Losing weight is hard, there is no doubt about that. You need to have great will power, achievable end-goals, excellent organisational skills and friends and family that are willing to support you along the way.
The most common complaint that I hear from my clients when they’re trying to lose weight is ‘I’m always hungry’. Well, there are ways to help that. Nobody wants to have their tummy grumble at inappropriate times! Today, let’s discuss ways we can prevent that awful hungry sensation. Eating healthy is NOT about deprivation. Deprivation and starvation will not help your weight-loss efforts but in the long-run will in fact only hinder them.
Satiety is that feeling of content you get when you eat until you’re full but aren’t overly stuffed or uncomfortable. You are simply satisfied. Satiety is what we want to achieve after each meal to ensure we are not snacking or feeling hungry again within a short time. There are some foods more than others that will keep us feeling satisfied and fuller for longer and these foods should be the focus of our diet plans if we are attempting to lose weight successfully.
The foods I am talking about here are rich in fiber, protein and/or fats.
Natural, whole, fiber rich foods (containing only 1.5-2.5 calories per gram) are slow to pass through our digestive systems and prevent peaks in blood sugar levels which can lead to cravings and poor food choices. It has also been suggested that natural fiber rich foods may stimulate a satiety hormone in the brain, telling our bodies we are satisfied and have had enough food.
When choosing fiber rich foods choose whole grains (oats and brown rice), fruits and vegetables with skins, lentils, Quinoa and legumes. Avoid refined carbohydrates which wreck havoc on our systems by causing rapid increases in blood sugar levels when eaten.
Protein rich foods prolong that satisfying satiety sensation even longer than carbohydrates. Meeting your body’s protein needs is very important for optimal body function, metabolic function and weight loss. We should aim for approximately 0.8 grams of protein for every kg of body weight that we weigh – and more than this is we work out daily.
Aim to eat protein-rich natural, plain meats such as beef, chicken and turkey. You can also get protein in abundance from seafood and whole grains/legumes (such as kidney beans and Quinoa). Greek yogurt and natural nuts (and nut butters) are also excellent sources of protein which will keep you feeling fuller for longer throughout your weight-loss days.
Low-fat foods are not the answer to weight-loss. These highly-marketed and overly processed low-fat ‘fad’ foods are often dangerously high in sugar, additives and preservatives and actually do a lot of damage to the body. In 99% of cases, you are far better off choosing the full-fat option and just eating a little less. Fats are essential for optimal health and for keeping us feeling satisfied after we eat.
Great, natural fat sources include nuts, meats, oily fish, nut butters and legumes. Nuts are probably one of the best naturally fatty foods you can snack on while dieting (but be careful of portions!). They are high in fat and protein which are both slower to break down than carbohydrates and thus will leave you feeling satisfied and full between meals.
Remember, contrary to most people’s beliefs, carbohydrates are the fastest to be digested and therefore first to exit our digestive system. Proteins are second fastest and fats are the slowest.
What does this tell us? That fats and proteins actually keep us fuller for longer than carbohydrates do.
There are some foods that should be staples in a weight-loss diet plan if we want to achieve our goals and some of them I have mentioned briefly above in the last section of this article. Now, I would like to go in to more detail on specific foods that I think are excellent additions to the human diet whether you’re trying to lose weight or just trying to eat healthy. These foods are known to keep your body feeling fuller for longer and reduce or completely cease unhealthy snacking between meals.
Eggs are one of the few foods that are a complete protein – containing all 9 essential amino acids. Eating complete proteins stimulates the release of hormones in the gut which promotes feelings of satiety.A study from Saint Louis University found that people who ate eggs for breakfast actually consumed 330 fewer calories throughout the day than those who ate other breakfast dishes.
*Tip: Don’t discard the yolks and add some veggies! About half of the egg’s protein is found in the yellow yolk so eating the yolk really is essential and super healthy. Try making an omelet too and adding some veggies for extra fiber.
- Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and essential fats. It contains double the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt. Try the plain varieties as these are free from added additives and sugars and if you find the taste too bitter, add some of your own fresh berries or fruits and maybe some omega-3 seeds mix also. The combination of all three (greek yogurt + berries + seed mix) forms an incredibly healthy, protein-packed, muscle-building and filling snack or meal.
- Peanut Butter / Nut Butters / Raw Nuts
Natural nut butters (with no added oils or sugars) and raw nuts are also excellent sources of protein and essential fat acids while being rich in fiber also. If you’re trying to lose weight, avoid large portions of these superfoods but definitely include them in your meal plans. They will help you feel full between meals and are jam packed with vitamins and minerals which are just overall excellent for your health.
Oats are one of the most filling natural foods you can possibly eat and have been proven time and time again to aid weight-loss by reducing hunger cravings throughout the morning (if eaten for breakfast). They have a superbly high fiber content and even more importantly; they are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that absorbs water and expands in your stomach.
Try making your oatmeal on pure water (from natural, organic oats) for maximum benefits to your health and for maximum fullness. Top with some peanut butter and/or seed mix for a portion of essential fatty acids to kick-start the day and some fresh berries. Cinnamon is also a great additional to your morning oatmeal as it has been shown to boost metabolism throughout the day.
- Black Beans / Legumes
Black beans and legumes are high in fiber and are excellent vegetarian sources of protein (1 cup contains about 8 grams of protein). Try tossing some black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans or navy or pinto beans in a salad or evening meal to fill you up and help you feel satisfied and contently full.
Apples are one of the only fruits that contain pectin which naturally slows digestion and promotes feelings of fullness. The great thing about eating apples is that they take quite some time to finish while only containing a few calories. This means your body has more time to process what is being ingested and tell your brain that you’re satisfied and need no more food.
Apples are also rich in natural fiber. You can try adding some natural nut butter (personally I love apple with peanut butter) which will add essential fats to your fibrous fruit snack and keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
Fish is one of the healthiest sources of protein and fats you can possibly eat. It is such an excellent food choice for so many reasons AND it keeps us full and feeling satisfied after we consume it. It is rich in essential Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids and fatty oils which keep us feeling satisfied and content after eating and it is rich in protein which is slower to digest and again, keeps us feeling content after eating.
Choose natural and plain sources of salmon, cod, mackerel, haddock and other yummy fish and shellfish.
Broccoli is an amazing high-fiber, calorie free vegetable which acts as a terrific hunger-busting food. Like all dark-green veggies (Kale, Spinach, Cabbage, etc.) it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals so is absolutely excellent for your health overall and also beats those hunger pangs.
Quinoa is one of mother nature’s super foods. Higher in protein than any other grain (about 8 grams per cup) and containing all 9 essential amino acids as well as buckets of incredible nutrients, quinoa is a great food choice for anyone and everyone. It is loaded with protein and fiber so will keep you feeling full for hours and it tastes delicious.
Quinoa is even more wonderful because it can be used for any meal of the day! Quinoa porridge, quinoa salads, quinoa stir fry, quinoa stews, quinoa creamy pudding… It really is all purposeful. You can also use quinoa flour for baking as it is completely gluten free!
Last but not least we have berries. Berries are some of the highest fiber fruits available to us and are one of the lowest calorie fruits. Try using frozen berries as they are available all year round and so handy to keep in the freezer.
Berries are high in fiber and essential nutrients, keeping us satisfied for longer after snacking on them or adding them to a meal. They are fantastic in smoothies and juices, yogurts, healthy desserts and fruit salads or simply on their own. Yum!
So, now that you know which foods have the power to keep you feeling satisfied and full throughout the day, you can use this information and incorporate these foods or food types in to your daily meal planning.
Another small tip when trying to beat hunger pangs: Slow down and enjoy every bite. It takes your stomach 20 minutes to inform the brain that you have reached satiety and need to eat no more. If your whole plate (or even your second serving) is devoured within 15 minutes, your stomach hasn’t even had time to inform the brain and you may have overeaten. Take your time and enjoy your meals.
That’s all for today.
I hope this helps against the hunger battle for anyone who is struggling with hunger pangs. They are anything but desirable!