If you’re bent on losing weight, or you just want to stave off those pesky, frequent hunger pangs, here’s some good news for you: There are certain foods that give you that feeling of fullness for longer periods, compared to processed foods and sugary snacks that give you only empty calories.
In 1995, researchers at the University of Sydney came up with a satiety index to identify which foods were filling and which provided only a placebo effect (i.e. empty calories). Those with a satiety index above 100 were considered more filling, while those with a satiety index that fell below 100 were considered less filling.
The benefit of these foods is that, apart from satisfying hunger and reducing the urge to binge-eat, they are packed with nutrients that give the body an overall healthy boost and provide fewer calories.
Listed below are 7 incredibly filling foods. Include them in your daily diet and you’ll soon notice the difference in your weight, mood, and energy level.
1. Baked or Boiled Potatoes
Swap your french fries with a healthy serving of boiled or baked potatoes. Fries have a satiety index of 116, while boiled or baked potatoes have a whopping 323 satiety index — the highest score among all the foods tested in the original study.
Potatoes are rich in fiber, water, protein, and carbs, as well as vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamin C. According to some studies, one reason that potatoes are so filling is that they contain proteinase inhibitor 2 or PI2, a protein that inhibits appetite.
Add a dollop of sour cream and cheese to make your boiled or baked potato more flavorful. You can also opt to have baked or boiled potatoes instead of rice or pasta to go with your steak dinner — you’ll get the same amount of nutrients but fewer calories this way.
Suddenly hit with hunger pangs? Quell your growling tummy with a healthy, yummy omelette — and you won’t find yourself starving until many hours later. In fact, one study found that participants who had an omelette meal experienced greater satiety (that feeling of fullness) for hours, compared to those who had a chicken sandwich and potato. Meanwhile, another study found that having eggs for breakfast resulted to increased satiety and lower calorie consumption for the rest of the day.
Eggs are packed with nutrients such as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine, which promote better eye health. They are also rich in protein, providing you with 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of the body.
If you’re craving for a snack, go with nuts such as walnuts and almonds. These energy-dense, nutrient-rich goodies contain high amounts of protein and unsaturated — also known as healthy — fats.
However, note that you must chew nuts properly in order to fully take advantage of the satiety they provide. Savoring them slowly instead of gulping them in one go will greatly reduce hunger and stave off unhealthy snack cravings.
Pulses belong to the legume family. These superfoods are the dry, edible seeds of legumes, such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, and dried peas. Pulses are rich in protein and fiber, and contain high levels of B vitamins, folate, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
Because pulses are effective and work fast in immediately satisfying hunger, they make for great, healthy snack alternatives.
5. Low-Fat Dairy Products
Do away with sugary desserts and go with low-fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt contains a higher amount of protein than regular yogurt and can lengthen the feeling of fullness. You can also have this nutritious, yummy yogurt for breakfast or as a snack.
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that promote good health, some of which are: B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and more. Thanks to its high protein and low calorie content, cottage cheese can greatly aid in losing weight and building muscle.
6. High-Fiber Foods
Fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy body. It aids the digestive system, controls blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and makes you feel full longer. Oats, whole-wheat bread, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and quinoa are just some of the fiber-rich foods you can include in your weekly meal plans.
7. Lean Meat and Fish
High-protein foods such as lean meat and fish are incredibly filling and effective at curbing one’s appetite, as they are able to change the levels of various satiety hormones. Fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help increase the feeling of fullness among the overweight and the obese. In addition, having a high-protein meat dish for lunch will make you consume less for dinner, which is great for those with weight-loss goals.
You don’t necessarily need to get your dose of protein from lean meat and fish. Vegans and vegetarians can also get the same amount of high protein from soy.