For anyone trying to lose or maintain weight, the hunger factor can be a big problem. Diets always start out great. You’re following the plan, tracking calories and the pounds are melting away.
Then you hit a wall. You’re hungry. No, not hungry. Famished! You’ve been hungry for days, or even weeks, and you’re over the diet. You can’t live like this any longer and into the bag of kettle chips or tub of rocky road ice cream you go. You’re on a bender and there’s no stopping it.
Once you’ve recovered from the food coma you have a couple of options. You can pick up where you left off and get back on the diet and deal with being hungry all of the time.
Or, you can think about your diet in a different way. Instead of thinking about how many calories are in the foods you eat, you can pick your foods by where they fall on the Satiety Index.
Solving Your Hunger Crisis
Some foods – potato chips for example – are irresistible. It’s true that no one can eat just one. The crunchy saltiness of a potato chip is one of those foods that can destroy a day of dieting because we can eat a ton of them before we feel the least bit full. Combine that with the fact that they are high in calories (20 chips has about 147) and have little to no nutritional value makes them a dieter’s disaster.
Watermelon, on the other hand, is a dieter’s friend. It is sweet and crunchy, loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. It is low in calories (one cup has about 46). Watermelon will fill you up quickly and keep you full much longer than the chips will.
Researchers have been studying satiety for year. The results? Some foods fill you up quicker and stay in your stomach longer and therefore do a better job of holding off hunger.
Avocados: Friend or Foe?
A recent study on satiety found that consuming half of an avocado leads to a greater feeling of fullness and less of a tendency to snack between meals. Since the study, the internet has been aflutter with stories about how avocados can help people lose weight.
The avocado is a fruit rich in nutrients that is high on the Satiety Index. Oranges, bananas, apples and proteins like lentils, cheese, fish and beef also rank high on the index.
In a detailed study, led by Suzanna Holt from the University of Sydney, researchers fed human test subjects fixed-calorie portions of 38 different foods. They recorded the subject’s perceived hunger following each feeding.
From this study the researchers determined that satiety is “most strongly related to the weight of the food consumed”. Foods that weigh the most, satisfy our hunger the best, despite how many calories they contain. The study also found that high amounts of certain nutrients, protein, and dietary fiber improve satiety.
Low In Calories/High In Satiety
The key is to consume generous amounts of those foods that rank high on the satiety chart, but are low in calories and, at the same time, avoid high calories foods that have a low satiety rating. Potato chips, for example, have a satiety score of 1.2. Watermelon is at 4.5. A roasted chicken breast is at 3.4 while a Snickers bar is at 1.5.
You can spend a lot of time trying to find out where all of the foods you eat rank on the Satiety Index. If you purchase whole foods and make your meals at home you’re sure to consume foods higher on the scale.
Fast foods and heat-and-eat convenience meals have, through processing, been stripped of most their nutrients and fiber so they don’t leave much for your digestive tract to do once you’ve eaten them. Processed foods are on the Satiety Index along side the potato chips and Snickers Bar.
Meals that you create in your own kitchen have the most staying power. I love this video, How Cooking Can Change Your Life. It says it all in two and a half minutes.
You can learn more about where some of your favorite foods rank on the Satiety Index, and get help calculating meals using the Fullness Factor at Self Nutrition Data.com.
What’s your favorite filling food?
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