Despite how healthy our diets can be, sometimes no amount of salad can satisfy our hunger and we just need that little bit extra to keep us going. But when on a diet or eating healthily, it can be difficult to find foods that both satisfy hunger and keep the calories low. Luckily there are some foods that a both filling and nutritious, proving a relief for our growling stomachs when trying to shed some weight.
Ask any health site or nutritionist and they will consistently recommend porridge, oatmeal and a variety of oats as a healthy but filling food, particularly for the start of the day. Porridge oats have a very low G.I, Glycemic Index, meaning that the glycogen from the carb is released into your bloodstream slowly, sustaining your energy levels for a longer time and preventing those post breakfast food cravings.
Porridge oats have a very low Glycemic Index, meaning that the glycogen from the carb is released into your bloodstream slowly...
Oats are high in fibre which keeps your blood sugar levels balanced unlike other sugary breakfasts, and also have an amazing ability to absorb any fluids efficiently, passing through your digestive tract at a very slow rate.
Porridge is also a great food to fill you up due to its consistency; it's been found that wetter and creamier foods switch on satisfaction signals and so improve satiety. What's more, studies show that a bowl of porridge can also lower cholesterol. If a bowl of oatmeal doesn't excite your taste buds, adding some nuts, fruit, cinnamon, honey, peanut butter and any other ingredients can be a tasty addition whilst providing their own nutritional and filling benefits.
One of popcorn’s most appealing qualities is the fact that it's a whole grain, making it rich in fibre and protein; four cups providing around 3 grams of each nutrient. But the best feature of popcorn is its volume, being mostly air, popcorn and other airy snack such as rice cakes, serve as a lighter choice calorie wise, but still serve as a filling snack. A 25g (0.9oz) serving of popcorn will fill a much bigger bowl compared the same weight in crisps — plus there's less fat too, and when eaten popcorn also takes up a vast amount of space in your stomach.
Plain air-popped popcorn seasoned with whatever seasoning takes your fancy is the perfect way to fill up with a healthy snack instead of alternatives such as crisps and pretzels. Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, a touch of salt, whatever satisfied your cravings, can all be used to add flavour to popcorn, setting you back less than 150 calories, though it is best to stay away from packed butter and toffee popcorns as they can be deceivingly unhealthy.
Apples, oranges and pears
Apples and other fruits such as pears and oranges are a great food to keep hunger at bay as they are full or fibre and natural sugars, serving as a useful source of sustainable energy. Studies have also suggested that they can make a good pre-meal snack; research showing that eating an apple 20 minutes prior to a eating a meal reduces the amount eaten during that meal. So, enjoying fruits as your daily snack will not only contribute to one of your daily recommended fruit or veg portions, but the fibre will fill up your stomach and should keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Oranges are another super-fruit when it comes to satiety index and are almost twice as filling as bananas for the same amount of calories. Oranges are 86 per cent water and research shows that foods with high water content can help to improve our satiety due to the increased portion size, without impairing the calorie content. Apples and pears particularly contain pectin which slows digestion and encourages satiety, whilst still providing an array of nutrition needed throughout the body.
Eggs aren't as low in calories compared to the other food mentioned so far, but due to their high protein content, being one of the few complete proteins that contain all 9 amino acids, eggs are a great addition to anyone's diet. Once ingested, these amino acids trigger the hormones in the gut that suppress appetite, achieving that satisfied feeling. Protein is ideal for satisfying hunger but is also essential for the body’s optimum growth and maintenance of lean, metabolically active muscle tissue.
Eggs...can greatly assist keeping the hunger at bay and maintain steady blood sugar levels.
Each egg, containing about 140 calories and 12 grams of protein, can greatly assist keeping the hunger at bay and maintain steady blood sugar levels. But don't feel like you have to discard the yolk, as the majority of its protein is contained in the yolk, a combination with meats and vegetables won't impact your waistline but instead provide a filling snack or meal at any point in the day.
Soup is one of the ideal lunches and snack you can have to satisfy hunger, endless choices and options catering to different tastes, whilst containing a mass of ingredients that each provide a multitude of health benefits. Soup is also deceivingly slow to digest, passing through the digestive system slower that you would think, filling up your stomach with fluid and vegetables that are broken down slowly.
Starting a meal with a hearty soup is a great fill-up strategy, as much research that suggests eating soup before a meal improves satiety, causing you to eat less and consume fewer calories as a result. You need to be careful on your soup selection though; your best options are homemade and broth-based soups as you have control over the ingredients and can even include other filling foods such as potatoes, lentils and beans, each known for their filling effect. If you do choose a pre-made soup, make sure you check out the nutritional information as manufacturers will frequently sneak in unnecessary salt and sugars which can be counterproductive.
Yogurt (greek) and smoothies
Fruits obviously have many weight benefits, being a health option for rich nutrition and high fiber with low calorie count, but blending and combining them with yogurts and smoothies is an ideal way to add some calcium and fill the void growing in your stomach. Berries particularly can be a great addition to some yogurt or smoothies, providing an extra source of nutrition and energy as they are surprisingly low in sugars, but high in fiber compared to other fruits. Unlike most drinks, smoothies can be a great way to satisfy hunger as their thicker consistency and rich nutritional content slows the digestive system and passes out of the stomach slowly.
Adding some greek yogurt to your smoothie or on its own is another productive way to keep the hunger pangs at bay. Being high in protein, these amino acids slow the digestive system and keep you away from the cupboards for longer. Containing double the protein and half the sugar as regular yogurts, greek yogurt can be a great addition, easily combined with other foods as a healthy snack though the day.
Avocado is famous for its high fat content, but don't let that fool you, this is the good kind of fat! Monounsaturates found in avocados, are considered as helpful fats that reduce cholesterol by increasing the high-density lipoproteins found in the blood, significantly reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and even help with other problems such as arthritis.
Avocados also increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, helping your body fully utilise any food put into it. But in relation to satiety, the high healthy-fat and fibre content slow the digestive system, increasing satisfaction and releasing energy relatively slowly. Whether in a sandwich or salad, made into guacamole or tossed into an omelet, there are many ways that avocados can be included into your diet to reduce hunger and control weight.
Including these foods into your diet will be a great addition to your weight loss, helping you curb hunger and keep your body fully fueled and satisfied with its needed nutrients. Exploring different combinations and recipes for these foods that fill you up, is a great idea to keep you meals and snacks exciting but healthy.