What are the foods with the greatest satiating power ? Are there foods that also help us control weight? They are very frequent questions in the consultation of the dietitian – nutritionist. In this post I analyze some dietary factors that influence feelings of hunger and satiety.
What foods are most satisfying?
- Foods rich in protein : Foods rich in protein are very fashionable in weight loss diets since, due to the calories they provide, they tend to satisfy a lot in comparison with other foods, which will help us lose weight. Even so, I do not recommend buying processed foods that are higher in protein on the label. That does not mean that those products are suitable for weight loss or that they are healthy. Today it is estimated that the intake of protein that we do is well above what we need to live. So with our daily food we cover it without too much effort. Foods such as meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, legumes, quinoa contain protein.
- Fatty foods : Fat slows down digestion. Slower digestion will make it take longer for us to feel hungry again. Foods in this group we have: vegetable oils, butter, red meat, avocado, nuts, seeds, sausages.
- Foods rich in fiber : Fiber is a great ally in healthy weight loss. Foods with fiber help fight constipation, they are usually rich in vitamins and minerals, and on top of that they fill us up more. In this group we find: legumes, whole grains, quinoa, fruits with skin.
- Vegetable foods : Vegetables are essential in a balanced diet, a source of health and satiating. They provide a lot of volume with very few calories. This allows you to eat large plates of food that provide many nutrients and little energy. Examples of these foods are: broccoli, tomato, pumpkin, cucumber, green beans, chard, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, eggplant, etc.
What makes some foods produce more satiety than others?
The satiating power of food is not always the same and depends on several factors:
- The preparation / cooking method : the way we prepare a food for consumption can modify its consistency, size, hardness, temperature, etc. If a food is cut into very small pieces or crushed, it is likely to satisfy us less than another that we must cut with the knife and chew more. An example would be hummus compared to a chickpea dish, or minced meat compared to a steak. The first examples are less satiating than the second if we eat them in the same amount or weight. Likewise, a hot food gives off more aromas and flavor than one that is consumed cold, also increasing satiety. Example: a hot zucchini puree can be more filling than a gazpacho.
- The other foods that accompany it : Depending on the mixes we make, a dish or food can be more or less satisfying. For example, when we mix vegetables with proteins and fats, the result is much more satisfying than eating these 3 types of food separately, although the amount we eat of each one is less. An example of this would be to compare: A green salad and a grilled fish with the same option but that the salad contains, in addition to the basic vegetables, a little avocado, walnuts and 2 tablespoons quinoa. Surely the piece of fish that we will eat in the second plate is smaller but as a whole we will feel fuller.
- Speed when eating them : We all know it, when we eat quickly we are more hungry than when we eat slowly. How many of you have been in a restaurant, that it takes too long for the second course to arrive and that when it finally arrives, you don’t have the same appetite? That’s what I mean. By waiting (it is not necessary to go to the extreme of this example) between bites, we allow time for the food to reach the stomach and it sends the signal to our brain (specifically the hypothalamus) of how full or not it is. This way the brain lets us know when we should stop eating or if we are still hungry.
- The times you chew : When we chew a food many times, the feeling of satiety increases. The body thinks that it is eating a lot since we are chewing for a long time. It is not necessary to count how many times it is chewed, or a specific time before swallowing. Just try to enjoy each bite without rushing.
- Eating mindfully or with distractions : This point is closely related to the previous one. I really like to use the example of the cinema and the popcorn: We go to the cinema, we are not hungry but when we smell the popcorn we cannot resist. We bought it and we thought “there are many, I will not be able to finish them”. We sat down to watch the movie without paying attention to the popcorn. There comes a time when we touch the bottom with our hand. We hallucinate. “Have I really eaten them all so fast? But if the movie has just begun… ”. The same happens but not on this scale when we eat while watching the TV or the screen of the mobile or Tablet. We are not aware of what we eat and therefore we do not allow the body to respond with a feeling of being full or satisfied. I recommend paying attention to food. A good way to achieve this is by practicing mindful eating.
- Leptin resistance : Leptin is a hormone that is generated when we are full. Send the signal that says to our body: “Hey! that we are well now, you can stop eating ”. It is scientifically proven that people with obesity tend to have a resistance to this hormone. That is, when the body generates leptin they will not feel full and therefore will continue to eat. This problem is not generated from one day to the next, it happens when repeatedly and over a long time we have eaten being satiated. I mean that feeling full, thanks to this hormone, we have ignored the signal from our body and we have continued eating.
- Our own prejudice of what we will feel when we eat it : It is common that just by looking at a plate we think “I’m going to be hungry” or “there is too much here, I am not going to be able to eat it”. These types of thoughts, whether real or not, already predispose us to feel what we are waiting to feel when we eat that dish. If we practice the previous techniques of chewing, eating slowly, without distractions and connecting with our most internal sensations, we may be surprised how easily and quickly we can get to feel full.
What foods can I eat if I have a hunger attack?
Those of you who have had anxiety attacks about food will know that at that moment there is a loss of control and that therefore it is difficult for us to think and choose our options. Normally we choose foods that we usually limit or prohibit in our day to day, such as cheese and foods rich in sugars or carbohydrates. Other times we prefer foods that help us secrete hormones that give us pleasure, such as chocolate.
If you have hunger attacks, I invite you to look beyond, inside yourself, to find out what your body is really saying or asking for. Also, that you put yourself in the hands of a psychonutrition specialist to help you improve your relationship with food.