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Old 02-25-2011, 11:23 AM   #1
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I have an abnormally large appetite

I am a 20 year old girl and extremely athletic. I have had a noticeably large appetite since 1st or 2nd grade, years before I took athletics seriously. These days I am hungry for 6000-7000 calories a day when training. On an off day my appetite is about the same, if I go two days off I will start to eat less going down to about 4500 calories.

I have talked to sports nutritionists about this and they think it is very unusual. One tells my he has never known another athlete who is hungry for that many calories but some male athletes do force themselves to eat that much. I have been checked by two doctors one in high school and one in college. Neither found any problem with me or an explanation. The only explanation I have been given was just an unusually fast metabolism or maybe that I really eat more than I need even though I manage to burn it off.

I want to find out what is going on. I don't really feel like anything is wrong with me but my appetite does seem abnormal and is sometimes even embarrassing - as when I stay with friends appear to be trying to eat them out of house and home. All attempts to eat less have failed. When I eat less than my appetite dictates I eventually wind up ravenously hungry. I would like to know how common this is and what I can do about it. Athletics is part of it, but even as a child people thought my appetite was unusual, even though I was just eating what felt natural to me.

 
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Old 02-25-2011, 01:14 PM   #2
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Quote:
Originally Posted by AthleteGirl View Post
I am a 20 year old girl and extremely athletic. I have had a noticeably large appetite since 1st or 2nd grade, years before I took athletics seriously.
Were you an overweight kid or teen? Are you overweight now? Obese?


Quote:
These days I am hungry for 6000-7000 calories a day when training. On an off day my appetite is about the same, if I go two days off I will start to eat less going down to about 4500 calories.
Can you give some examples of the high calorie foods you eat to get all of those calories? Do you eat lots of starches, for example? Do you dislike low calorie foods such as vegetables?

Quote:
The only explanation I have been given was just an unusually fast metabolism or maybe that I really eat more than I need even though I manage to burn it off.
I think the general rule is that one will speed up their metabolism by eating large amounts of food. Conversely, one would go into "starvation mode" by eating an extremely low amount of calories. In the first instance one would speed up the burning of calories; In the second, one would slow down the burning of calories.

Quote:
All attempts to eat less have failed. When I eat less than my appetite dictates I eventually wind up ravenously hungry. I would like to know how common this is and what I can do about it.
If you eat lots of high calorie foods, it's fairly certain that these foods are processed and low in fiber. I highly doubt that anyone could eat 6,000 to 7,000 calories of nonstarchy vegetables in a day. What you should be eating is lots of natural whole foods that are high in fiber.

Why? because natural (unprocessed) high fiber foods will give you a feeling of fullness and will keep you from getting hungry too soon. And that's because the fiber will keep your blood sugar more stable. (This assumes that you will eat a normal amount of low fat protein too.)


 
Old 02-25-2011, 04:26 PM   #3
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Thanks for responding JohnR41.

To answer some of your questions:

No I wasn't overweight as a child - or now. I am 5'8" and 152-155 pounds. As I child my appetite wasn't just huge but it was big enough that my relatives would comment on it at family get togethers and things.

Examples of what I eat: well, I could post a log of everything I eat in a day if you want. I do try to eat plenty of vegetables. It is little after 4:00PM and I just had a snack of a tuna/cucumber sandwich, a salad with chicken, some cucumber slices (with the sandwich that makes 2 whole cucumbers), some granola w/ M&Ms, and a glass of chocolate milk and 1 slice of leftover pizza. This is a pretty typical afternoon snack.

I have to go for awhile - I will post more in a couple of hours.
Thanks

Last edited by AthleteGirl; 02-25-2011 at 06:44 PM. Reason: fix typo

 
Old 02-25-2011, 08:11 PM   #4
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

JohnR41,

continuing...

I do eat starch and vegetables. I probably eat 3 or 4 cups of rice a day (cooked cups) or sometimes pasta instead or rice. I also like potatoes. I often eat vegetable snacks like celery, carrots, or cucumbers with peanut butter or dipped in 1000 island dressing. I love lightly steamed mixed vegetable. There isn't anything I really don't like and avoid. I think my diet is fairly well balanced. I often eat in the dinning commons which serves a pretty good balance.


Yes, one doctor told me that eating more increases your metabolism so people who need a lot of calories end up eating a much more because they have to fight against that. He also said than when some people eat more than they need they can burn it off in some way that isn't completely understood and that might be happening to me. All this may be true but my athlete friends all think I am a pig! And when I try to eat few calories than my natural hunger says I should, my metabolism doesn't seem like it slows down I just get very very hungry.


I agree eating 7000 calories of non-starchy vegetables in a day would be almost impossible. I do eat some vegetables, but eating only vegetables wouldn't be very satisfying ether.

 
Old 02-25-2011, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Have you estimated how many calories per day your sports activities consume?

 
Old 02-26-2011, 10:46 AM   #6
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Lightbulb Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Quote:
Originally Posted by AthleteGirl View Post
JohnR41, ..... when I try to eat few calories than my natural hunger says I should, my metabolism doesn't seem like it slows down I just get very very hungry.
I just got an idea. I remember reading that not everyone produces the same amount of stomach acid. Some produce a lot and some produce little. It's been said that people who are blood-type O usually produce more. This is explained in the following book: "Eat Right 4 Your Type" The author states: People who are blood type O can (or should) eat somewhat more meat, if I remember correctly. Type Os have very good digestion and meat will keep them satisfied longer. Of course you still need fiber from fruit and vegetables. (At least 25 grams of fiber per day.)

