The worst part about trying to lose weight is feeling hungry. As a nutritionist specializing in weight loss and maintenance, I have experienced firsthand that feeling hungry often leads dieters astray and contributes to them falling off the wagon.
I have never been a fan of deprivation diets -- or any diet for that matter. It is more important to develop lifelong habits you can sustain. One such habit is choosing "go to" foods that you enjoy and that also make you feel full. The key to feeling full is not eating large portions, but rather, choosing foods that contain nutrients which aid satiety. Foods high in protein, fiber, and good fats tend to keep your hunger at bay, which is what you want to aim for when trying losing weight.
Here are six nutritious -- and delicious -- foods that will help keep you feeling full. You won't even know you are trying to lose weight.
Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to keep from feeling hungry an hour after eating breakfast. Oatmeal contains a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber which is not only good for your heart, but it also may also keep your hunger pangs away.
Research comparing the effects of oatmeal and corn flakes on feelings of fullness and hunger found that overweight subjects reported feeling more satisfied after consuming oatmeal than corn flakes. And they also ate less at lunch.
Add water, fat-free milk, vanilla-flavored soy milk, or almond milk to your favorite brand of oatmeal and you have a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
2. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great food to include in your diet. It is high in protein keeping you feeling full and a good source of calcium and vitamin D. It also makes for a great snack, as it is portable. Just one caveat: Stick to flavors that are not loaded with added sugar. My suggestion: Stick to the plain yogurt and add fresh fruit, flax seeds, and a drizzle of honey if necessary.
Avocados taste great and add zest to a meal. They are also rich in healthy nutrients -- including heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E and potassium -- while also keeping your hunger at bay. Research from Loma Linda University and sponsored by the Hass Avocado Board found that subjects who consumed one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch felt more satisfied and had less of a desire to eat after the meal.
So the next time you are deciding what to eat for lunch, add some avocado and you won't be running to the vending machine for a late-afternoon snack.
Beans and legumes contain a terrific combination of nutrients to help keep you feeling full. They are loaded with soluble fiber and protein. An excellent protein alternative for vegetarians, they are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate. These heart-healthy nutrients may also help to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
I invite you to incorporate lentils into your diet, if you don't already. You can enjoy lentil soup, lentil pate, or lentil salad. Toss some cooked lentils with some olive oil, chopped red peppers, scallions, and your favorite spices. This salad can be eaten as part of a meal or as a healthy and satisfying snack.
Need a healthy late-afternoon snack? Grab a handful of almonds. The protein, fiber, and fat in nuts help you feel full longer, so you may actually end up eating less throughout the day. Studies show that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control for total calories. As an added benefit, nut eaters may have a lower incidence of diabetes when compared to those who rarely eat nuts.
Quinoa makes for a healthy and satiating addition to a meal. This ancient grain contains an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E as well as protein and fiber, a winning combination to helping you feel full. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked quinoa contains 2.6 grams of fiber and 4.1 grams of protein as compared to 1/2 cup of cooked white rice which contains only 0.3 gram of fiber and 2.2 grams of protein.
And no, quinoa is not fattening. A ½ cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 100 calories. And next time you can't decide what to eat for dinner, enjoy a healthy portion of quinoa (around ½ cup-1 cup cooked) with grilled fish or tofu along with your favorite assortment of sautéed vegetables.
We would love to hear your favorite foods that keep your hunger pangs away.