Ten Foods That Keep You Fuller for Longer

July 24, 2019

"Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite that happens after eating. Certain foods keep us feeling more satiated — or fuller — for longer than others."

Have you ever felt yourself feeling hungry again way too soon after you ate? On today’s show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, we are going to take a look at the science of what makes us feel hungry and what makes us feel satisfied after a meal. Dr. Nancy will share what makes a food filling. We’ll take a look at two specific “hunger” hormones and how they affect our desire to eat, and what happens when your stomach is telling you it needs food. Then she’ll share some great tips to stave off hunger, and her top 10 foods that keep you fuller longer.

Video Highlights

  • 04:01: The Satiety Index
  • 09:19: So what makes food filling?
  • 12:14: The Hunger Hormones
  • 13:47: Leptin 
  • 16:33: Inflammation and Free Fatty Acids
  • 19:25: Ghrelin
  • 22:11: Top Tips to Stave Off Hunger Between Meals
  • 31:50: Top 10 Healthy Foods That Keep You Feeling Fuller Longer!
  • 43:32: Wrap-Up

The Satiety index

How come some foods satisfy us and provide energy and nutrition until the next meal and others don’t even get us through the next hour? Well, it comes down to something called the satiety. Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite that happens after eating. Certain foods keep us feeling more satiated — or fuller — for longer than others.

There is actually a way to measure satiety of foods; it’s called the satiety index, a scale that was developed to measure this effect. On the satiety index, foods are ranked according to their ability to satisfy hunger. Foods that scored higher than 100 were considered more filling, while foods with scores lower than 100 were considered less filling For example: white bread was given a score of 100 and considered less filling, while oatmeal has a score of 209 and considered very filling.

A few of the foods considered to be the least filling include: croissants, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, chips, yogurt, candy bars, cereal, white bread, white pasta, and bananas, just to name a few.What do you notice about that list?  Most of the items — nearly all of them actually — are processed foods and contain sugar, white flour, or trans fats. A lot of these foods are actually very common breakfast foods as well.

But wait! What about bananas? If you’ve watched Dr. Nancy’s show before, you know that she’s not a huge fan of bananas. Although they are natural fruits, they are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates, which your body burns through really fast. If they are not eaten in combination with something else — like as part of a smoothie, or with nut butter — they will often leave you feeling really hungry, really fast. That’s especially true if they are really ripe, when they have even more sugar. 

Then there is the other side of the index: the foods that keep you feeling full longer. Keep reading to find out more about those.

So what makes a food filling?  

Filling foods tend to have the following characteristics:

  • High in protein: Studies show that protein is the most filling of the macronutrients. It changes the levels of several satiety hormones, including ghrelin — one of the “hunger hormones” we are going to talk about in just a minute.
  • High in fiber: Fiber provides bulk and helps you feel full for longer. Fiber may slow down the emptying of your stomach and increases digestion time. It also regulates blood sugar levels by slowing or regulating the amount of sugar entering your bloodstream
  • High in volume: Some foods contain a lot of water. This may help with satiety as well — think of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, oranges, avocados, etc.
  • Low in energy density: This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. They typically contain a lot of water but are low in fat — think beans, peas, and lentils (which are also good sources of fiber). Fish, skinless white-meat poultry, and egg whites are other great examples.

And as the satiety index shows, whole, unprocessed foods are also generally more filling than processed foods.

The Hunger Hormones

Now when it comes to feeling satiated after a meal, in addition to focusing on foods that make us feel full, we also have to deal with two specific hormones, known as the “Hunger Hormones”. 

These guys play a huge role in increasing and decreasing our appetites. One is called Ghrelin, and the other Leptin. Understanding how these guys work will help you control your appetite, your weight, and even your overall health, so let’s take a closer look.

Leptin is a hormone created by fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite, and also plays a role in body weight.

Leptin 

Levels of leptin — the appetite suppressor — are lower when we’re thinner and higher when we have more body fat. 

Unfortunately, people who are overweight or obese often build up a resistance to the appetite-suppressing effects of leptin. You may have heard this referred to as leptin resistance. Being leptin resistant actually makes you feel more hungry and can actually signal your body to burn calories more slowly. 

