10 Surprising Foods That Will Fill You Up, Not Out
Last Updated: Jul 12, 2017
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The more you eat, the less you’ll be hungry. It’s a logical assumption, but research shows some foods are far better than others at beating the belly growls. And if you fill up on the good foods (those packed with soluble fiber, protein, healthy fats and other satiating nutrients), not only will you not have to go back for seconds and thirds, but you may actually cut your risk of weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So the next time you’re hungry, try munching on these 10 surprisingly filling foods with true staying power.
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Whether your sushi comes wrapped in it or you toast and sprinkle it on your popcorn, this Japanese seaweed is one of the most umami-rich foods out there. And according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, umami -- often considered the “fifth taste” after salty, sweet, sour and bitter -- makes people both feel more full after a meal and eat less later. It may just come down to umami (which is known for being savory) being more satisfying than other flavors. “How palatable a food is really influences your satiety levels. We feel more satisfied after eating foods that we find enjoyable,” says Courtney Grove, RD, who recommends adding toasted nori to noodle dishes and soups or mixing it into your favorite veggie-rich omelet. If you buy nori raw, however, you will need to toast it before eating. Using tongs, hold the sheets one at a time over a lit burner for about 10 to 15 seconds, recommends Grove.
Related: Why Seaweed Is the New Superfood
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They get a bad rap, but spuds can really fill you up. In a small study conducted at the University of Sydney, researchers found that boiled white potatoes are one of the most satiety-boosting foods, keeping study participants full about three times longer than the average food. Why? One medium potato packs 20 percent of your daily fiber needs. But that’s no excuse to fill up (and out) on potato chips and fries. Researchers found that they weren’t nearly as satisfying. Courtney Grove, RD, recommends baking, boiling, steaming or roasting your spuds -- and making sure that the potato has not sprouted nor is soft and shriveled because these all are signs that they’re past their nutritional peak. Leave the skins on for extra fiber and nutrients, adds Grove.
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You can throw these little seeds in anything from soups and salads to healthy breads to help boost your meal’s satiety factor. For instance, in one University of Florida trial, people who ate muffins that contained chia seeds rated themselves as feeling fuller for the following 90 minutes compared with those who noshed on chia-free muffins. The reason: Every ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber and five grams of protein. Plus, the fact that they bloat up in fluid -- including any running through your gut -- is a big perk when it comes to feeling full, says Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN. Bonus: You can use them to up the satiety factor of virtually any meal. Sprinkle them on cereal, vegetables and rice dishes; mix them into smoothies, yogurt, sauces or drinks; or add them to baked goods.
Related: 10 Ways to Get the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds in Your Diet
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A healthy gut feels full. Case in point: In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who ate a cup a day of a yogurt enhanced with the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus casei not only lost more weight than those who ate probiotic-free yogurt, but also had lower levels of leptin -- a satiety hormone of which high levels is a marker for being overweight. The probiotics in the study are found in most yogurts with the label “live and active cultures,” so make sure you look for those words on your yogurt container. Not much of a yogurt eater? Try using plain Greek yogurt as a replacement for sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes, recommends Courtney Grove, RD.
Related: Which Type of Yogurt Is Best for You?
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Who knows if they’ll keep the doctor away, but they will certainly help fend off hunger. For example, in a Pennsylvania State University study, people who ate an apple 15 minutes before lunch consumed an average of 187 fewer calories at mealtime compared with those who ate applesauce, drank apple juice or didn’t eat anything before lunch. Behold the power of the peel! It’s the most fiber-rich (and filling) part of the fruit, says Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN, who also recommends pairing the fruit with a source of lean protein or healthy fats like cheese, almond butter or a handful of nuts. The protein and fiber will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and boost satiety even more.
Related: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean
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According to research in Nutrition Journal, adding half of a fresh avocado to your lunch can slash your desire to eat over the next three hours by 40 percent and over the next five hours by 28 percent compared with eating the same lunch without the avocado. While avocados are best known for their monounsaturated fats -- which Courtney Grove, RD, notes are way more filling than saturated ones -- they are also teeming with fiber. Half an avocado packs more than 25 percent of your daily recommended allowance of the stuff! Add a few slices to your favorite omelet, sandwich, salad or favorite cut of meat, or use it to sub out mayonnaise from your recipes, recommends Grove.
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Breakfast, lunch or dinner -- it’s always a good time to include this protein powerhouse in a meal. Research from the University of Washington shows that people who follow a diet that’s 30 percent protein eat 441 fewer calories a day than those who follow a 15 percent protein diet. But why not kick off your morning the right way? A recent study on young women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a high-protein breakfast helped the women feel less hungry throughout the day and that they ate fewer indulgent snacks after dinner. According to lead author Heather Leidy, Ph.D., eating a protein-packed breakfast stimulates the secretion of a powerful gut hormone called Peptide YY, which makes you feel full for hours on end. For a filling breakfast, try scrambled eggs, an omelet or even baking an egg into an avocado half. You can also hard-boil them in advance for an easy grab-and-go snack, says Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN.
Related: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
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On average, soup eaters weigh less and consume fewer calories and grams of fat per day than those who don’t get their soup on, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition. “You are basically filling the gut with fluid before sitting down to eat, except the fluid has flavor and acts as an appetizer,” says Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN, who notes that sitting down to a meal when you’re feeling ravenous is a recipe for overeating. If you’re making or just ordering soup for your pre-meal filler, she recommends opting for bowls with fiber-rich ingredients like veggies and beans. “If buying canned soups, look for varieties with lower sodium content,” says Courtney Grove, RD. “Choose broth-based soups like chicken noodle and Italian wedding soup over creamy ones like New England clam chowder and broccoli cheddar to reduce fat content.”
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These little guys are high in fat and calories, so why do people who eat them tend to actually weigh less than those who don’t? According to a review article from Purdue University, one of the reasons is that they’re so filling. In fact, researchers estimate that if you eat 100 calories’ worth of nuts a day, you’ll automatically eat between 65 and 75 fewer calories during the rest of the day. Like avocados, tree nuts -- including almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios -- are brimming with monounsaturated fat. But remember, you don’t need a lot to fill you up. Courtney Grove, RD, recommends aiming for just a handful a day. Mix them into Greek yogurt, pair them with fruit and cheese or use them as a topping on your favorite salad. And opt for unsalted versions whenever possible, says Grove.
Related: 9 of the Healthiest Nuts
Fiber in legumes help you feel more full.
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BEANS, PEAS, CHICKPEAS AND LENTILS
In a recent study published in Obesity, researchers found that people who eat one cup of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils per day feel 31 percent fuller than those who don’t. Why? In a word: fiber. Legumes are among the best sources of soluble fiber, which dissolves in your gut to form a gel-like substance to slow digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer, says nutritionist Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN. If you buy your legumes canned, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added options -- and rinse them off before eating, suggests Courtney Grove, RD, a corporate dietitian for NuMi by Nutrisystem. “Rinsing canned beans, for instance, can remove up to 40 percent of their sodium content.”
Related: 13 Surprising Vegetarian Sources of Protein
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you eat any of these foods -- or will you start now that you know they’re great hunger busters? Did we leave your favorite filling food off the list? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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