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.
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.
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.
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.