Leptin is supposed to tell your brain that, when you have enough fat stored, you don't need to eat, and can burn calories at a normal rate. Leptin's main role in the body is long-term regulation of energy, including the number of calories you eat and expend, as well as how much fat you store in your body. The leptin system is designed to keep humans from starving or overeating, both of which would made survival in a natural environment difficult for our early ancestors. Clearly our situation today has changed, but leptin is still an important hormone when it comes to the appetite. When our bodies become resistant to leptin, our brain starts receiving signals that we are starving, that we need more food, and that we need to slow our metabolisms down to hold on to our stored energy — body fat — as long as possible!

Inflammation and Free Fatty Acids

Leptin resistance is a complex issue, but two specific contributors to the condition are:

  • Inflammation: Inflammatory signaling in your hypothalamus — the part of your brain that controls when and how much you eat — is a significant contributor to leptin resistance.
  • Free fatty acids: Having elevated free fatty acids in your bloodstream may increase fat metabolites in your brain and interfere with leptin signaling.

These contributors to leptin resistance are amplified by obesity, meaning that once you become overweight, it can be quite easy to be trapped in a vicious cycle of gaining weight and becoming increasingly leptin-resistant over time.

Inflammation and free fatty acids in your blood can cause multiple health issues. That is why we always recommend you do whatever you can to reduce inflammation and free radicals in your body. 

Less Inflammation In + More Inflammation Out = A Healthier You!  

So make sure you are and eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that are packed with antioxidants, and essential nutrients, and supplement with Smarter Curcumin each day for inflammation-fighting support.

Ghrelin

Now let’s talk about the other “hunger hormone” - ghrelin.  Admittedly, the health community does not know as much about ghrelin as we initially thought we did; we’re still learning. As a result, there are mixed reports about the specific role of ghrelin - but here’s what we do know: ghrelin, the appetite increaser, is released primarily in the stomach, and is thought to signal hunger to the brain. So, your body increases ghrelin production if you need food, and decreases production if you are overeating or have had enough food.

Researchers have suggested that ghrelin levels play a big role in determining how quickly hunger comes back after we eat. Normally, ghrelin levels go up dramatically before you eat — signaling hunger — then go down for about three hours after the meal. This means we should not feel hungry after eating for about three hours, which could be true if we are eating healthy, filling foods, but that is not always the case. This has researchers believing that ghrelin may not be as important in determining appetite as once thought.

They are starting to think that its role in regulating body weight may actually be a much more complex process than they realized — So it sounds like there is more information to come; Ghrelin's role in hunger is still to be determined! 

Two things we do know about ghrelin are:

  1. A diet rich in either "good" carbohydrates (like whole grains), or a diet high in protein, suppresses ghrelin more effectively than a diet high in saturated fat
  2. Sleep deprivation is associated with significant increases in ghrelin production.

Okay, now that you know how the body works when comes to feeling full and appetite, you’re ready for our:

Top Tips to Stave Off Hunger Between Meals

Eat Enough Protein

Earlier, we talked a bit about the importance of eating enough protein to help with feeling full. Adding more protein to your diet can increase feelings of fullness, help you eat less at your next meal, and even help you lose body fat.

Consider this: a weight loss study compared two breakfasts identical in calories — one consisting of eggs, the other of bagels.

Participants who had the egg breakfast lost 65% more weight and 16% more body fat over the eight-week study period than those who ate the same number of calories in bagel form.

We recommend that you eat at least 30 grams of protein at every meal.  And if you are looking for a snack between meals, protein and healthy fats are the way to go: almond butter on celery, a hard-boiled egg, hummus and carrots, or a handful of almonds or walnuts

Eat Slowly

Eating slowly results in a greater and longer sense of fullness, reducing the intensity of hunger pangs. The macrobiotic diet, for example, recommends chewing each bite of food at least 30 to 50 times — that make for some slow eating, but it can help you feel fuller for longer (plus it’s great for your digestive system). In addition to chewing your food thoroughly, take time to enjoy your meal: put down the phone, turn off the TV, sit down and focus only on the act of eating. Take your time, put your fork or spoon down between bites, savor the meal… and watch what happens! You are going to feel better, you are going to feel fuller, your digestion will improve, and odds are you will enjoy your meals more than you ever have before! 

Pick Solids Foods Over Liquids

Solid calories and liquid calories can affect appetite differently, so when you have a choice, pick whole, solid foods.

One study found that compared to a solid snack, people who ate or drank a liquid snack between meals were nearly 40% less likely to compensate by eating less at the next meal. 

