5 Reasons You Might Be Hangry

Apr 13, 2020

Dr. Ashley Margeson

Dr. Ashley Margeson



When it comes to being “hangry”, there’s nothing worse than not understanding why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. Sometimes, yes, we know we didn’t eat enough that day. But there are other factors that can play into those blood sugar lows. From your adrenaline and stress hormone response, to where you’re at in your cycle; here’s why you might be hangry (and what you can do about it!) 

You ate too many carbohydrates, without enough protein or fat. 

Carbs aren’t the devil. I tell all my patients this. But, for the majority of us, carbohydrates need to be paired with a fat or a protein to ensure that your blood sugars don’t spike and then crash in response to the food you’ve taken in. So your toast in the morning? Dose it with a few tablespoons of peanut butter. And your apple in the afternoon? Make sure you’re eating a few slices of chicken or some cheese with it. And that pasta you’re having tonight? Fill ¼ of your plate with pasta, and the rest of it with sliced meat and some green veggies. Your blood sugars will thank you. 

Your cortisol dropped out 

Specifically if you get hangry around 2pm to 3pm in the afternoon. If you start your day and you “GO!”, at some point your body stops being able to run on adrenaline, it can’t maintain cortisol and it bottoms out. This adrenaline in the (specifically) 3 hours before causes glucose to be liberated from your glycogen stores and for it to hit your bloodstream. Then, it drops out, your cortisol plummets and you crash. You need something to keep you going, and your body will do whatever it needs to get it. 

You Ran On Adrenaline For Too Long

Similar to the point above, long term adrenaline (read – long term low grade stress) causes an increase in glucose to be released into your bloodstream. Your body thinks that you’re running away from a bear right now, so that glucose is important for your muscles. However, you’re not running from a bear, you’re just worried about missing a deadline, your kid forgot about their science project or you’re late. Turns out, now that blood glucose needs insulin to kick in, and that bottoms out your blood sugars leading to your hangriness.  Stop running, start creating pauses and priorities (2 per day) in your day. 

You’re Pre-Period

This is actually a thing, specifically if you’re the type of woman who swells before her period, gets bloated, carves ALL of the food and has a heavy and (usually) pretty painful cycle. These are all signs of an inflammatory cascade being triggered by the estrogen change about 5 days before your period starts. What this means is that your blood sugars aren’t being regulated as well as they usually are. This can lead to that “hangry/cranky/blah feeling” that doesn’t really get better when you eat something. If this sounds like you, supporting your hormone balance can help with that feeling. 

You didn’t eat enough

Yup. Generally, the most commonly found cause in men and women. You need to eat. Preferably 10g of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. Plus some greens, colour and water. As much as we all wish, you can’t survive on adrenaline and air. Annoyingly so. 



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