Dieting can be tough. Depending on which strategy you go with, you're often left feeling deprived of your favorite foods or straight-up hungry. But what if there was an eating plan that could help you avoid both of these pitfalls?
Enter the satiating diet, a meal plan created by Canadian researchers that taps filling foods to help you achieve long-term weight loss. In a November 2017 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, adults living with obesity who followed the satiating diet for 16 weeks lost more weight and body fat and felt fuller after meals compared to those who followed a standard low-calorie, low-fat diet. They were significantly less likely to abandon their weight-loss plan, too.
So what is the satiating diet and how does it work? Here's all you need to know before giving it a try.
What Is the Satiating Diet?
The satiating diet is an eating plan that emphasizes filling foods like lean proteins and healthy fats, as well as fiber-rich, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Think of it as a combo of the ketogenic diet (which is high in fat and protein) and the Mediterranean diet (which is high in fat and complex carbs). In the British Journal of Nutrition study, the researchers recommend eating:
- 30 to 35 percent healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
- 20 to 25 percent lean proteins like lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, yogurt and milk.
- 45 to 50 percent fiber-rich carbohydrates like whole grains, beans and legumes, and fruits and vegetables.
There are some other benchmarks you should aim for, too. Each day, people following the satiating diet should eat:
- Four servings of whole fruit (think an apple instead of applesauce)
- Four servings of whole vegetables (think kale instead of green juice)
- Five servings of whole grains
- One lean protein source at each meal
- One snack
The satiating diet also encourages followers to incorporate chili peppers whenever possible. Why? Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which an August 2016 review published in Food Sciences and Nutrition suggests could boost calorie-burning.
Read more: Are Hot Peppers Good for You?
The final key component? Though the satiating diet emphasizes certain foods over others, it doesn't have many restrictions. (It recommends steering clear of harmful fats like trans fats and hydrogenated oils, which are commonly found in packaged snack foods.) And that can make a difference when it comes to sticking with it. "When you focus on what you can eat versus what you need to avoid, mentally you feel more satisfied and less restricted. That can help with long-term compliance," nutrition expert Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"This plan focuses on eating foods that allow you to feel satisfied and promote health without dramatically restricting food groups, portions or calories. That balance can lead to long-term success."
How Can the Satiating Diet Help with Weight Loss?
Cutting or counting calories isn't an effective weight-loss strategy, according to an August 2015 review published in Obesity. And even if you do manage to shed some pounds using this tactic, there's a good chance you'll find yourself hungry and feel driven to overeat. "People often regain the weight they lose on low-calorie diets because their hormones kick in, telling the body to hold on to calories and fat because it's in a deprived state," Jaime Harper, MD, an obesity medicine specialist, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
The satiating diet can combat that problem. Rather than counting or restricting what you eat, it simply encourages eating foods that promote fullness. "Foods rich in fat, protein and fiber take much longer to be broken down and digested," Palinski-Wade explains. "Because of this, you feel satisfied longer. These foods also promote more steady blood sugar and insulin levels."
There's also the fact that the foods emphasized on the satiating diet tend to be whole or minimally processed, and that's important. "Once you break down real food and process it — like turning apples into applesauce — it loses its nutrients, fiber and water, all of which help you feel full," Dr. Harper says.
Add it all up, and there's a good chance that the satiating diet could help reduce your urge to overeat, eat mindlessly or snack on junk. And that could very well help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Read more: How to Set a Realistic Goal Weight
What About Other Benefits or Drawbacks?
The satiating diet is relatively new, so there's not much research looking at other potential health effects. But it's a safe bet that sticking with the plan's main principles will do you good. "Limiting refined carbs and simple sugars and adding in more plant-based fats, whole grains and produce can offer numerous health benefits," Palinski-Wade says. These might include:
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Improved gut health
- Reduced insulin resistance
And over time, these perks could potentially have significant effects. "In the long-term they could promote benefits like a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers," says Palinski-Wade.
As for the negatives? Good news: There's no downside to eating nutrient-dense foods and getting a balanced mix of macronutrients, say Dr. Harper. Palinski-Wade agrees. "This plan focuses on eating foods that allow you to feel satisfied and promote health without dramatically restricting food groups, portions or calories. That balance can lead to long-term success," she says.
How to Get Started on the Satiating Diet
If you're not quite used to eating this way, trying to figure out meals and snacks on the fly might be a little overwhelming. "Before getting started, take a few minutes to plan out your satisfying meals and snacks for a few days," Palinski-Wade recommends.
Instead of focusing on portion sizes, simply make sure each meal and snack contains all of the components of a satiating meal: A lean protein, a fiber-rich complex carb and a healthy fat. Here's what that might look like:
- Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, chopped walnuts and a drizzle of honey
- Scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast, topped with avocado and a chopped hot pepper
- Oatmeal with peanut butter and a diced banana
- Green salad with grilled chicken or tofu, cooked farro or quinoa and olive oil vinaigrette
- Lentil soup with corn tortillas and an apple
- Hummus plate with whole-wheat pita, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives and hot peppers
- Baked salmon, a baked sweet potato drizzled with tahini and steamed broccoli
- Black bean burger with guacamole and hot peppers on a whole-grain bun, served with a side salad
- Grilled chicken, roasted summer squash and brown rice pilaf with chopped nuts or seeds
- Handful of almonds and an orange
- Carrot matchsticks dunked in Greek yogurt with a drizzle of olive oil
- Dates stuffed with almond butter
Curious about what healthy serving sizes really look like? Check out LIVESTRONG.com's guide to portion control.