Food to keep you feeling fuller for longer
I remember the last time I went to a fast food restaurant and wolfed down one of their meals. Despite all those calories, I still had a gnawing, empty feeling in my stomach afterwards. The food had barely touched the sides. (Knowing me, I then ate something else.)
I haven’t been to one of those places since because I hate that feeling of eating something that a) doesn’t fill me up and b) leaves me feeling sluggish and slow. It seems such a waste of an eating opportunity.
My new discovery
Nowadays, I’m a bit of a goody two-shoes about food. I’m mostly all about satiety – I try to stick to foods that not only give me energy but also keeps me going for longer.
It means I’m less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack in the middle of the day, although of course it doesn’t always work out in practice. Especially when faced with the kids’ flapjacks like today.
But recently, while doing my day job as a freelance health journalist, I learned something new about satiety that I thought was pretty amazing: Greek yoghurt has three times more protein than natural yoghurt, or even Greek-style yoghurt.
I know, I thought it was incredible too.
It means a ‘real’ Greek yoghurt, like Total, will help you feel full for far longer than if you’d eaten the same amount of natural or fruit yoghurt.
Intrigued, I went home and tried out the theory: I started ladling a dollop of Greek yoghurt on my porridge each morning or having a bowlful with fruit and seeds. You know what? It works. Although I still need my apple mid-morning, I find that after eating the yoghurt, I can usually keep hunger pangs at bay till lunchtime.
Here are some more filling-food tips:
Eat avocado with your lunch
A study recently published in the Nutrition Journal revealed that eating half an avocado with lunch helped people feel fuller for longer.
The people studied, who were all overweight, were 40% less likely to feel like snacking three hours after lunch, and 28% less likely to need a snack five hours after lunch.
Tuck into eggs for breakfast
Cheap, nourishing and packed with protein, eggs are great for filling you up. The yolk contains good fats, and fat also plays a key role in triggering feelings of satisfaction after a meal.
Eat a couple of eggs in the morning with a slice of wholemeal toast. Or try clinical performance nutritionist Martin MacDonald‘s breakfast of choice: eggs and Greek yoghurt. (Not mixed together though).
All that fat and protein in oily fish makes it a winning combination where satiety is concerned. But do choose your fish carefully.
“The oilier fish like salmon will satisfy you for longer than if you ate tuna, which is leaner,” says Martin.“In the same way, chicken thighs are oilier than chicken breast, so will sustain you longer than the same amount of lean chicken breast.
Almonds (or other nuts)
Researchers studying the effect of almonds on hunger gave people 43g of almonds to eat every day but otherwise didn’t change their diet.
The study – published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition – found not only did the almond-snackers feel more satisfied, but they also ate less later in the day. And despite eating all those almonds, they didn’t put on any extra weight. A great snack to carry in your bag for emergency hunger pangs.
Beans and lentils
Pulses deserve a special mention for their staying power.They’re high in fibre, which also helps you feel more satisfied, plus they’re a great protein source too. Eat them with salads or sprinkle them in soups and stews.
Make sure you tuck into liquid-based foods, like soups or stews. Experts think that this kind of meal is more satisfying than if you ate the ingredients and drank the same volume of water separately.
You’ll also get more staying power from foods that absorb water during cooking, such as rice and pasta, according to the British Nutrition Foundation, and foods that contain water naturally, for example fruit and veg.
This is because water-based foods all have a lower energy density. This means that they contain fewer calories but take up a larger volume in your stomach, so triggering feelings of fullness. High fibre foods, like wholegrains, will also do this too. Eat protein with them to maintain those feelings of fullness for longer.
Rich in fibre and also water, eating a pile of veg will always create more food bulk in your stomach, giving you that lovely, filled tummy feeling straight after eating.
But there’s another useful thing happening too. “If you add vegetables to any meal, the fibre helps to lower the glycaemic index (GI) of anything else you’re eating,” says Martin.
“In other words, the fibre in all that broccoli and cabbage on the side of your plate will slow down the release of energy in your accompanying pizza.
“It means you’ll feel fuller for longer than if you ate the pizza without veg.”
Side of broccoli anyone?