + Angry = Hangry.
I feel like a LOT of people can relate to this, but maybe aren’t sure exactly why. My partner can definitely tell if my blood sugar levels are starting to drop and will quickly rush to get me a snack before I turn into a “hangry beast”. Sometimes he will pack snacks just in case.
But, hangry-ness is a real-life thing and there’s even been a study done on the subject.
A 2014 US-based study tested how low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples (super-specific and amazing).
The study tested 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure their aggressive impulses towards their partners they would stick 0-51 pins in a voodoo doll that represented their partner each night. To measure aggression they would also blast their partner with loud noise through headphones for a desired volume and length. The study found that the people with the lower blood glucose levels at the time would stick more pins into the voodoo dolls, and blast their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts.
Hangry-ness is all related to our blood glucose (sugar) levels. So if you skip a meal, restrict food or carbohydrate intake, or over-exercise without enough fuel, your blood sugar levels are going to drop low enough to cause some serious hanger.
Here’s the science:
When we eat, we digest all the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food. They are then converted into things like, glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. Glucose is our main energy source, and the ONLY energy source our brains can use. This means the brain is highly effected when the blood sugar levels start to drop.
So when blood glucose levels start to drop, our body assumes we are in a high-stress, life-threatening situation and stimulates a range of physiological changes.
It triggers a fight-or-flight response
It triggers cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline release from the adrenal glands
The pancreas triggers a release of glucagon (stored sugar) to be converted to glucose
The pituitary gland releases growth hormone which increase the concentration of glucose
Due to the lack of brain energy associated with low blood glucose people generally have less self-control, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty regulating emotions (HANGRY-NESS).
Next time you start to feel hangry, opt for a nutrient-rich snack, instead of a high-sugar snack. Simple sugars with cause a big spike in energy/blood glucose, but also a big crash.
Some healthy snack ideas, even things you can keep in your bag if you are prone to hangry-ness:
Nuts and seeds. Roast them with herbs and spices to make them even tastier
Berries and citrus fruits
Protein balls with hemp seeds (high in fat and protein)
Veggie sticks or falafel balls with homemade hommus/babaganoush/pesto
Remember, if you are feeling hangry, it’s just your body telling you it’s lacking in fuel and needs to be filled up.