Many people have a constant battle with hunger when trying to lose weight. By carefully thinking about the food you choose, you can feel more satisfied from the same amount of energy. We’re not talking about any miracle food, just normal, nutritious food. Feeling full throughout the day, and in that way reducing sweet cravings while losing weight, is the preferred option.
What foods should you choose, and which are the most filling?
Filling food is food that provides a large volume in relation to the energy content. It’s mainly foods that are high in fibre, high in protein and containing a high proportion of water.
There is something called the food satiety index, where scientists have ranked food products according to how filling they are per calorie. One of the foods with the highest satiety index ranking is potatoes. White fish, beans and wholegrain bread also have a good satiety level.
The reason why potatoes are so satisfying, is that they have very few calories in relation to the volume. Potatoes contain approx. 17 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, and consist of approx. 80% water, which means that potatoes provide a lot of food per calorie. If we compare half a kilo of potatoes with half a kilo of uncooked rice, the potatoes contain only 390 kcal while the rice contains 1,790 kcal. Half a kilo of boiled potatoes provides approx. 400 kcal, and half a kilo of rice provides approx. 650 kcal. So there is a difference.
The most fillings foods are:
- High-fibre foods
- High-protein foods
- Foods with a large percentage of water, which provides volume.
Practical tips for food choices that provide more volume (fullness) in relation to energy content:
- Potatoes and root vegetables instead of pasta and rice
- Wholegrain bread instead of white bread
- Wholegrain cereal/unsweetened muesli instead of cornflakes
- Berries, apples and citrus fruits instead of exotic fruit
- Chunky vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower instead of sweetcorn and avocado
- Popcorn instead of crisps
- White fish instead of oily fish (N.B. oily fish is a healthy choice, but we are only talking about food being filling here)
- Chicken fillet instead of chicken thighs or chicken drumsticks
- Minced chicken or vegetarian mince instead of pork/beef mince
- Swap some animal protein for beans and lentils
Everything may of course vary depending on the individual, but generally fibre, wholegrain and proteins are considered more filling. Hot food is also more filling than cold food. Fat is also filling, but it contains a lot of calories, which means that the volume won’t be as great as if the meal had been lower in fat.
It’s also about habits. If you are used to eating until you are very full, a reduced energy intake may not make you feel as full even if you choose filling foods. There is a big difference between feeling full and feeling satisfied. You may feel full but not satisfied, and vice versa, and you may need to know the difference and learn to eat until you’re satisfied but not extremely full.
References Livsmedelsverket, A satiety index of common foods. Holt SH1, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 and Vegetable cost metrics show that potatoes and beans provide most nutrients per penny. Drewnowski. 2013