The Best Healthy Foods That Will Really Fill You Up

By David

October 24, 2013   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

While the number of calories you consume each day is a major factor in how much you weigh, not all calories are created equal.

Some foods that are high in calories are not very filling, while there are others that have fewer calories but are better at filling you up.

That feeling of fullness is important in keeping you satisfied and not tempted to cheat on your diet.

The most filling foods are high in fiber that will “fool” your tummy into thinking that you’re eating more than you actually do. You need a combination of lean protein, fiber and healthy fats to stay satisfied. Here are some foods that can fill you up without also filling you out!

Avoid the envelopes of pre-sweetened processed oats and go straight for the old-fashioned kind. A cup of oatmeal is full of nutrients and fiber to keep you going until lunchtime. Add fruit and low-fat milk for a filling breakfast. Oats can also be used to make healthy, filling cookies that can satisfy your sweet tooth.


Air-popped popcorn is a healthy snack for a small number of calories, but beware of the buttered movie theatre variety or the flavored microwave kind. The air-popped kind has just 31 calories per cup but can really fill you up.

Beans and legumes

Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, edamame—all of these are packed with fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Several servings of these each day will keep you feeling full.

Sweet potatoes

White potatoes are high in starch and tend to be served with fatty additions like butter and sour cream. Sweet potatoes are a great substitute because they’re filling and can be used in so many delicious ways, like sweet potato fries.

Lettuce is probably the ultimate low-calorie food, but it’s also one of the most versatile. There are many varieties of lettuce besides the standard iceberg, so keep your salads interesting with arugula, romaine, escarole, red leaf, green leaf, radicchio or Bibb. Lettuce is crunchy and loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate.

Add these to meat dishes for extra staying power. Low in calories, mushrooms add taste and texture to stir-fries as well as salads. Those extra-large Portobello mushrooms can sub for meat in a filling veggie sandwich.

Peanut butter

At about 35 calories per teaspoon, peanut butter makes a fast, satisfying sandwich on whole wheat bread. Or spread it on apple slices for a filling snack.

Whole grain bread and rolls
Bypass that bland white bread and go for the nuttiest, chewiest whole grain bread, buns and rolls. Whole grain baked products are more nutritious as well as more satisfying.

Brown rice
Not only is brown rice packed with nutrients, the chewy texture requires longer to eat and to digest, making you feel full longer. Substitute brown rice for white in just about any dish, and make it part of a healthy soup.

Not all soups are healthy. Some are loaded with cream or cheese, and the canned varieties have way too much sodium. Still, a broth-based soup with ingredients like beans or legumes, fresh vegetables and brown rice can be healthy and filling. Why not make your own for a week’s worth of lunches that will keep you satisfied until dinner?

I bet you are already starting to feel full.  Don’t stop reading yet because there are plenty more healthy foods that you can eat to fill your stomach and avoid packing on all those unnecessary calories.


Not all veggies are filling, but broccoli is full of fiber and can be used in a wide array of dishes. Sliced fresh broccoli is a great addition to a green salad, while steamed spears are a tasty and filling side dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a dash of garlic salt. Finely chopped broccoli is a good ingredient for soups, and fresh heads make a filling snack when served with a low-fat yogurt dip or hummus.

When it comes to filling you up, no fruit is a better choice than an apple. All varieties of apples deliver vitamins and fiber for very few calories. Plus, apples are portable, so it’s easy to take them along to the office or when traveling.

Another versatile vegetable that can be eaten hot or cold, carrots can be steamed for a quick side dish or eaten raw for snacks. This is another veggie that can be taken along for a fast, filling bite when you get hungry.

Like broccoli, this vegetable is crunchy and full of filling fiber. If you crave mashed potatoes, instead try steaming two heads of cauliflower, then mashing with a potato masher. Add a bit of low-fat margarine and low-fat sour cream, and season with salt and pepper for a mashed potato substitute that’s healthier and more filling.

Pasta gets a bad rap as a diet disaster, but it’s not the spaghetti that’s to blame—it’s the buttery, cheesy sauces you put on top of it. Forgo the Alfredo sauce for a veggie-filled marinara to have a tasty dinner dish that will fill you up and pack plenty of nutrients. Whole grain pasta is more nutritious as well as more filling. If you must have cheese, dust your pasta dish with a little grated Parmesan.

Mild or sweet peppers in red, yellow or green make crunchy snacks or delicious additions to dinner dishes. Add them to a stir-fry or chop up into soup. Large green peppers are great stuffed with a mix of rice and meat, topped with tomato sauce, and baked.

Boiled eggs
At about 90 calories each, these are loaded with protein and can really fill you up. Chopped eggs can add welcome protein to a salad, and they’re tasty on their own with a bit of salt, pepper and mustard.

Rice cakes
OK, these aren’t the tastiest snacks you can get, but they are filling and very low in calories at 35-50 each. Give them a little peanut butter or yogurt dip for extra zip. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with apple cinnamon rice cakes.

Those large dill pickles have few calories and will help to kill your appetite, plus they need to eaten slowly. No sweet pickles—too much sugar!

Water-packed tuna is high in protein and low in calories. Combine it with chopped green onions and a bit of low-fat mayo for a sandwich filling that will fill you up, especially when tucked into a whole-wheat pita or on a crunchy wheat roll.

These make a healthy snack that can satisfy your sweet tooth, plus prunes are packed with fiber and antioxidants.

Feeling full is the best way to ward off those cravings for high-calorie foods, so be sure to include some of these filling foods in your daily diet!

Written on 10/24/2013 by Linda Cauthen.


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