Monday, August 17, 2020

The Art and Science of Foods That Fill You Up

How much are you eating? Do you know? Counting calories can suck, and be a lot of work, but it’s worth doing for at least 2-3 days to get a sense of whether or not your eating is on target.

But let’s say your daily calorie intake is about where it should be. In that case, we’d look to incorporate more foods that enhance your feeling of fullness. Research to date has found that there are three keys to achieving it.

(Sadly, none of them are bacon.)

They are protein, fiber, and water.

So how do you get more of them into your life? Here’s a simple way to make it happen and feel more in control of your diet (and hunger) than ever. 

Prioritize protein at every meal.

Research consistently shows protein is the most filling macronutrient, so it’s great to have a serving of it at each meal. If you want to take it a step further, you could set a goal.

“We recommend approximately 0.8-1g of protein per pound of target bodyweight if you are active,” says Born Fitness nutrition coach Natalie Sabin. (Note: Target body weight is what you want to weigh, not necessarily what you weigh currently.) “Not only is protein satiating, but it’s also muscle-sparing — meaning you’re more likely to hold on to your lean mass when you are in a calorie deficit.”

a carton of multi-colored eggs

Meat, eggs, and dairy are all good sources of protein. If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, then rice and beans, quinoa or tofu are all go-to options.

Choose carbs that fill you up (the right way).

According to the satiety index, fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal additions. Potatoes, beans, and oatmeal are all proven to quell hunger longer — which makes sense since all are rich sources of dietary fiber. So are fruits.

Researchers at Penn State University found that when subjects consumed a 125-calorie apple before lunch, they ate 200 fewer calories in the meal that followed. They also reported a greater feeling of fullness.

2 bowls of oatmeal topped with fruit

Let’s get nuts.

You might think that, with high concentrations of calories and fat, nuts wouldn’t be a great idea for dieters. But nuts are a surprising success story when it comes to weight control.

According to obesity researcher and writer Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D., nuts “are less calorie-dense than they might seem because some of their calories pass through the digestive system unabsorbed.”

Basically, he means: When you eat a serving of almonds, which is about 162 calories, your body won’t necessarily take in all of those calories. Some will just pass right through you, a phenomenon that researchers attribute to the nut’s hardness and high fiber content.

This doesn’t mean you should go crazy and gob down handful after handful. There’s a big difference between “not all of the calories get absorbed” and “calorie-free.” (And let’s be clear: nuts are definitely not calorie-free.) Enjoy, but watch your serving sizes here.


Just add water.

Numerous studies show that consuming water before a meal reduces calorie consumption and increases the feeling of fullness. Many people have heard the “8 glasses a day” rule, but few actually do it.

From wherever you’re starting, see if you can add three glasses to your daily regimen: one before (or during) breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you opt to drink during the meal rather than before, try taking a sip between bites.

If you’re doing all of these things, but still feel like you barely make it to lunch without gnawing your arm off, switch up one more thing: How often you eat.

Some people prefer to eat several smaller meals and snacks per day, while others find they do better by eating just 2 or 3 bigger meals. As we’ve explained before, so long as your calorie total is the same, neither option is better or worse. It’s simply a matter of preference.

If you’re looking for more personalization and hands-on support, our online coaching program may be right for you. Every client is assigned two coaches — one for nutrition and one for fitness. Find out more here. 


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