When it comes to foods to fill you up, most of you might think bananas would be the number one fruit choice. But according to the satiety index, oranges are almost twice as filling as bananas for the same amount of calories.
Oranges may also be more filling because they have a higher fluid content – oranges are 86 percent water compared to bananas which are just 75 percent water – and research shows that foods with a high water content can help to improve our satiety because it increases the portion size without adding calories. Plus, oranges have a lower glycaemic index than bananas.
Top tip: choose a whole orange rather than orange juice. It contains more fibre, and research shows that drinks don’t fill us up as much as food.
When it comes to snacking, popcorn will fill you up far more than crisps, ice cream, chocolate, cake or doughnuts, simply because it’s so bulky. If you’re not convinced, weigh out 25g of crisps, 25g chocolate and 25g of popcorn. You’ll find the popcorn fills a much bigger space in a bowl – and therefore a much bigger space in your stomach. That means you’ll feel fuller for longer.
Popcorn also has the benefit of being a wholegrain food and so contains more fibre than many other popular snack foods.
Top tip: skip popcorn that’s coated in butter, oil, toffee or salt and instead enjoy plain, air-popped popcorn.
Beans are well known for being a good source of fibre, but they’re also packed with protein and it’s this perfect combination of fibre and protein that fills you up so you’re less likely to want to eat between meals.
Fibre works its magic in several ways. As well as helping to add bulk to our diet, insoluble fibre increases the viscosity or stickiness of food in our stomach so that it empties more slowly.
Soluble fibre helps to control blood sugar levels and may also increase levels of a satiety hormone so that you feel fuller for longer. As for protein, research shows this nutrient is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats as the body has to work harder to digest and absorb it.
Top tip: choose beans that contain no added sugar and or salt and combine them with other high-fibre foods such as wholegrain toast or a jacket potato for a double whammy for full tummies.
As well as having a low glycaemic index, research indicates that peanuts can help to keep you fuller for longer.
In one American study, participants naturally decreased what they ate at other times of the day after consuming peanuts. Plus, they remarked that they felt full when they included peanuts or peanut butter in their diet.
Like beans, peanuts are a rich source of fibre and protein, both of which can help to improve satiety. But peanuts also have the added benefit of also being crunchy. This is important as crunchy foods take longer to chew and the simple act of chewing may improve satiety.
Top tip: watch your portion sizes. Nuts are packed with nutrients but they’re also high in calories. Go for fresh nuts, too, rather than salted ones.
It’s a slimming staple, but research shows that salad really does help to fill you up, especially when you have it before a meal. American researchers looked at the amount of calories women consumed at lunchtime from a main course of pasta, after eating a salad starter. They discovered that when the women ate a small low-calorie salad to start with, the whole meal provided seven percent fewer calories. The effect was even greater with a large low-calorie salad starter, with the whole meal containing 12 percent fewer calories. The satiating effects are likely to be due to a combination of both fibre and a large amount of food.
Top tip: don’t top your salad with oily dressings or mayonnaise. Instead, keep calories down by using fat-free dressings or a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.
Hunger can be attributed to a lot of things, although I believe generally people feel physical hunger due to low blood sugar. But a lot of what hunger and satiety feels like is psychological. If a person keeps their blood sugar levels controlled throughout the day they’re a lot less likely to feel hunger.