Have you ever spent ages going round in circles trying to find out the best foods for losing weight?
Not all foods are created equal, even if in calorific terms they are exactly the same. It comes down to their satiety level, which is basically how long they leave you feeling satisfied for after you’ve eaten them. It can be difficult to find out what is right for you, but in this article you’ll get the lowdown on the 15 best foods that won’t leave you frantically searching your kitchen for a calorie hit at the end of a long day.
Eggs are chock-full of protein, which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Dr. Alex Johnstone, Aberdeen University’s satiety expert says, “Protein invokes satiety more so than carbohydrates or fats.”Eggs are also low in calories, (depending on how you cook them) with a large egg containing around 70-80 calories. This is for an egg au naturel – if you start adding butter or oil to cook it with, the calorie count will go up. Eggs are so versatile too, you can boil, fry, poach, scramble or make an omelette out of them. You can also use them as ingredients in other dishes. Eggs are your dieting friends!
Bananas pack a lot of nutritional punch for their small size, and they help you to feel fuller for longer too. If you’re into smoothies, adding a banana to yours can really help keep the hunger pangs at bay for longer. Bananas are a good source of fibre, vitamin B6, and potassium, among other nutrients. They have 0mg of cholesterol too, so are a good choice if you’re watching your cholesterol level.
Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein, with some brands having between 12-17.3 grams in an average serving. This, along with its thicker texture can help satiety levels, according to Dr. Johnstone. The benefits don’t stop there. Greek yoghurt may be easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant, because of the way the bacteria break down the milk sugars. It’s great for breakfast with fruit, a dessert, or making into a savoury dip. You can cook with Greek yoghurt too – try using it in place of crème fraiche.
The humble pea can help stave off the hunger pangs. They are also good fibre providers, and can be added to many meals to help bulk them out without adding lots of calories. Try making up your own thick pea and ham soup – a little goes a long way!
Remember the old saying about an apple a day? They might not keep the doctor away, but they will help keep the hunger monster at bay. Dr. Flood-Obbagy and Dr. Rolls from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University did a study on appetite in 2009. This study found that people who ate sliced apple pieces before lunch consumed 15 per cent less calories than those who didn’t. Have an apple half an hour or so before lunch, and you won’t feel tempted to overeat.
In the same study, the doctors from the Department of Nutritional Science found that how big a serving of food appears to you can affect how much you eat of it. The study showed that people who had crushed down bran flakes ate around 70 calories more than those who ate the normal, large flakes. Bear this in mind when choosing your breakfast cereal, and go for ones with large flakes to fool your brain into thinking you’ve had enough.
Boiled potatoes came out top of a satiety chart in a study by researchers at the University of Sydney. Try making a potato salad with sweetcorn and Greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise, and you will have a meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Broth Based Soups
Broths contain a lot of water, which can help fill you up with very few calories. Try having a bowl before your main meal, and you will likely eat less because the sight of your main meal after the soup and the amount of water in your stomach will trigger receptors to say that you are full.
Kombu kelp is seaweed that is eaten widely in Japan, and is prized for being the main ingredient in dashi, a type of broth. It has an umami taste, which means it’s very savoury, rich and deep, and will bring out flavour from other food. Try adding kombu strips to stir-fries and soups to get that umami taste. You don’t need much – one 15cm strip will flavour a meal for four people.
Lentils tend to be digested gradually, and have around 9g of protein per 100g, so are perfect to keep you feeling fuller for longer. They are also inexpensive, and a large bag of lentils will make many meals. Try making a tomato and lentil salad with chunks of feta cheese and a handful of herbs.
Any watery fruit and veg can help fill you up with few calories, and courgettes are 95 per cent water. The skin is also a good source of fibre. Another watery, low cal ingredient you should use to your advantage is mushrooms.
Quinoa has twice as much protein than rice, and has 5g of fibre per serving. It’s gluten free, so if you are intolerant to wheat you can enjoy quinoa. Add it to salads or soups, or use in place of rice as a side dish.
Fish is packed with protein and oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats for our well-being. Fish scores higher on the satiety index than a lot of other protein-rich foods, including eggs and meat. Fish and eggs have always teamed well together, so why not boost your protein and omega-3 by having smoked salmon and scrambled eggs?
Oats have been a popular breakfast choice for a long time, and with good reason. It’s quite low in calories and high in fibre such as beta-glucan. The ability to soak up liquid and high fibre content gives oats their filling power. Did you know that you can use oats in savoury dishes too? The blandness lends itself well to being a vehicle for other flavours.
Popcorn is a food that takes up a lot of room in a dish or packet, and is perfect for fooling your eyes into thinking that there’s a lot there for relatively few calories. It’s very high in fibre, and studies have shown that it is more filling than crisps or chocolate. Popcorn that you make yourself is the healthiest option, as long as you don’t smother it in butter or sugar!