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12 Foods to Keep You Full

Healthy Food Options
Some healthy food options including
skim milk, high-fiber cereal, whole wheat
bread, brown rice and beans, vegetables,
oatmeal and egg whites.

What you eat matters. The right foods help keep you full, give you energy and build muscle. The wrong foods make you tired, unleash cravings and create havoc with your body. To help you get in better shape, I've put together this list of healthier choices and why they work.

Start by reducing the sugar in your diet and replacing it with protein. Protein takes longer to digest than simple sugars. People who restrict simple sugars to 10%, and increase their protein intake to about 25% of their calories, tend to stay fuller and lose more weight.

In fact, people who eat moderately higher levels of protein are twice as likely to keep losing weight versus those who don't eat as much. It's also been shown to be one of the most effective ways to keep weight off once it's lost.

In an experiment done in Australia, overweight women were given either 2.5 cups of juice OR 2.5 cups of skim milk during breakfast. Four hours later they ate any lunch they wanted and energy intake was measured. Women who drank milk reported being full sooner while taking in 8.5% fewer calories than women who drank fruit juice.

Even more importantly, the skim milk drinkers said they felt more full the rest of the morning than the fruit drinkers did. Just replacing that glass of fruit juice in the morning with a glass of skim milk is a great way to start losing weight. If you're lactose intolerant, consider other high protein options like low-fat soy milk, high protein (and low sugar) cereals or egg whites.

Eat more fiber. Lean people eat significantly more fiber daily than overweight or obese people. In one study, doing nothing more than increasing the daily average from 14 grams a day to 24 grams a day resulted in a 4-pound weight loss over 3.8 months. Here's why.

It takes longer to eat high-fiber foods. That gives your body more time to register the food that goes into your stomach and signal your brain you're full. High-fiber meals also tend to be less "energy-dense," meaning they have fewer calories compared to a similar volume of low-fiber food.

Other benefits of a higher fiber diet include a reduction in the incidence of diverticular disease, a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and an astonishing 40% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

If you're trying to lose weight, check out the fiber content of the food you're buying and pick the ones with more fiber per serving. According to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, these are the minimum suggestions for how much fiber we should be getting daily.

Under 50
51 and Over
Men   38 grams   30 grams
Women   25 grams   21 grams

Fiber has no calories so this is a case where more is definitely better.

A word of caution. If you've only been eating 10 grams of fiber a day, don't suddenly double it overnight. You may experience bloating, diarrhea and gas. Up your daily amount by 3 or 4 grams, and increase that number once a week so your body can adjust.

A few foods that are higher in fiber include double-fiber whole wheat bread, oatmeal, high fiber cereals, beans, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.

Mix vegetables in everyday meals. If you're not thrilled about eating more veggies, use a blender. Researchers at Penn State University pureed vegetables and mixed them in with standard meals. Study participants CUT their calorie intake by up to 11% daily. As a bonus, their daily vegetable consumption went up 80%.

Food additions you can try include putting carrot puree in meatloaf, cauliflower puree in mashed potatoes, broccoli puree in beef stew and chickpeas or white bean puree in macaroni and cheese.

Eating well isn't about depriving yourself. It's about filling up with foods that make you better. Now you have a dozen options.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.