In a second study, participants eating solid foods reported less hunger, a lower desire to eat, and a greater sensation of fullness than those drinking a liquid meal

Solids require more chewing, which can grant more time for the fullness signal to reach the brain. Scientists also believe the extra chewing time allows solids to stay in contact with the taste buds for longer, which can also promote feelings of fullness.

Smoothies are often a great, healthy staple for people trying to eat heatlhy on a busy schedule, but when you can — and especially for meals like lunch and dinner — opt for whole foods over smoothies.

Choose Fiber-Rich Foods

A high fiber intake stretches the stomach, slows its emptying rate and influences the release of the fullness hormones, ghrelin.

In addition, when digested, fiber can produce short-chain fatty acids thought to further help promote feelings of fullness 

In fact, a recent review reports that adding fiber-rich beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils to your meals can increase feelings of fullness by 31%, compared to equivalent meals that contain less fiber. Fiber-rich whole grains can also help reduce hunger and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Fill Up On Water

So, many times when you are feeling hungry, it’s actually a sign of dehydration — you might just need to drink a glass or two of water.  One great rule of thumb, whenever you’re feeling hungry between meals and snacks, is to have one big glass of water, wait 10 to 15 minutes, and if you’re still feeling hungry, grab a small, healthy snack. 

Chew Gum

Another little between meals hunger hack is to chew sugar-free gum when you feel stomach hunger coming on. According to recent research conducted by the University of Rhode Island, chewing gum before and after meals helps reduce your hunger between meals. Sometimes, you aren’t actually hungry — you just need to give your mouth and brain something to change their focus.

Top 10 Healthy Foods That Keep You Feeling Fuller Longer!  

Avocados

If it seems like these are on every list, it’s with good reason. Packed with fiber and healthy fat, an avocado with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or between is just the perfect food to keep you feeling full and healthy!

Broccoli

Not only is broccoli a fiber-bomb, it’s also a prime source of calcium and important cancer-fighting compounds. Broccoli has less than 50 calories per serving (but when possible, eat organic). Some people try to eat it raw as often as possible, as well, but  raw broccoli isn’t easy on everyone’s digestive system. If that's the case, steam it for a few minutes to make it easier to digest.

Organic Free-Range Eggs

An egg is  packed with 6 grams oof protein and loaded with tons of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Hard-boiled eggs are also a great go-to snack.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a healthy whole grain rich in iron and magnesium, which help give your body energy. A one-cup serving has 8 grams of filling protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Almonds

Rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and nutrients, almonds are also pretty low in calories — around 160 calories for 22 almonds — making them a perfect go-to snack.

Organic Popcorn

We’re not talking butter-soaked, salted movie popcorn here. We’re talking all-natural, organic popcorn — a great, low-calorie food that is rich in fiber and just delicious. Try sprinkling different flavor combinations on your popcorn, such as pink salt and pepper, garlic powder, or turmeric. 

Lentils

There’s a reason lentils are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. With 13 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber per serving, this legume will keep you feeling full for hours in between meals. Lentils also boast twice as much iron as other legumes and are especially good sources of vitamin B and folate — plus they are just delicious!

Chia Seeds

Here’s another one that is on so many lists of healthy, delicious fooods. Loaded with omega-3s, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates, chia seeds form that energy-producing gel that keeps you going for hours and hours!

Organic Apples

Apples are one of the highest-rated foods on the satiety index, and for good reason. They are rich in pectin, a starch that occurs naturally in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables and which slows digestion and makes you feel full. Research shows eating a whole apple is a natural appetite suppressant.

Dark Chocolate

Yes! You’re allowed chocolate! The bitterness of dark chocolate is thought to help decrease appetite and diminish cravings for sweets. Researchers also believe the stearic acid in dark chocolate helps to slow digestion, further increasing feelings of fullness. Some people say that the simple act of smelling this treat might produce the same effect. One study observed that simply smelling 85% dark chocolate decreased both appetite and hunger hormones just as much as actually eating it! That’s great, and you all can smell your chocolate all day long — but it’s okay to actually eat it too. Just take a small 1-ounce piece (this isn’t the green light to eat a whole bar!) and savor it!

Wrap-up  

We covered a ton of information on today’s show — the science of hunger and feeling full!  We talked about what makes a food filling, we looked at the two specific “hunger hormones” — leptin and ghrelin — and how they affect our desire to eat, and Dr. Nancy shared her best tips to stave off hunger as well as her top 10 foods that keep you fuller longer! 

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