When it comes to choosing a diet plan, the options are nearly limitless. Low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie, and elimination diets are all touted by various experts and celebrities as being the “number one” way to lose weight. While the merits of each are debatable, most experts agree that no diet is one-size-fits-all. In fact, the diet that works best, is the one you can stick to!
Restrictive by nature, dieting usually means either giving up the foods you want, or eating less food altogether, resulting in cravings and hunger. A key element in being able to follow a diet plan is knowing what foods will help keep you satiated. To learn how to ward off hunger, it helps to understand how our body uses food. Carbohydrates provide energy; they enter the bloodstream rapidly, giving us a quick boost when we are starting to drag. However, carbs are digested quickly, and hunger returns within 1-2 hours of eating. For this reason, carbohydrates are recognized to be high on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a rating of how quickly a food is converted into glucose, the amount of sugar in our blood. Increases in blood sugar provide an immediate energy boost, but the higher we fly, the harder we fall. Because carbohydrates are used up so quickly, the crash often strikes suddenly, causing many to head for the vending machines for a quick pick-me-up to get through the rest of the day. Choosing carbohydrates which are lower on the GI scale prevents a vicious cycle of hunger, cravings, and fatigue.
Protein takes a bit longer to make its way through the digestive system. It doesn’t give you the immediate boost that carbs do, but it can fuel your body for another 2-4 hours. Fat can “stick to your ribs” in more ways than one, as it is burned up slowly for 4-6 hours after you have eaten. Soluble fiber also plays an important role by attracting water and expanding into a slowly digested gel that extends the feeling of fullness. Because the amount of space food takes up in your stomach influences how full you feel, foods with higher water volume, like fruits and vegetables, create fullness.
With these nutritional guidelines in mind, the following 10 hunger-busting foods can fill you up and keep you satisfied.
1. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, and their high water content, volume, and fiber help fill you up. While consisting primarily of carbohydrates, they surprisingly rank only in the middle of the glycemic index.
2. Broth-based meat and vegetable soups are a tasty comfort food that will fill you up without busting your diet. Vegetables give the quick boost of carbs, while the protein and fat provide for long-term fuel. One savory cup has less than 300 calories.
3. Fruits, such as apples, oranges, bananas, and berries are filled with water and low in calories, but rank pretty high on the GI scale. One way to counter that effect is to combine them with a source of protein and healthy fats.
4. Natural nut butters, especially almond or cashew butter, contain only nuts and salt. Melting them for a few seconds in the microwave makes a serving go further as a dip for fruit or to spread on toast.
5. Unsweetened, low fat yogurt paired with fruit also packs a punch full of calcium, protein, fiber, water, and carbs, and is sweet enough to feel like a refreshing treat.
6. Nuts are high in protein, immune-boosting vitamins, amino acids, and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.
7. Tomatoes provide the volume of a water-filled fruit. When drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with feta cheese, they make a delicious treat.
8. Avocadoes are another tasty favorite. Their healthy fats and meaty texture make a fantastic accompaniment to salads, but they are also quite filling on their own.
9. Seeds, such as poppy, flax, or chia, can satisfy your crunchy-salty cravings. Munch a handful when you are hungry!
10. Beans and lentils are full of fiber, protein, and vitamins, as well as healthy fats. These slowly digested nutritional stars are an inexpensive and easy way to get you through the day.
The best diet plan involves listening to your body, not a celebrity. Learning how to understand what it is asking for, and giving it what it needs, is the only eating plan that will work for every body.