Any effective diet plan can be boiled down to four words: eat less, move more. But, while exercise is certainly an important component of dieting, it’s easy to completely undo those 30 minutes you spent on the treadmill in just one moment of weakness at a friend’s birthday party.
Consuming foods that are nutrient-dense—generally low in calories, but high in satisfaction—can help you avoid sabotaging your diet by keeping you feeling full and satisfied for several hours at a time. Junk foods are “junk” because the caloric content they provide doesn’t provide essential nutrients and isn’t filling, leaving you wanting more. Next time your hunger pangs are threatening to derail your diet, eat any of the following satiating healthy snacks:
Creamy, delicious and guilt-free. Avocados, like olives and nuts, are chock-full of monounsaturated fats, a.k.a., the good ones, and adding half of a fresh avocado to your salad (or sandwich—yum!) at lunch can help keep you feeling satisfied throughout the afternoon. Although fat often gets a bad rap, it is an essential and important nutrient—the key is to consume the right kind via nutritious foods.
Despite the old adage, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that an apple a day functions as an effective physician-repellent; however, research has shown that eating an apple half an hour before a meal may help you eat less and consume fewer calories. The high levels of water and soluble fiber in apples—specifically pectin—help to slow the digestion of food, which helps you feel full. By slowing the digestive process, you also slow the release of nutrients for absorption, which may also help support blood sugar levels. Research and common sense suggest that apples, which have about 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber, may be a smart and satisfying option in your weight management plan.
Pulses (beans, peas and lentils) are packed with protein, antioxidants, B vitamins and iron, and are powerful allies when it comes to keeping you feeling satiated because they have a low-glycemic index—meaning, they are fiber-rich and subsequently take longer to digest and provide a slower release of carbohydrates than high-glycemic foods such as white bread and white rice. Pulses are also a true superfood—emerging research suggests that, in addition to supporting satiety, the soluble fiber they provide may help support healthy cholesterol levels.
The Omega-3 fatty acids that salmon provides in abundance are essential and must be obtained from diet or supplementation—meaning, your body cannot make them. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a wide array of functions and salmon’s notable concentration of these healthy fats, coupled with its naturally high levels of protein, can support your weight loss goals by helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
5. Whey Protein
When it comes to feeling full, high-protein foods are your best friend. Adding whey protein powder to a smoothie (or oatmeal, or muffin mix) is an easy way to inject protein into your diet and help keep your growling stomach at bay. Better still, whey protein is sold in a wide array of formats, including low-fat, low-carbohydrate varieties, such as isolates.