I'm type O myself and am still learning about it. I started this new diet at the beginning of this year.

You know, I grew up in a family of 6 thin people. We were all thin and could eat as much as we wanted without gaining weight. My brother used to butter up about 8 to 10 slices of peanut butter and bread for a snack. I sometimes did the same. Of course, we (kids) were all active and growing, and my parents worked hard. The downside: After age 35, everyone, except me, began putting on weight. I had an obese friend in my late teens so I learned from his mistakes and ate more carefully as I got older.

That's the downside: If you don't start practicing good eating habits when you're young, it will be very difficult to change those habits when you get older. Not that your diet is all that bad. But you will find that as you get older there's very little room for "mistakes". My brother, for example, who was thin (up to about age 35) gradually gained weight untill he was overweight.

Anyway, I'd be interested to know if you have type O blood.


 
Old 02-26-2011, 02:42 PM   #7
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Well, my blood type is type O-. I have never heard of different diets for different blood types before. One of the things which I have found keeps my satisfied for a long time is a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

"tjlhb" asked if I had estimated how many calories are consumed by my sports activities. The basic answer is yes but sometimes it is a little hard to know. Today I spent 2.5 hours at swim practice, but of course we aren't swimming the whole time and the routine varies somewhat from day to day so I'm not sure just how many calories I burned today. I have two other things coming up today. First I will run a "stadium" - which means to run all around the bleachers of the stadium - up one aisle and down the next. This takes 30+ minutes to do. Second I will spend about 45 minutes in the weight room. I really don't know how much these things burn.

Nutritionists I talked to estimated 3500 or a max of 4000 calories a day as what I should eat. When I said I ate much more than that they had me keep a "food diary" for a week. The diary showed that I ate up to 7000 cals/day and that led to a doctor's appointment. As once before when a saw a doctor about this, no medical problem was found with me. I can't help my appetite, I just get hungry.

This morning I ate breakfast at home. I think it was about 1100 cals. At 10:30 after swim practice I ate about 1800 cals at the dining hall. It is 2:30PM now and I am pretty hungry. I will go run my "stadium" and then eat another 1800 cals or so. About 1500 cals for dinner at around 8:00PM and a small bedtime snack is typical for me.

Last edited by AthleteGirl; 02-26-2011 at 02:54 PM. Reason: fixed typos

 
Old 02-26-2011, 10:05 PM   #8
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Are you active outside of your sports training? For example, if you walk/run/bicycle all over the place, that could be consuming more calories.

 
Old 02-26-2011, 11:26 PM   #9
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

To "tjlhb",

I guess I would say yes to that. I don't have a car so I am walking just about everywhere. I also tend to do outdoor things like hiking on non-training days.

 
Old 02-28-2011, 02:42 PM   #10
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Do you know what your body fat percentage is? I have a suggestion as to how you could burn less calories (and therefore eat less) but it will only work if you have excess body fat to get rid of. Here's how it works: For every 10% of body weight you lose, you would use 15% less energy and therefore would not require as many calories. And at the same time there's the potential for you to be a more effective athlete, depending on what you're training for.

Last edited by JohnR41; 03-03-2011 at 02:39 PM. Reason: word change and spelling

 
Old 02-28-2011, 10:10 PM   #11
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

JohnR41,
My body fat percentage is around 12 - 15 percent. The lower value typical when I am ready for competition. If I were to lose 15 pounds I would be losing lean body mass along with any fat. My legs tend to be very muscular, especially the thighs. This is caused by training for fencing but it actually is bad for running.

My two serious sports are swimming and fencing, but I run x-country also and aspire to compete in the modern pentathlon.

 
Old 02-28-2011, 11:32 PM   #12
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

Quote:
Originally Posted by AthleteGirl View Post
I guess I would say yes to that. I don't have a car so I am walking just about everywhere. I also tend to do outdoor things like hiking on non-training days.
Being active when not explicitly doing sports training, as well as your very low body fat percentage (muscle consumes more energy than fat), likely increases your calorie burn to be greater than the usual formulas for basal metabolism plus exercise.

 
Old 03-01-2011, 02:50 AM   #13
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

clary0975,

Thanks for the post. Sometimes people wonder if I am bulimic - the answer is no. But as you said there are other forms of eating disorders. Enough people have wondered if I have an eating disorder that I have thought about this. I don't think I have an eating disorder for several reasons.

First, my large appetite started before I can even really remember. My family commented on it as early as I can remember but when I was young I didn't really think about it. There was no psychology there and I was never fat or anything.

Second, normally my eating is consistent and routine. I eat about the same amounts at the same times every day. I don't "binge".

Third, I eat only when I am hungry. I know hunger can be psychological but I really do feel hungry and if I don't eat in an hour or two my stomach gets "twitchy" similar to the feeling of having "butterflies in your stomach" and eventually starts to cramp. These don't seem to be psychological things.

On the other hand if I eat to much I feel bloated and feel hot around my neck and face. To cure this I go out for a run, swim, or something. Now this is reacting to burn calories after eating too much.

I don't think I have an eating disorder and my interest in athletic is for completely different reasons. But if you have any more insight I would be glad to hear it.

Last edited by AthleteGirl; 03-01-2011 at 03:22 AM.

 
Old 03-03-2011, 03:26 PM   #14
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Re: I have an abnormally large appetite

I agree with Tjlhb. You have a lot of muscle and you're very active, so that accounts for burning a lot of calories. When I did a search for high-endurance athletes, I found that they may require as many as 6,000 calories per day.

Last edited by JohnR41; 03-03-2011 at 03:28 PM. Reason: Punctuation

 
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