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By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Here, Dietitian Juliette Kellow, picks 10 of the best foods to fill you up and help you lose weight without always feeling hungry….
Porridge is a great breakfast choice for keeping you full until lunchtime.
Oats are a wholegrain, which means they contain all three parts of the grain – the nutrient-rich inner germ, the starchy endosperm and the fibre-rich outer bran layer.
A wealth of research shows that wholegrains can help you feel fuller for longer, mainly because they are high in fibre and starchy carbohydrates. Research from Quaker Oats has shown that after eating oats for breakfast, 46 percent of people taking part in the survey said they didn’t feel hungry for 4 hours and 21 minutes.
In particular, oats are a good source of a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. They also have a low glycaemic index so can help to keep blood sugar levels steady, preventing those dips that leave us tired, hungry and reaching for the biscuits.
Australian research, which looked at how satiating 38 different foods were, found porridge to be twice as filling as muesli and one and a half times more filling than All-bran.
Top tip: to keep calories down make porridge with water or semi-skimmed milk and sweeten with an artificial sweetener rather than syrup or honey. Adding fresh fruit such as berries or a banana will add even more fibre to keep you going for longer.
The humble spud is often seen as a dieting enemy, but research reveals that potatoes actually help to fill you up thanks to them being packed with starchy carbohydrates.
When looking at the Satiety Index and which 38 foods kept us the most full for two hours after eating them, boiled potatoes came in at the top spot, beating wholegrain bread, brown rice and bananas.
If you want to stay fuller for longer, it’s not worth frying them. Chips were found to be three times less filling than boiled spuds. Other studies have also shown that boiled potatoes are more satiating than chips, even though they have a higher glycaemic index. Researchers believe this is because we can eat more of them for fewer calories – and it’s also the quantity of food, not just the effect it has on our blood sugar levels, that helps to fill us up.
Top tip: as an alternative to chips, make wedges. Simply cut a medium potato into eight wedges, spray with a spray oil and bake until the inside is soft and the outside is crunchy.
There’s heaps of good research to suggest that eating soup before a meal improves satiety so you eat less and take in fewer calories as a result.
It’s far more effective – and a whole lot tastier – than drinking a glass of water with a meal to help fill you up. In a study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers asked women to eat chicken casserole, chicken casserole with a glass of water, or chicken casserole with the same amount of water added to make a soup. They were then allowed to eat whatever they liked for lunch. Those women who ate the soup consumed around 100 fewer calories at lunchtime – enough to shift 10lb in a year – and didn’t compensate by eating more during the rest of the day. It’s thought that when water is consumed separately from food it satisfies thirst not hunger. But when it’s mixed with chunky ingredients, the body handles it like food.
A bowl of soup looks substantial, helping to give the impression that it will fill you up. And it takes up a lot of space in your stomach – and as your stomach fills up it stimulates stretch receptors that send signals to your brain to let you know that you are full.
Tip tip: opt for low-fat varieties, rather than filling up on rich, creamy soups. Good soup choices include vegetable, bean, lentil, mushroom, chicken, carrot and potato soup.
Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast can help to stop hunger kicking in so that you eat less for the rest of the day, and lose weight as a result.
In one study, overweight or obese women who ate eggs rather than bagels for breakfast reported greater feelings of satiety during the morning and consumed significantly less calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat at lunchtime. Plus their calorie intake remained lower for the rest of the day as well as for the next 36 hours. Unsurprisingly then, in a second study where overweight or obese women followed a low-calorie diet that included either eggs or bagels for breakfast, those eating eggs lost 65 percent more weight and reduced their waist measurement by 83 per cent more than those eating bagels.
It’s thought that the protein contained in eggs helps to improve satiety so that slimmers find it easier to stick to a reduced-calorie diet.
Top tip: avoid fried eggs and instead go for boiled, scrambled, poached or make an omelette using a spray oil.
Like oats, wholewheat pasta is a wholegrain food and is packed with fibre and starchy carbohydrates. A 100g portion of cooked wholewheat pasta contains almost three times as much fibre as the same serving size of cooked white pasta – 3.6g compared with 1.2g, respectively.
