When you’re trying to either lose weight or maintain it, one of the hardest things to deal with during the day is hunger pangs. We all get them, creeping up on us at the most inconvenient times – mid-morning, late afternoon, in the evening – we try to ignore them as best we can but often find ourselves giving in to the relentless cravings. What we need is food that fills us up creating a feeling of satiety – that pleasant feeling of fullness and the corresponding reduction of hunger.
Foods that create that feeling of satiety are rich in fiber, water, protein and healthy fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids). When you consume foods that contain those satiety-stimulating components, it’s a sure bet for the following to happen:
· Digestion is slowed down keeping you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
· Prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes which can lead to feeling hungry again.
· Foods high in fiber or protein are particularly good at keeping us full without feeling weighted down.
Foods that are heavily processed, sugary and/or high in unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fat), even though often high in calories, have little satiety power due to being digested quicker and leading to the cycle of hunger pangs and overeating.
Listed below are foods that have a high satiety factor meaning they won’t leave you feeling hungry soon after eating them as they provide a long period of satiety. They help fill you up without weighing you down:
1. Eggs – It’s okay to eat eggs and what a great way to start the morning. Eggs contain about 6 grams of protein and having a hard-boiled or poached egg at around 75 calories instead of a fried egg will save on consuming too much fat. Studies have shown that obese people who ate a two-egg breakfast five times a week had more weight loss than those having a bagel breakfast. The high protein content of eggs is more satisfying and “eggceptional” than a bagels’ high carbohydrate content.
2. Oatmeal – Probably one of the most satisfying cereals around, having a bowl of oatmeal is bound to make you feel full without feeling stuffed. Soluble fiber is the magic ingredient in oatmeal as it forms a gel in the stomach, slowing down digestion and creating a feeling of fullness. Oatmeal also scores well with good amounts of protein, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.
3. Watermelon – There’s a reason why the word “water” is before melon in this fruit. Witha 92% water content, it doesn’t take much of it to achieve that satiated feeling. Each bite provides you with significant amounts of vitamin C, A, B6 and the phytochemical lycopene and only 40 calories in one cup.
4. Oranges or Grapefruit – This citrus duo are masters of satiety. Oranges contain 2.3 grams of fiber while grapefruit have 2 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Their high water content also helps with keeping hunger at bay as oranges are 87% water and grapefruit 91%. Both are rich in vitamin C, A, potassium and pantothenic acid.
5. Avocadoes – Add a few slices of this heart-healthy monounsaturated fat to soups, salads or tacos and you’ve got a winner in dwindling hunger pangs. Even though the fat content can range from 71 to 88% of its total calories, it’s because of the fat that helps slow digestion keeping you from searching out food later. One cup of sliced avocado also provides a whopping 10 grams of fiber and almost 3 grams of protein, higher than most other fruits.
6. Beans – Beans are such a versatile food and too many of us miss out on this high fiber, hunger-reducing legume. There are so many too choose from – pinto, kidney, lima, black, navy – and all provide anywhere from 3 grams up to 9 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber in a one-half cup serving. Add them to soups, salads, casseroles or enjoy them on their own.
7. Soups – A warm bowl of soup can be one of the more satisfying, fulfilling foods around. The high water content is one reason for the full feeling it creates and if you add vegetables and lean meats like poultry or beef, it’s a no-brainer for diminishing hunger for hours.
8. Greek Yogurt – If there’s one food loaded with protein, its Greek yogurt. Depending on the brand, a one-cup serving can have anywhere from 9 grams up to 14 grams of casein protein. Casein protein is the most abundant protein in milk. It has a slow rate of digestion resulting in a delayed gastric emptying and a slower absorption rate so you feel fuller longer. Eating yogurt is also a great way to obtain calcium but watch out on the sugar content. Opt instead for plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for sweetness.
9. Salmon – This nutrient dense fish is one not to let swim away. A 4-ounce portion provides 25 grams of high-quality protein helping to curb your appetite. Salmon is an excellent source of potassium, selenium and vitamin B12 but its content of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids is what makes it a standout. Eat fish two to three times a week to submerge hunger pangs once and for all.
10. Popcorn – If you must have a snack, popcorn, preferably air-popped and no butter, is the way to go. Air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup while oil-popped popcorn has only 55 calories per cup – use olive oil when popping. Considered a whole grain, popcorn provides fiber and bulk to the diet, filling you up keeping cravings to a minimum.
11. Apples – An apple a day keeps…..you full! The key is to eat the whole apple instead of drinking apple juice or eating applesauce as all that biting and chewing keeps our mouth busy and it’s a superior way to reduce hunger leading to better satisfaction. Apples contain a type of fiber known as pectin along with a high water content helping to create more bulk in our diet leaving us feeling full without feeling stuffed.
12. Nuts – It’s okay to be a little nutty sometimes – as in choosing almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or pistachios. A handful is all it takes to give you healthy amounts of unsaturated fat, protein and fiber, the perfect trifecta of making their satiety value skyrocket. Because they’re crunchy, the mechanical aspect of chewing generates a gratifying feeling of fullness meaning you’re less likely to seek out food later.