The 8 Most Filling Foods for Weight Loss
Your food choices decide how full you feel after eating. Different foods affect your level of satiation differently. For example, your body requires fewer calories to feel full from baked sweet potato or a cup of oatmeal, than from store bought French fries or a slice of pizza.
If you’re looking to drop pounds effectively, your goal should be to find foods that are more filling, can keep hunger at bay and ensure that you don’t feel hungry before its time for your next meal.
What makes some food more filling than others?
The feeling of fullness that occurs after eating is called satiety. Scientists measure satiety levels of foods via a satiety index. The higher the score of a certain food on the satiety index, the more filling it will be.
In general, foods that are more filling have the following features:
- They are higher in fiber. Fiber forms the bulk of some foods. It slows down your stomach emptying after a meal and increases overall digestion time, keeping you fuller for longer.
- They are higher in protein. Protein is the most filling macronutrient. It affects your satiety by changing levels of hunger hormones, ghrelin and GLP-1 in the body.
- They are higher in volume. These include foods that are packed with water. Water is an excellent way to add to fullness, without adding any calories.
- They are lower in calories. This means that a filling food is lower in calories for its weight. These foods are often much higher in water and fiber, and are lower in fat.
Whole foods are often much lower in calories, and much higher in protein and/or fiber and water. On the other hand, processed foods are packed with sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and refined carbs that contribute to weight gain.
Keep reading to find out some of our favorite filling foods and why you must start including them in your diet stat!
Eggs are incredibly nutrient dense and are an amazing source of high quality protein. One large egg will give you 6 grams of protein – which includes all 9 essential amino acids. Because of their high protein content, they have a high satiety index score.
According to one study, participants who consumed eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel not only increased their satiety, but also reduced their overall calorie intake for the next 36 hours!
You don’t have to throw away the yolks, however. Most of the nutrients in eggs, other than protein, are found in yolks. They’re packed with antioxidants, zeaxanthine and lutein and some good fats that also contribute to your satiety.
Oats, whether you add it raw to your shakes, or have it as porridge, is extremely satiating. In fact, it ranks 3rd in the satiety index.
Oats are a great source of fiber, including a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. The feeling of fullness you get from having oatmeal, comes from its high fiber content and its ability to absorb plenty of water. Furthermore, the beta-glucan in oats may help release satiety hormones, and slow down the emptying of your stomach.
According to one study, participants who ate oatmeal over store bought cereal, felt fuller after their meal and consumed fewer calories during lunch.
Quinoa, a seed/grain, is all the rage these days because of its high protein content. It’s a vegan source of protein that provides all essential amino acid, and is thus, considered a complete protein source.
Quinoa is also higher in fiber compared to most other grains. Whether you add this superfood to salads, or have it instead of pasta, the fiber and protein together will help you feel fuller overall, making you eat much less calories than you usually would.
Greek yogurt is thicker and often much higher in protein than regular yogurt.
It makes an excellent breakfast choice, or a midday snack to help keep you full until your next meal.
In one study, women were given a 160 calorie yogurt snack, with low, moderate, or high protein content. Participants who consumed high protein Greek yogurt showed the highest satiety and were able to have dinner much later.
Whether you cook them at home, or have them raw, there’s no doubt that vegetables are packed with nutrition. They’re rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other powerful plant compounds vital for health.
What’s great about vegetables for weight loss is that they are higher in volume, yet lower in calories. They’re dense in water and fiber that add bulk to your food, helping you feel fuller faster.
Furthermore, when you’re eating vegetables, such as in the form of a salad, the extra chewing action required tricks your brain into thinking that you are eating more. This helps you feel satisfied much faster.
According to one study, participants who consumed a large portion of salad before their meals felt much fuller and were able to reduce their overall calorie intake by the end of their meals.
Nuts are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats that make them really filling. However, when you’re snacking on a few nuts, be sure to chew them properly. One study found that chewing almonds up to 40 times resulted in much greater satiation, compared to chewing 10-25 times.
Fish is rich in high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that we can only obtain from food.
Studies show that omega-3s not only help in feeling full, they also protect against obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive illnesses.
Furthermore, fish has a higher satiety index score than all other protein-dense foods, including beef and eggs.
One study that compared the effects of fish, beef and chicken protein on satiety found that fish protein was the most effective in increasing fullness.
Legumes, such as peas, lentils, peanuts and beans are packed with plant-based protein and fiber. They are relatively lower in calories as well, which makes them incredibly filling. Simply tossing in half a cup of chickpeas to your salad can have a massive impact on your satiety following your meal, without adding many calories.
Click here for more nutrition articles.