No surprises then that the Australian Satiety Index researchers found the brown stuff to be almost twice as filling as white pasta
Pasta also has a low glycaemic index and so helps to stablilise blood sugar levels so you’re less likely to get dips that leave you starving.
Top tip: downsize your portions to keep calories down. As a guideline opt for a portion that’s about the same size as a tennis ball – and remember to serve it with a low-fat sauce.
When it comes to foods to fill you up, most of you might think bananas would be the number one fruit choice. But according to the satiety index, oranges are almost twice as filling as bananas for the same amount of calories.
In developing the satiety index, Australian researchers gave volunteers 240 calories worth of food – that equates to around 240g of banana (two large bananas) or 650g orange (four oranges). It’s likely that oranges were more filling than bananas simply because participants were able to eat a much bigger quantity for the same amount of calories.
Oranges may also be more filling because the have a higher fluid content – oranges are 86 percent water compared to bananas which are just 75 percent water – and research shows that foods with a high water content can help to improve our satiety because it increases the portion size without adding calories. Plus, oranges have a lower glycaemic index than bananas.
Top tip: choose a whole orange rather than orange juice. It contains more fibre, and research shows that drinks don’t fill us up as much as food.
When it comes to snacking, popcorn will fill you up far more than crisps, ice cream, chocolate, cake or doughnuts, simply because it’s so bulky. If you’re not convinced, weigh out 25g of crisps, 25g chocolate and 25g of popcorn. You’ll find the popcorn fills a much bigger space in a bowl – and therefore a much bigger space in your stomach. That means you’ll feel fuller for longer.
Popcorn also has the benefit of being a wholegrain food and so contains more fibre than many other popular snack foods.
Top tip: skip popcorn that’s coated in butter, oil, toffee or salt and instead enjoy plain, air-popped popcorn.
Beans are well known for being a good source of fibre, but they’re also packed with protein and it’s this perfect combination of fibre and protein that fills you up so you’re less likely to want to eat between meals.
Fibre works its magic in several ways. As well as helping to add bulk to our diet, insoluble fibre increases the viscosity or stickiness of food in our stomach so that it empties more slowly.
Soluble fibre helps to control blood sugar levels and may also increase levels of a satiety hormone so that you feel fuller for longer.
As for protein, research shows this nutrient is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats as the body has to work harder to digest and absorb it.
Top tip: choose beans that contain no added sugar and or salt and combine them with other high-fibre foods such as wholegrain toast or a jacket potato for a double whammy for full tummies.
As well as having a low glycaemic index, research indicates that peanuts can help to keep you fuller for longer.
In one American study, participants naturally decreased what they ate at other times of the day after consuming peanuts. Plus, they remarked that they felt full when they included peanuts or peanut butter in their diet.
Like beans, peanuts are a rich source of fibre and protein, both of which can help to improve satiety. But peanuts also have the added benefit of also being crunchy. This is important as crunchy foods take longer to chew and the simple act of chewing may improve satiety.
Top tip: watch your portion sizes. Nuts are packed with nutrients but they’re also high in calories. Go for fresh nuts, too, rather than salted ones.
It’s a slimming staple, but research shows that salad really does help to fill you up, especially when you have it before a meal. American researchers looked at the amount of calories women consumed at lunchtime from a main course of pasta, after eating a salad starter. They discovered that when the women ate a small low-calorie salad to start with, the whole meal provided seven percent fewer calories. The effect was even greater with a large low-calorie salad starter, with the whole meal containing 12 percent fewer calories. The satiating effects are likely to be due to a combination of both fibre and a large amount of food.
Top tip: don’t top your salad with oily dressings or mayo. Instead, keep calories down by using fat-free dressings or a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.
There is no need to be always feeling hungry.You can keep a food diary to keep track of the foods you are eating and learn how to lose weight with a healthy lifestyle rather than a diet. Try it Free for 24 hours.
The Satiety Index was developed by an Australian researcher who was looking into the relationship between what we eat and how hungry we are afterwards. The testing involved feeding volunteers 240 calorie portions of 38 different foods after which volunteers ranked their appetite (or lack thereof) and had their food choices monitored for a period after eating them. White bread was used as a baseline, with a satiety ranking of 100.
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