Filling Food to Speed Weight Loss
It's the dieter's worst enemy — that gnawing hunger when you're trying to eat less and lose weight.
But fighting off those feelings of hunger could be as simple as a walk to the nearest soup and salad bar for lunch. Here's how you can make food choices that will keep you feeling full and help prevent the hunger pangs that lead to diet-busting snacks or binges.
- Get enough lean protein and fiber. A study of 22 men who changed the amount of protein in their diets for 18-day periods showed that those who ate the least protein were the most likely to report being hungry. "Protein is the number one thing to help you feel full," says Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at Houston Northwest Medical Center. "The second thing is fiber."
- Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Researchers tracked the weight-loss success of 71 obese women between 20 and 60 years of age on a low-fat diet. Half of the women were also told to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. At the end of one year, both groups of women had lost weight, but the women who ate the most fruits and veggies reported the greatest weight loss and were less likely to say they felt hungry on any given day. In fact, when the researchers crunched the data, they found that whether the women reported feeling hungry frequently predicted their ability to lose weight. Other studies have shown that changing your eating habits to focus on these water- and fiber-rich foods will help you maintain weight loss for up to six years.
- Sip soup. Adding two low-calorie soups to your diet every day could stave off hunger pangs and keep you satisfied longer. Choose soups that are broth-based, not cream-based, to reduce the calorie count; also look for soups that are low in sodium. Consider chunky, pureed vegetable soups, as they have been shown to produce the most lasting full feeling. Timing your soup so that you have it before a meal also reduces the amount you eat at that meal by about 20 percent, according to a study of 53 overweight adults.
- Eat whole grains. A serving of whole grains will stick with you longer than a serving of refined wheat bread or any other refined flour product, for that matter. Most refined flour is white and often bleached.
- Pick "airy" snacks. If you must snack and you don't have a piece of fruit or a veggie tray on hand, choose the snack food that has more air in it — think cheese puffs instead of potato chips, rice cakes instead of cookies. You will feel just as full as you would if you ate the same serving size of another snack, but you will consume fewer calories on average.
So, if you prefer, you can go back to eating on your good china — just make sure to emphasize lean proteins, fruits, and veggies.