Eating healthy doesn’t need to result in always feeling hungry — even if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, feeling hungry all the time can actually backfire on your weight loss efforts if it causes you to hit the snack machine too often or reach for unhealthy choices. Instead, feel energized and satisfied by adding these five foods to your meals and snacks to squelch that hunger before it gets out of control.
Chia Seeds: These tiny seeds pack a powerful fullness punch. It’s the combo of protein and fiber that holds the hunger busting magic. Just 2 tablespoons contains 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. The protein in chia seeds triggers the hormone ghrelin to tell our brain that we are satisfied, while fiber activates appetite-suppressing gut hormones. Plus, the seeds are hydrophilic and can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. When you add them to liquid they make a water-packed gel that is both hydrating and satisfying. Add chia seeds to milk or a milk alternative (almond, rice, soy, etc.) along with fruit and your flavoring of choice to make a delicious chia pudding to eat for breakfast or a snack. You can also sprinkle chia seeds into yogurt, water, tea, or smoothies.
Baked/Boiled Potatoes: Potatoes have gotten a bad reputation in some circles due to their high carbohydrate content. However, research shows that the type of carbs in cooked potatoes, called resistant starch, can help you feel fuller. Other studies have shown that people report feeling more satiated and eat less 2 hours after eating a potato than they do after eating a calorically equal amount of brown rice or whole wheat bread. Plus, potatoes also have fiber, which helps keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, staving off the munchies.
Avocado: This creamy green fruit often receives scrutiny for being high in fat, but this is exactly what makes it so satisfying. Fat takes longer to leave your belly and keeps you feeling full longer. However, the fat in avocados is mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fat, which is healthy for your heart. Add about 1/4 of an avocado to a salad, sandwich, or smoothie, or mash and spread on toast with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chili flakes for a super satisfying snack.
Beans: By now you can see that foods containing fiber have a common thread –– they’re extra filling, and few foods have more fiber than beans . . . but it doesn’t end with fiber. Beans supply protein at the same time, providing the double whammy hunger busting combination of protein and fiber. A 115 calorie serving of black beans (about 1/2 cup) contains close to 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Whether you cook them from fresh and freeze to use throughout the week or use canned rinsed beans, they’re a healthy way to add satisfaction to any meal. We love making a quick quesadilla or burrito using a whole wheat tortilla, veggies, and beans for nights that dinner needs to be on the table in a flash.
Oatmeal: Like chia seeds, oats are also a good source of soluble fiber. When cooked in liquid they expand and help you feel more satisfied by taking longer to pass through your digestive system. Cook your oats in milk or soy milk to add extra protein and even more fullness power.