Most of us have our daily routine pretty well established. First thing in the morning, you might grab some breakfast, 10:30 a.m. means it’s time for a snack, and by noon you’re ready to eat lunch. But if 2:00 p.m. starts to roll around and you find your stomach starting to rumble already, it could mean you’re not filling your plate with the right healthy foods.
You probably already have a good idea about what foods are good for you, but do you know what the most satiating foods are?
Fiber and protein move slowly in the digestive tract to maintain fullness, while refined carbohydrates produce a burst of energy and leave you feeling hungry again almost instantly. It’s all about getting a good mix to keep you full, ward off hunger, and curb your cravings.
So what are the most filling foods to prevent hunger?
In 1995, a group of researchers set out to answer just that. They created a satiety index to define which healthy foods are the most filling (1).
In their study, they looked at 38 foods from different food categories and fed a 240-calorie portion of each food to the study participants. Then they determined how satiating each item was by looking at how much the participants ate over the next two hours (2).
Their results were pretty interesting, and they might not be what you expect.
Using the findings of this study, I’ve compiled a list of the 7 most satiating foods that will keep you feeling full to prevent cravings without taking a massive toll on your waistline. Ready to find out what they are? Let’s get started.
7 Satiating Foods
Eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods when it comes to nutrition, so it’s not all that surprising that they’re also one of the most satiating foods available.
The satiety index defined each food on the list by how it compared to white bread at 100%. Eggs ranked pretty high up on the list, coming in at an astonishing 150%. That means that your morning omelet can satisfy your hunger 150% more than eating a piece of white bread!
Eggs are full of protein, which can help promote fullness and squash cravings. Because they’re also relatively low in calories, they’re also incredibly nutrient-dense and filling.
One large egg has just 78 calories and can provide tons of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat.
Keep in mind that how you enjoy your eggs can play a pretty big role here, though. A few scrambled eggs can be a great addition to your breakfast plate, but loading up on the not-so-healthy toppings might not be the best option. This can add more fat, salt, and calories to food, pretty much nullifying the health benefits that come with eggs.
On the satiety index, bananas clock in at an impressive 118%, making them a great option when it comes to satiating foods.
Of course, this isn’t much of a surprise, given the stellar nutrient profile of the banana. Bananas are high in fiber, which can help to minimize cravings and maximize fullness. Opt for unripened bananas and you’ll also get a healthy boost of resistant starch, which can promote satiety while improving digestion.
Besides being incredibly satisfying, bananas are also pretty low when it comes to calorie density. One medium banana is just 105 calories and boasts about 3 grams of fiber, plus tons of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6.
Aside from the heart-healthy benefits, the satiating effects of fish are just another reason to add it to your grocery list.
Fish is rich in protein; just one serving of salmon knocks out a significant portion of your daily requirements, providing an astonishing 19 grams. It’s also full of healthy omega-3 fats, which help you stay satisfied long after you leave the table.
The protein found in fish has been found to be especially satiating, especially when compared to other types of animal protein. One study compared fish protein with beef protein and found that when participants ate fish for lunch, they ate 11% less calories at their next meal (3).
That being said, it’s not all that surprising that fish came in at 225% on the satiety index and is considered the most satisfying source of protein.
Best of all, fish is high in nutrients but low in calories. A 3-oz serving of salmon contains just 175 calories, meaning you can feel free to enjoy it totally guilt-free.
Good news, fellow fruit lovers: oranges are one of the best healthy foods you can eat if you’re looking to stave off hunger!
With a score of 202%, oranges were the most satiating fruit included in the study. This is because they’re super low in calories but high in fiber. You can eat a hefty portion of oranges and feel full without stacking on excessive amounts of calories.
A small orange contains about 45 calories plus 2 grams of fiber, making it the perfect choice for a mid-morning snack to keep cravings away between meals.
Note, however, that the same does not hold true for orange juice. Highly concentrated, it delivers a mega dose of the sugar and calories found in oranges, without the beneficial fiber. Stick to real oranges to really take advantage of their health benefits and satiating properties.
Compared to fish, beef might not quite make the cut, but there’s no doubt that it’s up there on the list as one of the most satiating foods you can eat.
A single 3-oz serving of ground beef packs in 22 grams of protein, making it easily one of the most nutrient-dense protein sources out there.
On the satiety index, beef clocks in at 176%, putting it right behind fish in the category of protein-rich healthy foods.
Besides protein, including the occasional serving of beef brings plenty of other benefits to the table as well. It’s rich in vitamin B12, zinc, and phosphorus, not to mention iron.
Choose high-quality cuts of beef and always go for grass-fed varieties to really get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.
Apples are pretty well known for being super healthy. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?
But besides being great for your health, did you know that apples are one of the best healthy foods for keeping your stomach happy?
A large apple contains a whopping 5 grams of fiber. Plus, they’re loaded with pectin, which can take twice as long to leave the stomach compared to other types of fiber. On the satiety index, they come in with a rating of 197%.
Not only that, but apples are brimming with fat-burning properties. Thanks to their pectin content, fat absorption in the cells is limited. They also have polyphenols that can activate fat burning genes, which can help eliminate body fat deposits even more.
Depending on the size of the apple, they typically contain between 75-115 calories, but deliver a concentrated dose of health benefits and satiety with every serving.
As with most fruits, grapes make a very filling and totally guilt-free snack. In fact, they come in just behind apples and oranges at 162% on the satiety index.
This is because they have a high water content, so you’re able to eat lots of grapes for a very low amount of calories.
In addition to getting a good amount of volume, you’re also filling up on nutrients rather than empty calories. For just 62 calories per cup, you get a gram of fiber plus lots of antioxidants, vitamin K, copper, and vitamin B2.
It’s important to note that this only applies to grapes, not any of its derivatives like raisins. Raisins are super concentrated and don’t provide the same volume as grapes, since all the moisture is removed. Instead, they provide lots of sugar and calories for a much smaller amount of food.
The Bottom Line
Take a look at the top 7 most satiating, least calorie-dense foods and you’ll probably notice a pattern. They’re all real, natural, healthy foods that come with tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein rather than sugar and calories.
Though processed foods can definitely be satiating, they come with a high cost: extra sugar, sodium, fat, and calories that don’t belong in a balanced, healthy diet. Not to mention some of the unpleasant side effects that come with a diet full of processed foods, like excess weight and chronic disease.
Filling up on some of these satiating and low calorie healthy foods is a great way to cut down on cravings, decrease your intake, and round out your diet. Plus, incorporating one or two into each meal or snack can really help out if you’re looking to lose weight.
Give it a try today! Plan out your next meal using at least one of these satisfying, healthy foods and you’ll be able to tell the difference. No more hunger, no more cravings, and much more satisfaction, guaranteed.
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