Why Does My Stomach Rumble When I’m Hungry?

Chloe Effron/iStock
Chloe Effron/iStock / Chloe Effron/iStock

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A gurgling, rumbling stomach doesn’t always mean that you’re hungry. It just means your digestive (die-JES-tiv) system is trying to do its job, moving food through your body and getting the nutrients (NEW-tree-ents) that give you energy and help you grow. As your body absorbs these nutrients and gets rid of food waste, though, your stomach empties out and often seems to get noisier!

Your gastrointestinal (gas-tro-in-TES-tin-uhl) tract plays a big role in moving food through your body. It’s a kind of long tube that runs from your mouth (where the food goes in) to your anus (where the poop comes out). Along the way, the food passes through your stomach. A rumbling tummy means the muscles in your stomach and small intestines are squeezing together to push food, liquids, and gases through your gastrointestinal tract. That rumbling gets a lot louder when your stomach is mostly empty.

When the muscles in your stomach and small intestines are pushing everything along after a big meal, all the food packed inside muffles the sound. But if it’s been a while since you’ve eaten, most of that food is gone. Instead, your stomach and intestines contain mostly air and only a little liquid and food. So when the muscles of the stomach and small intestines squeeze, those gurgling gases and liquids inside your empty stomach are easier to hear.

Watch this D News video of a doctor using a plastic bag, a tube, and some water to demonstrate (or show) how an empty stomach makes noise.