If your weight-loss diet is filled with calorie-portioned snack packs and frozen diet meals, you’re likely feeling dissatisfied and hungry — which is not at all a recipe for weight loss.
But there’s a better way. And that’s focusing on nutrient-dense foods that not only help you feel full and satisfied, but also supply your body with crucial nutrition that does a whole lot for your body besides promote weight loss.
High-fiber, high-protein, high-water foods are the ones that fit this bill. That means fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins such as chicken, fish and certain dairy sources and whole grains, nuts and seeds.
“The most filling foods contain protein, which is slowly digested, so it sticks to your ribs; and fiber, which expands like a sponge in the gut to keep you full,” Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, and author of “Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer,” recently told the blog of My Fitness Pal.
Here’s a list of filling ideas, plus ways to add these foods to your diet.
Nuts. With protein, healthy fats and fiber, nuts are a good way to help up (as long as you watch your portions). Pistachios in particular are a stomach-slimming favorite, according to Men’s Fitness magazine. They are lower in fat and calories than some nuts, plus shelling them one at a time easily slows you down so you can avoid overeating.
Nonstarchy vegetables. You don’t actually burn more calories than you consume when you eat celery (sorry). But leafy green vegetables and high-fiber options, such as zucchini, celery and cucumbers, are about as close as it gets the mythical “zero-calorie foods.” Plus, diets rich in greens have all kinds of other benefits, including a decreased risk for some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Greek yogurt. This food remains a fit-person favorite for a reason: With twice the protein of regular yogurt, it fills you up without weighing you down. Plus, Greek yogurt makes an excellent swap for sour cream in most recipes and even for butter in baked goods. You won’t even notice.
Chicken. “Lean proteins, like chicken, aid in satiety by affecting the hormones that control hunger and how quickly food empties from our stomachs,” Keri Glassman, MS, RD, told MyFitnessPal. “Chicken also has the highest thermal effect of food, meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, versus carbs and fat.”
Or, make like The Rock and fill up on low fat, low calorie, high protein cod.
Oatmeal. Think of this fiber-rich favorite as a blank canvas: You can add fruit (for more fiber and nutrients), nuts and/or nut butters and/or healthy seeds like flax and chia. Soon you’ll have the perfect diet-friendly breakfast. (Or go savory and add more lean-body favorites to your oats, such as poached eggs, a slice of avocado, a sprinkling of greens and hot sauce.)
Broth-based soups. Clear soups are a filling favorite Men’s Health recommends as a meal-starter. You’ll hydrate and fill up before the entrée arrives, meaning you’re more likely to eat less overall.
Legumes. Beans and lentils are excellent filling foods, thanks to the fiber and protein they contain. As a bonus? Lentils are the most environmentally friendly form of protein, according to an analysis from the Environmental Working Group, an environment and food advocacy think tank.
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