Recently 5 of the of the personal trainers and myself (Fitness Director, Chelsea Salisbury) went on a 14 day detox/cleanse. Initially some experience caffeine withdrawal, but most of us felt HANGRY or FOGGY for the first couple days. Hangry is an amalgam of HUNGRY and ANGRY. Have you ever snapped at something you usually would have let slide off your shoulders? (At this point I should make a public apology to my crew team haha). This is the side effect of HANGRY. I’m not saying that we were very angry – in fact, working together for the 14 days helped us understand more about ourselves and the effects of NUTRITIOUS food in our bodies. We also pulled together to help each other through the cravings usually associated in the first couple days (for no other physiological reason other than we wanted just what we couldn’t have – OREOs in my case!). Working together as a team we decided a couple things: misery loves company, no matter what your body composition is you can benefit from a cleanse, eating more meant we lost more (WHAT?!), “efficient bathroom experiences”, creativity in food prep, 14 days wasn’t so bad – we want to keep going and the term HANGRY.
So, where does HANGER come from? Carbs, proteins and fats in everything we consume are digested into simple components such as sugar (ie: glucose), amino acids and free fatty acids. All of these nutrients flow into the bloodstream, distributed for energy to the organ and tissues. As time between meals increases the amount of nutrients circulating is depleted. If your blood glucose level drops enough your brain will go into survival mode. (The fitness center was definitely a game of “Survivor” the first two days.) Unlike other organs and tissues in your body that can survive on a variety of nutrients, your brain is critically dependent on glucose to do its job. During this time you may find difficulties with: concentration, slurred words, irritability, and socially acceptable behavior (you may be on a short fuse) and more. There is a secondary reason for this HANGER. Once in survival mode your brain instructs many organs to begin to synthesis and release hormones that increase the amount of glucose in your blood (growth hormone from the pituitary gland, glucagon from the pancreas and adrenaline / cortisol from the adrenal glands). Adrenaline and cortisol are usually released into your blood stream under stressful situations, not just food related. However, it may just be in our genes (this would explain a lot of me!). Some people have more levels of neuropeptide Y in their cerebrospinal fluid and tend to be more prone to HUNGER.
Just keep in mind, HANGER is a survival mechanism and food is a necessity. Remember how I said we ate more than usual and still lost body fat… our bodies love food and we can trick its natural survival instincts.
For more information about the cleanse, or how we tracked our progress please come see any of the Personal Trainers.