When hunger strikes, it’s hard not to reach for whatever food is closest to you. If that food happens to be a doughnut or a bag of chips, however, it can be tough to make progress with weight loss. Some diet-friendly foods simply control hunger better than others, so if you’re prone to the munchies, keep them nearby for smart snacking.
Two key nutrients for weight loss are protein and fiber, so when you’re searching for snacks, choose foods that are rich sources of one or both. Protein is the most satiating type of nutrient, according to a research review published in 2008 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” This means that, calorie for calorie, protein-rich foods can fill you up more effectively than high-fat or high-carb foods. Fiber intake, according to a research review published in 2005 in the journal “Nutrition,” is inversely associated with body fat mass and body weight.
Nibble on Nuts
Nuts are high in both protein and fiber. One ounce of almonds, for example, has 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. Nuts are not the lowest-calorie snack around, but the nutrients they contain may go so far toward filling you up that you’ll eat fewer overall calories. According to a research review published in 2008 in the “Journal of Nutrition,” weight-loss diets that include nuts tend to be more successful and result in greater overall pounds shed.
Energize with Eggs
The incredible egg is another high-protein food, with more than 6 grams of protein and just 70 calories in one large egg. In a study published in 2008 in the “International Journal of Obesity,” overweight participants who followed a low-calorie diet and ate eggs for breakfast on most days of the week lost 65 percent more weight over an eight-week trial period than those who ate the same number of calories but had bagels for breakfast instead. For your own morning meal, try poached eggs or scrambled eggs made with cooking spray, which will have fewer calories than eggs fried in butter.
Low-fat and fat-free plain yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is a food with a very high protein-to-calorie ratio. One 6-ounce container of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has just 100 calories and 18 grams of filling protein. Snacking on yogurt may also enhance weight-loss progress, partly due to its low glycemic-index value. In one study published in 2013 in the “International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition,” participants who ate yogurt and a small salad before a main meal lost more weight than subjects who ate those foods with their meal. The scientists who conducted the study theorized that the low glycemic-index values of the yogurt and salad were effective at controlling blood sugar levels and reducing hunger during the meal that followed.