Ahh Chinese food. The mortal enemy to any health-abiding dieter’s meal plan. It’s been a running joke for quite some time now that Chinese food, however satisfying it may be in the moment, is sure to make you hungry an hour after eating it. However, there seems to be a consistent truth in this phenomenon. So why is it that Chinese food is isolated out of all other cuisines to be the culprit of mysterious and perpetual hunger? While there is no solid scientific evidence in particular, there are a few factors to consider.
The most likely cause of early hunger after a Chinese meal is the glycemic load. Chinese dishes tend to be loaded with added sugars (we all love that orange sauce) and simple carbohydrates such as white rice and white flour. These types of carbohydrates that tend to be high on the glycemic index will likely send your sugar levels through the roof for a while, but after they come crashing back down like a 707, you’re even more hungry than before. These spikes in blood sugar cause spikes in insulin that brings your blood sugar down way too fast. Now you end up with low sugar that stimulates the release of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
You would be hard pressed to find a Chinese dish at an American Chinese restaurant that isn’t packed with sodium. Now, we know by now that, for some people, excess sodium can be bad news, but what does that have to do with hunger? Salty meals tend to make us thirsty, and recent findings suggest that we often confuse our thirst for hunger. Therefore, if we experience significant thirst after eating a salty meal, it’s likely we could also get feelings of hunger.
The bottom line? If you want to enjoy Chinese food without experiencing the hunger pangs, we recommend:
- Limiting rice consumption to one cup, preferably brown rice
- Choosing dishes without sugary sauces or breaded meats
- Hydrating yourself with plenty of water after the meal