Difference between Appetite and Hunger

Introduction and background

Do you think hunger and appetite are same things? Think they are Synonyms? Not at all!Most of you would say “yes” to answer this. Apparently, we find these two words exchangeable but in fact, they are not. Before describing the the two different mechanism of appetite and hunger or our neuroelectrical broadcast let me ask another question. What is the difference between need and desire? Understanding answer to this question would surely help you get the difference between appetite and hunger. Need is, the ‘want’ for something we cannot live without and can be fulfilled. On contrary, desire depends on the nature and material of the ‘wants’ i-e even if there is not a need still then we want something and that’s called desire. In the reflection of the ‘need and desire’ definition appetite and hunger can be defined. If hunger is a need to eat then appetite is the desire to eat more. Both of them are actually brain signals to body to eat. Our brain generates signals to eat in order to fill our bodies with the required nutrition. We end up consuming food and its not must that the ingested food contains those required nutrients. What happens next is the depletion of nutrients in the body again causes brain to ask for food. This normal signal to take in food is hunger. If you take food when you are hungry and your stomach was asking to be filled then hunger is finished by taking in small amount of food. Actually, it is when you like the taste of food to the extent that you cannot resist taking in more just to feel satiated; your appetite plays the role here. Considering this, it can be said safely that hunger and appetite are significantly different terms and so must be defined differently.


Call it “Hunger” when

Call it “hunger” when physically your body is responding you for the need of food. The ways by which body gives you those signals might include grumbling of stomach condition known as hunger pangs. This is simply muscular contractions of stomach. Another condition or response is bearing the empty feeling. This is due to the chemical changes inside your body like the low level of glucose in blood several hours after eating. As the already eaten food is taken up by insulin hormone and low levels causes response to eat something. Hunger is a way or a meter that gives your body’s fuel condition i-e when low you have to refuel it by food.

Call it “Appetite” when

Call it “Appetite” when there is no need of food to take but you are getting psychological signals to take in more. Hunger can be called physical need on the other hand appetite is more of a psychological want of food. This sensory or psychological reaction varies with the features of food. Some foods smell so delectable that even before tasting it you feel like eating more. This is a conditioned response due to the smell or taste of that food. At times, we end up eating food that appears so yummy and scrumptious when we are not hungry at all. This is due to our appetite. The physiological reactions that are due to the conditions of good taste and good smell include salivations and stomach contractions urging us to take in that food. Appetite makes us take in more than we need. It is called as a desire to eat.

Difference between Appetite and Hunger

Considering the definition of appetite and hunger, it is to portray that hunger is a biological signal that is beyond our control. In fact, hunger is an alarm telling us to take in food and energize our bodies for performing daily tasks. On the other hand, appetite is the drive to eat more food just to satiate our desire. We cannot control hunger as once our blood is deprived of the glucose it wants to balance its amount. While hunger is a spontaneous natural signal to eat, appetite develops by experience as well. For example, you would not feel an urge to eat if you do not take some snacks with the drinks either cold or hot. However, once you start munching on light regular snacks with the drinks next time there will be a continuous pinch signaling you to take it. Therefore, it is advisable to train your eating habits such a way that you can distinguish between your hunger and appetite. Having a good appetite is a positive but control over it is just invaluable.


In order to lose weight or maintain a good body one must recognize the difference between hunger and learned appetite drive. Try satisfying your hunger with nutritious less caloric food and fight back the urge to eat more when not needed.